F is for Freezerwear: Zero-Bulk Icebreaker Takes the Sub-Zero off Air Travel

Yay! You're leaving on a jet plane! But you're going to freeze on the airplane unless you swath yourself in bulky winter gear enroute -- unless you have a zero-bulk Icebreaker to wear instead.
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Liza Herz
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Yay! You're leaving on a jet plane! But you're going to freeze on the airplane unless you swath yourself in bulky winter gear enroute -- unless you have a zero-bulk Icebreaker to wear instead.
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It may be sweltering outside, but if you're getting on a plane any time soon, you know they'll be blasting the a/c on your flight. So how do you prevent your teeth from chattering and your lips from turning blue?

Everyone (including yours truly) always recommends bringing a huge cashmere wrap to keep warm, but who wants to be stuck lugging around a giant woolly scarf after landing? And a sweater is not necessarily the answer either. It can make that narrow economy seat feel even tighter than it is (assuming you travel steerage, not first class like, say, Gwyneth). And then there's having to deal with your sweater's unwanted bulk after the flight -- jamming it into your already overloaded carry-on.

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Our stylish writer friend Joanne Latimer, who is always cold and always getting on planes, turned us onto her secret travel weapon: a narrow pullover from Icebreaker, a line of warm and breathable merino wool active-wear pieces from New Zealand that look and feel like thin cotton. (On the Icebreaker website, models pose in inhospitable environments like they're standing still just long enough to take the photo before hieing off to scale mountains or bike through snow.)

The Athena ($225, icebreaker.com) is tissue-thin, long-sleeved, and wondrously non-itchy with details (thin placket, scoop neck, high armholes) more suited to a fashion item than something you'd find at a camp outfitters -- and it comes in black, not those weird outdoorsy colours like "spruce" or "thistle."

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Toastier than cashmere, it's the best defense there is against sub-arctic cabin air conditioning, and, because it's merino, it's breathable, so you'll be able to stay cool when you arrive at your (much warmer) destination. Also an option: this $69 long-sleeved merino crew-neck.

"It rolls into nothing," says Joanne, an expert packer who once went to India with only a fanny pack and a toothbrush.

I lie. Joanne would never wear a fanny pack; it was a small satchel.

"I can stick it into my suitcase and barely notice it's there," she says of the Athena. All good news for us habitual over-packers, meaning more room for inflight essentials like a Kobo, three magazines, two protein bars, hand cream, a laptop, lip balm, noise cancelling headphones, our iPhone....

Are you an over-packer? Would something like the Athena or crew-neck Icebreaker be useful to you?

Photos 2 and 3 courtesy of Icebreaker.com. Canadian retailer info is here. Stylish writer and frequent traveller Joanne Latimer recently wrote about the 20th anniversary of YSL's Touche Eclat for McLeans magazine.