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Icebreaker Butter Rib Tank Review

I’ve been a fan of Icebreaker for about 4 or 5 years now. I was first introduced to their base layers when I worked for an outdoors shop.  As I used to run to work – be it through rain, snow, and yes even black ice, I took it upon myself to invest in some heavy duty Icebreaker merino base layers. I’ve owned them for 4 years now and they are still in one piece and fully functioning. You might remember that earlier this year I reviewed the Icebreaker Sprite Racerback Bra and again I was incredibly impressed, so naturally when I was given the opportunity to review yet another Icebreaker product I was more than keen to give it a go. Before I go into my full product review however I think it’s worth giving Icebreaker’s history and ethics a notable mention.

Who Are Icebreaker?

Icebreaker are a New Zealand based outdoor and sports wear designer and manufacturer. Icebreaker’s outdoor wear is made from 100% merino wool, unlike other leading outdoor clothing companies who make their products using oil-based synthetics.

Icebreaker was founded by Jeremy Moon in 1994 – a market researcher and cultural anthropologist, and New Zealand resident. Moon had been introduced by his then American girlfriend to two local merino wool farmers Brian and Fiona Brakenridge. The Brakenridges had at the time began to develop a prototype thermal underwear made from 100% pure New Zealand merino wool, which thankfully then was of such minute value and sold at a low cost. It was often blended with traditional wool itself. Jeremy Moon trialed one of their merino wool T-shirts and was hooked – he found that (although it didn’t look very stylish) it was soft and not irritating to the skin, warm, breathable, and most importantly didn’t retain any body odour. It was after this experience that Moon decided to set up Icebreaker.

Icebreaker began selling its products in New Zealand, followed by Australia, and then later growing to the European market and the rest of the world.

Icebreaker may make premium outdoors products but they also hold their ethics in high esteem. Moon designed a philosophy of sustainability using natural fibres, focusing on environmental and social ethics, and of animal welfare. It was in August 2008 that Icebreaker launched its ‘Baacode‘. Baacode is a system that gives consumers the opportunity to track and trace the origins of their Icebreaker products right to the sheep farm it originated from.

All of Icebreaker’s merino wool is certified to the Öko-Tex Standard. This is an independent testing and certification that invloves all stages of the textiles production. The products are tested for harmful substances to ensure an environmentally friendly production. Icebreaker’s factories also meet ISO 14001 environmental standards.

Icebreaker have aslo prohibited the practice of mulesing, including the traditional surgical and clips methods. In order to avoid mulesing the sheep that produce Icebreaker merino wool are sometimes treated for Myiasis using chemical and medical treatments.

All contracted merino wool growers agree to meet Icebreaker’s strict conditions on environmental and social issues, and on animal welfare so you know that you’re getting an honest product.

The Review


As you can see it fits snugly but is ultra see through! (Please excuse my Jiu Jitsu bruises and veins)

The Features

The Icebreaker Butter Rib Tank is made from 100% merino wool and falls under Icebreaker’s ‘180 ultralight’ category making it a versatile piece for all season performance. The number simply represents the fabric’s weight in grams per metre2. It’s a slim fitting, v-neck tank that has a soft rib fabric making it super comfortable against even the most sensitive skin and has a racerback construction making it suitable to wear with or without a sports bra making it an easily interchangeable wardrobe essential. It’s breathable, odour resisitant, UV protective, and suitable for a multitude of activities such as hiking, running, and is great for camping and travel too.

But Why Merino Wool?

I know that merino wool sounds like it will keep you sweltering in the summer but it actually helps to naturally regulate your temperature, so it will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter when used as a base layer. It’s also super absorbent and super breathable due to the fact that it absorbs and releases water vapour, thus helping to prevent overheating.  This also eliminates that awful stickiness that is synonymous with heavy exercise or heat exposure, and as an added bonus it prevents body odour too. Merino wool is naturally anti-bacterial so you can literally wear your tank for several days, or even a week, before having to pop it in the wash. But what’s my favourite merino wool fact? Well, you’re also naturally protected from the sun’s harmful rays as merino wool is UV protective!


A flattering fit from the side!

The Verdict

I was a bit dubious about wearing a wooly vest at first, even though I knew how breathable it could be, but I was shocked at just how thin and lightweight it really was – just a measly 84g – which made it feel like I was pretty much wearing nothing. The merino wool fabric is so soft and gentle on your skin too and the racerback construction makes it fit perfectly around your shoulder blades – even my big muscly ones. Both of these factors made this literally the most comfortable tank top ever. It’s incredibly slim fitting and stretchy which is nice as it can help to show off your curves – this is something that I find difficult as I have a huge size difference between my waist and chest/shoulders. Often or not clothes are baggy around my waist and skin tight on my top half which sort of ends up making me look a little plumper than I actually am. So yes, I was super happy about that!

If you’re looking for an ethical yet stylish piece of clothing that will last you an entire lifetime as well as being versatile enough to use throughout the seasons then the Icebreaker Butter Rib Tank is certainly for you.

The vest has a flattering v-neck line and it’s not too low cut, making it suitable for wearing in any situation without you worrying whether or not you’re exposing a little too much skin. It’s also fairly long so when it rides up you won’t have the problem of showing your stomach or back mid activity, although form a stylistic point I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. The only drawback I found with this vest is that it’s quite see through so you have to make sure you’re wearing an appropriate bra underneath. I actually found that the Icebreaker Sprite Racerback Bra teamed up well with this, creating a nice layering effect.

As for the overall performance of the tank I found it to be really breathable throughout hot weather, it’s fantastic when worn under other clothes items making it great for layering. It’s also been useful to wear to bed on a slightly chilly night – I’m yet to go camping this summer (I know summer is almost over shame on me) but when I do I’ll definitely be throwing the Icebreaker Butter Rib Tank into my bag.

If you’re looking for an ethical yet stylish piece of clothing that will last you an entire lifetime as well as being versatile enough to use throughout the seasons then the Icebreaker Butter Rib Tank is certainly for you.

Score: 8/10

Fits: True to size. Available in sizes XS to XL. My chest measures at 34″,  my waist fluctuates between 26.5-28″, and my hips are 38″. I opted for a size Small and found this to fit really well. For more information on Icebreaker’s sizing click here.

Price: £45.00

Where to Buy: The Icebreaker Butter Rib Tank is available in an array of both neutral and vibrant colours, direct from Icebreaker at £45.00. If you’re a US customer it usually retails at $60.00 but is currently on sale with 40% off at $36.00 – to purchase follow this link to the US site.

If you’d like to keep up with what Icebreaker are releasing next, and to find out more about their various ranges, check them out on one of the links below:

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