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The Odd World of Icebreaker

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When you get a free minute today, click on over to Icebreaker.com, the home of the New Zealand-based maker of merino wool base layers and clothing, and take a gander through the odd and mystical display of lux wool apparel and fairytale scenes. It is a strange land, a place of sheep and pricey clothes, sweeping landscape imagery, skinny super-model types, and ram-headed men. Yes, look long enough at the site and you might find yourself asking something along the lines of . . . “Is that a man-goat mating with a nymph?”

Indeed, Icebreaker’s motif is unlike anything else in the outdoors world. There’s not much hiking or camping or climbing going on. Instead, the strange, beautiful photo illustrations conjure an artiness and an ethereal vibe. Cues seem to be taken not from ski slopes and national parks but from fashion photography, the Brothers Grimm, Salvador Dali even.

The weird world of Icebreaker, I discovered this winter, extends to reality, too. This past January, in a yurt hut down a snowy trail in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, I joined a group of Icebreaker workers for a gourmet dinner in the woods. It was a press meeting, with a few journalists invited to an intimate gathering with food made on the spot and, appropriately, New Zealand wine. Civilized, no doubt. But it was not long before things got strange. . . .

Scenes from the Icebreaker yurt party, January, 2011

I’ll spare some of the details, but will say that there was a backpack hydration bladder filled with alcohol. There was a sheep inoculator gun, its tip accosting dinner attendees with squirts from the aforementioned backpack into open mouths. I was force-fed an apparent New Zealand delicacy, Pineapple Lumps, which tasted like Styrofoam mixed with sugar and chalk.

This is all to say we had a fabulous time with Icebreaker this winter. I am a fan of the company and its clothing line, not to mention its mold-breaking way of doing things, from the graphic design to products like wool lingerie that doubles as active wear. Check out the company if you have not before. Its products are pricey but top-end — great for activity outdoors and everyday wear. Don’t believe me? Go to Icebreaker.com. The ram-headed men and the naked girls with sheep ears will tell you just as well.

—Stephen Regenold is founder of www.gearjunkie.com. A version of this post ran originally on VentureThere.com.

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