Baby, it’s cold outside…

by Jax on January 18, 2013

Snow in Brighton MarinaAs it’s snowing horizontally across the marina today, it seems a good time to talk about keeping warm.

This is a hugely important topic for me as I really feel the cold. And now that we’ve moved our sailing horizons from the balmy Med to colder climes, it’s even more pertinent.

I can often be seen on deck of a summer’s night wearing pretty much every piece of warm clothing I own, which begs the question ‘what on earth will I wear when it gets really cold’?

On a visit to New Zealand almost 7 years ago we discovered Icebreaker clothing – and made it our mission to source as much as possible to bring back with us. I even resorted to mail order from NZ after we returned – and that’s not a very cost effective way of shopping!


Icebreaker is made from Merino wool. The Merino is one of the world’s most ancient breeds of sheep, and one of the toughest. Icebreaker Merinos live in the harsh environment of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Nature created the Merino’s fleece as protection for extremes – breathable in summer, insulating in winter, yet soft and lightweight. Icebreaker clothing

In winter, the sheep grows an extra layer of wool over his base coat as protection against temperatures that plummet to -20C (and everyone knows you should be home, or in the pub sipping red wine in front of the log fire, long before it gets that cold).

Icebreaker hoodyAt sea obviously that’s not possible, so under the oilies I’ll be sporting a system of light – high warmth to weight ratio, non itchy Icebreaker layers (like the winter sheep). When Icebreaker garments are layered together, which they are designed to do, air is trapped in between each fine layer to ramp up the warmth.
Merino wool can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture before you even start to feel wet, and it dries fast as it transports moisture vapour away from the skin to be evaporated.

Another benefit of this natural fibre is that it breathes, so it is non stinky – this means I can actually follow a sweaty boy down wind when we’re running, and not gag. Yachting legend Sir Peter Blake wore a prototype Icebreaker top and leggings for 40 days and nights in a row while setting a circumnavigation record. However, this does not mean that it never needs washing (geek – i’m talking to you!)

Back CameraIt is also machine washable, quick drying (line), and doesn’t need ironing. Sustainable – renewable, recyclable and biodegradable. And farmed with a strict welfare code for animals.

It’s all about functionality – better temperature regulation, mobility, sweat management, and fit.

Some of the earlier styles were quite utilitarian, focussing on the practical system of building up different layers of different weight. Currently there are a lot more stylish garments. And they even make underwear.

NZ produces the longest, strongest, purest, whitest merino fibre on the planet, which means it more durable, stays softer for longer and is less likely to pill.
OK, so it’s not cheap (reassuringly expensive) but price per wear it’s probably the best value stuff we own.

Now, fortunately for us, Icebreaker is available in the UK, and many other brands are offering merino as well.

There are quite a few suppliers that stock a small selection of Icebreaker, but Snow and Rock and Nature Shop stock the complete range. I have always found Nature Shop extremely helpful with no postage charges and free returns. If there’s one drawback it’s that they sell out quickly, so if there’s something you want, don’t dither.

NatureshopUK based retailer Nature Shop sell other “nature inspired” brands with strong green credentials, and have a similar approach to business and the planet as Icebreaker. They spend a minimum of ten percent of their net profit each year on environmental and social initiatives. They really do provide an excellent on-line store (with free shipping) and great customer service – many other businesses would do well to follow their example.

And neither Icebreaker, nor Nature Shop are paying me to tell you this stuff. I just think they’re brilliant and wanted to share.

However, we do have a code which Nature Shop gave us that lets you save an extra (in addition to their normal deals) 10% off everything. Enter ‘NAT-398060′ on the cart page when you check out.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Karin Kidd January 19, 2013 at 01:25

AE of course it’s the phone that’s drunk. No way it could possible be me!!!


Adrian Evans January 19, 2013 at 00:23

yes, it must be the iPhone….


Karin Kidd January 19, 2013 at 00:22

Meant to say Feb, think the iPhone is drunk !!!!


Karin Kidd January 19, 2013 at 00:20

If your around early Fen, come over & stay for a while x


Karin Kidd January 18, 2013 at 21:59

We are back back early Feb. Your more than welcome to come stay in Annex for as long as you want. Just let us know. At least you will get out of cold. In fact you can help me get on E bay as want to sell loads of stuff before putting house on market in March. X


Adrian Evans January 18, 2013 at 21:53

We’re here for a few months working and earning some money for the next stage of our trips. We’re going to sail down to the Canaries in September and then off across the Atlantic at the end of November, ready for winter in the Caribbean.


Karin Kidd January 18, 2013 at 21:49

If I had known you were in Brighton on the boat we could have given you keys to the house. How long you in the UK for?


Adrian Evans January 18, 2013 at 21:46

have a good time in the sun! I hope the planes are all ok. It stopped snowing here a good few hours ago.


Karin Kidd January 18, 2013 at 21:09

I would like to try it. Need stuff to keep us warm & dry when doing dog walks in bad weather. Once back from hols will check it out


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