Review: Icebreaker Tech Lite Short Sleeve T-shirt

Icebreaker Tech Lite T-shirt

Key Information:

Price (at time of writing): R899
Fabric: 87% Merino Wool, 13% Nylon
Fabric weight (gauge): 150 Ultralight
Garment weight: 190g

Intro

Merino Wool clothing has always been praised for its natural anti-bacterial (anti-stink) properties, which, when hiking for a week in the same t-shirt, is a massive bonus. However, in our warmer South African climate, many have said that Merino t-shirts feel just a little too warm, causing one to sweat unnecessarily.

That’s where the Icebreaker Tech Lite range comes in. Nylon threads wrapped in Merino wool allow for a much lighter gauge thread, resulting in more breathability, as well as retaining its shape when damp.

Naturally Anti-bacterial

We all know that cotton is not great for hiking, because it holds moisture. So, we use breathable synthetic fabrics that wick the moisture away from our bodies and dry quickly. However, there’s a catch… As good as synthetic materials are at wicking moisture, they are also great at trapping bacteria, which, in real world terms, results in a very stinky hiker.

Now, you could carry a fresh t-shirt for every day of your hike, but that would mean that you spent all that extra money on your ultralight, titanium cookware and dyneema backpack, just so you can make up the extra weight with t-shirts… No. A better idea would be to get one t-shirt you could wear everyday, but that doesn’t smell like death after a few days. This is where the magic of Merino wool comes in!

I recently spent 6 days guiding on the magnificent Rim of Africa mountain traverse and I wore my Icebreaker Tech Lite t-shirt 24 hours a day – hiked in it, slept in it, everything. When I got back home, I asked my wife to smell it (gross, I know…) and she said it smelled like nothing… Absolutely incredible!

Fit

The Tech Lite T has a comfortable, athletic fit, which moves well with one’s body, without being clingy. It’s actually quite stylish, to the point where you could quite easily go from the trail to a restaurant, without looking (or smelling) like you’ve just come from the mountain (unless, that’s the look you’re going for, in which case, wear a Buff…)

Comfort

When it comes to hiking clothing, and gear for that matter, comfort can be translated as “unnoticeable”.

When your boots fit just right, or your pack distributes the weight so well, that you don’t think about them, that’s true comfort. The lightweight gauge of the Tech Lite fabric does just that – it creates an almost naked feel. No chafing, no clinginess, no flapping in the wind, just comfortable.

Cons

The main drawback of Merino wool garments is that they’re not very abrasion resistant. When they get caught on sharp branches or scuffed against sharp sandstone, they tend to get holes.

They can easily be stitched up again, but this fact could definitely be a downside to those who have gotten used to the hard-wearing nature of synthetic t-shirts.

Conclusion

Lightweight, breathable, wicking and naturally anti-bacterial. One t-shirt for a week-long hike – need I say more!

“What about the price?!”, you may ask. Sure, R899 is a lot of money for a t-shirt, but I would gladly sacrifice 4 synthetic t-shirts for one of these… they’re that good!

This t-shirt was provided for review purposes by Adventure Inc and is available online from Drifters and Gone Outdoor.

About Arno van der Heever 44 Articles
Co-founder of Hiking South Africa, Arno loves the outdoors and finds joy in sharing it with others. He is a qualified mountain guide, a keen rock climber and has a "thing" for technical backpacks and footwear.

4 Comments

  1. Hahaha nice review.
    I like the fact that merino kit says merino on it, and not X-max plus fabric 80/2 hydro-and you will go to heaven, yet the fine print always reveals “made from waste”.
    I have the Icebreaker Oasis thermal top but am now compelled to invest a bit deeper in the sheep.
    Also tired of that ‘prawn wrapped in Ming-Lee’s cling film sock’ hyper funk.

    Wife’s approval means 10 points.

  2. I buy my Merino wool tops from Core Merino in PE excellent online service. I am obsessed as love them so much for hiking and my walking tours.

  3. I’ve never tried the ‘lite’ hybrid but will probably do so after reading this. The other natural/artificial hybrid worth considering in warmer conditions is bamboo elastane (available under the “Boody” brand), which has similar wicking and antibacterial properties, is less easily damaged than merino and is considerably cheaper. Also available as underwear (which can likewise be worn for several days without embarrassment) and socks (good odour-resistance but tend to shed fluff).

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