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Smartwool Lightweight Zip T

rated 4 of 5 stars
photo: Smartwool Lightweight Zip T base layer top

I urge all review-readers: as always, shop around. I saw this top for as much as $80, but with a few Google searches found it for $30 on clearance.

Unlike the previous reviewer, I found the sizing chart to provide a good fit (I'm a small). I've been favorably impressed with this shirt. I did expect it to provide a bit more warmth, however.

To give a better idea, I'm a hot person in general and frequently hike with this as my shirt in 60ish degree weather with a 28lb pack with no problems. I would roast alive if I tried that with a long-sleeved shirt with any kind of insulation. Don't expect it to give you much insulation.

The wicking is awesome. I sweat a lot, even if I'm properly dressed, and I have not noticed wetness at all with this shirt.

It is also more durable than I expected. I did a weekend of bushwhacking through some tough underbrush this last weekend which shredded some of my gear, including the RidgeRest I had strapped to the outside of my pack. The shirt came through unscathed.

Bottom line: this shirt is awesome, but I wouldn't buy it at $80. Look around for a better deal.

Price Paid: $30

Good wool layer with easy care


  • fit & feel
  • easy care
  • wears well


  • not for direct pack strap contact
  • neck a bit snug

This is a great under layer, or for single layer wear without a pack. It washes well and dries pretty fast. If you work up a sweat on the trail it doesn't wick super well and takes longer than other products to dry. Although dryer time after washing is pretty fast.

Source: bought it new

This is an excellent light base layer, and the zip-neck adds versatility as you can unzip to ventilate if you get warm. What they say about merino wool is true--it doesn't itch, feels drier than synthetics when you sweat in it, and takes a lot longer to start smelling ripe than synthetics. Besides, at least for me, the fact that it is a natural material is appealing.

I wear mine for hiking and trail running. The fit is just right and it can be washed and tumble dried without messing that up--shrinkage is minimal. I seldom wear my synthetic base layers anymore since trying Smartwool and similar products.

Fabric: merino wool

This is supposed to be a either a baselayer or midlayer shirt that would do well in sports. I found the sizing terrible and uninteresting.

Quality Merino
Flat seams

Baggy and sized poorly with too long of length and misplaced shoulder seams for a size small

If you don't mind using it as the best sleepwear ever, which is what I've adopted it for, then intend it to serve similar purposes. This is a far cry from being an athletic shirt.

Fabric: Merino wool
Price Paid: $35

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