Monday, July 4, 2016

Icebreaker Anatomica Briefs

Icebreaker is a company from New Zealand that produces outdoor and athletic clothing. The Anatomica Briefs represent their effort at making men’s underwear with their signature merino wool, which is marketed as a versatile, lightweight fabric. The overall design stresses innovation, but as I emphasize below, the ambitions far outstrip the results. 

Materials and construction: The Anatomica Briefs are 96% merino wool and 4% lycra. The alleged sweat-wicking quality of the fabric is legitimate, and it does breathe better than I expected from wool. On the other hand, this material is somewhat lacking in flexibility and thoroughly lacking in softness. The pouch is interesting: Supported by an diagonal, asymmetric seam, it is unlike anything I’ve seen before. However, given the lack of stretchiness in the material, the pouch should be much bigger than it is. The worst design flaw is a very long tag attached to the seam on the inner left side, which must be repeatedly tucked back into place when it comes out of the leg hole. I give some credit for innovation, but the full package is not ultimately a good design. 3/10 

Comfort and usability: The material felt scratchy and unpleasant. The small pouch and rigid material made it much too constricting, so I had to rearrange myself numerous times throughout the day for it to stay tolerable. The sweat-wicking qualities of this brief would point to an athletic function, but I couldn’t figure out any way to make it comfortable enough to wear in any situation. 2/10

Aesthetics: This is the area where this item does the best. The grey stripes, the excellent stitching, and the diagonal seam across the pouch all contribute to a unique, impressive and understated look. 7/10

Overall rating: 4/10

Big enough? No.

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