Smart Wool Merino NTS Baselayer
A Rambling Introduction on brand loyalty
As event organisers Matt Heason and I spend oodles of time designing eye-catching documents to woo potential sponsors. We have solid stats on ticket sale growth, heart-warming testimonials and impressive audience feedback figures (e.g. 94% of Sheffield Adventure Film Festival visitors told us that sponsoring ShAFF provides them with a more positive image of the sponsor’s brand).
But the proof is in the pudding. For us, pudding is ticket sales. For a sponsor, it’s product sales. The relationship between effective PR and ticket sales, like the relationship between event sponsorship and product sales, can be hard to prove.
What is that often intangible turning point that makes you get the credit card out? Brand loyalty is a powerful bond. I’m a colourful (ok, clashing) mish-mash of brands for practically all of my sportswear because I’m lucky enough to be married to an adventure sports journalist. There’s very little I need to buy for myself as long as I don’t mind things being a little baggy and inevitably in bright colours (which look better on magazine photo shoots).
The only things I ever have to buy for myself are bras, socks and shoes. Often as not, new fell shoes are a birthday treat and a bra review for Ultrafit magazine converted me to a mix of Sportjock and Shock Absorbers bought online via Boobydoo.
That leaves socks. I used to be a martyr to my feet. My first years of running were blighted by blisters. Then I discovered Thorlo. Seriously, I don’t think I’d still be running were it not for Thorlo. Thank you Thorlo.
So why do I no longer buy Thorlo? Because one night a few years ago Matt organised a Running Expert night ahead of the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival in conjunction with Sheffield store Accelerate and one of the giveaways was a pair of Smartwool socks. I tried them simply because they were free. I stayed with them because the merino wool mix is like a cosy cuddle when you’re tramping through cold, muddy fields. Goodbye Thorlo (great for London road running); hello Smartwool (unbeatable for Peak District fell running).
The Real Introduction
And so I’m finally getting to the point of this review, which is the new, short-sleeve Smart Wool Merino NTS Baselayer Matt asked me to review a couple of months back. He asked me to review a long-sleeve base layer last winter. The review never came to light. Not because I’m lazy but because I really didn’t like it. It shall remain nameless but the fabric made me feel all queasy pulling it out the packaging - that funny feeling our 1970s Draylon sofa used to give me. And it was white. All-over white isn’t a good look unless you’ve got the physique of a mountain goat like Kilian Jornet and you aren’t as clumsy as me. There’s nothing white in my wardrobe. I spill things, fall over and often as not get my dark and white washes mixed up. Grey heffalump isn’t a good look.
This base layer however is red. A nice shade of red. Off-red. There’s probably a specific Pantone colour or hex number I could find to describe it. They call it ‘Persian Red’. It fits really nicely. Close to the skin (it’s called ‘Next-to-skin’ base layer so that’s accurate) but it’s not so close to the skin as to make all your lumps and bumps stick out. The neckline is flattering (essential if you’re big busted). The length is lovely and long (essential if you’re a cyclist). It’s got that magic merino thing going on of being warm and cooling all at the same time. And soft and snuggly.
How It Performed
Over the past couple of months I’ve walked the dog in it; run up hills in it; cycled on chilly days in the Peak District and this week even cycled round a sweltering velodrome (26C!) using it as my wicking layer (you have to wear two layers on the track in case you fall off). If I’m being honest, I’ve even slept in it (not after exercising!). It’s one of those pieces of kit that you just love to see come off the drying line and never makes it to the cupboard because it’s straight back on.
Conclusion - The Smartest, Snuggest, Coolest Baselayer?
If you want one, mine is the 150g/m2 Micro single layer for warm weather performance/base layer for cool weather.
It costs £49.99. Damn it. I’m going to have to start buying my own base layers.