The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Smartwool Merino 250 Crew - Women's Review

Wear this top anywhere from the mountains to the coffee shop.
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Price:  $105 List | $66.49 at REI
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Natural 100% Merino wool fibers, warm, soft, cute patterns, wide range of thermoregulation, odor resistant
Cons:  Sticky layering, poor durability
Manufacturer:   Smartwool
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 14, 2018
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 10
  • Warmth - 20% 7
  • Breathability - 20% 9
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 10
  • Layering Ability - 15% 6
  • Drying Speed - 15% 6
  • Durability - 10% 5

The Skinny

Do you seek a base layer that can be worn every day? The Smartwool Merino 250 Crew is one of the most comfortable contenders tested. This top is offered in a plethora of cute patterns that will not only have you looking adorable in the mountains but around town as well! The 250-g of Merino wool is soft to the touch and feels great against the skin. Wear it as a stand-alone piece in the Fall and Spring, or as apart of a layering system in the winter time. It thermoregulates throughout one of the widest ranges tested, with similar performance to our Editors' Choice winner, the Smartwool Merino 250 ¼ Zip.

While our testers love this piece, it's far from the most durable option tested. Our testing team observed stitching fly-aways, pilling, and even hole after extended use (in just three months). For $105, we weren't impressed by the value. That said, if you don't plan on wearing it for extended periods of time with a backpack or while shimmying through slot canyons, this may still be an excellent option for you!

Plain or Patterned?
$105 gets you a patterned version of this crew (one of the current offerings is displayed in the photo above), but if you're on a budget or just not into prints, you can get a solid version for $95.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Wear it from your home to the coffee shop and into the mountains! This is a favorite piece that not only performs but looks cute! The Merino wool is super cozy and comfortable…it's just not that durable. Enjoy it throughout the year as a stand-alone piece of as apart of a layered system.

Performance Comparison


The Smartwool 250 Crew is comfortable for wear-all-day (and all-night).
The Smartwool 250 Crew is comfortable for wear-all-day (and all-night).

Warmth


As a stand-alone midweight baselayer, this 100% Merino wool top is one of the warmest tested. Featuring 250-grams of Merino wool, the wool fibers generate and lock in warmth on days that dip into the double negative digits. While it's not the warmest baselayer in this review, it certainly provides great warmth in a layering system. Since the face fabric isn't super wind resistant, it's not the warmest when worn on its own in a windstorm.

Featuring a crew-collar cute, this base layer doesn't provide as much protection, nor does it lock in warmth like the Smartwool Merino 250 ¼ Zip. The face fabric isn't super wind-resistant as a wear-alone piece, thus not offering much warmth in poor weather.

Smartwool offers both light and heavy-weight options. Be sure to check out different weights of wool if you are in need of a lighter or heavier layer.

Breathability


Constructed of 100% Merino wool, the Patagonia Merino 250 Crew provides amazing breathability and a wide range of thermoregulation. We took this layer on hiking, running, and skiing adventures in the high country of the San Juan mountains. While out on the trails, we encountered shady and snowy nooks laced with warm sunny trails. While traipsing from warm to cold temperatures, we felt warm when it was cold and cool when it was warm. We didn't take any layers off, nor did we have to put any on. The fabric also doesn't hold moisture, keeping you warm in cold temperatures when standing still.


Comfort & Fit


Boasting comfort and coziness, our testers couldn't get enough of the soft 100% Merino wool construct. From the moment we put it on, we didn't want to take it off. The Merino fibers are thin and soft, feeling luxurious against the skin. The fabric has just the right amount of stretch, which allows one to pull the cuffs over the hands when the wind blows. The fit also provides great coverage for women of all shapes and sizes. It's true to size and allows sufficient stretch. Super comfortable with a fantastic fit!

A look at the fit of this super comfortable base layer.
A look at the fit of this super comfortable base layer.

Layering Ability


Even though we were able to comfortably wear layers over and under the Smartwool Merino 250 Crew, we found it would grab other layers and slowly ride up under a fleece-lined mid-layer, exposing our skin. If this had happened once or twice, it wouldn't be so much of problem. However, it happened all the time and was a deal breaker for some of our testers. As a result of this, it's not the most layer-able under grabby layers. Though under a jacket with a slippery face fabric it does just fine. In addition, it's easy to add a tank top or small tee.

Layering this Smartwool 250 under a mid layer while skinning up Red Mountain Pass in Colorado.
Layering this Smartwool 250 under a mid layer while skinning up Red Mountain Pass in Colorado.

Drying Speed


This top is not super quick to dry and does absorb some water. This is attributed to the porous and absorbent nature of the fibers. In our tests, it took about 100 minutes to dry. That said when getting caught in a rainstorm followed by a warm sun, this top did a great job drying out while on the body. That said, given its merino wool construct and its ability to wick and breath, we'd recommend it as a base layer for humid or wet weather. Just avoid wearing it as a stand-alone piece in these conditions.

Durability


We are not impressed with the durability of this top. After a close inspection of the seams and fabric, we found a pilling and stitching fly-aways throughout the shirt after three months of testing. In past reviews and this one, a hole rubbed into the face fabric after three months of use. Unlike any other layer tested, it proves to have pretty poor durability…a deal breaker for some.

The 250 Crew rubbed a hole through the fabric and experienced stitching flyaways throughout the garment. While this is a super comfortable and cozy shirt  it's not very durable.
The 250 Crew rubbed a hole through the fabric and experienced stitching flyaways throughout the garment. While this is a super comfortable and cozy shirt, it's not very durable.

Best Applications


As one of the cutest base layers tested, it's a great option to wear out on the town or while hiking in the hills. The cozy and warm fabrics are perfect for all-day wear. The midweight design is built for use as a wear-alone piece in the Fall or Spring or as apart of a layering system for cool to cold days. Just avoid it for highly abrasive sports that could tear the fabric.

Value


We realize that merino wool tops are more expensive and less durable than most synthetics. However, we aren't thrilled that this $105 (retail) 100% Merino wool layer shows serious wear and tear after just three months of use. We love the comfort it provides but there are better options out there for less that feature better durability.

Conclusion


The Smartwool Merino 250 Crew is great for everyday use because of its wonderful combination of style, thermoregulation, and comfort. Wear it around town or while you tackle your next big adventure. Just be sure to avoid it for high-friction activities that might tear or wear out the fabric.


Amber King