My dad, David Michell, is the I/O Merino Head Honcho, so I’m sure you’re not all that surprised to learn I’m a big fan of Merino. I’m lucky I was exposed to the art of performance layering from such a young age as I’m now one of those strange breed of people who rises pre 5am to catch the best part of the day and watch the sun rise while I train. I’m a bit of an adventure junkie, but my sport of choice is rowing, which has recently had me out in some of the harshest winter elements we’ve experienced in years! But thanks to the new Chaser High Performance Hoodie, I was able to stay warm and comfy during some of those freezing cold mornings training.

By Suzannah Michell, South Australian Rower

It’s tough to train through winter – it’s cold and dark and altogether unfriendly. There’s not a lot worse than walking out of a boat shed, into the rain and then training for an hour and a half while it starts to hail on you and the coastal winds pick up a few knots.

So as the team at ioMerino launched the new Chaser Hoodie, I decided it was time to stock up on my performance layers to help get me through. I was initially a bit hesitant of the Chaser as I’ve never really been a fan of tops with a zip – I just didn’t think they suited me. And in rowing I am always sceptical of getting oars caught in too much fabric around a zip on the torso, and an extra seam rubbing for hundreds of strokes on your skin isn’t much fun. There really isn’t much you can do about that rubbing bit mid-session either! Hence, I’ve always stuck with my Altitude Long Sleeves, but they weren’t keeping me quite warm enough. So when I saw the new Chaser Hoodie and its contrast panelling and I really couldn’t say no!

When it arrived and I pulled it out of its packaging I was actually a little shocked! I’m obviously very familiar with the different fabrics at ioMerino, but this was something else! The Enigma 265 fabric is kind of amazing. It’s still that 96% Merino and 4% Elastane that we love, but its thickness helps to create that mid-layer I’ve been missing in my life. Off, it feels stretchy and strong. On, it has a really lovely compressive and wrapping feel that you don’t get with the lighter fabrics.

When I tried it on, I was not unhappy! The dark side panels do that classic photoshop trick and make you look long and lean, and the arms and body are made long to save you from any cold bits. Plus! All my zip-fears were resolved: the fit was tight and the zip was flat, no chance of a mix up on water.I’ve put it to the test several times (and haven’t washed it yet…)! One morning at rowing, it was cold in Adelaide. And like bone-chilling cold – I think it was two degrees and windy. We went out in a boat with eight girls in it, and were rowing four people at a time to work on technique, rotating through the boat. Oh my goodness, I am so glad I layered this bad boy over my rowing unisuit and Altitude Long Sleeve! The zippered neck came in handy to shut the wind off the back of my neck, and the thicker fabric kept my body warmth in. Then when we moved to all eight girls rowing for several kilometres, it further stood to the test and kept me pretty cool while I heated up as well. After training I could scrunch it up, push it into my bag into a tiny lump with zero problems.

Another morning of cross training saw the Chaser Hoodie ascend into the hills and mist for a hike and run. This is where I found the thumb loops and hood most useful! The ioTeam have redesigned the Chaser hood so the zip is longer and the hood will perfectly cover your head. The neck of the top is long enough that you can even zip up and tuck your chin away from the elements. Goodbye mist on my skin! Hello comfortable run!

I have worn my Chaser HP hoodie a lot more than I anticipated. I think I’m addicted to that tight, strong and secure fabric. I wear it to and from most morning trainings now and will continue to do so! It’s my go-to mid-layer and I’m really hoping ioMerino will produce more items in this Enigma 265. I recommend the Chaser Hoodie to everyone!

Want to check out the new Hoodie? Click here for more info. 

Disclosure: Despite my direct family ties with ioMerino, I was not asked to review this product and did not receive any incentive to do so. I simply wanted to put it through its paces for your benefit and the interest of everyone wanting to stay warm and comfortable during their outdoor adventures. 

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