Each fall/winter, I pick a few new base layers to get me through the cool weather. And since I’m usually active when I’m out in the cold (as opposed to just sitting around), I usually prefer lightweight and midweight merino layers underneath it all.
One of my picks for this year is the Smartwool Intraknit Merino 200 Crew Base Layer Top.
Made from a combination of 53-percent wool, 45-percent polyester, and 2-percent elastane, the top has fewer seams, a performance fit, and gender-specific ventilation that is body-mapped to cut down on the bulk with allowing for better movement. Smartwool uses a new knitting technique that can transition from insulation to ventilation without adding separate fabric panels. Ventilation and insulation are placed in gender-specific zones to maximize thermoregulation.
The top is breathable, flexible, and ideal for helping keep you warm in variable conditions and high-intensity activities. It’s making my rotation for cold-weather travel quite a bit already this season.
Merino wool in travel clothing is a good idea for many reasons. If can be washed less often, helping to reduce impacts on the environment as well as letting you avoid finding a laundromat while on the road. Merino wool naturally inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria, which keeps performance layers like this one from stinking even when worn for several activities.
But when you do have to wash the top, use cold water, which is gentler on garments and uses less energy. Let the top flat to dry, because with all the ventilation dots in the fabric it doesn’t take long to air dry, and laying it flat helps retain the garment’s shape.
The Women’s Smartwool Intraknit Merino 200 Crew Base Layer Top comes in black, sangria, and deep marlin (green) and lists for $120 at REI, which has the exclusive at the moment.