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Running Apparel • January 5, 2024

Smartwool Winter 2024 Apparel Review: Midwinter Merino

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What You Need To Know




Merino wool, so much Merino wool

Sizes tested

Taylor: Men’s Medium

Alex: Women’s Small

Introduction to Smartwool’s Winter 2024 Collection

TAYLOR: Deep, dark, and cold midwinter is a hard season to plan for as a runner. We’re constantly playing the game of mix and match to ride the line of warmth and mobility. I’m not a fan of bulk at all… Even the thought of wearing a pair of pants while running is enough to get me to question the whole run in the first place.

Smartwool, a company that has had my feet faithfully in their socks for over a decade, has answers for the rest of the body during the winter time, too. They tactfully integrate modern engineered performance fibers with the timeless dependability of merino wool. Check out these active winter running clothing options to get you through this frigid season.

Intraknit Active Full Zip Jacket

PRICE: $220

TAYLOR: There’s something about the idea of going three layers deep that I do not like. There are very few occasions for winter running that I go to such measures. With that being said, there are some days when a vest isn’t enough but a full jacket is too much. That’s where the Intraknit Active Full Zip Jacket comes into play.

This jacket integrates the core protection that a vest brings with the sleeve coverage of a jacket. The unique part is that the chest and stomach are covered by a four-way stretch nylon outer to ward off elements. The arms and back panel are composed of blended merino wool for temperature regulation and moisture management, and Tencel Lyocell fibers (a sustainable fiber made from wood pulp) are blended in for further comfort. The same material continues into the higher neck collar, too. Specific mesh panels on the back and arms are also used for ventilation.

I found this jacket to be “slim” fitting throughout. The waistline is higher than the average jacket, while the bottom of the jacket rests right at the waist rather than dipping further below your bottom. Smartwool’s Intraknit Active Full Zip Jacket fits nicely over a light long sleeve and even better over top a tighter fitting base layer. This will be a jacket I call on for those days that are cool with a little bit of a winter bite.

ALEX:  I agree with Taylor. I love the idea of a one-and-done layering system, or at least one that is more minimal in terms of the sheer volume. ​​The Smartwool Active Full Zip Jacket is a versatile and functional piece that is comfortable and performs well. It’s constructed with a blend of merino wool and polyester, offering the natural benefits of merino wool, including moisture management, odor resistance, and temperature regulation, combined with the durability and quick-drying properties of polyester.

The full zip allows for easy ventilation during workouts or as a layering piece. The two zippered side pockets conveniently provide secure storage for small essentials like keys, cards, or gels.

I prefer a more relaxed fit than this jacket provides, as I found it to be quite slim. In terms of warmth, the jacket is warmer than necessary for most of my runs (I run really warm), making it better suited for lower output activities or as a mid-layer in colder conditions.

Overall, the Smartwool Women’s Active Zip Jacket stands out as a well-designed piece of winter gear, offering a blend of natural and synthetic materials, thoughtful features, and a design that prioritizes both functionality and comfort.

Shop Smartwool Intraknit Active Full Zip Jacket - Men Shop Smartwool Intraknit Active Full Zip Jacket - Women

Active Fleece Tight

PRICE: $110

TAYLOR: Even when it comes to bottoms, I’m a less is more kind of person. Temps need to be solidly in the 30s before I consider tights. Pants are typically out of the question. Although, that approach has left my future children’s fate uncertain on more than one occasion. For some reason, even through the agony, I still question what I’ll wear on truly cold days. Smartwool’s Active Fleece Tights have now solved my frigid run dilemma.

These are thick, warm, and runnable! Read that again and rejoice! The Smartwool Active Fleece Tight combines the warmth of a light fleece-lined pant with the slim-fitting flexible benefits of tights. The overall fit is closer to traditional long underwear rather than running tights. I wore these for some single-digit runs but loved these most in the teens and was plenty warm through the 20’s. Both scenarios are fine temperature-wise unless there is a stout breeze. These tights are moderately breathable.

Two thigh pockets and a rear zippered pocket are a nice final touch for the warmest tights on the block.

ALEX: The Smartwool Run Legging is simple and to the point. They also have the smooth, buttery feel of Lululemon Align tights. Crafted with a blend of merino wool and elastane, these leggings offer exceptional moisture-wicking, odor resistance, and natural temperature regulation. The elastane provides a stretchy, flexible fit, allowing for unrestricted movement.

The design and features are practical and have a zippered waistband pocket and two side drop-in pockets for stashing keys, a card, or a gel. The reflective seams are a great addition for the shorter winter days.

These tights are so comfortable and transition seamlessly from runs and yoga to casual errands. Paired with a wind-blocking layer in more extreme temps, these will be a go-to all season long.

Shop Smartwool Active Fleece Tight - Men Shop Smartwool Run Legging - Women

Active Fleece Wind Glove

PRICE: $50

TAYLOR: Using the same material as the Active Fleece Tight, the Smartwool Active Fleece Gloves add a wind-blocking layer on the backside of the hands to keep those little fingers from freezing up. Living in the Colorado mountain, there is never a shortage of wind. Even the idea of having a lightweight running glove with wind protection strikes a sentimental chord. They work, too. The Smartwool Active Fleece Gloves kick the pants off of other similar weight technical running gloves. I’ve now permanently replaced my Black Diamond and Tracksmith running gloves for the winter.

ALEX: The Smartwool Active Fleece Glove is constructed with a blend of merino wool and synthetic materials to offer excellent thermal insulation, moisture-wicking properties, and natural odor resistance, making them ideal for winter training.

The gloves include touchscreen-compatible fingertips, and the grippy texture on the palm and fingers enhances dexterity and ensures a secure hold on poles or anything else you need to grip mid-run. I often find myself struggling to open things with my other gloves as they lack the grip.

The insulation in these gloves provides a lot of warmth without feeling bulky. Overall, they offer an excellent balance of warmth, functionality, and comfort, and I will be reaching for these all winter long.

Shop Smartwool Active Fleece Wind Glove -Men Shop Smartwool Active Fleece Insulated Glove - Women

Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Crew Sock

PRICE: $23

TAYLOR: As stated before, Smartwool socks were my original gateway into the brand, and they continue to be a staple. The Run Cold Targeted Cushion Crew Socks are not a gimmick. They take the same wool blend benefits of moisture management, antimicrobial, and reduced friction and kick it up a notch to keep the miles churning comfortably throughout the winter. Whether my runs were on the roads or tramping on a snowy trail, the Run Cold line did help keep my feet warmer than my other Smartwool Ph.D. socks, and they dried faster than any other technical sock I own. 10/10 would recommend for winter activities.

Shop Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Socks - Men Shop Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Socks - Women

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. James says:

    +1 on the Active Fleece Tights, I bought several pairs because they work. I use them as base layers under Path Projects Killam pants running in as cold as -33C up here in Canada. The only down side to these is the drawstrings have no reinforcement on the waistband so if you pull back instead of across they WILL tear.

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Alex Elizabeth
Lead Trail Reviewer
  • Instagram

Alex is a trail and ultra runner from the upper midwest who loves Minnesota’s long winters and logging miles on the rooty, rocky, steep trails of Lake Superior’s North Shore. She was the first female to set a supported FKT on the 310 mile Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) and enjoys multi-day events and races, especially if they involve snow and -20 degree temps. 

All-time favorite shoes: Hoka Speedgoat Evo, Hoka Tecton X, Altra Timp.

More from Alex
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Fav. Distance


  • 94:35

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Taylor Bodin
Lead Trail Reviewer
  • Strava
  • Instagram

Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultra runner living in Estes Park, Colo., with his wife and daughters. Trail running is pretty much the only hobby he can manage right now and loves it. Every so often, he will pop off a race or FKT attempt because competition is pure and the original motivator for him getting into running anyways. When not running, Taylor is a 1st grade teacher, running coach (track & field, Cross Country, and Trail/Ultra athletes), and volunteers at his church.

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