Super Soft Performance Fabric: Three Months with the icebreaker Anatomica

The brand icebreaker has been developing sustainable natural alternatives to synthetic performance fabrics since 1995. As sustainability has become a higher priority for many, sportswear companies are turning to recycled synthetics. But some brands, like icebreaker, look to nature instead.

It may seem counterintuitive that wool could replace a sweat-wicking synthetic because of wool’s association with warmth and itchiness. But Merino offers something different. Taking its name from the breed of Merino sheep that grow this prized wool, Merino is soft, elastic, durable, temperature-regulating, odor-resistant.

I have owned Merino garments before but never a Merino performance product. And I couldn’t be happier. I wanted to put it through its paces, so I wore it exclusively as my running shirt during a Florida summer. Some say Merino feels like a second skin, and I agree. I used to run in synthetics – especially on hot days, but the icebreaker Anatomica shredded that notion for me. 

The first thing I noticed about the shirt was its softness. I’m fairly used to the plasticky feeling of running clothes. When I first felt the fabric, I thought, “Wow. This is different.” The second thing I noticed was the quality of manufacture. The stitching – especially the merrow stitching – is actually beautiful. Again, I was struck, “This is not just another t-shirt.”


But that leaves the important question unanswered: Can it replace a synthetic running tee? I was running a few miles a day in high humidity with temperatures in the 80s and low 90s. I’m not going to lie. I was warm. But the Anatomica was very comfortable, soft on the skin, did not get heavy or hot like a cotton tee would. I did find it absorbed more sweat than my old synthetics, making it a little heavier and more wet-to-touch. For science’s sake, I did not wash it for the first three weeks I wore it, and not only was it not… odiferous… but it smelled like a brand-new shirt. Some reviewers have called the Anatomica fabric “sheer,” and it isn’t opaque. icebreaker considers it an underwear layer. You could certainly wear it alone, though, like any other base layer on a hot day.

I think the Anatomica would make a perfect undershirt, too, in any occasion. It’s lightweight, airy, comfortable, close to the skin, lacks the sheen of many performance fabrics. I would take it over a cotton undershirt any day.

Shop icebreaker here.