Tall girls rejoice, Smartwool’s baselayer is made for you. A cold snap and a string of sunny days in Colorado provided the perfect testing grounds for Smartwool’s Merino Wool Baselayer.
As a 6-foot tall woman made up mostly of limbs, it’s difficult to find baselayers that provide the length (arm, leg, and most importantly but often underappreciated, torso) that I need. Smartwool’s size large Zip T top provided the perfect proportions — long but not too long in the sleeves and long enough in the torso to tuck in and stay there. The large NTS Light bottoms were long enough for ski boot purposes and the ankle opening had enough stretch for runner’s calves.
The fit of the size large top and bottoms was loose but comfortable. At first, I thought I should have gone with a medium but I didn’t experience any chafing during uphills that would necessitate a size adjustment. This could be in part because of Smartwool’s articulated seam and paneling design. The pants have cross-stretch knit panels around the hips and calves, no seams over the knees, and a gusset where it counts. The top has similarly strategically placed panels and seams to ensure a close, comfortable fit. That I don’t have any complaints after multiple days of hiking should speak to Smartwool’s design—in this case, silence is the greatest praise.
In addition to the fit, the company more than earned its name in the smell test. I wore this ensemble for six days straight without washing, five of those as a sweaty sea-leveler hiking above 8,000 feet. If anything, my baselayer smelled great (even better than I did at the end of some days). It wasn’t until day six that I detected a slight twinge, but I think it would have taken twice that time before other people in the car could smell me.
Smartwool offers three weights in its NTS baselayer system. The NTS Light 195, which Smartwool advertises as a single layer for cool/cold weather and a baselayer for cold weather, was perfect for 5-25 degree Farenheit weather. The top alone worked for sunny Colorado uphilling at 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit or as a next-to-skin baselayer under a shell or insulated jacket on cooler days and downhill stretches.
The only feature I had trouble with was the zipper. On the Women’s NTS Light 195 Zip T, the zipper reaches to the bottom of the sternum, which was great for warmer days when I needed all the air circulation I could get. The zipper mechanism, however, continues about two inches below the bottom of the opening. Despite Smartwool’s efforts to cover the sharp edges of the zipper with fabric, I did have some irritation. The zipper is also a bit hard to work down past the collar seams, even with a bit of muscle.
All in all, Smartwool’s NTS line offers a much-welcomed design and fit in women’s baselayers.
Shop for Smartwool’s women’s line at our friends Backcountry.com
(WildSnow.com guest blogger Jess Portmess is just months away from finishing law school. Having grown up in New York and Vermont, she’ll soon be chasing snow covered peaks, endless trails, and a legal career in the West.)