Merino Tech vs Smartwool: A Few Important Notes

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by | Clothing Style, Workwear & Outdoors

The first time I and my significant other saw Merino.Tech was back in mid-2019. MT was unknown back then; just a few dozen reviews online.

Well, things have changed. Currently, it’s one of the leading budget merino wool brands.

Between Merino Tech vs Smartwool, a veteran in merino wear – what would the verdict be?

To find out, we tested out some staples like their long-sleeve bases:

Decent stuff for the price, in all honesty:

Merino Tech vs Smartwool - discussing some differences between these two merino wool brands.

I’ll be frank, though:

We still prefer Smartwool, and in particular, the fantastic Smartwool mid-layers or leggings.

Smartwool Leggings

Comfy, warm, more durable than Merino.Tech options. These leggings are the creme de la creme of their niche. Vibrant, unique patterns for those into stylish clothing.

For us, the comparison boils down to 4 key differences:

  • Merino.Tech has a very limited assortment and covers mostly base layer options.
  • Smartwool’s merino wool is less itchy. As a whole, the brand’s clothes feature better stitching –  especially the fantastic bottoms or men’s crews.
  • Smartwool designs and patterns are way more vibrant. A lot more accessories (top sellers like this beanie, scarves etc.) too.
  • Merino.Tech is significantly cheaper but is limited to mostly 165 and 250g/m2 density.

So, based on our experience, our recommendations would be…

Merino.Tech fits the bill with casual base layers for milder weather/on a budget:

Merino.Tech Base Layer Shirt

Inexpensive option for casual/home setups or milder weather. Acceptably smooth - and you get some basic freebie socks too.

Merino.Tech Long Sleeve

Cheap and decently snug option. Lots of colors to choose from, but they're all rather plain. Great for casual use.

Smartwool is the choice for a more active, outdoors-fueled lifestyle. The brand’s clothing is softer, more durable, and often gorgeous style-wise.

Less fraying, less piling, and better weave-work is what wins us as merino users. Smartwool has it all.

We fully vouch for the brand’s socks (see examples). Coming in way more cuts than MT, they don’t itch, hold strong, and come in exciting designs.

Smartwool Hiker Socks

Warmer, more durable, and significantly outperforming any budget merino options in cold weather. The perfect hiking sock companion - which also looks kickass!

Smartwool 250 Zip Outerwear

Great 1/4 zip outerwear for mountain hiking, trekking and other outdoor activities in harsher weather. Remember to layer it beneath an outer shell during a cold winter!

Let’s talk about the differences between these two a bit more. We also ran some snooping around Merino.Tech to gauge whether it’s a good brand – as in, honest in terms of consumer reviews authenticity!

Merino Tech vs Smartwool:
Key observations

OK, so there are several crucial points to discuss here, namely:

  • How rich/diverse the product catalog of these two brands is.
  • How do they approach the designing process (quality and appearance).
  • Difference in practical applications (this involves merino density, what situations are they most suitable for, how the material feels etc.)

Let’s start with…

Differences in product line-ups

As I mentioned earlier, we tested Merino.Tech’s long-sleeve base layers (see them here). The brand actually exclusively focuses on base merino wool options.

There are some mid-layers, but nothing heavier or outer shells like Smartwool’s jackets like this one.

MT sticks to only a few options for men and women – long sleeves, T-shirts, polo shirts (men), and bottoms. From the accessories, they only have classic hiking socks and basic neck warmers.

This scarcity is a bit disappointing! Compared to Merino.Tech, other budget brands like Meriwool (read our review) feature way more merino options, including accessories.

As a veteran in the niche, Smartwool has everything from base layers to heavy layers; from crews to fleeces/zip hoodies; from beanies to gloves or balaclavas.

Smartwool Beanie

The staple beanie for cold winters. 100% merino wool. Breathable, extra warm, and plenty of sizing/color options to pick from.

You get outer shells and jackets, too: heavier, extreme-ready garments to protect you from harsh winters.

We’re huge fans of SW accessories. This neck gaiter, for example, has been a staple during tough winters for us.

Even in the underwear department, Smartwool goes above and beyond in terms of options. From bikinis and thongs for women to boxer briefs or shorts for men.

Approaching the design process

We weren’t that impressed with how Merino.Tech stitching played out. Some thinner Smartwool products are also problematic, but in general, Smartwool does the stitching right.

This goes a long way in terms of durability even after active use/frequent washes.

Color and pattern options are also something important. Some people prefer plain designs, but for others, merino clothing is the perfect way to express their outdoorsy spirit.

Merino.Tech clothes offer many color variations, but they’re all simple and plain. In comparison, Smartwool mixes classic looks with some more daring designs.

Two of our favorite Smartwool looks:

Even plain-colored options are often mixed to achieve a more stylish feel.

Product Image
Smartwool Baselayer Crew
  • 100% premium, non-itch merino wool.
  • Advanced stitching keeps it neat for longer.
  • Extremely warm despite its lightweight design.
Check Sizes & Fit

On applications, feel & practical concerns

Smartwool uses denser merino wool. Aside from being warmer, it’s also less itchier than most budget options – and that includes Merino.Tech, too.

The denser merino used makes Smartwool a better option for true outdoor adventures. Merino.Tech might not cut it out in more challenging weather conditions.

MT has chosen an interesting approach. Most base layers that focus on the skin-thin experience are around 150g/m2. Merino.Tech’s bases start from 165g/m2, and they go up to 250g/m2 which is classic mid-layer thickness.

Update: They’ve also included a limited assortment of 320g/m2 long sleeves – check them here.

The Merino.Tech approach is both good and bad simultaneously!

It’s good in the sense that casual users on a budget can get a ‘thicker’ option. It can be bad because some more active-oriented people (biking, jogging, etc.) would prefer an extra-thin, skin-feel option which 150g/m2 pretty much achieves.

165g/m2 base layers might be slightly off the mark for people looking for ultra-lightweight merino options.

The bottom line is, Smartwool clothing feels better and performs better in more extreme conditions. The brand’s catalog and wool quality are more suited to pickier, more adventurous/outdoorsy customers.

Merino.Tech is great for casual urban use (or home use) in milder weather conditions.

Product Image
Merino.Tech Women's Long Sleeve
  • Midweight option that is breathable and machine wash-friendly.
  • Comes with a cute gift: a free pair of socks (merino wool too!)
  • Great for casual use and trips during the colder months.
Check Sizes & Fit
Smartwool 250 Zip Outerwear

Great for mountain hiking, trekking and other outdoor activities in harsher weather. Remember to layer it beneath an outer shell during winters.

Analyzing authenticity:
Is Merino.Tech a good brand?

Newcomer budget brands can be a minefield. There’s been way too many of these popping up in the merino industry over the past few years. I’m sure you’re aware of review bombing and, well, the general practice of fake reviews.

Sure, retailers/marketplaces try to curb this practice, but it never goes away.

Aside from me and my SO testing out some Merino.Tech bases, I decided to run a Fakespot analysis on a whim. The results look decent, with the adjusted rating being a B. Way better than the standard.

Is Merino.Tech a good brand? Running a quick Fakespot analysis to verify review authenticity.

However, there seem to be some problematic product lines too.

The men’s base layer (check it out here) seems to score a C, significantly below the average for Merino.Tech.

Some Merino.Tech products score a lower Fakespot analysis threshold.

Fakespot isn’t the end-all-and-be-all, but it’s a nice tool to play with.

Nevertheless, I do think that Merino.Tech is a good brand for the money. Sure, it’s a step behind other Smartwool alternatives like Woolx, but at the same time, is way more budget-friendly, too.

Let’s discuss this in our final section 🙂

Some concluding thoughts

All in all, Merino.Tech is a decent budget take on merino clothing. The brand’s products will satisfy the casual user who focuses on lighter applications.

MT’s designs are a bit bland for those into more expressive clothing – but I believe people focusing on utility wouldn’t care about the plain designs.

It’s no secret that Smartwool is significantly more expensive. However, the price does come with benefits – be it higher-quality merino wool, sturdier construction, or a more daring appearance.

A huge difference between Merino Tech and Smartwool is the sheer difference in product lines.

For quite a few pieces of clothing, there isn’t any room for comparison. just doesn’t offer the clothes in question – like zip hoodies, outer shells, and even accessories such as beanies or gloves.

Merino.Tech Base Layer Shirt

Inexpensive option for casual/home setups or milder weather. Acceptably smooth - and you get some basic freebie socks too.

Smartwool Leggings

Comfy, warm, more durable than Merino.Tech options. These leggings are the creme de la creme of their niche. Vibrant, unique patterns for those into stylish clothing.

I’d like to see Merino.Tech increasing its catalog, much like Meriwool gradually did. The latter is reaping the benefits of attacking Smartwool’s accessory department, as well as hitting the spot for budget shoppers when it comes to heavier layers too.

Have you tried any of these brands’ products? Let me know in the comments below, I’d be glad to hear more about your merino wool experiences.

For more standard clothing, you can always check some of my thoughts on classic budget jeans like Wrangler or Rustler.

See you!