SmartWool Bike Apparel Review

Apparel Pro Reviews

SmartWool Betasso Jersey

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The Betasso mountain bike jersey is understated, but it has great functional aspects. The main body of the jersey uses their excellent SmartWool Merino Wool, while the underarms, side panels and outer shoulder use a mesh polyester for venting. There is a small zippered pocket of the left side, which is easy to use when wearing a hydration pack.

Impressions
The jersey was very comfortable and soft, and it had a lot of stretchiness, so it was conformable, with useful give while moving around on the bike. The wool offered excellent moisture management, doing a thorough job of wicking and transpiring the perspiration, and I tended not to feel like I was soaked, even on the back underneath the hydration pack. Those great properties, meant it had low odors (no stink), which is always a nice attribute.

“Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges.”

Even with the great temperature regulation that wool provides, I got a toasty sometimes, and the lack of a front zipper for additional venting purposes, made it tough to make minor adjustments. I liked the relaxed fit, the long cut, the side vents, and the soft, itch free and warm Merino wool. The jersey was comfortable, with some nice features, all combined with the pleasant wool attributes.

SmartWool Betasso Jersey – Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Specs:

  • Raglan short-sleeve mountain jersey with drop tail cycling fit
  • Mesh panels at underarms, sideseams, and over shoulders for venting
  • 75% SmartWool, 25% polyester
  • Fabric weight 170gm/m2
  • Color – Orange
  • MSRP: $95

SmartWool PhD Cycling Socks

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The PhD Cycling Ultra Light 3/4 Crew Socks, use a SmartWool, and nylon blend, and are loaded with features, like WOW Technology (Wool on Wool), which has an additional layer of SmartWool in the high impact Zones, 4-Degree Fit System, which provides a four-point compression system for a secure and comfortable fit, and the usual SmartWool moisture and temperature regulation and odor control. The socks also come in two other shorter height versions, the Micro and the Mini.

Impressions
I love these socks, and they totally rule, as they are comfortable, durable, breathe well and offer lots of cushioning for a thin sock. I tested their silver color, which is a bummer, since they tend to show dirt stains quite easily, and I think for mountain biking a slightly darker color would suffice? They are very durable, and have always kept their shape, even after repeated washings and tough mountain bike usage, and the 4-Degree Fit system is still going strong. One of the best parts of the socks, is that you don’t get stinky feet? One day I switched to a normal non wool sock, and I about gagged taking my shoes off, mostly because I had gotten so used to the amazing odor free properties of their wool blend. They are a pretty sweet smelling feature filled sock!

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Specs:

  • 68% Wool, 29% Nylon, 3% Elastic
  • 4-Degree Fit System for all day performance fit
  • WOW Technology™ in High Density Impact Zones to reduce shock & abrasion
  • SmartWool inside for moisture, temperature, and odor control
  • Duroyarn reinforcement for added comfort and durability
  • Strategic mesh zones for maximum ventilation
  • Cushioing: Ultra Light Cushioned
  • Height: 3/4 Crew
  • MSRP: $17.95

SmartWool Knee and Arm Warmers

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I use the knee warmers pretty regularly, but I use them in a sort of strange setup. Except during cold days (below freezing), I wear shorts, along with knee pads, and use the knee warmers as shin warmers. I use them for warmth, and for scratch and ding protection, though the later is sort of worthless, since they are thin. I might look like a total geek head, but the system works well. As all the wool products, it has great temperature regulation, though I didn’t really test the moisture management, since I don’t sweat nor build up many odors on my shins?

It was nice to use the Arm and Knee warmers in their normal fashion, as they are easy to slip on, are comfortable, breathable and stretchy, and provide great warmth for those cusp days or temperature conditions which don’t warrant a jacket or tights.

Knee Warmers Specs:

  • 1×1 rib welts at top and bottom keep kneewarmers in place
  • Seamless construction for easy positioning and comfort
  • Fabric: 64% merino wool, 31% nylon, 5% spandex
  • $MSRP: 30

Arm Warmers Specs:

  • 55% SmartWool Merino wool, 42% nylon, 3% elastic.
  • Seamless construction for warmth with max freedom of movement.
  • Non-binding 1×1 rib welt at wrist and bicep openings keep warmers in place.
  • MSRP: $25

Click here to Visit the SmartWool Website

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • jadedbee says:

    Can you purchase just the shorts liner from Smartwool? I love their socks and shirts, and I could always use another non-lycra chamois to wear under my assorted shorts and knickers or even regular pants for commuting. If I’m doing multi-day rides I commonly just switch out the funky chamois and use the same, otherwise clean outer short.

    If you are reading this, Smartwool, please introduce this product. I will buy it. The polyester part isn’t your strong suit anyway.

  • Brian Mullin says:

    I am checking with SmartWool if they can sell the inner liner separately from the Betasso bicycle shorts. If not they should make an inventory item, since that is pretty common with other cycling apparel companies. In addition, their liner rocks!

  • Gregg says:

    Wow…cool stuff from an unexpected name. Nice to see them stepping up their MTB game! Those shirts look really nice. I know quality wool is expensive, but $150 is a lot of dough!

  • Brian Mullin says:

    Yes, $150 for the shorts is pricey, but its right in line with Gore. I use the SmartWool inner liner with my Gore Freeride shorts, sort of the best shorts and the best liner I’ve tested lately, obviously from two separate companies.

  • Danny says:

    Looks really nice. I’ve worn smartwool products for hiking and skiing and they’ve always performed great. Can’t wait to try out some of their cycling gear. Question for Jason: what’s it like playing with someone like Dirk? I know you’ve been on teams with elite shooters (Vince and Richard Jefferson with the Nets) but it’s got to make running the point a lot easier with teams consistently doubling Nowitzki. Also, how do you find the time to test mtb apparel with your hectic NBA schedule?

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