The Smartwool Sport NTS Zip T base layer is a chunky, semi-ribbed offering made of merino wool. You are getting exceptional value for money. This cut feels more contoured and purposeful than other items in the Smartwool range, with a large zip to provide some much-needed cooling, as this is a warm top. It is highly breathable and being a natural antibacterial fibre, merino wool tends to smell a lot less that synthetic options – useful for long trips. It’s nice and long too, though as it’s a figure-hugging top, do try it on first and check you’re comfortable with the sizing. There are big variations in base layers, and I found the medium size more comfortable than my usual small. Care is easy, too. But the wool in the Smartwool Sport NTS Zip T base layer is slightly coarser than some of the smoother, lighter options in the range: Smartwool make some base layers to a lighter less intricate spec, which will still perform well on the hill. Merino wool is a great sweat controller generally, but – if you really sweat – can ‘wet out’, wherein the fabric gets saturated, and sweat is held among the many fibres. Also it doesn’t dry as fast as synthetic options. It is very warm when used in high summer (there are other weights available if this is a problem) but broadly speaking this is a good top for year-round use.
Fabric 100% merino wool
Colours black, graphite, cobalt, orange
Sizes S-XXL (men’s); XS-XL (women’s)
Weight 261g (men’s size M)
Made in Vietnam
Stores in the UK info not provided
Verdict: The Smartwool Sport NTS Zip T is an excellent-value, top-quality and durable Merino wool base layer that’s ideal for year-round use, with the possible exception of high summer.
Review by Simon Ingram
First published in Trail magazine October 2009