Icebreaker 250 Vertex Base Layers - Review

The kind folks at Icebreaker NZ sent me a gifted package that contained the 250 Vertex Long Sleeve Half Zip Drift top and the 250 Vertex Drift leggings. There was no obligation for me to write a review, but I’ve fallen in love with these base layers over the last 9 months and thought they deserved some attention!


Icebreaker’s Description: (Leggings) Warm, stretchy and incredibly soft baselayer bottoms for cold winter adventures, the 250 Vertex Leggings Drift feature a gusseted design for unrestricted freedom of movement. The 100% merino wool fabric in a cozy jacquard knit feels great next to skin, breathes efficiently on warm days, and easily layers under shell pants. Flatlock seams prevent chafing on snowshoe hikes, backcountry ski tours and other active days in the cold. (Top) This next generation of base layer features updated fit, style and refined design details. Zip neck collar for temperature regulation, offset shoulder seams prevent pack rub, forward side seams for comfort, underarm gusset for comfort and mobility, drop tail hem for added coverage.


Cold Weather Comfort: What better way to test out my first pair of Icebreaker Base Layers than to take them up north for a proper Scottish winter? We completed our van build back in January, and jumped straight on the road. We arrived in freezing Aviemore, and spent our time exploring the Cairngorms in the depths of the winter darkness. Without fail, every morning I pulled on my 250 Vertex base layers before covering them up with mid-layers and shells. On the hill, wrapped up in multiple layers, I was toasty warm throughout even the coldest of days.


This didn’t feel like the ultimate test though… I wanted to push the base layers a little bit further. One very cold, icy morning on the banks of Loch Morlich, Arron and I decided to go for a wander before breakfast to shake the tiredness from our limbs. Instead of properly layering up, I just wore my base layers and a pair of wellies so I could wander, warm and unrestricted, to take some photos of the frozen-over lake. It was a beautiful morning, and I was able to appreciate the crisp air and the purple skies, all while still being perfectly warm in just my base layers.


Verdict: Soft material, breathable even when heavily-layered and efficient at keeping me warm even when working alone, the Icebreaker 250 Vortex base layers are a bit of a wonder. They remain my go-to base layers for most seasons, as the UK weather is usually pretty cool in the mountains all year round, and they also held up beautifully as my dry layers when we set up camp by the river in Mongolia, as nights there were also fairly chilly. With an upcoming trip in Swedish Lapland at the end of the year, these base layers will be worn again and again, probably until they’re holey and falling off me. I couldn’t imagine trusting anything other than merino wool now to keep me warm even on the most cold, bitter winter days.