Wearing wool in the summertime doesn’t seem like a conventional formula for comfort or performance … but then again, Icebreaker isn’t really a conventional company.

Icebreaker GT Run Tracer Shorts Features:

  • Fabric construction: GT200 merino wool main panels
  • Built-in ultralite GT 150 liner
  • Side mesh eyelet panels for breathability
  • 7″ (18cm) inseam
  • Elastic waist with interior draw cord
  • Interior key pocket
  • Inseam gusset
  • Flatlock seams
  • MSRP $70

Icebreaker GT Run Tracer Shorts Review

Icebreaker thrives on combining old-world materials – specifically, wool from the merino sheep native to New Zealand – and high-tech manufacturing to produce products that are highly unique and highly functional.  The Tracer shorts fit that profile perfectly, providing more comfort and performance value than you’d ever expect to get out of wool shorts.

GT Run is Icebreaker’s premium line of technical garments designed specifically for runners, and the Tracer short is one of three traditionally-styled (i.e. non-compression)  shorts that are distinguished by inseam length: at 7”, the Tracer is the bridge between the 5” Distance and the 9” Enduro models.  As a longer inseam guy, 7” is ideal for my multi-hour trail running needs.

Lab testing in the Salinas Valley

The inherent advantages of merino wool are well-established:  it breathes naturally, effectively controls temperature even when wet, and has natural odor protection that is superior to most synthetic fabrics.  It also wicks sweat away from the skin, but from my experience the fabric holds moisture slightly longer than other performance fabrics prior to evaporation.  This was evident in the Tracer short as well, but it typically wasn’t until I was 2 to 3 hours into a run before I noticed a slight sagging of the shorts due to increased fluid weight.  For shorter distance, you probably won’t notice a difference.

What you get in exchange is incredible comfort and versatility in a short that you can use for running as well as all-purpose athletic activity.   Flatlock seams, a soft ultralite liner, and smoothly spun GT200 merino fabric combine for a very nice feel; I actually found the shorts to be more comfortable than Icebreaker’s GT Run Ace crew shirt, which is constructed entirely of the thinner GT150 wool.  The entire garment breathes fairly well, even in warm weather, and I didn’t notice any excess warmth compared to synthetic fabrics.

The Tracer’s styling is very straightforward, but includes the most important features like a key pocket and drawstring at the waist.  There’s a small amount of Lycra for freedom of movement and shape retention, and the overall design wouldn’t be out of place in the health club, or even for casual summer wear.

Good Tracer Shorts

  • Very comfortable against skin
  • Noticeable odor resistance compared to synthetic fabrics
  • Classic styling for versatile use

Bad Tracer Shorts

  • Less efficient moisture transfer than synthetics

Bottom Line: Icebreaker GT Run Tracer Shorts

Icebreaker’s Tracer shorts are a great everyday short for the vast majority of your training miles.  If you’re out all day, you’ll want something that wicks a little faster – otherwise, the Tracer is far more comfortable and functional than you’d expect from anything made out of old-fashioned wool.

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About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.


  1. Love my icebreaker gear which uses wool from sheep in New Zealand, however the Merino is an import. I think the breed was Spanish or Italian originally.

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