Reviewer Info: 5’10″, 185 lbs., 42” chest, 32” waist
Size Tested: Medium
- 100% Merino Wool (250 g/m2)
- Form Fit
- Interlock knit; UPF 50+
- Crew neck with set-in sleeves
- Shoulder panels eliminate top shoulder seams
- Flatlock seam construction eliminates chafing
- Heat transfer logo at left sleeve cuff
Days Skied: ~60
Days Worn: ~100
This is my favorite baselayer ever.
I was a long time coming around to the whole wool baselayer thing, but having worn this piece for over a year, I might be done with synthetics—at least for now. (I have been told that manufacturers of synthetic baselayers have been upping their game, so I will keep an open mind.)
But the SmartWool Mid Crew is my current favorite, for reasons I’ll explain. But first…
Because of their versatility, my go-to baselayer shirts are midweight, long-sleeve crew necks.
On cold or very cold days, I can wear them under a warm midlayer (Patagonia Nano pullover), or super warm midlayer (Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody), then throw on an insulated jacket (Eider Corbet jacket) or technical shell.
Then, when I’m off the mountain, I can wear them out to grab a bite or a drink and not look like a tech’d-out dork.
Oh, and it would be really great if that baselayer didn’t smell terrible after a day (or two, or three, or seven) of getting after it in the mountains.
And because I’m lazy and generally treat my gear poorly, it would also be great if I could just throw it in the washer & dryer, and the thing wouldn’t shrink or fall apart.
You might have different criteria. Those are mine.
And the SmartWool Mid Crew fulfills those criteria better than anything I’ve ever worn.
Fit / Sizing
My go-to baselayers for years have been Patagonia’s Capilene 3 Midweight Crew. I probably own 13 of them, and they are all size Large. To get a similar fit from the SmartWool Mid Crew, I dropped down to a size Medium.
Measured from the very top of the back of the collar to the very bottom of the shirt, the size Medium SmartWool is actually one inch longer (28.5”) than my Large Capilene shirts (27.5”).
The sleeve length of the SmartWool—measured from the end of the sleeve to the stitching / seam around the collar—is 30.5 inches. Sleeve length on my Large Capilene shirts is 31 inches.
The SmartWool crew has a bit of stretch to it, the Capilene does not. SmartWool says that the shirt has a “form fit,” their slimmest fit, which they say follows the contours of the body, and that’s correct. It’s an athletic fit (which I like in a baselayer—you know, for layering), but it’s very comfortable. And even though I sized down, this thing isn’t so tight that it looks weird at a bar.
The forearms of my Capilene shirts are tight on me; not so on the smaller-sized SmartWool, thanks to that stretch. And they got the size of the neck right, too—not too tight, not too loose.
The Smell Test
When it really comes down to it, this is the difference maker between a good synthetic baselayer and a good wool baselayer: most synthetics get funky fast. If you live in a world of constant showering and wardrobe changes, then you and I have little in common, and synthetic baselayers might be just fine for you.
As many a BLISTER reviewer can attest, I’m often in my ski gear from 8 a.m. till after midnight. And I’m often on the road with a ton of gear, and I don’t have room to pack a fresh shirt for each day. That’s when wool becomes a game changer.
In one rather gross testament to the odor-fighting powers of this SmartWool Mid Crew, I think I wore it 15 out of our 17 days skiing in Japan last year. By the end of that trip, my insulated jacket smelled awful. My SmartWool Crew did not.
If you’re still wearing synthetics and trying to eek out multiple days of use in them, then (1) your friends hate you even if they’re too polite to say anything, and (2) you need to try wool.