Reviewed by Brian Mullin http://www.gramslightbikes.com/
SmartWool makes wool apparel for an entire slew of outdoor activities from skiing, hiking, climbing, running, walking and cycling. They make quite a few pieces, specifically for cycling, and they sent along some tasty treats to test out. SmartWool uses New Zealand Merino Wool, which they have tweaked to make it more durable, non itching, with four season functionality and non shrinking (with proper care) properties.
Wool, which is obviously a natural product, has some pretty amazing properties, it’s odor free, highly breathable, with excellent moisture management and temperature regulation. Wool wicks sweat off the skin in a vapor state and is then evaporated, without any condensation occurring, so you don’t feel clammy, keeping you drier and more comfortable for a longer period of time. Its antimicrobial, since that wicking and evaporative process leaves no liquid for odor causing bacteria to thrive on. Wool fibers have microscopic cortices of dead air, which provide a buffering layer of natural climate control, maintaining a stable core temp, so you’re cool in summer, and warm in winter.
SmartWool Betasso Shorts
The Betasso bicycle shorts are comfortable, rugged and even look and wear like a normal pair of baggy’s. They are comprised of an outer short made from polyester, and an inner one made from a SmartWool, and nylon blend. The two pieces connect together with two robust strap mounted snaps, to keep the pants from drooping, although they still liked to slowly slink down. The shorts have two normal pockets, two large zippered cargo pockets, a front fly with a dual snapped closure, and a webbing and buckle system for waist adjustment. The liner is a one piece seamless design, with a plush chamois padding and grabby elastic at the waist and leg hems.
The shorts were baggy enough not to cause any binding, but not so much to feel like they are flopping around, and the shorts move nicely while riding. The material is fairly thick, so the shorts have been very durable, and haven’t snagged nor gotten scuffed up, and they were stretchy, offering great comfort and conformability. The zippered fly is way too short, so the call of nature can be an act of contortion, and is exacerbated by the front buckle webbing, which doesn’t easily disconnect nor offer enough slack. The large cargo pockets were handy, and the waist fit could be adjusted by pulling on the webbing, though I could never get the necessary fit and feel that I prefer. The adjustable buckle/webbing system for the waist needs to be tossed out, or at least redesigned, since it just doesn’t work in an optimal fashion. Incorporating some sizable elastic sections in the waist band, along with some sort side or front adjustment that pulls father around would greatly help the shorts. Even if I tightened the strap so that I looked like a reject from Revenge of the Nerds, the shorts still would slowly droop down on me, and I was always having to fuss with pulling them back up. The material and the cut is comfortable enough, with a nice fit and finish, and the snap system connecting the inner liner is innovative and secure, but they need a rethinking of the waist system and the short fly.
The inner liner has a great stretch and is very comfortable, and the thick chamois offered uber plushness while riding. The entire syste just works incredibly well together, and they have a nice temperature control system, as they are warm when its cold, and cool when it’s hot, and always blend the environment to a proper temperate level. With their great moisture management, I never felt damp, as they absorbed perspiration and quickly transpired the moisture, leaving one feeling very comfortable, and keeping them odor free. The material has been very robust and durable, especially considering that I use them for pretty much every ride, and they get laundered multiple times a week. Their inner liner is the best system I have ever used, and its so darn excellent that I tend to use it with other manufacturer’s shorts. They are a supremely awesome product, that is incredibly comfortable, durable and pleasant to wear.
SmartWool Betasso Shorts – Overall Rating: 3.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
Inner Liner – Rating: 5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
- 2-in-1 mountain short with snap-in liner and stretch woeven exterior short with bias-cut back yoke for increased mobility
- Front fly with exterior offset adjustable buckle/webbing
- Front slash hand pockets and angled zip cargo pockets
- Inseam 10.5″
- Gender specific to provide a snug fit while allowing for freedom of movement
- One piece seamless construction, designed airflow, and a covering made from SmartWool jersey offer protection from chafing and moisture management
- Multi-thickness and central channel in the perineal area to support male anatomy
- 1.5-10mm thickness. 340 x 210mm (L x W)
- Inner short: 45% nylon, 39% SmartWool, 16% Elastic;
- Outer Short: 100% polyester (58% recycled)
- Color – Carbon
- MSRP: $150