Beginner’s Gear Guide: Best lightweight layer for hiking

Spring is here, and a breathable long-sleeve shirt is a must-have for chilly mornings that turn into blazing hot afternoons. My better half found the Smartwool NTS Micro 150 crew on clearance at REI, and its insane un-stinkability (scientific term) has made it a staple in our household.

The NTS Micro 150 comes in a long-sleeved version in addition to tank tops, t-shirts, and even underwear. It’s basically all on sale at REI right now, so get it while you can! The sale price combined with your REI dividend that you’ve hopefully earned makes it a pretty good steal – SmartWool is notoriously expensive, and usually too rich for my blood.

This post specifically reviews this shirt, but my fiance has the men’s version and the t-shirt and loves both.


I love how thin and breathable this shirt is, which it manages to do without also showing the entire world what sport’s bra I’m wearing and what my bellybutton looks like. I test drove this shirt on a weekend in Moab, wearing it on a hike in Arches that started in the 50s and climbed to the 70s with no shade, and this shirt was perfect.

I do recommend going a size up if you don’t like a super tight fit – I get that the “NTS” is for Next To Skin, but I wanted the option to put on another layer underneath. Also, the skintight look is not my bag, and the extra small looks a little too painted on for my muffin top’s liking.

The NTS Micro 150 is a scoop neck for women, which was almost a deal-breaker for me. I legitimately do not understand why women’s shirts are always ~feminized~ versions of men’s shirts. Can a girl get a crew neck up in here?!

Anyways. The scoop neck is still sporty without losing coverage (aka no boob sunburn). Your sports bra might show a little bit (cue me wondering why they made an athletic shirt with a neckline that doesn’t hide a sports bra).

The hems are also a lot narrower on the women’s shirt than the men’s, but they still lay flat which is what saved it for me. The elasticized sleeve cuffs actually turned out to be really handy since they make sure the sleeves stay put if you roll them up – mine didn’t budge during a two-hour, sweaty hike.


The thing that really makes this shirt superior to all others is the material – it is legitimately difficult to make it stinky thanks to the merino wool.

I wore mine at breakfast, on a hike that was hot, difficult, and caused me to get fear-sweats several times, through lunch, and on the car ride across town and it STILL didn’t smell bad. AT ALL. With a lot of the synthetic shirts, I’ll wear them for a few hours and immediately have to retire them to the dirty laundry, even if I’m just sitting on the couch eating muffins.

This alone makes the Smartwool NTS 150 price worth it since I can wear the same shirt multiple times for one weekend of hiking. If you’re looking for an investment piece to up your wardrobe, this is it, particularly while it’s on sale.

For reference, my shirt is the Hibiscus color in size small. I’m 5’7,” wear a 32B, and weigh about 130 pounds.


Please note this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you buy this shirt from REI I get a very small cut. I did not receive any compensation for this post and wouldn’t recommend anything I haven’t tried and loved myself. Smartwool and REI did not have any editorial oversight and (tragically) didn’t give me this shirt for free.


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