When Isobaa recently contacted me to ask if I would try out some of their gorgeous Merino Wool clothing I was naturally over the moon because I had been hearing through the grapevine great things about their products.
My chosen items arrived quickly in the most beautiful recycled packaging which was a hit with me straightaway before I had even seen what was inside. I really do appreciate it when a company gives thought to how they package their products both in terms of aesthetics and where it will end up once I have opened them. As someone who tries to be a conscious consumer it felt good to know that the Isobaa boxes were recycled and could go into my own blue bin for further recycling – big bonus points plus it felt like an absolute treat to unwrap!
I had picked to test-out the Womens Merino 260 Casual Hoodie in Denim, the Womens Merino 150 Short Sleeve Crew T-Shirt in Navy and the Merino Hiking Socks in Charcoal and where better to put them to work than in my favourite place; the impressive Mourne Mountains?
The generous folks over at Isobaa are great believers ‘that a bit of fresh air is a rather good thing’ and if you’ve read my blog before or followed me on social media you’ll know that I wholeheartedly agree! Spending time outdoors in nature has been one of the greatest gifts in my life and has brought much joy, healing, purpose and perspective to me and I fully advocate a good dose of nature to increase mental, emotional and physical wellbeing whether it be a short dander in your local park or a full-on mountain hike challenge.
So, as you will have gathered, I am out and about a lot in wild spaces both solo and with my family. We are huge fans of the Mournes and the Causeway Coast and seek out every opportunity to go on an adventure. As a consequence my clothes take a fair amount of battering and washing and really do need to work hard for me in order to get good value for money out of them. Therefore I was super excited to see how the Isobaa garments I had picked fared for me in my most natural environment!
With that in mind, a couple of weeks ago we set our alarms for 6.30am and the whole family was crossing the stile at the foot of Slieve Muck in the Mournes by 8.30am. The early bird catches the worm and all that and also beats the crowds rushing to the hills for some respite now that lockdown restrictions have eased-off a little. We hadn’t climbed Slieve Muck together as a family before and I was eager to introduce my husband, 3 boys and our husky pup, Kai to its extremely steep slopes and stunning views from the summit.
It really is a good place to test out the breathability of clothing because the sheer incline had us all roasting hot within minutes and it ended up being a really beautifully warm day! The Merino 150 Short Sleeve T-Shirt is super soft, moisture wicking, odour resistant, quick-drying and breathable – all of the things you want in a base layer while out hiking in my own personal experience. Plus, when I had put it on that morning it truly felt like a luxurious item, but not something so fancy that I had to be precious about and fear getting muddy – that simply wouldn’t work for my lifestyle at all! It felt snug and well-fitting, fuss-free yet pretty and the underarm panels, flatlock stitching and offset shoulder seams show that it has been designed by people who understand the importance of clothing that doesn’t cause irritation when worn over long periods of time or with a rucksack on your back – very well thought out with lots of consideration for the finer details.
I was definitely grateful for the hoodie when we reached the summit of Slieve Muck and decided to stop here for something to eat while enjoying the panoramic views across the mountain range. Despite the day heating up well by now, the breeze that usually accompanies a mountaintop means you begin cool down rapidly while paused for any length of time, so having a light layer to pop on was great. I absolutely loved the longer length of this hoodie as it kept me really cosy and the integrated thumb loops meant my hands were kept warm too – as someone who’s hands get cold really quickly and then stiffen up I really appreciated this feature because I was still able to give out drinks and snacks to the kids which I find difficult with gloves on.
Let’s talk about socks…
As a regular hiker I have inevitably been through many, many pairs of hiking socks over the years…the search for the elusive perfect pair seemingly never-ending! It seems a fickle thing but to be honest it really does matter what’s on your feet when you’re spending extended periods of time on the trails throughout the seasons. I find that the two things that keep me happy while out in the hills is comfy feet and good hydration. Having sore or uncomfortable, niggly feet during a trek make for a miserable experience not only for you but for the others in your party having to endure your persistent complaining about aching toes and blisters – we’ve all been on both sides of this scenario and it’s not much fun!
With that in mind I am pleased to report that while wearing the Isobaa Merino Blend Hiking Socks I didn’t think about my feet once – this is a good thing! It meant my feet were comfortable, not too hot, not too cold, and I know I am at risk of sounding like Goldilocks here, but they were just right! That is a great feeling and I have since tried them out several times on a couple of longer, more challenging climbs and they performed without fault. Even when I kicked my boots off after a hike to the summit of Slieve Donard, the highest peak in the Mournes during scorching temperatures I was amazed that my feet were still dry and comfortable. I guess you get what you pay for with these socks and these will definitely be my go-to from now on, the hunt for the perfect pair of trail socks is over!
As I have mentioned my clothing needs to work well with me and hard for me when I am out and about on my adventures and after we had climbed Slieve Muck we continued on across to Carn Mountain then Ott and spent a good few hours roaming and exploring, making the most of the good weather and wild space to ourselves! It was late afternoon by the time we returned to our car and yet my clothes still felt great despite the exertion and a few stumbles in the heather! It’s not unusual to sweat a lot while scrambling in the hills but I felt fresh, dry and comfortable and didn’t need to change my clothes before the drive home. Furthermore, I chose to not put the tops straight into the washing basket on return but left them over the bannister in order to give them the ‘sniff test’ the following day – there wasn’t a hint of bad odour…just ask my poor husband! That is excellent as it means washing frequency can be reduced which for me as a Mum of 3 sporty lads is a huge win because my washing machine is on constantly and it’s also a win for the environment and means the garments will last longer.
Overall, I was really delighted with the products I was so kindly gifted by Isobaa and their communication with me couldn’t have been any better in terms of friendliness and promptness. They are genuinely a nice bunch of people who want to make clothes that work for their customers while respecting nature and encouraging us all to enjoy more adventure in the everyday – I can’t ask for more than that!
***A word about sizing – I wear a UK size 8 normally and in the photographs in this feature the Isobaa garments I wear are a size Small and fit me perfectly.***