Review: Smartwool Merino 150 T-shirt

I tested out a new travel shirt that I recently received as a gift:  the Smartwool Merino 150 men’s base layer t-shirt.  This is a quick dry shirt made of a blend of 87% Merino wool and 13% nylon.  I wore it several times on my recent travels to Tybee Island, and my thoughts are below.

Here are the tags that come attached to the shirt:

And here are some photos of the shirt itself:

A size Small weighs 4.5 ounces. A bit lighter than a standard cotton shirt.

I’ve had some Merino wool products in the past, but this is the first t-shirt I’ve owned.  It’s a very comfortable shirt that is softer on the skin than my typical polyester travel shirts, though still not as soft as 100% cotton.  Being wool, temperature regulation is touted as a big benefit compared to other materials; it keeps you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s warm.  The first night we were in Tybee it was a bit chilly outside, and I noticed that the shirt did feel a little warmer than my Patagonia Capilene Lightweight shirt.  Hand washing and drying was pretty typical for a travel shirt, and drying time after my usual sink wash routine was 4.5 hours.  It was a longer hang dry time than the Patagonia, but still respectable and more than good enough for travel purposes.

A few minor issues with this shirt:

  • The neck hole is too big.  Just by a little bit, and it doesn’t look goofy or anything, but if I could change just one thing, it would be to tighten up the collar by about an inch. [This actually improved by putting the shirt in the dryer.]
  • It wrinkles.  Check out the picture above where the shirt’s on the hanger, and you can see that there are several wrinkles throughout the shirt.  My polyester shirts don’t wrinkle at all, even if I ball them up and throw them in my backpack for several days.  I’ll need to be careful when packing these.

There’s also the question of long term durability.  The main problem I had with my prior Merino wool sweaters is that they started getting holes in them after only a couple of years of regular wear.  Since these shirts contain 13% nylon, I’m hoping that the synthetic fibers will increase its lifespan because $75 retail price for a t-shirt is way too much if this thing is only going to last a few years.  My polyester $35 Columbia Titanium t-shirt from 2010 is still going strong in 2019, and I’ve been actively trying to kill that t-shirt for the last 3+ years by wearing it a bunch on my trail runs and throwing it in the dryer instead of hang drying it like I did in the beginning.  Time will tell if this Merino blend will last anything even close to that.

Overall I’m happy with the Smartwool 150 base layer t-shirt, and if you prefer the softer feel of Merino wool, then this is a good option.  But my first choice for a travel shirt is still the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight t-shirt due to the fact that it dries faster, is lighter, fits my body a little better, and is around half the price.


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