ZONEKNIT TEE AND SHORTS
(This review originally featured in Wild #187, Autumn 2023)
By James McCormack
One of my favourite trail running T-shirts has a problem. Yes, it’s comfortable on the trail. Yes, it fits me well. Yes, it looks half-decent, too, with a colour that, if I don’t say so myself, actually suits me. But hoh boy! Does it ever stink! At least half the time that I pull it out of the drawer, I put it straight back in simply because I can’t deal with the potential stench. And that’s the problem with synthetic garments. They can reek. Not all of them, mind you, but enough do that I’m always trigger shy when it comes to buying one.
But that’s where Icebreaker’s ZoneKnit garments shine. I’m sure by now that you’re well aware of merino wool’s antimicrobial properties, and hence its lack of, well, stinkiness. But even Icebreaker previously used a synthetic component, albeit a small one, in their ZoneKnit gear. With its latest 2023 collection, however, Icebreaker’s ZoneKnit garments use only natural merino and plant-based fibres. Now look, I could blab on with something lifted from a PR blurb about how the body-mapped zones in the shorts and tee regulate temperature, or how their articulated fits offer freedom of movement, but I won’t. It’s not that that stuff isn’t important, but I’m instead going to share this anecdote: My wife, being the long-suffering spouse of the editor of Wild, simply cares so little about—or is rather so tired of hearing about—gear, that I almost never bother mentioning anything I’m reviewing for the mag to her. Not this time, though. After taking the ZoneKnit Tee and Shorts out for its first trail-running outing, I came home saying to her, “I know how little you care about this, but I’ve just gotta say it: This stuff is really, really comfortable.”
Seriously, I’ve been impressed by Icebreaker’s latest ZoneKnit offerings. They feel soooo nice against your skin. They don’t stink. They’re comfortable even when wet with sweat. They’re super lightweight. And the shorts are even a little bit retro-styley, too—remember King Gee Scoops?! Perhaps the only thing I’d change is to give the shorts (which have built-in briefs, BTW) proper pockets over and above the small, zippered key pocket that sits in the back of the shorts. I know that for actual running, proper pockets are meaningless, but if these shorts had them, mainly so I could chuck my phone in them, I’d wear them all day.