Smartwool Sport NTS Zip T and Crew

I’ve used Smartwool baselayers for years, but they’ve taken merino into ever more technical territory in recent times and the Zip T and Crew  are from the NTS Sport range which has a more engineered, slimmer fitting cut.
The fabric weight is 220g/m², a little heavier that the year-round standard of 190/200, which makes it a good choice for cool and cold weather activity.
I’ve used both of these a few times and although being identical apart from the neck, that single feature makes them different beasts.
First off, even just out of the wrapper both were soft against the skin, with plenty of stretch. The fit was fine on me, even in this medium size (I always size-down in merino) the arm and body length was fine on me. After washing, a wee reshaping and gentle pull keeps it that way too.
The Zip T’s neck is high, but the zip-pull has a garage to prevent a neck scratch attack, and there’s enough stretch to fit most folk comfortably I’d think.  Worn on it’s own, it just works as merino does, creates its own wee micro climate for your body that keeps you in a comfort bubble all day, the neck zip and collar expands this window of ideal use.
This is what the Crew did as well, but with a bike helmet and waterproof on, having the crew neck made a difference. To stop rain running down my neck I wore a Buff, and with the crew’s neck line right out of the way, my merino stayed dry.
So not a actually problem, but testing two similar items in rotation did show up the advantages of both versions quite well.
The fabric has a nice soft, open weave which I reckon helps it dry faster and the smell destroying qualities of merino are present and correct.
They’re now in the general use pile and I’ll be wearing them constantly, the shape and cut will work as well for walking as it will for running and biking, so we’ll see what the durability is like in a wee while.

11 thoughts on “Smartwool Sport NTS Zip T and Crew

  1. I do wish the shops would stock some of this to break up Icebeaker’s virtual high street monopoly a bit. Surely can’t be healthy long term that.

  2. Icebreaker deserve a fight in the stores. Merino is still seen as an alternative, that’s why you usually see one merino brand (Icebreaker) and several synthetic base layers. It’s the stores denying us all the power of choice again, clueless bastards.

    I know they’re trying hard to push Smartwool into the stores next year, here’s hoping. It really is good.

    Kate, it’s a lovely orange that right enough.
    Now, that pink sheet has had a starring role on here for the past two years, I like bright.
    It matches the brown corduroy duvet cover very well :o)

  3. Glad to hear about Smartwool. I had the devil’s own job trying to get microweight zip Ts and got from the States in the end after Timberland Customer Services UK were utterly useless when I made enquiries.
    “Hi, can I speak to someone about finding a Smartwool retailer in the UK who sells this particular product?”
    “Do you have a named contact? If you don’t have a named contact we can put you through to, we can’t put you through to anyone.”
    Impasse.
    Ebay worked.

  4. It’s Smartwool UK now, so they’ve got a chance to make it work.
    The range is also very different to Icebreaker’s, so there’s room for both.
    Competition concentrates the minds of designers.

  5. Aye, it’s good to see Smartwool bringing out a few different designs. I really rate them – my lightweight long-sleeve crews are still going strong after 4 or 5 winter seasons, whereas my Icebreaker stuff seems to end up in holes before it’s really paid for itself. But on the other hand Icebreaker make some presentable summer t-shirts whereas the only Smartwool attempt I ever found looked like something Steptoe might’ve worn! Hopefully they’ll attend to that…

  6. Aye, the summer gear is better!
    Some nice t-shirts and micro-weight baselayers.

    Good point about the longevity, I think as more folk get to use different merino brands that’ll become a talking point along with general quality.
    Icebreaker’s ears will be burning.

  7. Now that’s an interesting point, and one which I’ve though a lot about over the past few years.
    I never noticed one single seam on the Smartwool tops, even when wearing the pack over just the top and carrying the bike. Likewise the Chocolate Fish shirts with the old-style seams on the top of the shoulder cause me no grief.
    But I have in the past had a rucksack strap saw into my collar bone when it lined up with a nice flat-lock stitched raglan-style seam on a baselayer.
    This brings me round to think that personal shape takes a lot to do with it, although quality of manufcature is still not far behind.
    You know how much Haglofs gear I use, but their long-sleeve baselayers have a seam that cuts into my armpits, so I can’t wear them.

    So I think we should all try lots of kit on and see what works with a pack and our shape and don’t believe reviews when they just say that “flatlock seams to prevent chaffing” it’s not guaranteed that’ll happen.

    Another interesting point is material recovery. Tops like the Smartwool above and Howies that have multipanel design have been said to use up offcuts of fabric that might other wise go to waste. I’d like to more about that angle.

  8. Aye, the PhD stuff for next spring is lighter and “zoned” as well with different compression areas. There’s some shots of it on here somewhere.
    There’s the usual microweight range and some new lightweight t-shirts as well.

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