My Favorite All Season Fat-Biking Shirt

I am totally in love with my Smartwool base layers. Most specifically, the Smartwool Microweight Long Sleeve Crew. This is my go-to shirt for almost any ride and is comfortable for me in weather from 45 degrees to about 70 degrees just as it is.

I typically use a lightweight, short sleeve shirt underneath to combat the dreaded “hard nipple” syndrome and to cut down on the associated chafing of the sensitive parts. BTW, this is not just for Wool layers but for any outer layer I wear.

When it gets colder this is still my base layer. Get it? It is at the base of any other gear I wear. I sweat quite a bit when I ride so I try to tailor my clothing to pretty specific situations with a temp difference of even 5 degrees skewing my jersey or coat selection one way or the other.

Speaking of sweating, the Microweight Crew does a good job of transporting moisture away from my skin but my internal furnace may overwhelm it at times and it is surprisingly warm when wet, especially if I have a shell on over it. Plus, it dries very quickly so that stop for chow and a brew at the local pub will give it a chance to air out making your foray into the chill when you leave comfortable again. As a bonus, even though it get wet with sweat, it tends not to get funky for several wearings.

Quite possibly my favorite thing about the Smartwool gear in general, aside from the obvious performance, is that it is machine washable and, this is important here, machine dryable on the delicate cycle. Easy care is where it’s at. Gone are the days when wool was an itchy, hard-to-care-for piece of clothing. If you get quality gear like Smartwool you will be rewarded with some of the most versatile gear you own.

Wisconsin still has winter and it does get cold here just not really that cold any more and not for that long either. That may change but I doubt I’ll ever ride when it is 40 below like our pards up in The AK but I’d bet that if I do I’d have on a Smartwool Microweight on!

I bought this gear with my own, hard-earned cash. However, regardless of how we get test products, for review from a manufacturer, bought with our own $$$ or borrowed from friends, our reviews will always give our honest opinion and real-world experience!

About Greg Smith 1127 Articles
Greg Smith, known to many site visitors as Sven Hammer, founded in 2011 and the site quickly became the #1 online community for all things Fat. You can currently find Greg outfitting Everyday Cycles; a Milwaukee, WI retailer of gear for fatbikers, adventure cyclists and urban assault riders.


  1. I have to disagree with this review. After years of biking everyday all winter long in Duluth, MN and seven years of riding my Pugsley on snow, I tried Smartwool again this winter. I’ve always worn several layers of Patagonia Capilene synthetic base layers. I’ve always sworn by the peformance of synthetics. But after reading review after review of Smartwool base layers that read identical too what you’ve said…almost to a point of a mantra…I decided to try them again.

    I sweat heavy in all temps no matter how careful I am to not overdress. Soon as I hit one of Duluth’s uphills, I vent by unzipping my wind bloc layer and often remove my hat on longer climbs. I still sweat.

    Here’s what I found. Wool tends to be able to hold more moisture than synthetics do. Sure it insulates when wet, but in my experience it gets wetter than the synthetic. It holds onto more water than it moves out. Once I get to work I have a nice six hook coat rack at the end of a dead end hallway with good air circulation where I can hang all my winter layers while I work. After 8 hours of work my Patagonia layers are always dry. Never once have I found them still damp after a workday. The Smartwool base layers? ALWAYS DAMP. Never once have they been completely dry after eight hours of work. Same goes for my Pace wool winter cycling hat. It’s always damp and takes forever to dry.

    So for a heavy sweater like me, I have to spread the word that it’s a myth that wool dries fastest. It just isn’t true! Sure my Patagonia shirts stink where the Smartwool never had any odor, but it always feels better, warmer and drier.

    I’ve switched back to my beloved Patagonia Capilene baselayers and I’m happy, and warm, again.

    Doug at MnBicycleCommuter

    • Doug, glad you found what works for you! For me, this Smartwool shirt is great! I wear them off the bike as well as on and find the wide range of temperatures I can use them in a real plus. I have 4 of them and plan to add a couple more.

  2. I to like my merino wool shirt a lot more then poly blend I like the feel and not the stink but I don’t sweat that much. So I don’t know about that part.

  3. I’m going to weigh in on the great Christmas eve underwear debate of 2012. I wore Patagonia Capilene and REI house brand synthetic base layers for a couple of decades before switching to Ibex, Ice Breakers, Swobo and Rivendale merino wool base layers. Ibex is the brand that I would buy over and over again. Synthetics never allowed me to stay warm and dry (feeling), like merino wool. I am a heavy perspiring steam engine and feel much more comfortable with merino wool next to my skin, when I’m out in the elements all day long. This is especially true when going from high intensity activities to resting and then back to pedaling intensity. Not everyone can wear wool, so it’s a good thing that synthetics exist for people with wool allergies or those, like Doug that prefer synthetics. Synthetics are also way less expensive than quality Merino Wool base layers. Then there’s the issue of what I like to refer to as ‘the funk’. There’s some sort of bacteria that lives on me that, when combined with silkweight capilene and my perspiration becomes quite evil. I machine wash and line dry all of my wool, so the care and feeding of my chosen wool base layers takes a little more attention than synthetics, but you get more wear cycles between washings with wool. With synthetics I have to wash and decontaminate them after every use. BTW the musa wool from Rivendale Cycles works very well and is reasonably priced ($50). I haven’t tried Smartwool base layers, so I can’t really say anything about them one way or another, but I trust Sven wouldn’t lead you wrong. Viva la Sheep!

    Underware Wars

  4. I’m with Doug on this one. I sweat A LOT. I tend to drink about 50% more water when riding than most people because I sweat it all out. I find that a merino wool base layer just gets saturated with sweat on a typical snow ride. I may be wet and warm, but I’m still uncomfortably wet, and then if I slow down too much, I can have a problem.

    Merino wool is warmer than synthetics, more comfortable to wear and doesn’t stink after a day of casual wear (or an hour of activity). So its great for a base layer for light activity, or as a midlayer for riding/skiing/working etc, but just not the right fabric for an intense winter sports base layer.

    So, I have switched to a hybrid system, I use a wicking base layer, either a t-shirt style synthetic base layer, long-sleeved synthetic (capoline, etc) or just a summer jersey. So far I am finding that the stuff that is designed/marketed specifically as wicking fabrics are worth the investment. These very thin fabrics designed just to wick are much better as a base layer than capoline, polypropylene or whatever since these are meant to wick and insulate, and so compromise their wicking ability.

    Then I use lightweight or midweight wool for my insulating layer, depending on how cold it is. The wicking layer pulls the moisture away from my skin to keep me feeling dry and the wool layer does the insulation thing. Shell keeps the wind off of me.

  5. I live in Washington state outside of Olympia. I have been wearing the MINUS 33 long sleeve merino wool crew top for a several years. I own several of them. I live in it most of the year. For me, this garment is the best in comfort, wear and washing. It keeps me warm and happy both casually and/or out riding my bicycle underneath my coat.

    The matching bottoms are great for lounging and sleeping in.

    The tops and bottoms come in three different micron thicknesses.

    I would not dare myself to wear synthetic plastic base layers to make me sweat and stink thereafter. Wool is the way to go. It out performs synthetics with its temperature regulation and moisture management. It will keep me warm, even when it wet.

    smiling amongst the sheep 🙂

  6. Anyone compared the Smartwool Microweight against synthetics? I love my microweight short sleeve T.. maybe would like to get a long sleeve for winter riding.

    I’ve been wearing Pata Capilene 3 + Pata R1 + windstopper shell and it works down to 17F.

    Is the smartwool microweight comparable to the Capilene 3 in warmness? Anyone know?

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