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Icebreaker Hopper Top : The One Shirt

I first discovered merino wool about seven years ago, and now it's all I wear for hiking, running, resistance training, yoga, and everything else.

I heat up fast when I exercise and I live in a temperate climate, so Icebreaker's short-sleeved Hopper tee has been my go-to top this winter. For temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees, all I need is this top under a lightweight, wind-blocking running shell.

The Hopper does a great job of breathing and wicking, and more important, regulating my temperature--especially on those days when I only need my shell for wind protection, not warmth. I'm always surprised when I get halfway through my workout and realize I'm not overheating because my top is keeping me cool. It also stays dry so I don't get that clammy feeling under my jacket when I'm heading into the wind on the way home.

I really like the ultra soft, lightweight feel of Icebreaker's merino wool. I used to be a die-hard cotton fan, despite the fact that cotton is less than ideal for exercise, because I didn't like wearing synthetic running tops. Now I get the best of both words - the performance and silky drape of a "tech" tee with the comfort of a natural fiber. On top of that, merino wool is naturally odor resistant, so I can wear my Hopper for days (or for many workouts) before it smells like it needs washing. That's a bonus when I'm traveling.

The Hopper top is part of Icebreaker's Superfine 200 line. It's light weight, soft touch, and hard-working features make it incredibility versatile for temps up to 65 or 70 degrees. (I wear their Superfine 150 fabric--Tech T Lite tee--for Spring and Summer use).

I really appreciate having a short-sleeved top that I can use as a base layer in cold weather and as a functional exercise top in cool weather (and for indoor workouts). I'm not a fan of body-hugging tops, so I'm glad Icebreaker has designed the Hopper to fit like a t-shirt (they make both regular and snug-fitting tops out of the Superfine 200 merino). It looks great, too. I like the contrast colors around the crew-neck and raglan sleeves.

Available in men's sizes S-XXL, in Black/Palm, Gumtree/Bark, Pelorus/Lapis, Stealth/Black. Icebreaker makes merino wool apparel for women, too.

Bottom LIne: A perfect all-around workout top that doubles as a casual shirt for travel or everyday wear. If I could only have one shirt, this would be it.--B.M. (Dec '10)

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