With the feel of cotton and the performance of polyester, Smartwool have come up with a great summer combination of baselayers.
During the brilliant winter of 2010 we reviewed several excellent Merino tops from Smartwool: http://wp.me/p14X6I-dM . We rated them a Top Rated Product accolade as they were truly brilliant to wear, so how have the thinner and summer weight tops fared…?
I was sent a Microweight Crew, long sleeved baselayer and the Boxer Briefs to test throughout the summer to see if they performed as well as the winter models.
I can say I was not disappointed, the top proved a great piece of clothing that I found myself wearing it all summer in all but the hottest days (which were very few). Firstly I could believe how quickly the top dried out, the slightest breeze had the sweat drying out in minutes and one of the real benefits of using Merino is no smell! I wore it for three days on the trot, including sleeping, on a short backpacking trip, absolutely no smell whatsoever.
The top and pants are made from the lightest of the Smartwool NTS (next to skin) fabrics and felt lovely next to my skin. I often come out in a rash when wearing some technical fabrics but wearing Smartwool felt as comfortable as wearing cotton. The top did get very saturated in hot, physical conditions but the top was plenty light enough to carry another in my pack. I like to put a fresh, dry top on under the climb or later in the day. The material is also a little delicate so you wouldn’t want to be thrutching up a chimney unless you have it protected by wearing a t-shirt or jacket on top.
I am usually a medium is size, but often find I need a size large in t-shirts and baselayers. Smartwool, however, are slightly oversized so a Medium fitted fine. It was a nice fit, just athletic enough without feeling tight. The flatlock seams prevented chaffing when wearing a pack and the sleeves were just the right length.
I have substituted myself for a model wearing the Boxer Briefs as it would not have been a pretty sight. They have performed just as well as the top, great next to the skin. For hygiene reasons I didn’t dare wear these for as long as the top so I had two pairs on the trip. The fly was easy to use and the waistband was flat and comfortable under a rock climbing harness. They were too hot to wear on very hot days for me, I have been trying to find a true pair of briefs made from Merino wool for a while now and it’s good to see that Smartwool have included a true Brief in the 2011 range. I’ll be buying a couple of pairs of those. They also have some windproof ones in the range which would also come in handy those cold windy days winter climbing, so there is a great range of pants in the range to suite a variety of weather conditions.
A far as cleaning went, I just chucked them in the washing machine with all the other washing we do from day to day. I have experienced no problems with the quality at all, no holes or threads coming undone.
So, I can’t say just how much I rate these Merino products. I have been and remain a fan of all Merino baselayer products and find the quality and feel of Smartwool awesome. If you don’t already own some become a convert yourself, you won’t be disappointed.
For UK Stockists see: http://www.smartwool.com/international RRP £45.00