BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > SmartWool Womens Sport NTS Tee > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

SMARTWOOL WOMEN'S SPORT NTS TEE

Initial Report - September 16, 2009
Field Report - November 24, 2009
Long Term Report - January 19, 2009


Tester Information:

Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  52
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  170 lb (77 kg)

E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background:


I enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including backpacking,
day-hiking, car camping, and canoeing.  Most of my excursions
are confined to weekends, although I try to fit in at least one
longer backpacking trip each year, and have started section
hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT), accruing a little over 300 mi
(483 km) so far.  My style varies with the activity, but since
becoming a lightweight backpacker, I've noticed I tend to pack
somewhat minimally even on trips where I have more space.
Still, I don't like to sacrifice warmth, comfort, or safety.

Front of shirt

Initial Report - September 16, 2009


Product Information:

Manufacturer:  SmartWool
Year of manufacture:  2009
Model:  Women's Sport NTS Tee
Fabric:  Merino wool
Color:  Black
Size:  XL
 
Advertised Weight: 8.11 oz (230 g)
Measured Weight:  5.86 oz (166 g)
MSRP:  $70 US

Website:  www.smartwool.com

Product Description:

Rear of shirtThe SmartWool Sport NTS Tee shirt is a 100% merino wool short-sleeved top that is meant to be worn "Next-To-Skin", thus the NTS, either as a stand alone piece or as a base layer under another shirt.  It is constructed to be formfitting, with princess style seams down the front and back sides, raglan sleeves, and a crew neck.  The shirt is relatively long, extending about 2" (5 cm) below the bend where my legs meet my torso.  It is cut so the back is slightly longer than the front, which results in a more even looking hem when the shirt is worn as the fabric flares over the hips.

All seams are sewn in flatlock style with dark grey thread, which provides a contrast look to the stitching.  The neck binding is made of fabric similar in appearance to the shirt fabric, and is about 0.5" (1.3 cm) wide and finished with thin flatlock stitching.  The hem is a simple fold over hem about 0.5" (1.3 cm) wide, finished with the same wide flatlock stitching as the seams. 

The SmartWool name and logo are screen-printed fairly prominently onto the lower left side of the shirt about 1.5" (3.8 cm) above the hem, with the design running diagonally upward toward the side.  The company name and logo are also screen printed on the inside of the neck about 2" (5 cm) below the edge.  A small tag that feels like thin suede leather is sewn into the neck binding at the rear.  The size, country of manufacture (Vietnam), and female symbol are printed on the neck tag.  A white tag on the inside of the lower left seam lists the fabric as 100% merino wool and gives care instructions.

SmartWool lists the fabric weight as 220 g/m2. It feels a little thicker than I expected, with about the same feel as a good quality cotton or cotton blend tee shirt that one might wear for an outer layer.  It has a soft hand and does not feel scratchy.  The fabric appears to be woven with a very fine and small rib knit, although from a distance it appears smooth and flat.  It can be machine washed on cold, gentle cycle and tumble dried on low, or dry cleaned.  The care instructions also indicate non-chlorine bleach can be used and the shirt can be ironed on a low setting.

Some interesting information is available on SmartWool's website about the wool they use, including that they regularly visit their growers in New Zealand and pay close attention to the breeding lines of their sheep.  They select low micron wool from free range sheep living in an earth-friendly environment, which they say helps insure the quality of their wool and keeps it from being itchy.  The wool is also naturally bacteria resistant, and therefore, odor-resistant.  And, according to SmartWool, unlike synthetic materials that only move moisture when it condenses to a liquid, merino wool can move moisture away from the body as a vapor, resulting in superior moisture management that helps keep people warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Preliminary Impressions:

When I first unpacked the shirt, I noticed two things right away.  The first was that the shirt had an odd, almost plastic smell, which seemed highly unusual for a wool shirt.  The second was that the shirt looked very narrow around the waist and hips.  Fortunately, neither of these items turned out to be anything to be concerned about.   The plastic smell left about a day after I unwrapped the shirt, so I can only assume it came from the packaging.

Even though it looks narrow, the shirt is stretchy in the right places, and fits very well.  Although it is form-fitting, the combination of the black color and princess seams gives it a flattering fit.  The sleeves are a nice length, and are close fitting without being too snug or binding.  The wool fabric is soft and non-itchy, with a nice drape. 

Summary:

The SmartWool Sport NTS Tee Shirt appears to be of high quality in materials and workmanship, with even stitching and no apparent flaws.  The design and fit of the shirt are flattering.  The odor-resistant properties of the wool fabric are a plus that combined with the form-fitting design should make this a good shirt for active outdoor pursuits.

Things I like:

Nice fit
Non-itchy feel
Natural odor resistance

Things I don't like:

Nothing so far

More to come:

This concludes my Initial Report.  Please check back in mid-November for field testing results.

Field Report - November 24, 2009

Field Locations and Conditions:

 In October I wore the SmartWool Sport NTS Tee Shirt for two day events and an overnight at a local Girl Scout camp.  Temperatures were relatively nippy, in the 40-50 F (5-10 C) range during the day, and perhaps a bit lower overnight. 

Life and a nasty round of the flu conspired to keep me from any additional long trips, but I have also worn the shirt on three additional short day hikes.  One was in the Charles Fork Lake area in central West Virginia, with temperatures running around 70 F (21 C) during the day.  The trail is well groomed, mainly single track, with a few hills and a muddy spot or two thrown in for good measure, but not strenuous.  I hiked approximately 4 miles (6.5 kilometers). 

Two additional hikes were on a nature trail near one of our local schools, hiking about 3 miles (5 kilometers).  Temperatures were around 60-70 F (16-21 C).  The trail has a small climb near the beginning, and then is fairly moderate.  I also have worn the shirt about 6 additional times for short walks near home, with a distance of a mile (1.5 kilometers) or so.

Use and conclusions:

One thing that I've been surprised to find out about the SmartWool NTS shirt is that it is surprisingly warm for a short sleeved shirt.  Even in temperatures down around 50 F (10 C), I've been warm enough while moving, unless there is a chilling breeze.  When it's breezy or chillier, so far I've only needed to add a thin long sleeved base layer shirt to stay amply warm while on the move.

In warmer temperatures, I've enjoyed the breathability of the shirt.  Even though it is thicker than some of my other wool t-shirts, it hasn't made me feel overly hot.  Any sweat produced on uphill sections of the trail in the warmer temperatures has quickly wicked away from my skin, keeping the shirt from feeling clammy either while hiking,  resting on the trail, or while driving home post hike.

The odor-resistance factor and wicking properties proved themselves useful on the Girl Scout camp weekend, when I forgot to bring sleep wear.  I simply ended up sleeping in my clothes, and I was happy that the SmartWool NTS wicked away moisture and I slept warm and dry even though I had been active during the day.  My friends were happy because the shirt didn't smell like I'd been active all day.  Even after I wore the shirt for the second day of activities it still smelled relatively fresh when I removed it that evening.

So far I've laundered the shirt about 6 times, and it doesn't show any signs of wear, pilling, or fading.  The raglan sleeves are comfortable under day pack straps, and the flat felled seams have been chafe-free.  The wool fabric is soft and non-itchy.    

About the only non-positive thing I've noticed about the SmartWool NTS is that the combination of the form fitting shape and long length makes me very aware that I need to get in some more exercise time, and I'm not keen about wearing it out and about for non-hiking purposes.  Then again, that could a good thing, as maybe it will inspire me both to get out and hike more and to get in better shape!  The combination of length and cozy fit should also provide for better warmth as the weather gets colder and nastier over the winter, so I can't really count it as a negative.

Summary:

The SmartWool Sport NTS is performing well so far, providing good core warmth for a short-sleeved shirt, yet still being breathable enough that I don't overheat too much.  It wicks well, resists odor, and is soft and comfortable to wear.

Likes:

Breathable
Wicks well
Odor resistant
Soft and non-itchy
Provides good core warmth

Dislikes:

Form fitting design reminds me I need to exercise more!

Long Term Report - January 19, 2010

Field Locations and Conditions:

NTS Tee layered underneathI have worn the SmartWool Sport NTS Tee Shirt on several day hikes during the past two months, on a getaway trip to a mountain cabin, and at least a dozen times for short walks around the house.  Since we have been experiencing a rash of cold weather, I have also worn the NTS Tee about 8 times under a sweater or fleece shirt while measuring and photographing houses for work, as well as around 10 days general wear around the house.

One of the day hikes was 4 mi (6.5 km) in the Kanawha State Forest.  Temperatures were in the 40 F (5 C) range.  The trail, which followed a creek bed for a while before topping out on a ridge top and dropping back down a wooded hillside, had a few patches of snow.  I wore the NTS Tee under a light weight long-sleeved SmartWool zip-tee.

I also wore the shirt on 2 day hikes during a 5-day cabin stay in the mountains of eastern West Virginia, near the Monongahela National Forest.  I wore the shirt as a base layer, with a light fleece shirt as a mid-layer and a heavy fleece pullover as an outer layer.  The first hike was around 4 miles (6.5 km) and the second around 3 miles (5 km).  Temperatures were chilly, in the 20 F (-7 C) range, and there was 4-12 in (10-30 cm) of snow that we postholed through. In addition to the hikes I layered the NTS Tee under fleece shirts inside the wood stove heated cabin on 3 of the coldest days.

Another day hike was about 3 mi (5 km) on a nature trail near one of our local schools.  Temperature was around 50 F (10 C) with a light sporadic rain.  The trail has a small climb near the beginning, and then is fairly moderate.   I wore the shirt under the Hennessy Hammock Cat Cape.

Use and conclusions:

The SmartWool NTS shirt has been impressively versatile over the last couple of months.  I was surprised at how many times I ended up layering it under another shirt, which is something I rarely do.  Undoubtedly the fact that we've had a colder than normal winter so far has greatly contributed to this, but I have found it worked very well to keep my comfort level better regulated.  If I got too warm when I was more active, I could simply take off my outer shirt and wear the NTS Tee instead of overheating in a single thick shirt.  If I was chilly, I could add another shirt or a light jacket, which could be removed easily if I moved from a colder environment to a warmer one, or became more active.  As before, I found the NTS Tee very warm for a short-sleeved shirt, as I could often wear it on its own (even with the thermostat set around 68 F/20 C for energy saving purposes, when I would normally wear a long-sleeved shirt).

The shirt always felt comfortable under other layers or when layered over a long-sleeved light weight base layer.  I was impressed how well the sleeves stayed in place when another shirt was pulled over them, especially since they were plenty roomy enough to feel comfortable when worn over other shirts.  The raglan styling meant I never felt restricted by seams in the shoulder area and the shirt always felt comfortable under pack straps. 

The soft, non-itch fabric was breathable and wicked sweat very well.  (Yes, even at 20 F/-7 C I found I was sweating while postholing up the hills.)  The shirt never felt wet or sticky against me, although it did have a slight damp feel a few times.  Even damp, the shirt was warm and comfortable against my skin.

The shirt is definitely odor-resistant, as I can wear it several days in a row without washing, and still not have to worry about people holding their noses as I pass by.  As far as washing, I estimate I've machine washed it about 15 times over the course of the test.  While it does have a few pills now, I haven't noticed any fading, holes, or loose stitching.

I found I really liked the longer length of the shirt as I began layering it more often, since I could tuck it into my pants for extra warmth and it stayed in place very well.  The form-fitting cut also seemed to help retain warmth on colder hikes.  Between the length and the fit, I never had to worry about cold breezes finding their way in to chill bare flesh.

Summary:

The SmartWool Sport NTS is a very versatile layering piece that can be worn either under or over other layers to add core warmth without causing overheating.  It breathes and wicks sweat well, is soft and comfortable, and is odor resistant enough to wear several days in a row.  The extra length and trim fit work to prevent chilling breezes from sneaking in against bare skin.

I look forward to continuing to use the Sport NTS Tee, and am anxious to see if it will keep me as cool and comfortable on summer hikes as it has kept me warm and comfortable on colder weather hikes.

Likes:

Versatile for layering
Breaths and wicks well
Odor resistant
Warm and comfy 

Dislikes:

Form-fitting cut makes me wish I exercised more and ate less!
  
Thanks to SmartWool and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Sport NTS Tee Shirt.


Read more reviews of Smartwool gear
Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > SmartWool Womens Sport NTS Tee > Test Report by Pamela Wyant



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson