When it comes to covering the latest in men’s and women’s apparel, we’ll admit outerwear often gets the most attention around here. But that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate a quality base layer. In fact, the layer closest to your skin is arguably to be the most important. After all, if your foundation is funky or uncomfortable, it’s going to be difficult to enjoy whatever activity you’re getting up to.

With this in mind, we recently went west to our favorite desert oasis to test a set of Icebreaker’s renowned merino wool underwear. The Sprite Tank and Sprite Hot Pants, to be exact.

Merino is a dream material, with a naturally occurring resistance to odor, and superior breathability and moisture-wicking properties. It's exactly what you want where the sun don't shine. And since nothing puts that trifecta to the test quite like a cramped six-hour cross country flight, followed by a hike in the hot desert sun, we did just that.

As the sun rose—and with it the temperature—the carefree hike up to Tahquitz Falls just outside Palm Springs, CA offered a pleasant testing ground for the ultra lightweight Sprite Tank. The slim-fit tank top is perfectly simple—nothing you don’t want yet everything you need.

The subtle V-neck racerback design is both comfortable and attractive (read: not over the top “sporty”), making it as easily worn on the trail as in the yoga studio, or even on its own in town in particularly warm weather. Flatlock seams all around with forward set seams on the side make for a fit that was comfortably chafe-free, even when wearing an overloaded backpack later on in the trip.

But the fabric is the highlight, no doubt. The silky, super fine corespun material is made of nylon fibers wrapped in merino wool, with a 5% Lycra addition as well for ease of movement. It’s engineered especially to be durable, and comfortable, above all else. While the unique fabric shines in the Sprite Tank, the next-to-skin softness is acutely noticeable in the Hot Pants.

The Sprite Hot Pants are fun. They’re cute, and functional, and designed for daily wear. And the naturally antimicrobial fabric makes them especially good for traveling (and lounging around the house on lazy days). An updated slim fit and offset seams increase wearability, while an elastic "stabilizer" has been added to the leg hem to keep the short shorts from rolling or riding up. And a sturdy Icebreaker emblazoned waistband tops it off, literally.

After a full couple days of desert exploration and backyard fireplace chilling in the combination Sprite kit, it was clear just how lacking the rest of the unmentionables in our bottom drawer really are. Trust us, go merino. It’s well worth it.