When you think of fleece, you usually picture a garment made from some sort of synthetic fabric. Last winter season, Icebreaker revealed their own version of fleece, called RealFleece, made entirely from merino wool. Now available in both outer and mid layer weights, you can wear merino wool throughout your entire layering system.
This season's Icebreaker RealFleece Mid Layers are made from a 260 g/m2 weight merino wool versus the 320 g/m2 weight Outer Layer pieces. The outside of the fleece has a smooth, jersey finish which works to block wind but remains air permeable to keep you from overheating.
The interior of each RealFleece Mid Layer has a terry knit construction, with loft that has been brushed to create air pockets that trap air and lock in body heat. A bonus for cold weather activities, the merino wool will keep you warm even when wet and if you plan on wearing your fleece for days on end, will delay the stink factor as well.
I have been wearing the Cascade Half Zip as part of my cold weather layering system for ice climbing, snowshoeing, skiing, and other outdoor activities this winter. A slim profile, without hand pockets, makes the fleece easier to fit under other layers. A zippered stash sleeve pocket is handy for storing keys or even a Gu when you head out for a quick trail run or snowshoe.
In terms of fit, the RealFleece Mid Layers appear to be sized larger than what you might normally wear in a piece from Icebreaker. For example, I regularly wear a size large in any next to skin Icebreaker garment, such as a base layer top, dress, or even the GT Bike Jersey. The large size Cascade Half Zip, however, seems slightly too big, especially if you plan to wear it underneath another layer.
Bottom Line: The RealFleece Mid Layer not only makes a great layering piece for cold weather activities but doubles as a good looking wool sweater that you can wear around town.