Gear Review: SmartWool Lightweight Asymmetrical Zip Baselayer

This midweight merino top sports a hidden 7-inch diagonal zip

The trouble with most zip-T’s is that while the front zipper is good for venting, it adds bulk under the chin, which is a bummer in really cold weather when the layers start stacking up. This midweight merino top sports a hidden (inset into the seam) 7-inch diagonal zip that starts near the shoulder and ends just under the chin.

“Open, the neckline is as loose as a low cowl, allowing heat to escape and cool air to flow in,” says one tester who wore it summer skiing on Mt. Hood, when temperatures can fluctuate 40 degrees or more from dawn to

dusk. Zipped up, the chin-high turtleneck is unfettered and comfortable. The all-wool (19.5 microns) shirt uses two different types of knits: a smooth, soft, jersey-knit in the torso area for maximum comfort and warmth, and a thinner, ribbed one under the arms, along the sides, and across the back for better wicking and breathability in those high sweat zones. Stink factor was low, even on multiday ski mountaineering trips, and our samples suffered no pilling, snagging, or sagging after six months of serious wear.

Bummer: While we love its position and subtlety, the tiny zipper tends to get hung up on the fabric. Guys: Opt for the Lightweight Mock ($80), which has all the same features and a standard, up-the-middle zipper.


7.8 oz. (w’s M)

w’s XS-XL