Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Light, breathable.
Cons: Narrow range of usable temperatures.
Best Uses: Cool-weather running and hiking.
This is a lightweight, casual-fitting baselayer that is called the NTS Micro 150 Crew on the Smartwool web site. Thankfully, most retailers just call it the Microweight Crew. It breathes well and was reviewed favorably by our testers. There are shirts that we prefer, but for most situations the micro 150 will do just fine. The Micro 150 serves a narrower set of temperatures than other well-reviewed shirts. For something with a bit more versatility, try the Icebreaker GT. If you're looking for a bargain, the Patagonia Capilene 3 is a good choice.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The saving grace of the similarly thin Icebreaker GT is the close fit. With thin fabrics like those in the Micro, performance in cold temperatures is dependent on a tight fit. The effectiveness decreases enormously when dead air occupies space between the baselayer and skin. The micro has a looser fit than what we would expect of a baselayer with this thickness.
That aside, the arms and chest fit very well. Our long-armed tester would have liked to see an extra half-inch on the sleeve, but the micro's dimensions fit most people well.
Because of the micro's looser fit, we could easily layer it over tighter shirts. The loose fit also makes casual lounging much more comfortable.
The Smartwool Micro is noticeably thinner than other baselayers. This has a direct effect on its insulation. On the one hand, this allows the Smartwool Micro to breathe much better in warmer weather. This is not to say that we would wear it in hot weather, but it does work well for strenuous activity in temperatures from 35-50 degrees. Think trailrunning or some other activity with constant movement. But the Micro's thin fabric did come with drawbacks. We felt chilly in temperatures that other baselayers could handle comfortably. We felt that the overall range of the Micro was smaller than other baselayers. That said, the fit allows easy layering and an Icebreaker/Micro combination is very effective.
The Smartwool Micro is very effective at wicking. The thin fabric, while not as warm as some other layers, kept us dry during testing. In fact, we can recall no moment while testing when we felt clammy, wet, or uncomfortable. For any drawbacks that the thin weight of the micro might have, this is a clear advantage and a potential buying point.
We had a bit of trouble finding the perfect place for the Micro. It's too light to wear as a solo layer in most cold weather, and we'd usually rather use other, thicker (or tighter) layers for very cold days.
We found that the Micro was best suited for moderate to heavy activity at temperatures between 30 and 50 degrees. Trail running or hiking at the warmer end of that spectrum are perfect applications for the Micro.
— Atherton Phleger
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: August 22, 2013
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