Here’s the thing: When I review gear, I actually use the stuff, I don’t just scribble a few words about how fluffy it is out of the box, and how the tag says it’s good in all kinds of weather or water resistant or… Nope, I trim the tags, throw everything that’s wearable into the wash (and sometimes, in complete disregard of the instructions, the dryer). And then, I go out into the world in pants that are not quite the right size or a sweater that’s a color I didn’t pick out myself. That’s how I roll.
I’ve just spent the last week in a SmartWool TML Light Sport Zip sweater. I’ve been in this sweater for not quite 24 hours a day, but I have been in it rather a lot, in fact, I’m wearing it as I type this review. I put in on when I headed to the airport a week ago, wore it for most of a long haul flight, wore it over dress clothes for a fancy-ish dinner at a spa hotel, wore it in my mother-in-law’s garden with shorts, in fact, I’ve worn it everywhere I needed a warm, not too sloppy outer layer.
At the risk of sounding like I’ve been paid to say so, I’ll tell you the truth. I loves me some SmartWool. I love this sweater.
I’m not a recent convert to the joys of SmartWool — several years back I wrote gear reviews for a snowshoeing magazine, and I couldn’t get enough of SmartWool then. I traded all my base layers for merino wool. Not a cheap move, but worth it as my SmartWool gear has outlasted all my synthetics, and, lasted a crazy long time through years of tough wear. Plus, anyone who’s spent any time in synthetics knows about the smell, it’s weird. Natural fibers just don’t get that odd smell from the combination of human heat and artificial materials.The sweater I won’t stop wearing is a little long in the sleeves and the body for a short person, but I don’t mind that so much, it gives me extra length to pull over the back of my hands when I’m using the thumb loops. There are zippered pockets on both sides — one has come un-anchored over the week of wear (too short a time!) but it’s a minor repair. The zipper goes up into a crew neck collar and there’s a little tab that covers the metal bit of the zip so it doesn’t scratch your neck or chin; that’s a nice detail. There’s ribbing on the sides and the underside of the sleeves giving the sweater a nice variety in texture and some thoughtful styling. It looks nice; I got compliments on it whenever I wore it (which, in case you haven’t been paying attention, is every day for the last seven days.
This particular sweater goes up on the SmartWool site in August. It comes in teal, claret, and black and will retail for $170. Yes, there will be a similar model for guys. It’s expensive, but you’ll have it for a very long time, trust me on this. I’ve got the gear in my kit to prove it.