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Smartwool Intraknit Merino 200 bottoms review: stay outdoors longer in cold weather

Made for movement as well as warmth, these merino wool bottoms will keep you outdoors and active even in winter conditions

Smartwook intraknit merino 200 bottoms
(Image: © Smartwool)

Our Verdict

These slim fitting merino wool bottoms perform well during high intensity activities and can be worn under your hiking pants or as leggings in cold weather, keeping you warm, dry and moving outdoors

For

  • 3D knit articulation supports freedom of movement
  • Warm
  • Quick drying and breathable
  • Odor-resistant

Against

  • Pricey for the casual user
  • Might run a little on the large side for some
  • Not quite as soft as some other Smartwool products

Smartwool Intraknit Merino 200 bottoms: first impressions 

On the rack, these medium weight, minimalist bottoms are meant to keep you both warm and moving in cold weather. These slim-fitting pants can be worn under your hiking pants on cold expeditions, as sleepwear at camp or as leggings for hiking in fall, winter and spring. Combining the moisture-wicking capability of merino wool with the fast-drying time and durability of polyester, these bottoms are meant to keep you dry and comfortable no matter how technical the terrain.

The Intraknit Merino bottoms use 3D mapping technology to result in a snug, precise fit enhanced with ribbed knees that allows for total freedom of movement whether you’re curling up in your sleeping bag or scrambling up steep stuff. A high rise waist means no having to pull them up as you’re hiking, and protects you from rub from your hiking pants.

The medium weight means these bottoms don’t feel quite so soft and comfortable as some of Smartwool’s other garments, but once you wear them for a few minutes you won’t even notice them on your skin. These high quality bottoms come with a high price tag but it’s hard to find a better pair – if you take good care of them, they’ll be a staple in your cold weather kit for years to come.

Specifications

• RRP: $120 / £119
• Sizes available: Men’s S - XXL, Women’s XS - XL
• Materials: Merino (52%), polyester (44%), elastane (2%), polyamide (2%)
• Colors:  Black, Black-white, Pattern
• Weight:  208 g / 7.34 oz
• Best use: hiking, camping, winter sports 

Smartwool Intraknit Merino 200 bottoms: on the trails 

Smartwool intraknit merino 200 crew

The Intraknit Merino bottoms use 3D mapping technology to result in a snug, precise fit enhanced with ribbed knees that allows for total freedom of movement  (Image credit: Smartwool)

I’ve been testing these bottoms (along with their matching base layer) out for a while now as hiking pants and long underwear and true to Smartwool form, they stand up to pretty much any cold weather test. Smartwool have definitely perfected the art of thermoregulating fabric that wicks sweat away, dries quickly and leaves no stink.

Though I’d typically reserve them for long underwear under ski pants or sleepwear at camp, the sleek design can definitely serve as outer leggings on a hike. The high waist is definitely a big plus in terms of comfort and function – there’s nothing more annoying than having to hike your pants up every few steps. And the 3D knit and ribbed knees mean I can move in all directions without even noticing them – they’re almost better in that regard than some of my yoga pants.

The best way to wear these base layers is close to the skin, and I found these to run slightly large, so if you’re on the small side you might want to size down. Though they’re certainly not scratchy, I did notice that when I first pulled them on, they weren’t quite a soft as some of my other Smartwool garments, but once I wore them for a while I could barely feel them on my skin.

Finally, I still haven’t washed these and they smell fine, so they get full marks in the odor-resistant and durability categories. These bottoms don’t come cheap, but they’re high quality, long lasting and low maintenance.

Here’s how they performed:

Sizing

Slightly on the large side. If you tend towards the small end of your typical size and want these to be form fitting, size down. 

Fit

Slim fitting, high waist leggings. The company uses 3D knitting technology to produce what they call a “near custom fit” and I don’t know how they do it, but it works. 

Comfort 

Very comfortable seamless knit aids movement and any tiny scratchy wool sensation wears off after a few minutes. 

Temperature regulation 

These bottoms do the job they’re supposed to do: keep you warm in cold weather and cool you off when you start sweating by wicking the moisture away and drying quickly. The medium weight is good for very cold temperatures, but might be too warm under some conditions. 

Breathability 

Highly breathable composition and mesh ventilation. 

Durability 

Ribbed knees add durability and fantastic odor protection means you’ll barely ever wash these. They’ll last years. 

Here’s where we tested the Smartwool Intraknit Merino 200 bottoms: 

Ben Arthur, otherwise known as The Cobbler, is a distinctive peak at the head of Loch Lomond. The true summit requires some technical scrambling that many choose to miss.