Around Christmas last year we received a big box of Isobaa Merino products to test in return for unbiased reviews. Among these was a pair of underwear for women in 100 % Merino wool, which I have been using for both everyday life and various outdoor activities for the past many months. I can therefore confidently state that the Isobaa Merino Women’s underwear is suitable for:
- Everyday use
Isobaa underwear is, like most of the brand’s apparel, made of 100% Merino wool. The density of the wool fabric is 180 g/m2 which is not only great for year-round use, but also in the sweet spot where the fabric is durable, but not too thick. Merino wool is excellent for regulating your body’s temperature depending on the conditions – it cools when it’s warm and warms when it’s cold. The fabric is also so thin that it feels wonderfully breathable. As I don’t sweat so much in the pelvic region (even after intense activity), I personally can’t attest to the moisture-wicking and quick-drying properties of the underwear, but you can read more about it in the review of the Isobaa men’s underwear. The underwear for women is available in black as well as four different striped versions. The one I tested is the combination Navy/Wine.
Comfort, fit and sizing
Now, first of all, on the brand webpage Isobaa describes their underwear for women as “hipster shorts”. While there is of course no single authority for the definition of the various underwear cuts for women, anything “hipster” is in my opinion (and Wikipedia’s) is something where the waistband reaches somewhere around the hip sockets and your love handles are left uncovered. The waistband of the Isobaa women’s underwear comes much higher and runs exactly below the navel, which means that the majority of the love handles is covered (depending on their size, of course;). Since the ‘lenght’ of the underwear is 24 cm (9.5’’) at the sides and that it also features short legs (around 4cm/1½ inch) extending below the crotch, I believe that a more suitable description would be “high-waisted boyshorts” or simply “boxer shorts”. Due to the short legs, the cheeks are fully covered – something I’m personally a big fan of.
The Isobaa women’s underwear is, however, still quite differently and more femininely cut than the men’s boxers. The level of comfort is excellent – not just due to the soft and breathable material, but also because there are no seams down the middle (a big no-no in my book), neither in the front nor back, the elastic waistband is wide and soft to the touch, and that the well-placed vertical seams are made with flatlock stitches. I call them well-placed because the seams are offset from the sides of your hips rather than placed directly on them – this is particularly important if you are using the hipbelt of your (heavy) backpack as the Isobaa underwear is relatively high-waisted. Had the seams been directly at your sides, chances are that using the hipbelt would cause chafing at the seams.
Isobaa offers sizes XS-XL, which cover hip circumferences from 91 cm to 112 cm (approximately 36’’ – 44’’), and waist circumferences from 67 to 87 cm (approximately 26’’ – 34’’). Usually I find waist circumference pretty irrelevant when it comes to finding the right size of underwear, but since this Merino underwear is relatively high-waisted it makes sense here. I asked for a size L as I had just given birth months before, but although I have lost around 5 kg since I received the underwear it still fits me just perfect due to the elasticity in the fabric.
While the density of the Merino material is suitable for all-season use, the relatively high waist of the underwear makes it particularly useful for hiking in colder weather as it helps to keep your lower obliques warm – something which gets increasingly important as you get older, I have to admit. Reversely, I might not choose to wear in the warmest of summer when the temperature gets close to 30 ⁰C (86 ⁰F) and above. For all lower temperatures, they will be great. They could also be used for layering in cold weather so you wear them on top of a pair of less covering panties. I have to admit that I have never felt comfortable wearing the same pair of underwear (Merino or not) for more than a day or so, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use the Isobaa underwear for several days (or weeks!) if I was layering them over another pair of underwear. Merino wool is known for its great odor-resistance due its anti-microbial properties.
Washing and drying
The washing instructions are/were printed on the inside of the underwear, and here is my only complaint with regards to the quality of the Isobaa underwear – the letters have simply been peeling off, so there is only the vague imprints of the printing glue. Luckily, I have quite some experience with washing Merino, which should be treated as follows: Cold gentle cycle with wool detergent without bleach or softener, and then to be air-dried. Anything else will decrease the lifespan of Merino apparel.
The Isobaa Merino underwear for women offers comfort, warmth and good coverage. They are not only great for keeping you comfy when venturing outside, whether for hiking or everyday activities, but also to lounge around your home in. They can also be used for layering over another pair of underwear, and are thus particularly useful for cold weather.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.