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Get Race Ready

April 04, 2023 7 min read

Group of trail runners outdoors

Race season is kicking off here in Australia and it's time to start paying a bit more attention to the weather and what you can do so you'll have much less to worry about when you’re out and about - whether that's training, racing or just generally being outside in the elements.

Either way, it's time to get ready for cool weather, cold weather, mild weather, dry weather, wet weather, sunshine, rain, wind, hail, short runs, long runs, hard runs, easy runs… it’s time to get ready for anything and everything.

It's time to go with io and here's our team's tips for how you can be race ready.

Mount Crawford Belair Half Marathon

Test it first.

Even though we’d love you to buy something of ours, we'd never recommend wearing something you’ve never worn before on race day. Our stuff is ultra comfy straight out of the packet, but we always say wear it a few times before race day so you can go in knowing exactly what to expect in terms of fit, feel and temperature regulation. It might even help to know whether you even need an extra top or not. If you’re used to wearing a regular T-shirt and an extra top for when it's cooler, you may well find one of our tops is enough which is good to know in advance to save you carrying stuff you don’t need.


Devil's Nose
Mount Crawford
Devil's Nose

Mandatory gear compliant.

Our thermals are compliant with almost every mandatory gear list on the planet. If they say you need thermals, unless they need something really unusual, or specify a specific weight, our thermals will fit the bill. Our Altitude Range will be what people usually go for because they’re a classic, body hugging 'contact fit' thermal which means less bunching up if you have to layer up. But our Ultra and Universal ranges are also compliant. Importantly, unlike regular compression leggings that are almost never acceptable as mandatory thermals, our Pace compression leggings are merino-rich so qualify as thermal leggings with the added bonus of some nice compression. It’s always best to check your race’s specific requirements, but we’re yet to find a race in Australia, from local races all the way through to Ultra Trail Australia, (which we sponsored for a few years), where our thermals don’t make the grade.


Altitude tee Ultra tee
Universal tee Merino compression leggings

Socks are as important as shoes.

Some people put a lot of effort into their tops, shorts, leggings etc then just grab any old pair of socks. Don’t be that person. Yes, we know there are way more colourful socks on the market, but there are none better in terms of natural, merino-rich comfort and performance. Go with a sock that will get you through anything - including if your feet get wet early which can transform some socks into blister monsters.


No Show Socks

Less to wear and carry. More comfort.

One of the trickiest things about races is choosing something that will get you through a freezing cold start line, through a morning that could be cool, warm, wet, dry or all of the above, and if you’re running far enough, back into a freezing cold evening and finish line. That’s where ioMerino comes in.

Our tops will keep you warm when it’s cold, breathe to keep you comfortable if and when it warms up, and wicks moisture so if it rains or you perspire in warmer conditions, you’ll stay comfortable for longer even if your io gets wet. It’s lightweight enough that if you do want to take something extra, one of our thermal long sleeve tops is super lightweight and will fit into a zip lock sandwich bag (which will also keep it dry in your pack!) so you can be prepared without the bulk! It’s also odour-resistant so when you celebrate at the finish line no one near you will be wondering what died.

When you go with io it’s a great way to cut down on how much you take, while still making sure you’ve got what you need out there, especially if the weather dishes up something unexpected.


Ultra crew Men's Ultra Crew

If it’s all good, what’s the difference?

Our collections are mostly divided by fit. We don’t do inferior, minority-merino blends, everything we do is merino-rich, using the best quality, most comfortable merino fabrics. We have a few fabrics that are 45% merino because we've blended them for specific reasons (one with plant fibre to make an extra light and cool fabric, one with recycled synthetic to deliver our most affordable enviro-friendly fabric), and everything else is 70+% merino so you get the full thermal and high performance properties of merino. No cheap blends with a token amount of merino so that we can save money and you get ripped off. Just the real deal with all the performance you expect.

If you want something that fits tight against your body, go for our Altitude Range. if you want a streamlined sporty fit, but not quite so huggy, go for the Ultra. And if you’re thinking you’d like something with a bit more room, go for the Universal range which is still a high performance range (and made from the exact same fabric as our Ultra range!) but with a more casual fit.

Sturt Gorge Devil's Nose

Which fit is right for you?

If you still can’t decide, Altitude was originally designed for ‘on mountain’ so it's our classic base layer range for people who have to layer up in the snow. It's also the perfect next to skin layer for cyclists who are used to the fit of lycra or who want to stick with the look of their lycra kit but want a thermal layer underneath, and increasingly we find a lot of trail runners are choosing this cut as well. The extra length of the drop back hem gives you extra 'tuck' or overlap so there's no cold spots if you're leaning over handlebars etc.

Ultra was specifically designed when we were working with Ultra Trail Australia. We wanted a top that was designed by ultra runners for ultra runners. The cut is streamlined without being too tight or clingy, and the flat lock seams means you won’t chafe even if you have a pack on for extended periods of time.

Universal, as the name suggests, is good for pretty much anything. Although we wouldn’t suggest it for a first base layer if you’re going to put tight layers over the top because of its looser fit. If you’re camping, hiking or running and might still slip a mid layer or jacket over the top it’s perfectly fine though. This would be the choice for mountain bikers and bike packers as well. With its classic cut, it’s the go-to range for every day wear too!

Not sure whether to go with a T-shirt or long sleeve top?

Two words: Arm warmers. These are amazing. Effectively turns your T-shirt into a long sleeve top, but if it warms up, roll ‘em down and leave them around your wrists or take them off completely. Super versatile. Sure you could wear a long sleeve top and then just pull up your sleeves, but it’s really not the same or as comfortable. Ours are, of course, merino-rich too so don’t even think about comparing them to regular synthetic ones that can actually make you colder in certain conditions because of how they ‘hold the cold’.


Man wearing ioMerino arm warmers

What about leggings?

Look, we get it, people choose leggings for all sorts of reasons. And we know many of you like ones with cool colours and fancy patterns. We’re not gonna lie, we like some of those as well. But if it’s feel, comfort and performance you’re after, our world first merino compression leggings are incredible. At least that’s what everyone who wears them tells us. And of course we’re inclined to agree with them. Enough compression to hold you nice and firm, but with a merino-rich fabric that keeps you warm, but breathes, wicks moisture and does all the stuff that keeps you comfortable for longer. (Remember, regular compression leggings, even by the big brands, will almost never be accepted as mandatory gear when thermals are required! But ours will. Because they’re awesome.)


Must-have accessories.

No race kit is complete without our merino gloves or merino neck warmer. Super lightweight, but super effective at keeping you comfortable through all sorts of weather. The neck warmer in particular really is a must have. We know you’ll find fancier looking ones out there, but if you want something that’s going to deliver the warmth and comfort you need, there is no substitute. Wear it around your neck, around your head, over your ears, wherever and however you need a bit of extra protection from the elements when you’re on the go. (Is also compliant with many mandatory gear lists that require thermal headwear!) We've even got handy race belts now so you don't have to put safety pins through your merino and risk damaging it!


Woman wearing neck warmer Man fitting a pair of gloves

Not convinced? Try what you want risk-free.

We know every company bombards you with all sorts of reasons about why their stuff is the best. Maybe they have a sexy website or famous people in their TV ads. We don’t have any of that. We don’t really even have ads - with or without famous people. We’re just a 6th generation wool family who make the kind of clothes we want to wear, from the best quality wool we’re happy to put our name to, using our own unique ‘recipes’ for making the best merino fabrics, in the most ethical and sustainable way possible. And we’re so confident you’ll like our stuff, we’re prepared to give you your money back if you don’t. Not one of those ho-hum money back guarantees where you get your money back if you return it in its original condition in its original packaging because how the heck are you supposed to know how good it is if you haven’t tried it out in the real world doing what you do?

So if you think we’re full of it and don’t want to cough up the bucks for something you might not love, just buy it, wear it on the trails, even on race day, and if after 60 days you don’t think it’s as good as we say it is, just send it back and get a refund. That’s how confident we are that you won’t want to send it back once you’ve worn it. And with winter coming up, we’re pretty sure you’re going to get a lot of use out of whatever you go with.

Stay safe and comfortable out there and wherever you go and whatever you do, enjoy yourself. You might be surprised how much more enjoyable your time outside will be when you’re wearing the best possible clothing. And if you’re still not sure what’s best for you, drop us an email, let us know what you’ve got planned and we’ll help you choose. We have cyclists, hikers, campers, runners, cyclists, skiers, landscape and wildlife photographers, and more on the team so we can give you real world advice about what we use and how it goes.

Woman at a trail running event