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January 6, 2011

Icebreaker GT 200 Sprint Legging Review

Quick administrative note: the Black Diamond Icon contest is officially closed, but you've got a little bit of time left - until close of business Friday - to enter the VIVOBAREFOOT Neo running shoe giveaway. Winners of both contests will be announced over the weekend. In the meantime, a review post for your enjoyment ...


When your choice of workout wear has a positive impact on your marital relationship, that’s a pretty cool thing, right?

That was one of the conclusions I drew after reviewing Icebreaker’s merino wool garments last year, thanks mainly to their outstanding odor-control properties. I’ll spare you the whole back story (but you can read the previously linked review if you’re interested), but my wife was even more grateful for my discovery of their performance tops than I was.

So when I had an opportunity to try a bottom layer from Icebreaker, I quickly jumped at the chance.

Icebreaker's GT fabric is still composed almost entirely of merino wool, but incorporates 3% lycra for improved fit and shape retention (my BodyFit shirts tend to shrivel just a bit coming out of the wash). You still get all of the benefits of pure merino wool – comfort, breathability, odor-resistance, and thermoregulation – in this fabric that Icebreaker calls the most technical and athletic of its product line.

Like other Icebreaker products, the GT garments are categorized by fabric density, ranging from 150 (ultralite) to 320 (expedition weight). The Sprint legging is made of GT 200 fabric, which makes it a light- to midweight layer that can be worn on its own, or as a base layer underneath a looser pant. I’ve worn them by themselves for running in temperatures into the upper 20s, and underneath a pair of MTB shorts for cold afternoon bike rides.

Icebreaker Sprint legging ... on a model that's NOT me. Alas.

Merino wool is renowned for its comfort, and the Sprint legging is constructed with additional comfort features such as a brushed elastic waistband, a guseted crotch for freedom of movement, and flatlock stitching throughout to prevent irritation along seam lines. However, from a comfort standpoint, I’m kind of lukewarm on these: there’s certainly nothing irritating or uncomfortable about running in them for a couple of hours, but the feel of GT 200 fabric against bare skin isn’t as soft as what you might feel with some synthetic performance fabrics. (One case in point is Salomon’s Trail III tight, which definitely feels nicer against the skin.)

A couple other minor drawbacks I’ve experienced are that the elastic waistband doesn’t have a drawstring for cinching in place, and there’s no available storage (like a key pocket) anywhere. The overall design is really more like thermal underwear than an outer layer ... which kind of makes me question whether I should have just admitted that I wear them by themselves a lot. (And not to get too personal here, but I do wear underwear underneath the leggings. In case you were wondering.)

All of the performance aspects of Icebreaker gear are present with these leggings: they provide an ideal blend of insulation and breathability during high-demand activity, and of course the odor resistance thing is still a huge selling point. Another strength of this fabric over synthetic materials is how it maintains effective thermoregulation even when it's wet or sweaty. The leggings are probably best suited as a base layer, but versatile enough to be used on their own in moderate conditions. If you’re looking for a single bottom layer to use for multiple purposes, the Sprint legging is an attractive option.

Icebreaker’s GT 200 Sprint leggings retail for $90 from Amazon.com as well as the company website (links above) and other online vendors.

*Product provided by Icebreaker
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at info@runningandrambling.com.

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jonnyb 1/7/11, 1:56 AM  

I know some people won't like this idea, but I've never felt the need to wash any icebreaker gear. I've worn these leggings for several days in a row and let hang out to dry, sort of an experiment a la http://www.icebreaker.com/site/aboutus/articles_timestest.html . For the shirts, I've worn 2 different ones, each at up to 10 days straight. On the really heavy running days I just wear them into the shower with me, rinse out with water, and "squeeze out" (I don't wring them) and hang to dry. I figured wool was meant to be worn every day year round and this has proven to be true.

Donald 1/7/11, 7:54 AM  

jonnyb: Very interesting! I guess that makes sense the way you explain it. I wonder if my wife will let me get away with showering in my workout clothes ...

wayne 1/8/11, 2:53 AM  

I'm a huge fan of merino wool! I've gone a couple of workouts between washings, but certainly nothing as burly as jonnyb. I will say of this product, if you go out for a run in these down here in Texas, expect a policeman to pull up next to you and ask in a friendly drawl, "Boy, where'd you put yo' britches?"

My Life and Running 1/9/11, 7:32 AM  

A reason I like your reviews? You put in details that others might overlook - i.e. waist cincher. (Just bought a pair of highly praised running pants and then discovered no waist cincher. This Sir Mix-A-Lot booty muse needs the itty-bitty-waist drawstring.)

Any tips on fave cold weather cycling pants? Thoughts on compression gear?

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