Jul 13, 2007 at 11:29 am #1224093
What is the difference in wt?
What is the difference in how warm can each go (I do know that each individual using the product varies).
Ibex has some shirts on sale and the 17.5 is 75 dollars and the 18.5 micron is ONLY (!) 55 dollars…….
Is the extra 20 dollars worth it?
Thanks for any advice.Jul 13, 2007 at 2:54 pm #1395330Jon RhoderickBPL Member
@hotrhoddudeguyLocale: New England
I have very little experience in merino wool in micro sizes, but logically, I doubt most of us would be able to feel the difference between 17.5 microns and 18.5 microns, and looking at the fabric pictures it seems that they have similar weaves, but in my opinion I think that the 18.5 may even be woven a bit thinner as the 17.5 ones have a sort of ribbed knit to them, but that seems to be a bit counterintuitive, but if you want warm, maybe the ribbies and the base layer stuff Ibex makes would be a better choice, I think the "tops" section is more for keeping you cooler rather than warming you up.Jul 13, 2007 at 7:17 pm #1395347Brian SenezBPL Member
Not sure on the difference between the two but just wanted to chime in with some feedback on the 18.5 woolies from ibex. They are very lightweight and the fit is very close. They are form fitting and thin enough to be see through (black color). I have not used them in the field yet but they are replacing my EMS bergelene mid weight stuff which is significantly heavier thicker and bulkier. Sorry I don't have info on how warm it is just yet. I intend to use it for late fall early winter new england hiking.Jul 14, 2007 at 1:56 am #1395375
There is a huge * difference in feel and warmth between 23 micron ( the upper hand for Merino) and 18.5. You provably already know that Icebreaker is the best * brand anyway and they use 18.5 ( I think…) . Incidentally some bales have been sold as "12 microns" usually purchased in a bidding frenzy between Italian and Japanese fabric manufacturers. Yes it is the old "mine is smaller than yours" game that boys like to play. But maybe you don't want to pay $1000 for a base layer top.
* according to Franco's non scientific findingsJul 14, 2007 at 3:18 am #1395377
so is micron size like 900 vs 800 down-how warm the bag is depends not only on quality of down but then how much?
i.e. how fine the weave 17.5 is finer than 18.5 but then the weight of the fabric will tell how warm it will make you feel?Jul 14, 2007 at 4:14 am #1395380
Yes. Icebreaker has clothing from 140 (140 g per square meter) for their skin layer (my summer T shirt, I have used that at 35-38 c, from around 18c ) to the outer 380 layer. Moving my 320, with an eVent jacket on top, keeps me warm down to around 0 c.
On a serious note, for a change, all of the Icebreaker wool comes from high country farms in Southern NZ and the farmers have a long term contract (IE they don't depend on spot/auction prices)
If you saw those sheep in winter (in the snow…) you would understand why they all use themselves superfine Merino of that quality to keep warm and dry.Jul 14, 2007 at 4:18 am #1395381
Kind of – the difference is the feel of the finished product. Finer wool feels softer and is also more resilient. Significantly for lots of people, finer wool is also less irritating against the skin than the coarser, cheaper stuff. I have a jumper made of ultra-fine wool (probably sourced from my home-town in Victoria) and it's astonishly comfortable in a wide range of temperatures.Jul 14, 2007 at 5:00 am #1395383
Re: the Icebreaker/Kiwi sheep thing.
It's interesting that both Icebreaker and Smartwool claim that their wool comes from the same very small part of NZ. It's odd for two reasons – the area around Wanaka on the South Island couldn't possibly produce enough wool to supply all the wool both those companies use, and secondly, NZ doesn't produce much clothing quality wool. In point of fact the majority of NZ wool is carpet grade (i.e., not even suitable for the roughest woollen clothing) you can check this out at the "Wools of New Zealand" website – nearly all clothing quality wool comes from Australia, and nearly all the low micron wool too. And the sheep that provide the highest quality wool are kept indoors their entire lives, wear protective coats in their own personal pens and are fed scientifically calculated diets. So in point of fact no ratty old merino cross-breed wandering around the South island hills is going to produce the medium quality wool that these guys claim to use, let alone any ultrafine wool. Why do people think that they can? Because Icebreaker have just gotten very good at marketing spin … i.e. bull..t.
If you are ever driving from Melbourne to Adelaide stop in Horsham at the Wool Factory. This is a community organisation that produces ultrafine wool and provides employment for people with disabilities.Jul 14, 2007 at 5:53 am #1395388Jeff BooneBPL Member
I just bought the Icebreaker Tech T Lite and the Ibex Woolies Zip T. I can't find any micron info on the Icebreaker, but it is considerably smoother/more comfortable against my skin. It is certainly lighter, and I don't know how much that impacts softness. I will say that there is so much difference that I will only buy Icebreaker in the future – as long as I am forced to buy over the internet and cannot actually feel the garments before I purchase.Jul 14, 2007 at 6:11 pm #1395424
Icebreaker signed a contract in 2005 for the 2006-2008 period for two and a half tonnes of Merino wool with about 60 different stations (farms) all from the same area in the Southern Alps of NZ. This is just over a quarter of the total NZ production of fine Merino wool.One of the major suppliers is Nokomai Station (http://www.nokomai.co.nz/) have a look at their site.
Nokomai is around 38,000 hectares, about half of the size of greater Melbourne.
Most of the manufacturing is located in China, ( Shanghai) however Italians and Germans are also involved, as you would expect with fine wool.
This is from their web site about their requirements to become a supplier
demonstrate impeccable business ethics
have a brand new manufacturing plant (less than 10 years old)
have access to the latest technology
respect staff and provide a caring community environment for them
have good natural light, clean air, and a healthy environment
be part of a global quality assurance programme eg ISO9001
be part of a global environmental assurance programme eg ISO 14000 or Oecotex
be conscious in trying to minimise environmental impact: energy consumption, use of chemicals
and yes, they are "fair dinkum" about it.
Your comments about Aussie indoor farming are correct for sub 17 micron fibers, not used by Icebreaker.
FrancoJul 15, 2007 at 9:16 am #1395443
I stand corrected … but you'll understand that the claims on their website about the "best farmers in the world" and the best wool in the world do make me choke.
And sheep that are in an alpine environment do not necessarily produce better or warmer wool …Jul 21, 2007 at 4:25 am #1396115
All you gear fanatics and tech wizards?
No info on the science of microns in wool?
and wool weight per yard as advertized with icebreaker? (should be called "bankbreaker"- ain't cheap)…….
I know YMMV, etc. but what do most people use for long sleeve wool gear for above 80 degrees and humid.
I have an inexpensive wool sweater that use that is OK til the mid 70 deg F range or so but I used it in the rain recently and it was amazingly comfortable……wool is really great when it is wet……it just doesn't dry out that quickly but insulates the best of anything when still wet IMHO…….
so I am looking for a warm weather setup with long sleeves and a zipper which won't break the bank……..
and perhaps some durability……..
aJul 21, 2007 at 8:01 am #1396125Adam KilpatrickBPL Member
@oystersLocale: South Australia
I would not be too keen to make assumptions about environmental factors affecting wool quality. Some of the most consistent high grade wool in Australia (almost all sheep always sub 21 microns-thats pretty good) comes out of a rather harsh semi-arid area on the Northern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia. The area is dominated by chenopod shrublands, which, although energy (carbohydrate) deficient, and high in salt content, both of which are bad for fattening and lambing, they are incredibly high in protein content in the feed. Protein is one of the keys to strong, fine wool. With good land management from Pastoralists, such as on Middleback Station, dust, burr weeds, etc are kept to an absolute minimum, and the wool is really clean and require little processing.
Places like GH Michells at Salisbury SA are also capable of removing the finer microns from each fleece, as well as cleaning it right up. With such a high rainfall and young soils, New Zealand ranglelands have incredibly high productivity. Protein content is probably still reasonable with all the extra nutrients aroung (although I'm struggling to grasp conceptually how N could be that great). With huge productivity, PSI (a measure of sheep population density) would be incredibly high compared to in Australia.
I thus condlude that it would be quite feasible, that even in a relatively small area, that they are quite able to produce enough wool to extract enough fibers of the desired micron rating. The rest is likely worthless matress fill.
AdamJul 21, 2007 at 9:12 am #1396127
"I would not be too keen to make assumptions about environmental factors affecting wool quality. Some of the most consistent high grade wool in Australia (almost all sheep always sub 21 microns-thats pretty good) comes out of a rather harsh semi-arid area on the Northern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia."
I agree – I was questioning Icebreaker's advertisments which claim that wool grown in an alpine environment will be warmer because of that (but they don't make that claim on their website).
And I agree that the sheep density is pretty high in the South Island – my parents are farmers in the Wimmera, so I really noticed the stocking rates in NZ. I initially thought the sheep were being penned for shearing … Nonetheless, Icebreaker must now be producing a huge volume of clothing and, given that it's all now produced in China, and China is itself a huge producer of wool which must be significantly cheaper than shipping it from NZ, what are the odds that some of that Icebreaker clothing is being made from Chinese wool?
With regard to fleece cleanliness, even sheep that are grazing on stubble will have very dirty fleeces – when you put your hands in and part the wool, the outer 6 cms or so will be the colour of the local soil and the wool below that will be pristine.
The point of the shedding I referred to is, as you point out, to exactly control the protein they get so that their fleeces are consistent quality. But the CSIRO has achieved non-shedded 16 – 18 micron wool, so shedding may disappear.Sep 14, 2007 at 4:28 pm #1402224E CMember
@ofelasLocale: On the Edge
My Sweet Lord…a WHOLE micron difference…imagine the agony of choosing… ;-)Mar 20, 2010 at 2:34 pm #1588812Stephen MisaMember
I am involved involved in merino here in NZ. If you were to add up Icebrakers total useage along with other users who profess to use NZ merino you will find that it far exceeds the size of the total NZ clip.
As for microns that is just one of many factors contributing to the quality of the fabric. Generally speaking the lower the micron the better it feels closer to the skin.
A couple of other things should be considered when buying merino…………. the spinning of the fibre is very very important……….. you may use the same fibre but the quality of the spinning can make the end fabric look totally different. We have used many spinners from around the world with varying success.
Also some manufactures use singles yarn others use what we two's
When buying a garment stretch it a little and hold it upto the light………… see if you can see what is called thick n thins in the fabric ……. this is where the fibres are not consistent ……… you'll find this in some of the best brands.
NZ merino is not all that it seems. Icebreaker is a great marketing company.Mar 20, 2010 at 3:45 pm #1588835Michael BMember
The ibex in 17.5 is going to be much softer than the 18.5. The difference is obvious to the hand and when wearing them. I have both ibex weights, as well as an icebreaker in 260 weight (which I am wearing now from skiing). The 17.5 is much softer than the icebreaker too; really no comparison. Whether it is worth the extra cost is another question, since they are all so expensive, but if the itch of wool is at all a concern, then the 17.5 is worth it. If you are looking that nelson in 17.5: I covet that too, just for how soft it will be. Not sure I would wear it backpacking though, since I would ruin it with my bushbuddy I am sure. I like the ibex woolies too, maybe it is how thin that is, but that also seems very nice on the skin.
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