Smartwool sent a huge selection of their soft goods for us to try out. I admit I was hesitant, as I’m not a huge wool convert and I have a hard time actually recommending wool because it’s so damn expensive, wears out quickly, and is subject to pulls and snags which pretty much ruin the garment. But I gave everything a shot. They sent everything from socks to base layers to tights. And…yeah, now I’m a convert. Nothing was itchy, everything fit well, so far nothing’s been accidentally ruined by velcro (knock on wood) and the Smartwool selection has made it into my heavy rotation.
True, there’s a big difference in performance of the blend fabrics versus the 100% wool ones. The wool really is much warmer than the blend. I tried ski tights that were 100% wool and also ones that were only 50% wool – the wool ones were better. It is also much more susceptible to the snagging issue, so…be aware, I guess? Keep your velcro off your base layer, or do what I do and just cut the velcro off everything.
I’m not a fan of any fabric that requires a ton of extra care. In my book, clothing has to be able to be washed and dried with a minimum of fuss for me to give it gold stars, so I wash and machine dry EVERYTHING. If it doesn’t survive, it’s for the best. So I can report that the Smartwool stuff has all survived the washer and dryer, with no shrinking or other issues (so far).
Sizing was really spot-on. Everything fit great and was comfortable. No complaints there. I can also report that Smartwool socks seem to last a good long time, which is nice because wool typically does not. This seems to be better with the ultra-thin socks and not the thicker ones. Just about the only thing I didn’t like out of the package was the sports bra. I don’t know what it is about recently-produced sports bras, but they don’t fit me correctly. They’re just pinchy and uncomfortable. This one seemed as if it were made for someone half my size, which is weird because everything else in the package fit perfectly.
Highlights of the package included the PhD ski socks which I love for their extra compression, and a great long sleeve v neck T shirt that I wore almost every day in December, because it’s the only shirt I brought on my trip.
So is it worth the extra money for wool? Jury’s still out for me. While it’s painful to consider paying $40 for socks, good ski socks are important so I might consider paying that much. However, I balk at $110 for a T shirt. It’s probably worth it for a base layer, because wool base layers really do work better than synthetics, but…I feel like it should be cheaper. I feel that way about pretty much everything, so take that with a grain of salt.