I know what you’re thinking: Zach, why am I looking at some dude’s junk? Bear with me, it’s worth it, I swear. I picked up a pair of these midweight wool bottoms a couple years back at a fly fishing show, and then tossed them in a drawer and kind of forgot about them. Lately, though, I got talked into running a half marathon, so I’ve been training despite the cold weather outside. I raided my old drawers and pulled out every pair of long johns I had, ranging from Nike ProCombat style ones on up to expedition weight Patagonia fleeces.
These are the best.
Why are they good? Well, for one thing the wool truly is a warmer substance pound-for-pound than any other material. Patagonia’s Expedition weight fleece is warm, but it achieves warmth through bulk, making a layer of still air between you and the outside. Go running, and the wind cuts right through the fleece: no bueno. Meanwhile the ProCombat pants are not warm AT ALL. I really feel like this is more of a fashion statement; ask any woman whether her panty hose makes more than a 5% difference in her total warmth. With super skinny and synthetic fibers, the ProCombat tights are more like underwear than a base layer.
In addition to being wool, the Smartwools are also well-constructed. They’ve survived a bunch of trips through the washer with no pilling and no loss of height (can’t say that for the synthetic fleece). They’re also low-profile; not as grabby on your shorts or pants as fleece, nor as slippery-making as the ProCombat stuff. They are naturally antimicrobial and have avoided smells better than my other gear.
Overall, topnotch base layers. I am starting to really get sold on this wool stuff, even if it is pricey.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars .
Purchase: Directly from Smartwool