Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible Headband Review 2023

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This is a review of the Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible Headband. It is a versatile and stylish accessory that promises to keep your ears warm in the mild cold. It is made of fine merino wool, which ensures a warm, cozy feeling without any itching. This lightweight headband boasts a double-layer interlock knit construction, a reversible design, and clean finish seams that reduce bulk. All these made us want to test it in a variety of settings. That’s why this headband has accompanied us on hikes in the last few months.

In this detailed review, we will examine the material and construction, weight, design, fit, characteristics, pros, cons, and best use of the Smartwool reversible headband to see if it lives up to its promises.

Smartwool merino reversible headband

Quick specs: Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible Headband

Price: $22

Weight: 30 g (1.06 oz)

Dimensions: 23.5 cm x 10 cm (9.25 x 3.94 inches)

Material: 100% Merino wool

Where to get it: Amazon | Backcountry | Moosejaw

Notable features:

  • Double-layer Interlock knit construction made of 100% merino wool.
  • The reversible design makes it easy to switch up your look while still enjoying the same comfort and functionality.
  • Clean finish seams help prevent any irritation or discomfort on the skin; less bulk.


  • Boasts an attractive style, color, and reversible design, with only minor drawbacks. The reversible design is a nice bonus (though you will need to remove inner labels before use).
  • Works great for a variety of outdoor activities, especially high aerobic activities such as hiking, running, riding a bike, etc. in cool-to-cold conditions.
  • Lightweight but this does not preclude it from doing its job really well (i.e. keeping your ears warm) in chilly weather. Besides, its warmth-to-weight ratio is surprisingly high.
  • The fine merino wool material is soft, and warm, feels cozy, and does not itch.
  • Can be a suitable substitute for a warm hat and its size eliminates the need for a beanie.


  • Not wind-resistant or windproof, making it unsuitable for use on windy days as the wind can get through the headband. It is better suited for use on still days.
  • The double-layer knitting does not provide insulation, making the headband unsuitable for very cold conditions, particularly due to its lightweight design.
  • There’s no logo on the inside. Also, users should be aware that the labels may cause discomfort unless removed. (luckily, they are easy to remove). Last but not least, the inner seam can look unattractive to some.
  • While the headband fits most people well, the one-size-fits-all design may be advantageous only for those with the “right size” of the head according to the designers at Smartwool but can pose a challenge for those with larger heads.

Women’s Version: Unisex

Smartwool headband in black cherry heather color
The headband in “black cherry heather” color looks really nice


We put the Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible headband to the test on multiple trips over the last three months, including in temperatures as low as -3°C or -4°C (25-26°F). Our findings indicate that this headband is a lightweight, soft, and warm alternative to a hat in cool weather. Its reversible design and clean finish seams make it a versatile choice for various outdoor activities. However, it is not windproof and may not be suitable for extremely cold conditions.

Read more about its strengths and weaknesses in the comprehensive analysis below.

Detailed review

Material and construction

The Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible Headband is made of 100% fine merino wool, which is a naturally odor-resistant, moisture-wicking, and breathable material known for its softness and warmth. The double-layer interlock knit construction of the headband improves the headband’s ability to retain heat and provides an additional layer of warmth and durability. The clean finish seams not only ensure a comfortable fit but also reduce bulk, making it even more comfortable to wear.

The construction of the headband is lightweight and well-made, but may not be very sturdy due to the thinness of the 100% merino wool material. While wool is not known to be the most durable fiber, we have not had any issues with durability. Smartwool does offer a 100% Satisfaction guarantee for added peace of mind. So, if you encounter any issues or are not completely satisfied with the headband, you can take advantage of this guarantee.


The headband weighs only 30 g (1.06 oz), making it lightweight and easy to pack. This super lightweight accessory won’t weigh you down during your outdoor activities. While it may be lightweight, it still provides ample warmth to keep your ears comfortable in cool-to-cold conditions. In fact, we found that it has a surprisingly high warmth-to-weight ratio, making it an ideal choice for those looking for a warm and comfortable headband without the added bulk.

Design and fit

The Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible Headband has a nice style, color, and a clean finish seam design that helps reduce bulk and create a sleek look. It comes in different colors, making it a fashionable accessory for outdoor activities (black-charcoal heather, black cherry heather, twilight blue heather). Apart from this style, there are also pattern reversible options available. However, we personally prefer the solid-colored options as they match our style more.

The headband has a reversible design, which adds versatility to its use. The main color of the headband in our review is a beautiful color called “black cherry heather”. Although we are not typically fans of pink clothing, we must admit that the pinkish color on the reverse side of the headband looks quite nice. The reversible design is a nice bonus, but the lack of a logo on the inside and the need to remove the labels sewn into the seam (there’s a tag with the material content, care instruction, and date of production) may be a slight annoyance. To ensure the headband can be used on the reverse side without any discomfort, be sure to remove all labels from the inside. Fortunately, even for inexperienced users, this is a quick and easy task that can be completed in just a minute or two.

The other side of the headband has pinkish color
The reverse side of this headband has a pinkish color that looks surprisingly good

The one-size-fits-all design may be a disadvantage for those with larger heads, but it fits most people well. We appreciated the snug fit that stayed securely in place throughout our hikes, without feeling too tight or uncomfortable.

Warmth and comfort

The Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible Headband is a comfortable accessory that provides warmth and softness. The merino wool material is gentle on the skin, providing a cozy and itch-free experience, even when worn for extended periods. The headband does an excellent job of keeping the ears warm in chilly weather, and its warmth-to-weight ratio is surprisingly high, making it a great replacement for a warm hat. However, it is not suitable for really cold weather, primarily because of its lightweight design. Moreover, this reversible headband is also not wind resistant or windproof, which makes it unsuitable for windy weather as the wind gets through the headband and causes discomfort to the ears. Therefore, it is best to use this headband on still days and while active or under a hood/hat/helmet in cold and windy weather.


This headband is a functional accessory that can be used for a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, running, or cycling in cool-to-cold conditions. It can replace a warm hat without any problem, and its size is large enough to cover your ears without the need for a beanie. Its lightweight and packable design make it easy to bring along on any adventure. The moisture-wicking and odor-resistant properties of merino wool make it ideal for activities that involve physical exertion, ensuring that you stay dry and fresh throughout the day.

Whether you are exploring the outdoors or running errands around town, this headband will provide the necessary warmth and comfort you need while staying active. Moreover, it is a must-have accessory for any hiker looking for both fashion and function on and off the trail.

Moisture management and drying speed

This headband by Smartwool boasts excellent moisture management abilities and dries quickly, thanks to its lightweight construction and 100% merino wool material. Merino wool is renowned for its moisture-wicking properties, which ensure that your head stays dry and comfortable during high aerobic activities. Note that this doesn’t mean that it cannot get wet from the inside. It will, especially during high-intensity activities. The good news is that if the headband starts getting uncomfortably wet, you can always take advantage of the reversible design and flip it to the other side.

The headband dries relatively quickly, so there’s no need to worry about it remaining wet for too long. However, it’s essential to note that direct sunlight should be avoided when drying the headband to prevent any alteration of the original shade.

On the trail in a mountain-forest setting
The reversible headband feels comfy on the trail at temperatures around zero degrees Celsius


The price of headbands can vary depending on the specific model and brand, as well as the materials used in the construction. Most headbands on the market feature polyester fleece, acrylic, and different polyester/wool blends instead of 100% merino wool. These options range in price from less than $10 to more than $30. While merino has many advantages over synthetic alternatives, there are functional and reasonably-priced alternatives for active performance such as the Turtle Fur Bang Band priced at $14. Smartwool also offers such an option, with a windproof front panel, called Active Fleece Wind. Its weight is 27 g or it weighs less than 1 oz and costs $30. Patagonia Powder Town is a heavier, insulated headband that looks cool, but its price is close to $40.

At $22, this Smartwool headband is a reasonably priced option for a high-quality merino wool headband. However, it’s worth noting that it can be found for as low as $13 on sale, making it an even more affordable option. All-merino headbands such as the Minus33 Merino Wool Reversible (lighter, comes at around 22-23 g), Meriwool Merino 250, and Buff Merino Wide cost between $15 and $28.


The Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible Headband is a fantastic option for those looking for a lightweight, soft, warm, and wicking headband for chilly weather. While it may not be suitable for windy conditions or extremely cold temperatures, it’s a versatile option that works well for a variety of outdoor activities. Its affordable price point and high-quality materials make it a smart choice for anyone in need of a new headband. Overall, we consider it a great value for its quality and performance.


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1 thought on “Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible Headband Review 2023”

  1. This is an amazing article. The writes has listed the benefits and the preferred material as per the circumstances and weather conditions. It also seems to be interesting to style using a headband.


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