On a recent trip to East Africa I spent three weeks in Kenya and Tanzania, going on safari, visiting villages, cities, and slums, and swimming in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Zanzibar. This was the perfect testing ground for warm-weather gear. So it was pretty unexpected that the Icebreaker Bliss Wrap made of merino wool would become a favorite.
In fact, the main reason I brought this coverup was because it seemed cozy enough to wear for all 24 hours of flying time from Portland to Nairobi. (Hint: You can skip the dirty airplane blanket if you wear your own stylish “snuggy”.) But after a full day and night of wear the piece didn’t smell. At all.
The antimicrobial properties of wool make it a no-brainer for travel and the micro-weight fabric of this top was well suited for the soaring temps of Kenya and Tanzania. The garment has a UPF rating of 50, but the cozy cape-like design could be a bit stifling on sun-drenched afternoons. So the versatile, lightweight wrap became a staple after the sun went down and the temps dropped. On safari I wore it belted like a robe for midnight trips to the loo. In Nairobi it served as a dinnertime cover-up. In ultra-conservative Zanzibar fastening the top’s lone button — at the neck — turned the wrap into a full-coverage smock and made me feel like I was being respectful of burqa-wearing residents. But despite all of this wear without a single wash, plus a grueling 33-hour trip home, the shirt stayed smelling fresh.
I finally did wash the wrap once I got home, but not because it failed the sniff test. It just seemed prudent to take a break from wearing it, if only for the few hours it took to wash cold and line dry.