REVIEW: Smartwool Intraknit Thermal Marino Base Layer 1/2 Zip Hoodie
If you’re in the market for performance base layers, there is no question that you should be shopping for garments made from merino wool. The natural fibers that merino is made from are breathable, quick-drying, and warm. They also happen to be antimicrobial, which prevents the fabric from collecting odors, even when worn for days at a time. All of those are good properties for any garment to have, particularly if you’re wearing them on the trail or traveling for an extended period of time.
There are a number of brands that offer merino base layers, with Smartwool having a full catalog of options to choose from. The company’s Intraknit line of products is outstanding, with tops and bottoms available in a variety of weights and styles. One of our favorites is the Thermal Merino Base Layer 1/2 Zip Hoodie, a pullover that is incredibly versatile and comfortable, earning it a spot in our closet and our travel bag.
Design (5) ★★★★★
The Intraknit 1/2 Zip Hoodie takes a less-is-more approach to its design. The pullover is simplicity at its finest, with just two color choices—blue and black—with lightly-colored contrasting highlights on the elbows, zipper, hood liner, and a small Smartwool logo on the sleeve. There is nothing flashy to be found here, but that’s just the way we like it with this kind of garment. It looks good and has a subtle color scheme that puts it right at home in just about any environment.
Comfort (5) ★★★★★
The soft merino wool fabrics used in this hoodie make it exceptionally comfortable to wear. The base layer is cozy—but not overly warm—and feels good against the skin, making it a garment that you’ll want to keep close at hand whenever there is a chill in the air. It does feature a form-hugging fit, which may be offputting for some, but the stretch materials move nicely with the wearer without impeding movement in any way. This makes it a great option for active days on the trail or just lounging around at home.
Performance (5) ★★★★★
If the Intraknit 1/2 Zip Hoodie is subtle and understated in its design, it more than makes up for it in performance. The pullover does everything you could want from a base layer, providing warmth and breathability, while also wicking moisture away from the body. The quick-drying merino fabrics don’t hold moisture for extended periods of time and even when you sweat profusely while wearing it, the sweatshirt never collects odors. That is much appreciated on a round-the-world journey when traveling light is a priority.
Surprisingly, the fabrics used in making this garment aren’t especially thick, particularly for how well it performs. Credit Smartwool for using the wool to create a pullover that hits a sweet spot in terms of warmth and weight. They did an especially great job with the hood, which features a fit that is snug without being restrictive.
Overall (5) ★★★★★
If you haven’t tried merino wool in a base layer or other article of clothing before, the Intraknit 1/2 Zip Hoodie will come as a revelation. But even if you are accustomed to wearing merino on your outdoor adventures, chances are you’re going to love this product. It is exceptionally well made, looks great, and is comfortable to wear. It also happens to be incredibly versatile, offering excellent performance across a wide variety of temperatures and activities.
Priced at $150, the hoodie is no small investment. You can certainly find similar products from other companies that are less expensive and look great too. But, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another base layer that performs as well as this one or is durable enough to survive extensive wear in demanding conditions. If you’re the kind of traveler or outdoor enthusiast who need gear that won’t let you down when you need it most, this is the pullover hoodie for you. Like us, you’ll be glad you have it in your backpack or travel bag when you need it.
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