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Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino - Women's Review

A lightweight Merino wool base layer crew that prioritizes comfort and breathability with a touch of nylon for increased durability
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Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino - Women's Review
Credit: Gus Landefeld
Price:  $90 List
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Manufacturer:   Smartwool
By Trish Matheny ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 4, 2024
72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 20
  • Warmth - 25% 5.0
  • Breathability - 20% 8.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 8.0
  • Durability - 15% 7.0
  • Drying Speed - 10% 8.0
  • Layering Ability - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino is our favorite affordable crew that highlights the natural wicking power and odor resistance of Merino wool while offering the added durability of core-spun nylon. The slim-fitting raglan design is true to size and features a combination of thoughtfully placed merrow stitch and flatlock seams so that the layer is comfortable next to the skin, even beneath the weight of a heavy backpack. This highly breathable, quick-drying, and lightweight base layer is perfect when worn on its own in cooler temperatures, 40°F and above, or at the base of your cold weather layering system, reducing bulk without restricting full range of motion.
REASONS TO BUY
Great fit
Thoughtful seams for increased comfort
Soft Merino wool next to skin
Great color options
Easy to layer
Highly breathable
Fast drying speed
REASONS TO AVOID
Lightweight design potentially susceptible to durability issues
Lacks warmth as a stand alone piece during the coldest months of the year
Editor's Note: This review was added to our lineup on April 4, 2024, to include a fresh testing perspective, media, and buying advice.

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Bottom Line The perfect Merino wool base layer crew when worn on its own in cool temperatures or layered beneath your cold weather kit for the coldest months of the yearA versatile and lightweight Merino wool base layer at an affordable priceA slim fitting and durable synthetic base layer with a modest price tagThis highly affordable base layer acts more like a sun shirt due to its lightweight and breathable design and is better suited to providing protection on hot summer days than layered warmthThough this affordable base layer offers two for the price of one, its compression design runs small and creates discomfort and chafing below the arms
Rating Categories Smartwool Classic A... Ridge Merino Aspect... REI Co-op Midweight... Hanes Cool Dri Perf... DEVOPS Thermal Comp...
Warmth (25%)
5.0
6.0
7.0
2.0
3.0
Breathability (20%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
6.5
Comfort and Fit (20%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
4.0
3.0
Durability (15%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
3.0
4.0
Drying Speed (10%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Layering Ability (10%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Specs Smartwool Classic A... Ridge Merino Aspect... REI Co-op Midweight... Hanes Cool Dri Perf... DEVOPS Thermal Comp...
Measured Weight (Size Small Unless Noted) 4.5 oz 6.0 oz 7.4 oz 3.84 oz 4.3 oz
Material 88% Merino wool, 12% nylon core 84% Merino wool, 16% nylon 92% recycled polyester, 8% spandex 100% polyester 90% polyester, spandex 10%
Weight Class Lightweight Lightweight Midweight Lightweight Lightweight
Fit (Tester Verified) Regular fit Slim fit Regular fit True to size Fit is small, size up
Torso Length Medium Long Medium Long Medium
Thumb Loops No Yes No No No
Odor Control Fabric Naturally odor resistant Naturally odor resistant None Advanced odor protection technology None
UPF Sun Protection None listed 50+ 50+ None listed None listed
Flat-lock Seams Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Avaliable Cuts Crew Crew, 1/4 zip Crew, 1/2 zip neck Crew, v-neck.
t-shirt, polo
Crew, turtle

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino is everything you could want in a base layer. The slim fit is both flattering and functional, hugging your body's curves to aid in moisture management while maintaining a low profile at the base of your layered system. The Merino wool and core-spun nylon fabric combination feels soft next to your skin while offering additional durability within the lightweight design. This base layer offers a ton of value and is a perfect stand-alone piece for vigorous cooler weather, 40°F and above.

Performance Comparison


The perfect lightweight layer for hiking out of our favorite rock climbing area in early spring.
Credit: Gus Landefeld

Warmth


There are a lot of perks to purchasing the All-Season Merino base layer. However, if you're after a thick and warm base layer for the coldest months of the year, this may not live up to your expectations. At only 160 g/m², this layer is thin, somewhat see-through, and among the most lightweight (4.5 oz) base layers that we've tested. The design features an open neckline, lacks thumb loops to help cover the hands, and doesn't feature a hood for additional protection from the cold.


Though the fabric is very thin, we found it the perfect layer for a long trail run on a snowy spring day in the mountains surrounding Bishop, California, when layered beneath a lightweight synthetic jacket. The fabric's ability to wick moisture kept us warm, dry, and comfortable as we persevered through the snow and mud in temperatures ranging from 28°F to 35°F. Bottom line, if you're looking for a base layer to keep you warm and cozy in temperatures above 25°F, this one should be at the top of your list.

smartwool classic all-season merino for women - the open neck line aids in breathability, but doesn't add a ton of...
The open neck line aids in breathability, but doesn't add a ton of warmth to the lightweight design.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Breathability


Our testing team was impressed by the All-Season Merino's ability to wick moisture, whether buried below other layers during cold weather pursuits or worn as a stand-alone piece in warmer temperatures. The layer harnesses the natural ability of Merino wool to wick moisture away from the body and release it through the lightweight material.


When the layer is not exposed to ambient air, we noticed that sweat would pool in the usual spots, the lower back, armpits, and elbow creases, however, when worn as a stand alone piece, the layer barely retained any moisture at all. While not the warmest of the bunch, the All-Season Merino sure does offer adequate wicking power for increased comfort and effective thermoregulation.

smartwool classic all-season merino for women - the primarily merino wool design includes a touch of nylon that...
The primarily Merino wool design includes a touch of nylon that enhances the drying speed as well as the overall breathability of this lightweight layer.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Comfort and Fit


The All-Season Merino features a combination of primarily Merino wool and a touch of nylon that feels soft and cozy next to your skin. The designers combined merrow stitching along with flatlock seams to enhance comfort overall, and the raglan sleeves lay nicely against the body to alleviate any discomfort from thick seams below the weight of a heavy backpack.


The All-Season Merino features a slim-fitting design that hugs the contours of your body without restricting range of motion. Our testers found the fit to be true to size, the torso length to fit just below the hip points, and sleeves that reach all the way to the wrists. The open neckline is nice for shoulder seasons when you don't need to bundle up for cold weather conditions.

The longer torso allows for better layering and additional coverage.
The longer torso allows for better layering and additional coverage.
The sleeves hit fit perfectly, right at the wrist.
The sleeves hit fit perfectly, right at the wrist.
We like this layer's longer sleeves and hemline. They help keep the top in place while layering and help hold heat in.

Durability


The All-Season Merino features the best of both worlds. The fabric combines the ultra-soft Merino wool feel next to skin with core-spun nylon technology for enhanced durability.


Throughout our spring testing period, our testers gave this layer every opportunity to fail. We wore it as a stand-alone top when climbing on the sharp rock in the Owens River Gorge and while hiking amongst the unforgiving plants in the desert surrounding Bishop, California. After many days of use, there is no notable wear to report, nor is body odor detected in the fabric. That being said, this lightweight base layer may not offer the same durability found in its synthetic counterparts.

smartwool classic all-season merino for women - the seams of this design inspired confidence though we question the...
The seams of this design inspired confidence though we question the overall durability of the super lightweight Merino wool.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Drying Speed


Though the All-Season Merino doesn't offer a ton of warmth for the depths of winter, the lightweight construction will dry quickly both on the clothesline and on the body post activity. After an hour of trail running around the Buttermilks, we noticed the layer shed moisture everywhere except the lower back, elbows, and armpits, which required only 10 minutes to dry fully.


When evaluating the drying speed during our spring testing period in Bishop, California, our testers dunked the layer in Horton Creek before wringing it out and tossing it on a line to record the amount of time required to dry. We started our stopwatch at 8:30am in full sun on a 55°F day with 17% humidity and southeast winds at 12 mph. After only 43 minutes, the layer was completely dry. Though the All-Season Merino doesn't offer a ton of warmth, the lightweight construction will keep you warmer based on its fast drying speed.

The lightweight Merino wool dries efficiently both on the line and on body post workout.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Layering Ability


While the All-Season Merino doesn't feature the same smooth interface as a synthetic base layer, the super thin fabric sits flush with the contours of your body's frame, making it easy to layer with rain jackets, puffy jackets, or wind layers.


After long days on the trails and even longer days of backcountry skiing, this base layer was virtually unnoticeable beneath our other layers. Though it lacks thumb loops and can “grab” your fleece mid-layers, it never required much adjustment nor limited our range of motion, even throughout big days in the mountains.

smartwool classic all-season merino for women - the slim fit along with the minimalist design make for easy layering.
The slim fit along with the minimalist design make for easy layering.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Should You Buy the Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino?


If you're looking for a base layer crew that offers a ton of value, the Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino is at the top of our list. The Merino wool and nylon material is more durable, breathes well, and dries quickly while maximizing next-to-skin comfort. Though not the warmest base layer of the bunch, it does layer well beneath other mid and outer layers for more insulation. Looking for a little extra something for those cool weather days in the mountains? This top could be your perfect match.

smartwool classic all-season merino for women - if you're looking for a lightweight blended crew to take the edge...
If you're looking for a lightweight blended crew to take the edge off of those cold temperatures at the change of the season, this layer is a great option to consider.
Credit: Trish Matheny

What Other Base Layers Should You Consider?


The Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino is one of the standout base layers that we've tested, and it's available at a more affordable price. This lightweight base layer is slim-fitting and dries quickly, though doesn't offer a ton of warmth for the coldest months of the year. If you're interested in a great crew that's better suited for year-round use, check out the Icebreaker Merino 200 Oasis Crewe that features a little thicker Merino Wool with a longer length in the torso. And if you're interested in a similar crew that is more affordable but sacrifices some durability, take a look at the Roman Trail Outfitters Merino Long Sleeve.

smartwool classic all-season merino for women - the all-season was option the perfect choice for training runs in...
The All-Season was option the perfect choice for training runs in the spring and fall as well as climbing in the shade during the change of season.
Credit: Gus Landefeld

Trish Matheny