SmartWool Merino 150 Bottoms Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Warm, lightweight, breathable, versatile, comfortable, great thermoregulation
Cons: Not very durable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
A stellar lightweight Merino base layer that holds true to SmartWool's reputation of being the masters of Merino. Thoughtfully built with great warmth and breathability, these bottoms are an all-around champion for everything except bitter colds.
For how thin these are, they are impressively warm. Merino has an incredible ability to provide insulation even with a thinner fabric. These do a great job of insulating when they are under a shell and able to hold onto heat. If you wear them with a thin, breathable pair of pants, they will be less warm which is why they are so versatile. Put them under an insulated pant for maximum warmth, a water-proof shell for medium warmth, and a light pair of breathable hiking pants for maximum breathability. We loved them for backcountry skiing when the temperatures weren't frigid and everything else that lives above ice cold. Backpacking, lounging, traveling, hiking, and alpine climbing — this pant does it all and is a perfect weight for active endeavors in everything except arctic conditions.
These excel at breathability and wicking away sweat. The inherent qualities of awesomeness that Merino already possesses are increased by the thinner weight fabric. Take merino's ability to breathe, wick sweat, and dry quickly and multiply it and you have the SmartWool 150 pant. Skinning in warm conditions in the Rockies, these were the perfect layer, breathing and wicking away sweat on the uphill slogs, always keeping us dry but maintaining warmth when clouds rolled in and the temperatures dropped.
Comfort & Fit
A super comfortable pair of bottoms, we found they were good for wearing all day. They didn't stretch out as significantly as other Merino layers like the after heavy use. Maybe due to the fact that SmartWool wrapped a Merino fiber around a nylon core for added durability and shape retention, no matter the reason we aren't complaining. Comfortable next to skin, they fit tight like a traditional base layer.
They have minimal flatlock seams that you don't even notice are there. A single inseam runs the length of the pant meeting up with the crotch. There is a tiny bit of crotch sag, but if you wear them at your bellybutton, they fit like a glove. The wide waistband is comfortable for all-day wear. The ankles are really tight and require some care pulling over your heal, or you could easily rip the thin merino fabric. Overall, great comfort and fit. One of our head testers, at 6 ft and wearing a small (30in waist), they were a tad bit short exposing a little bit of ankle. If we could change anything, it is to reduce the minimal crotch sag and lengthen the legs a bit.
Durability — the Achilles heel of the praiseworthy warrior of base layers, merino wool. These bottoms are no exception, they just aren't that durable. SmartWool attempted to increase durability by wrapping the Merino fabric around a nylon core which we think helps with shape retention and overall longevity but when it came down to our merciless abrasion test, we smoked a hole right through these bad boys.
Other Merinos of a slightly thicker fabric weight still bear the same scars from our abrasion test. As always with Merino wool, don't climb granite chimneys in your merino chonies and don't put them in the dryer. If you follow these two easy rules, a Merino base layer can last you for years of use.
This pair falls a little above the middle of the ground for pricing. These bottoms provide a solid balance of breathability, with just the right amount of warmth. Considering their ultra-soft next-to-skin feel — so soft that you might not want to ever take them off — combined with the quality of performance, they are well worth the price.
Our conclusion… these things rock. A great versatile layer made of comfortable lightweight Merino wool that breathes exceptionally well and carries impressive warmth for how thin it is, we really enjoy these bottoms and think you will too!
— Roland Mott