I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love Merino wool. SmartWool has been knitting American-made socks for over 20 years and their multi-generational sock makers have the knowledge to design and manufacture some amazing socks. SmartWool makes much more than just socks now though. They make products for running, cycling, skiing, and hiking just to name a few sports. What are the benefits of Merino wool though?
Merino wool does a great job at transporting moisture away from your skin, which will help you to stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. As your body heats up, the moisture vapors will be absorbed by the wool fiber and released, keeping you dry and comfortable. Merino wool can actually retain up to 30% of its own weight in moisture and still feel dry to the touch. That is not true with most of your technical fabrics.
Wool has a natural shape to it that traps dead air, which helps insulate you in the cold weather. The moisture wicking qualities of the wool help you stay cooler in the warmer weather. That is why sheep don’t overheat, even when they have a thick coat of wool and it is hot out. (Hey, I just learned something new there).
Wool is extremely durable and can be stretched in any direction 30,000 times or more without damage. This includes stretching out. Do you had socks that stretched out over time? With wool, it will take longer for that stretching to occur. Also the way wool has a natural curl, or “fiber crimp” also improves the elasticity and resiliency of the fibers.
One of the coolest qualities of wool though is its natural odor fighting qualities. Because of wool’s ability to transfer moisture, odor-causing bacteria doesn’t have the moist environment that it needs to thrive, therefore you can participate in intense activities for longer periods of time without having to worry about how bad your clothes smell.
I always had this perception that wool was itchy and stayed away from it for years. The reason it itches is that larger diameter fibers are less flexible and don’t have the ability to bend. That in turn pricks your skin. Those larger fibers can often be found in those old wool sweaters; you know the ones I’m talking about. The ones your parents made you wear for family pictures when you were a kid. The thinner fibers that are used in many of the wool products now are more flexible resulting in extremely soft and comfortable clothing. I tested the SmartWool PhD 7” Shorts, PhD Ultra Light Short Sleeve Shirt, and PhD Run Light Elite Low Cut Socks, last July (click here for review). I got the NTS Mid 250 Pattern Crew Long Sleeve Shirt a while ago and have loved testing it out.
The NTS Mid 250 Pattern Crew is SmartWool best-selling and warmest baselayer. They added the subtle pattern, improved the fit, and made the seams chafe-free. The best part is that the shirt is made with 100% Merino wool.
SmartWool utilizes flatlock seams to make sure that there is no chafing and used shoulder panels to eliminate seams on the top of your shoulders. They use an interlock knit technique to make sure that the shirt will stand up to whatever you throw its way and is form fitting. The shirt does fit true to size.
One thing I really like about the NTS Mid 250 Pattern Crew is that it looks really sharp (and I am not a trendy guy, just ask my wife). I wore it to Thanksgiving Dinner at my dad’s house. The funny thing is that I walk through the door and guess what my Dad was wearing… the same shirt with a slightly different pattern. We had no idea that the other person owned SmartWool products. We all had a great laugh about it.
Don’t let the good looks make you think that this shirt is not made to perform. This is now my cold weather shirt. I have used it on every long run since I started testing it and there are a few reasons why. The first reason is that it keeps me warm, whether it is under a light jacket or by itself. The second reason is that it wicks moisture like few shirts can. I never feel how wet the NTS Mid 250 Pattern Crew is, even when it is drenched from the rain or sweat. The third reason is something that the other SmartWool (Merino wool) products share, the anti-odor characteristics, which keeps my shirt from smelling nasty, even after some really tough runs.
Excellent breathability and moisture management
100% Merino wool - Natural odor fighting qualities
Feels amazingly soft and comfortable
Looks great (for casual use or while training)
Decent price ($105)
A little more expensive than some of the other brands (but totally worth every cent)
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So not only do you get a comfortable Merino wool running product, but you get a killer guarantee. If you are not satisfied with your SmartWool purchase for any reason, simply return it within two years of when you purchased it and they will make it right. That’s right…two years! You can pick up your SmartWool products on their website or at a local retailer near you (click here for locations). I am a huge fan of SmartWool products now and am so glad that I got to test them out. While the price may be slightly higher than some other brands, it is well worth the price. The superior construction and natural qualities of the Merino wool will keep these products in your rotation longer. The NTS Mid 250 Pattern Crew is simply amazing and if I had to pick one winter running shirt, this would be the one. Pick up one for yourself and let me know what you think.
Note: I received this product in exchange for a review. The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it. I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.