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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > SmartWool Microweight Tank Top > Test Report by Jamie DeBenedetto
Reviewed by Jamie
Product Information Back to contents
Product Description Back to contents
The Women's Microweight Tank is one of SmartWool's NTS or Next-to-Skin products. It's essentially a thin, almost see-thru sleeveless undergarment that clings to the body. It is the lightest fabric thickness in the line as denoted by the word "micro" in the title. The bottom hem is slightly curved and drops to about mid-hip on me. All seams are flat. The neck-line is generous as are the sleeve holes but the form fit keeps everything covered. The tank I received is Peony, which is kind of a mauve or dark pink.
Arrival Condition and Informational Material Back to contents
The SmartWool Microweight Tank arrived on May 20th just in time to go with me on a day hike I was embarking on the next morning. I inspected it, tried it on, and removed the garment tags right away. The tank looked to be in perfectly new condition. I didn't find any workmanship or fabric defects.
The included informational material was simply the sales box and the garment tag. It is a no-brainer kind of item though so other than washing instructions I didn't really dive into the written material too much. Having now looked at these items it might be of interest to note that SmartWool makes the following claims about the Microweight Tank:
These product's high points are listed on both the sales box and the garment tag and are written in what looks to be German and French as well as English.
Expectations and First Impressions Back to contents
I've owned other SmartWool base layers before so I had an idea of what I might be getting, especially from a quality perspective. What I didn't expect was the sheerness of the fabric. It's a little too see-thru for me so I will likely not be wearing it as a stand-alone top. I will, however, use it as my first layer under the long-sleeve sun protection shirts I wear year round anyway. I'm sure that will give me a good idea of how well the tank handles perspiration and whether or not it chafes or rides up.
As to the fit, feels good so far. It's a little more low-cut than the other tank tops I normally wear but I don't foresee that being a problem. The arm holes are roomy, which I like and the length was generous, even after I washed it once. My personal preference for a first layer is for it to be longer anyway so I was happy to see the bottom hem didn't shrink up or curl. I will keep an eye on that as it goes through the wash cycle several more times to see if anything changes.
In the three months I have been testing the SmartWool Microweight Tank I have worn it a total of six times in the field. It's holding up well and hasn't lost its original shape or length.
Field Tests - June thru August 2011 Back to contents
All but one of the treks on which I wore the SmartWool Tank took place in Phoenix, AZ. The elevation of these desert mountain park or wash trails is around 1,600 ft (488 m). Temperatures during these summer outings have been hot, anywhere between the high 80's (31 C) up to 110 F (43 C). Weather was always clear and sunny. Time hiking varied in length between one and three hours.
The other trip was a day outing to a local river where my sons and I spent the last official day of summer vacation playing in the cool waters of the Verde River located near Fountain Hills, AZ. The elevation is about 1,500 ft (450 m). The weather that day was typical summer conditions, clear blue sky with the high hitting 104 F (40 C).
My experience with the SmartWool Tank has been slightly disappointing. It does have some very good qualities but overall, I'm just not loving it right now. First off, because of my almost daily hikes each week, I expected by this point in the test series to have worn the tank-top at least 12 to 15 times instead of only six. The main reason for this is because it's frankly not very comfortable with a daypack. Due to the sheer nature of the fabric every part of my pack is noticeable on my body. I find my shoulder straps and chest strap hit too much uncovered skin for my liking. (the picture on the right illustrates this) To compensate for this I now only use it as a base layer under another shirt. Using it in this way is very doable and with the exception of a small amount of riding-up, it's just as comfortable as any other tank-top I wear.
Another aspect of the top's overall fit is how quickly it relaxes. I don't know if it's supposed to do this but I like it. When I put it on after it's been laundered, it's very close fitting, which makes sense given it's part of SmartWool's "NTS" line, but after maybe a half hour or so the material stretches a bit. I'm not really one for tight fitting clothing and while this top doesn't constrict movement or anything annoying like that, I just feel more at ease with a little "slouch", especially when I'm hiking.
My desert treks have been good testing grounds for the "4-Season Functionality" and the "Temperature Regulation" abilities of this garment at least as it related to hot conditions. SmartWool claims it's good for hot climates because the shirt material helps the wearer "maintain a more even body temperature". So far I agree. I certainly haven't felt any hotter than usual while wearing the Microweight Tank and that's saying something considering I've used it on some of our most extreme days this summer.
Along those same lines, the odor control is exceptional at this stage in the game. On my Verde River trip I was not only sweating, I was in and out of river water, which around here isn't bubbling up from a fresh mountain spring. It's a bit murky and after a few hours playing in it everything starts to smell like, well, like the river. The SmartWool Tank on the other hand, didn't retain that funky smell nearly as much as the rest of my clothing.
I haven't yet tested how quickly the shirt dries once it's fully wet, nor have I had the opportunity to see how well it performs in cooler temperatures but if the fall cooperates maybe I'll have more to say on both accounts in my Long Term Report.
Pros and Cons Thus Far Back to contents
Aspects I'm pleased with…
Aspects I'm under whelmed with…
Collective Use and Field Conditions Back to contents
During the last two months of testing I have worn the SmartWool Microweight Tank an additional three times for a total of nine field tests.
Two of the three treks took place in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve here in Phoenix, Arizona. The trails in this desert park start at an elevation around 1,500 ft (450 m). Weather conditions were sunny with temperatures in the low 90's F (33 C). On both occasions I wore the shirt between 4.5 and 5 hrs.
The third hike was a night hike along the Maricopa Trail in N. Phoenix, AZ where I was walking for about an hour in a mild thunderstorm. Conditions were windy with light rain on and off and a low temp of 72 F (22 C).
Long Term Conclusions Back to contents
The manufacturer made a few claims, which I listed in my Initial Report. These are: 4-Season Functionality, Moisture Management, Odor Control, Temperature Regulation and Washer Dryer Friendly. As I have really only been able to test the SmartWool Tank in one season I cannot speak to the manufacturer's 4-Season Functionality claim as it relates to providing an additional layer of warmth. In hot conditions it has performed well. I wouldn't say it's helped me stay cooler but it certainly hasn't made me any hotter than other shirts I wear. Now Odor Control and Moisture Management are aspects I can speak about! Both of these elements have been thoroughly tested in our summer temperatures. Although I've been hot and sweaty every single time I've used the shirt, I can't recall any unpleasant experiences with the shirt absorbing perspiration to the point of becoming uncomfortably moist, clingy or foul smelling. I've owned other shirts of various materials that over time start to retain body odors so that even after washing a mildly bad odor can be detected. This has so far not happened with the SmartWool Tank.
Lastly, the shirt's washer and dryer friendliness claim is certainly spot on. I haven't had any problems with laundering it. I also haven't noticed any change in the length or overall shape of the garment. All the seams are holding up perfectly as is the material at the shoulders and waist where my pack straps hit.
One other thing I wanted to comment about is the tank's drying time when completely saturated. In my test, it took about 3 hrs to totally dry. This was hanging on a line, not in direct sunlight, with an outside temperature between 91-89 F (32-31 C).
Final Thoughts Back to contents
The SmartWool Microweight Tank is a well made and easy to care for shirt. The natural wool material held up well in very hot temperatures by controlling both perspiration and body odors. Although I wasn't a fan of the closer fit, fortunately it does relax some with wear. I personally found it uncomfortable to use as my only shirt while wearing a backpack but under another shirt it was fine. The biggest negative for me is the sheerness of the fabric, which I felt was a bit too revealing.
My thanks to SmartWool and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to be involved
in this test series.
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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > SmartWool Microweight Tank Top > Test Report by Jamie DeBenedetto
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