Final Update: Smartwool Merino 150 Backpacker Tee 3/4/18
I’m sold. After months of wear in a wide variety of settings, the Backpacker 150 T-Shirt has lived up to any activity I have worn it in: backpacking, Crossfit workouts, running, hiking, even as an undershirt at work (more on that below).
Since my last update, I have continued to wear the shirt running, while working out (high intensity interval training), and just in general. Winters in Greenville, South Carolina, in the Upstate are generally mild (30s – 50s) and temperatures can oscillate from one of those “extremes” on a daily basis. On warmer days, and while working out, I’ve worn the shirt as my outer layer. On colder days, I have worn the shirt as a base layer under a light jacket.
What sets this shirt apart from the rest? The wool. As referenced in my first post on the shirt, wool is nature’s super fabric and it proves itself in this t-shirt. Here are some final highlights and thoughts on the Smartwool Backpacker 150 Tee.
This shirt is comfortable. It doesn’t chafe under backpacking straps, during workouts, or runs and because of its nylon core, it stretches with movement. The merino wool that this shirt is made of doesn’t have the stereotypical scratchy cloth that many often associate with wool, and that helps make this shirt soft and comfortable. I will say, however, that this shirt won’t be meeting the same fate as so many of my worn, soft cotton t-shirts have faced: to be stolen by my wife. It’s just not as soft as washed cotton. But that’s OK, because wool offers a markable improvement over cotton when worn during outdoor activities. More on these improvements below.
I have worn this shirt multiple days a week for the last 4 months and there are no noticeable signs of wear or breakdown.
Because of the waxy coating of lanolin and kerotin on the wax fibers that are woven to make this shirt, the wool has antimicrobial properties that prevent the body odor smell that comes from bacteria breaking down the proteins in sweat.
I wore the shirt for 3 days straight during a backpacking trip in December and couldn’t detect any “funk” on the shirt afterwards. I decided to take the testing up a notch and wear the shirt during a run on a warm South Carolina day in the 60s and then wear it to work as an undershirt the next couple of days without washing it. The shirt never smelled, and I never got any comments on odor from my coworkers (yes, I did disclose the experiment to them).
Dog Owners Beware:
I have two golden retrievers. Their hair, and many other fine light colored fibers stick to this shirt to the extent that I stopped trying to prevent it or clean them off. A lint roller will do the job, but be warned, it’s something I had to just resign myself to.
I really like the Backpacker 150 tee. It’s a comfortable and durable shirt that can be worn casually or during intense activities. It’s wool fibers offer many benefits that can’t be found in other natural or synthetic fabrics. With a MSRP of $80, this t-shirt has a lot to live up to. I think it checks a lot of the boxes to make it a worthwhile purchase.
Thanks to Smartwool and 4AllOutdoors for the chance to review this shirt!
First Update: Smartwool Merino 150 Backpacker Tee 12/31/17
I have had the backpacker tee for a couple of months now. I’ve worn it backpacking, running, to the gym, and around town.
It’d hard to overstate how great of a t-shirt this is. It’s a high performance t-shirt, and the wool has performed just as good, if not better than any synthetic performance shirt I’ve worn.
- Comfort: I wore the shirt as my base layer on a recent 2 night backpacking trip. I never took it off (gross, I know) because I forgot it was even there.
- Genetic Superpowers: wool has natural antimicrobial abilities due to it’s waxy makeup. This means that after not taking the shirt off for three days, I didn’t smell nearly as bad as I would have believed. In fact, the shirt had no discernible odor.
- Clingy: I have two golden retrievers. They shed year round and I am pretty sure every strand of their blonde hair gets stuck on this black shirt. It can be quite annoying, and I have had to lint roll the shirt almost every time I wear it.
- Value: When wearing the shirt, I can’t help thinking: “$80. Is this t-shirt really worth $80?” Time will tell, but for now, the jury is still out.
Check back in about a month for my last update on the Smartwool Backpacker T.
I have a handful of favorite t-shirts. They each have their reasons for my preference: comfort, looks, nostalgia, etc. T-shirts can be used in almost any activity: leisure, running, backpacking. They can act as a base layer, or even an outer layer. I always pack a couple of them as my base layer when backpacking.
Smartwool was founded in 1999, and the company has been pushing the boundaries of wool products ever since.
Smartwool Men’s Merino 150 Backpacker’s Tee
At first glance, it’s a classic t-shirt, but look a little closer and the Merino 150 Backpacker Tee boasts a few extra features that you won’t find in a regular t-shirt.
Fit: Regular fit
Material: 87% Merino Wool, 13% Nylon Core.
The shirt is made out of Core Spun Merino 150 wool. Smartwool describes Merino 150 as their “lightest, yet most versatile layer”. In this case, the 150 Backpacker tee has a nylon central core that the merino wool is then spun around. This gives the shirt its stretch and durability.
Other features: Offset shoulder seams to accommodate shoulder straps on backpacks and reduce/prevent chafing.
It’s all about the wool. That’s makes this t-shirt different than other shirts out there (and is also the reason for the $80 price tag). Wool is the Cadillac of fibers for outdoor outerwear. It has some natural qualities that even synthetic textiles which dominate make up of so much outdoor gear the days can’t match.
Here are a few of the benefits of wool (specifically merino wool):
- Wicking: wool naturally wicks sweat from your body
- Durability: wool is naturally durable and strong
- Comfort: Merino wool fibers are smaller than other wool fibers which means that they have the itchy texture usually associated with wool.
I am really impressed with some of the small details of this shirt. There are a few touches that really stick out to me:
The collar has an integrated loop in the collar that provides both utility and aesthetics.
The bottom cuff of the shirt has the Smartwool logo which is another thoughtful detail that you wouldn’t usually see on a t-shirt.
It’s a t-shirt, so I plan on wearing the 150 Backpacker tee often:
- Everyday use
Check back in a month where I will have updates on how the shirt performed. Thanks to 4 All Outdoors and Smartwool for the chance to review this shirt.