Reviews You Can Rely On

Smartwool Merino Sport 150 Tech Review

A functional shirt for aerobic activities that utilizes a blend of polyester and natural merino wool
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Smartwool Merino Sport 150 Tech Review
Credit: Smartwool
Price:  $65 List
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Manufacturer:   Smartwool
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 25, 2019
  • Comfort - 35% 4.0
  • Breathability - 20% 6.0
  • Drying Speed - 15% 3.0
  • Versatility - 15% 5.0
  • Features - 15% 6.0

Our Verdict

Smartwool discontinued the Merino Sport 150 Tech shirt in 2019.
Quick drying
Mostly natural fibers
While there are many things we like about the Smartwool Merino Sport 150 Tech, there are a few critical issues as well. Comfort is of the utmost importance when running, and unfortunately, the Merino Sport falls a bit short. While we appreciate the use of natural fibers, the wool is a bit too itchy. This unpleasant itch was exacerbated when we had a running pack on or tried to layer over this shirt. Apart from the itch, it's a functional running shirt; the fabric is breathable and dries relatively quick, offering proper evaporative cooling. The odor repelling properties are fantastic.

Our Analysis and Test Results

It goes without saying that merino wool will have a slightly more coarse feeling against your skin than some purely synthetic fabrics. Even with this in mind, the Merino Sport was distractingly itchy. While it maintains many redeeming features, the itchiness was a significant hitch in our giddyup.

Performance Comparison

smartwool merino sport 150 tech - as the only shirt in our review with natural fibers, we had high...
As the only shirt in our review with natural fibers, we had high hopes. While the Merino Sport 150 might be comfortable to some, it was too itchy and abrasive to be a true running shirt.
Credit: Brian Martin


To start with the positive, the Merino Sport had a comfortable, regular fit, and it was neither formfitting or loose. The size large was perfect for our 5'11", 175 pound gear tester. The moderately stretchy merino wool/polyester blend and gusseted underarm panels allowed for a full range of motion without feeling any restriction. To cap off the positives, the comfort boosting attribute was its flat-lock sewing throughout the shirt, making seams relatively smooth and comfortable inside the shirt.

smartwool merino sport 150 tech - gusseted underarms and flatlock seams are traits seen in high...
Gusseted underarms and flatlock seams are traits seen in high quality and durable running shirts. If the fabric was a bit less itchy, this shirt would be excellent.
Credit: Brian Martin

Unfortunately, some attributes detracted from the overall comfort. While many merino wool shirts we've tested in the past aren't notably itchy, the Merino Sport is. Upon our initial test, we immediately noticed how coarse the fabric is. We put the shirt through several wash and dry cycles, even using a fabric softener - hoping to get a bit of the itch out of the shirt. These efforts were in vain. After weeks of testing and trying to break in the Sport, it remained too itchy for us to recommend for those with even mildly sensitive skin. If you don't have sensitive skin, there are some great redeeming features packed into this shirt; we would recommend trying it before buying it or purchasing from a retailer that offers returns.

smartwool merino sport 150 tech - our 5'11" 175lbs gear tester found the fit of the merino sport to be...
Our 5'11" 175lbs gear tester found the fit of the Merino Sport to be just right. Not too tight, baggy, or short.
Credit: Brian Martin


Mesh paneling and sewn in vents around the neck make the Merino Sport highly breathable. While our standardized soaking test revealed it was able to hold 34% of its total weight in water, it never felt heavy or saturated while we were out for a jog. The mesh panels and vents allowed enough airflow to prevent saturation, and we remained relatively cool, even when the temperatures crept into the triple digits.

smartwool merino sport 150 tech - the entire back panel is made from a merino/polyester mesh making it...
The entire back panel is made from a merino/polyester mesh making it significantly more breathable than the rest of the shirt.
Credit: Brian Martin

It's important to note the merino wool blend is significantly warmer than some of the other fabrics we tested. While the shirt is still breathable and an excellent option, it might not be the best choice for the hottest of summer days.

smartwool merino sport 150 tech - sewn-in vents along the upper back of the shirt allow for some extra...
Sewn-in vents along the upper back of the shirt allow for some extra airflow. These vents were a bit uncomfortable and not effective when trapped shut with a running pack or backpack.
Credit: Brian Martin

Drying Speed

Our standardized testing revealed a surprisingly rapid drying speed for the wool/polyester blend of the Merino Sport. Within the first 10 minutes of drying, the Sport lost 95% of its initial water weight, and by the second measurement at 20 minutes, it had returned to its dry weight. These results were also noticeable in the real world. Even though the Merino Sport could hold a relatively high percentage of water relative to overall weight, it never felt saturated while running.

smartwool merino sport 150 tech - the front panels of the merino sport are extremely tightly woven...
The front panels of the Merino Sport are extremely tightly woven merino and polyester. While this materiel was one of the slowest drying in our test, it still went from saturated to completely dry relatively quickly.
Credit: Brian Martin

All of our real-world testing took place in the low lands of Tucson, AZ, or in the higher elevation mountains that surround the city - at around 8500 feet in elevation. No matter how humid it was or how hot the air temperature, the wool/polyester blend performed well.


Our biggest gripe is how itchy the fabric feels against our skin; this negative attribute also cuts into the versatility of the shirt. Having anything layered over this shirt enhances the itch, making it ill-suited for excursions requiring extra layering; this also applies to running packs, which didn't feel particularly good when wearing this shirt. The Merino Sport is, however, a good looking shirt and blends in well while out and about in the city, making it more of an all-around shirt rather than purely for aerobic pursuits.


As a general rule, running shirts aren't highly featured with many extras; the Merino Sport is no exception. It is equipped with sewn-in vents, gusseted underarm panels, and an entirely mesh ventilated back panel. The most notable feature is the natural odor repelling abilities of merino wool, which was appreciated in the hot climate of Arizona.

smartwool merino sport 150 tech - the neck sweatband and back vents are some of the only added...
The neck sweatband and back vents are some of the only added features. Unfortunately the neck band and vents are a bit abrasive especially when wearing any sort of layer on top of this shirt.
Credit: Brian Martin


At its current retail price, it is hard to say that the Merino Sport is of good value. Unfortunately, merino wool is an expensive fabric and likely the prime reason for the high cost of this shirt. While we wouldn't hesitate to spend this amount for an ultra-comfortable, high-performance shirt, the itch alone is enough to send us looking for an alternative running shirt. As a casual wear item, this shirt looks good, and the benefits of merino wool are undeniable. The fact remains that this shirt is too itchy to be effective as a running layer.


While the Merino Sport has many redeeming features, the itchy fabric was a dealbreaker for our testers. We appreciated the odor repelling properties, breathability, and quick-drying nature of the merino wool blend, but at the end of the day, the discomfort left us wanting something else to wear on our run.

Brian Martin