New Gear Highlight: MerinoLOFT insulating layer

Icebreaker Merino Loft adds to the choice available for insulating layers. Right now the choice is between down and synthetic insulation, and merino loft, a natural fibre, will be the third option joining down as another insulating natural fibre you can choose.

The breakdown of the merino loft insulating system.

The breakdown of the merino loft insulating system.

This new type of layer is built with a water repellent coating, woven merino next to skin and recycled merino insulation to maximize warmth and minimize weight.

The fabric consists of a water resistant recycled outer fiber, inner wool insulation and wool insulation next to the skin.


Warm when wet.  The advantages of this type of fiber are obvious: they would be similar to the advantages of merino wool, which is very warm for the weight, stays warm when wet. It’s also easy to care for, particularly when compared to down.

Breathable.  Another advantage is superior breathability.  The 100% merino wool next to your skin is a plus, meaning you can wear the jacket with a short sleeve shirt and it would feel great on.  The merino lining also improves breathability.

Merino Loft is available on over 6 types of jackets and vests.

Merino Loft is available on over 6 types of jackets and vests.

Temperature Regulating.  The jacket is also better at regulating temperature, thanks in no small part to the amazing merino wool.  This means there is less actual layering and delayering going on throughout the day as your body temperature fluctuates. The jacket keeps you at a steady temperature when you’re moving and when you’re not. A down jacket is usually too hot to move around in, unless you’re in really frigid temperatures.

Fit. Since Icebreaker is genious at at layering These jackets have an excellent body-hugging fit and slightly stretchy quality that doesn’t bunch or restrict motion.  The sleeves are a bit on the long side, with a comfortable loose design.

icebreaker merinoloft helixDisadvantages

Bulky.  The disadvantage of this system is it’s quite a bit bulkier than down or synthetic fill, and heavier.  It doesn’t scrunch down and stuff as easily as down or synthetic.

Weight.  It’s heavier than most comparable jackets of its type.

Fit.  Though fit is actually a plus – it won’t necessarily fit everyone well.  These jackets tend to fit more snug and there may be some issue with sleeve length for some people. For example, if you’re arms are a tad longer than average you may find the sleeves too short when you have your hands in the thumb loop.


Icebreaker makes several jackets and vests with this insulation, including a 3/4 length jacket for women that’s mean for urban environments. The more technical jackets are the Stratus Long Sleeve Zip hood and the Helix zip, available for men and women.

Where to buy

The MerinoLOFT series of jackets is available at a wide variety of retailers.  These jackets are new and not easy to find on sale. Our gear search will help you find best prices quickly.



Alicja is an economist, enjoys climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, cycling and gets out into the backcountry as much as possible. See all of Alicja's Blog Posts