The word “baselayer” used to mean something completely different when I was younger. Bundling up for a hike in the woods or heading out on a run as a teenager, a baselayer was usually an extra T-shirt or a thin sweater -- it was more of a concept than a product.
Of course, baselayer products existed even back then for people who actually hiked up mountains or skied down them, but in recent years companies like The North Face, Under Armour, and Patagonia have marketed the term (and the products) to everyday folks.
That’s why when I tested out the Smartwool Intraknit Merino 250 baselayer, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I decided to wear both the full-length bottoms and the quarter-zip top on a hike in about 40-degree weather, and then on a bike ride in similar weather. I was amazed at how they worked, without knowing too much about the 3D knitting (a seamless manufacturing process), the thermal regulation properties of merino wool, or that this product happens to be knitted differently for men and women and where we need extra support.
Also, I didn’t feel cold. That’s a bit surprising because I wasn’t wearing a thick winter jacket, which would have been impossible on a bike anyway. On my hike, the cold air and a wet, muddy trail would have normally made for a miserable experience, but the Smartwool products hug close to your body. I’ve tested other baselayers but the nice thing about wool is that it is odor-reducing and breathable. The wonderful discovery is that you feel like hiking and biking more because you are not as susceptible to the elements.
Smartwool uses a new technology called Intraknit with a little extra stitching on the elbows and without the typical seams, which could rip on other baselayers. They make hats, quarter-zips, neck gaiters, and the typical tops and bottoms. I’m a big fan mostly because I plan to keep exploring even as the weather dips colder and colder. | Shop at Smartwool >
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