I’ve used Smartwool baselayers for years, but they’ve taken merino into ever more technical territory in recent times and the Zip T and Crew are from the NTS Sport range which has a more engineered, slimmer fitting cut.
The fabric weight is 220g/m², a little heavier that the year-round standard of 190/200, which makes it a good choice for cool and cold weather activity.
I’ve used both of these a few times and although being identical apart from the neck, that single feature makes them different beasts.
First off, even just out of the wrapper both were soft against the skin, with plenty of stretch. The fit was fine on me, even in this medium size (I always size-down in merino) the arm and body length was fine on me. After washing, a wee reshaping and gentle pull keeps it that way too.
The Zip T’s neck is high, but the zip-pull has a garage to prevent a neck scratch attack, and there’s enough stretch to fit most folk comfortably I’d think. Worn on it’s own, it just works as merino does, creates its own wee micro climate for your body that keeps you in a comfort bubble all day, the neck zip and collar expands this window of ideal use.
This is what the Crew did as well, but with a bike helmet and waterproof on, having the crew neck made a difference. To stop rain running down my neck I wore a Buff, and with the crew’s neck line right out of the way, my merino stayed dry.
So not a actually problem, but testing two similar items in rotation did show up the advantages of both versions quite well.
The fabric has a nice soft, open weave which I reckon helps it dry faster and the smell destroying qualities of merino are present and correct.
They’re now in the general use pile and I’ll be wearing them constantly, the shape and cut will work as well for walking as it will for running and biking, so we’ll see what the durability is like in a wee while.