When my name was picked out of the metaphorical review hat to receive some products from Nature Shop, I duly mooched over to their website to have a look around - it's a nice site; I know 'nice' is a pretty bland description but fabulous, amazing and other such words don't fit either.
Natureshop.co.uk is easy to navigate, the pictures are very clear, the product descriptions equally so and it has a 'clean' feel to it - it's simple and straightforward and doesn't try to be clever or something it's not.
Nature Shop also say they 'are committed to making a positive difference to the world that we all live in with a specific focus on preservation of the natural environment and in helping the lives of children.'
These aren't just empty platitudes - in 2010 Nature Shop introduced a policy which saw, and will continue to see, them give at least 10% of their net profit to environmental and social initiatives including charitable donations to the World Wildlife Fund, donations to kids charities and carboNZero certification. They've had that independently verified which you can check HERE, if you feel so inclined.
If that's not enough for you, Nature Shop are also corporate sponsors of Canteen - a charity supporting young people with cancer and @Heart who support children born with heart defects.
So I waited, with baited breath, for the things from Nature Shop to arrive; I received an Icebreaker Merino wool vest, a pair of Icebreaker Merino wool socks and a pair of Snugs sheepskin slippers.
For a split second I got very excited - a Merino wool vest and pair of socks would be just PERFECT for keeping me warm when I was walking the dogs in the freezing winter weather. Then I saw the age...five to six years old; dammit! Then my inner-selfless-parent kicked in and I felt warm and cosy enough knowing that my youngest son, Edward, would reap the benefits.
Icebreaker Hike Lite Crew Junior Socks
They're chunky beasts - thanks to their cushioning and extra support for the Achilles and instep. They're also super soft to the touch and don't have a toe seam right on the end of your toes, which always makes socks uncomfortable - this was the first thing Edward's dad commented on when he got his hands on them.
Edward loves wearing his Icebreaker Hike Lite Crew socks and it can be a devil of a job actually getting them off him for washing purposes! Talking of washing - they wash beautifully, keep their shape and don't shrink.
Pros, Cons and Overall Score
- Pros - extremely comfortable, keep feet warm but dry at the same time, have extra cushioning, wash well, keep their shape and don't shrink
- Cons - expensive - almost £10 for single pair of socks!
- Overall score - 8 out of 10 (only two marks off because of the price because these are hiking socks and not necessarily intended for every day use, although there's no reason why you couldn't...other than a pair for every day of the week seriously breaking the bank!)
I still wish this Icebreaker Tank (£24.95 - I'll wait for you to pick yourself up off the floor....) or something similar, had arrived in my size (UK 6, for future reference!) as it's just the most beautiful thing to touch - 'soft' just doesn't even come CLOSE to adequately describing how it feels against your skin.
Made from non-itch Merino wool it truly is a thing of loveliness and Edward loves wearing it just as much as his Icebreaker Hike Lite Crew socks; I asked him for his thoughts and comments about it and this is what he said.
"I love my Icebreaker vest because it's so warm. I can go out in the ice in it and not be cold - I don't think it can actually break ice though...but it would probably melt it if you wrapped it up in my vest!"
There was something Edward loved as much as wearing his Icebreaker Tank - on the packaging it came in are details and a link to a website that will take you to the actual farm where the Merino wool used to make his vest came from, along with learning about the family who farm them and the region of New Zealand in which they live.
As with the Icebreaker socks, the Icebreaker Merino wool Tank washes beautifully in the machine - there's no bobbling, no shrinking and no stretching.
Pros, Cons and Overall Score
- Pros - blisfully soft, extremely warm and comfortable, washes well, keeps its shape and doesn't shrink
- Cons -PROPERLY expensive - £25 for a vest that will be grown out of in no time at all
- Overall score - 6 out of 10 purely because of the price.
HURRAH! Something I could wear - a pair of Snugs sheepskin slippers (£34.30).
Well they were famous last words if ever I'd uttered any; the Snugs sheepskin slippers were immediately snatched away by my 16-year-old teenage daughter, "OOOOH slippers and in my size, can I wear them?!"
I suppose I could have said no but, really, the sulking that would've followed just wasn't worth the trade off - so Ellie wore the Snugs sheepskin slippers for a few days and then the novelty wore off (I knew it would).
I have size five feet and the Snugs sheepskin slippers arrived in a size six - they felt a little small to begin with but this is only because they are lined with a MASSIVE amount of cosy and comfy woolly, fluffiness; it doesn't take long for this to shape and mould itself to the shape of your feet and then fit beautifully.
The sole is sold and waterproof - this is good for me as I'm forever going backwards and forward to the second fridge and freezer in my garage, which involves a quick walk outside. The seams are double stitched for extra strength and even some serious review abuse didn't make any difference - these are some seriously robust slippers!
The Snugs sheepskin slippers are exceptionally warm too. My hands and feet are the first things to feel the cold, but I often found myself kicking the slippers off because they were SO warm - this is no bad thing, in my opinion, I'd rather be able to take things off and cool down rather than still be cold with them on.
Pros, Cons and Overall Score
- Pros - awesomely comfy, super warm, very robust, can be worn outside
- Cons - Might be too warm for some people, may also be too expensive - but I don't think £35 for a decent pair of sheepskin slippers is unreasonable
- Score - 10 out of 10
Well, Nature Shop aren't kidding when they say they sell 'premium' products - the quality is most definitely premium and so is the price.
There's absolutely no denying that the Icebreaker Hike Lite Crew sock, the Icebreaker Tank and the Snugs sheepskin slippers aren't some of the most comfortable and lovely things my family have worn, but the price of the vest, especially, is likely to be prohibitive.
The price of the slippers is reasonable, I think; the socks aren't so bad if you just have a couple of pairs for doing lots of walking in, but if you were to buy numerous pairs for every day use then that's a different story.
As for the Icebreaker Tank - well I just can't see the point of having just one. I mean, who's going to buy their toddler a vest just for 'special occasions' which is what its price tag reduces it to. Have one as a 'one off' and your child won't get much of a chance to wear it before they outgrow it; you can't have just one and let them wear it every day either - that's just gross. SO you're going to need a few and even having enough to wear every other day is going to set you back the best part of £100.
I know we have to get away from ultra cheap clothing made in Chinese sweatshops by the hands of little ones being robbed of their own childhood, and I'm sure this shift will take place - it would happen a lot quicker if quality clothing such as the Icebreaker tank was a little cheaper than £25 a pop.
Once again I find myself torn between fabulous products and their price - worth it? Well, you do get what you pay for and on that basis you get a whole lot from Nature Shop including free delivery.