The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

The North Face Warm Crew Review

This synthetic base layer is great if you’re not pushing the boundaries and working hard in harsh conditions.
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Price:  $50 List | $39.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Great price, soft, comfortable, warm
Cons:  Not very durable, not super breathable
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Roland Mott ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 15, 2019
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 10
  • Warmth - 25% 7
  • Breathability - 20% 5
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Drying Speed - 10% 3
  • Layering Ability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The North Face Warm Crew is a soft and warm synthetic base layer that offers a nice fit and comfortable feel. It does well keeping you warm but didn't perform at the high levels of other base layers we tested. If you are looking for a base layer that is a great price and you don't need the technical aspects to perform at a high level, this is a great option. It is a very warm top that would do great resort skiing, hiking, or just an everyday warm layer to don around town or on outdoor adventures that aren't high-output activities.


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Star Rating
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Pros Great price, soft, comfortable, warmExcellent temperature regulation, cozy comfy feel, very warm, breathable, doesn’t hold odor.Lightweight, insanely comfy, warm, breathable, versatileDurable, lightweight, handles a wide range of temperaturesUltralight, airy and breathable, affordable, up to 100% recycled polyester
Cons Not very durable, not super breathableExpensive, not the most durable, heavy when wetSuper expensive, extremely poor durabilityBulky seams, not as stink-resistant as other merino blendsNot a warm layer by itself, loose-fitting cuffs can get caught up when layering
Bottom Line This synthetic base layer is great if you’re not pushing the boundaries and working hard in harsh conditions.Our Editors’ Choice scores high across every metric making its way into our hearts as a favorite, keeping us warm, dry, and comfortable in any situation.This extra plush, comfortable, merino/polyester blend boasts extreme warmth while maintaining a hard to believe level of breathability, earning an OutdoorGearLab Notable Mention.Our Top Pick as a lightweight layer for aerobic activity, this top skillfully utilizes a Merino/polyester-blend to magically wick away moisture.A high-value piece whose breathability and airy fit means that it can be worn for high-output activity regardless of the season, but not your go-to layer for mid-winter warmth.
Rating Categories The North Face Warm Crew SmartWool Merino 250 Crew Patagonia Capilene Air Crew Norrona Equaliser Long-Sleeved Capilene Cool L...
Warmth (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
4
Breathability (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
Comfort And Fit (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
8
Durability (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
7
Drying Speed (10%)
10
0
3
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
Layering Ability (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
Specs The North Face... SmartWool Merino... Patagonia Capilene... Norrona Equaliser Long-Sleeved...
Material 57% polyester, 43% Repreve® recycled polyester 100% merino wool 51% merino wool/49% recycled polyester 47% merino wool, 33% recyled polyester, 20% polyester 100% double knit polyester (37% recycled, heather-colors; 100% recycled, solid-colors)
Fabric Weight 180 g/m² 250 g/m² 190 g/m² 135 g/m² 77 g/m²
Weight (size M) 7.7 oz 9.2 oz 6.6 oz 5.5 oz 3.8 oz
Types available crew, 1/4 zip crew, 1/4 zip, hoody, pullover crew, hoody t-shrit, crew, 1/4 zip long sleeve, t-shirt
Thumb Loops? No No No No No
Air Dry Test (minutes) 75 50 40 25 30
Fit Slim fit Slim fit Slim fit Slim fit Slim fit
Stitching Flatlock seams Flatlock seams Seamless 3D construction Flatlock seams Flatlock seams
Dryer safe? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Shoulder top seams? No No No No Yes
Drop tail hem? No No No No Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The North Face Warm is a synthetic base layer that has a soft and warm next to skin feel. It was our lowest scoring synthetic layer. This isn't to say that it is a poor choice, but it just doesn't perform at the levels of other tops we tested. If you need an inexpensive base layer that will be durable and keep you warm for things like resort skiing or hiking in cool to cold weather, this may be a good option for you.

Performance Comparison


A nice fit throughout with thick and comfy synthetic fabric. A little short in the torso.
A nice fit throughout with thick and comfy synthetic fabric. A little short in the torso.

Warmth


This midweight synthetic base layer does a good job of keeping you warm, but the synthetic fabric next to skin just doesn't seem to feel as warm as a Merino wool layer. Because it's thick and doesn't have the best breathability, it traps heat well and has a little more wind resistance as a stand-alone layer than a Merino. Overall the warmth is ok but not impressive compared to others tested.

Breathability


We didn't find this to be exceptional in the breathability category. It holds heat very well but isn't the best at letting it escape. It doesn't want to wick very quickly and is slow to dry.

It's not terrible but compared to the others it's not nearly as good. A good option if low price is key and breathability isn't an urgent requirement.

The North Face Warm doing its job too well once the morning chill burned off and the sun came out. Not the most breathable  it was too hot in the sunshine.
The North Face Warm doing its job too well once the morning chill burned off and the sun came out. Not the most breathable, it was too hot in the sunshine.

Comfort and Fit


The soft synthetic fabric is comfortable next-to-skin. It feels a bit thick and bulky but is nice and stretchy. Gusseted underarms don't live in the armpit itself but instead a triangle against the ribs; it doesn't seem quite as effective as other gusset designs.

The Warm pulls up pretty significantly, exposing belly when arms are raised above the head. Generally, it has a good fit that's true to size, but could use slightly longer arms and torso.

The odd gusseted underarm seam pattern. Seemed like excessive and unnecessary stitching. but the soft  stretch material was comfortable.
The odd gusseted underarm seam pattern. Seemed like excessive and unnecessary stitching. but the soft, stretch material was comfortable.

Drying Speed


This had, by a long shot, the sloooowest drying time of any top we tested. It's made with The North Face Flash Dry material but there was no flash about it.

This top took nearly 1.5 hours to dry after it lovingly lapped up water like a thirst-deprived dog in a hot car. Impressive is a word that lives far, far away from our dry speed result for this top. The lesson here, if you are going to jump into an alpine lake, take this off first.

Durability


Synthetics are generally considered to be more durable than Merino layers. Not the case here, this synthetic fabric did not prove itself in this category, winding up among the least durable models we tested. In our abrasion test, it was the only synthetic layer to develop a hole through the fabric, which was surprising to us because the material is fairly thick in comparison to the other base layers that we tested, and especially the other synthetic layers.

Overall, we were not impressed with this top's ability to take a beating. And given its thick material and lack of breathability we were hoping it would at least be durable, but alas…

The North Face Crew was the only synthetic layer that allowed the abrasion test to create a hole in the fabric.
The North Face Crew was the only synthetic layer that allowed the abrasion test to create a hole in the fabric.

Layering Ability


The smooth synthetic material slides easily over a shirt, but the tighter fit makes layering over a t-shirt feel bulky and restrictive. It layers well underneath a fleece but we found it adds a little bulk underneath a snug mid-layer like the Patagonia R1. We found that the thicker material feels a bit restrictive when incorporated into a full layering system.

Value


This is one of the most affordable base layers out there. For the dollar amount, we feel that this a great value as long as you don't require a high performing base layer in technical aspects like breathability.

The North Face Warm. Not the most breathable layer  this did well keeping us warm during the cold Green River nights but then overheated fast once the sun came out.
The North Face Warm. Not the most breathable layer, this did well keeping us warm during the cold Green River nights but then overheated fast once the sun came out.

Conclusion


Overall, The North Face Warm is indeed a warm, soft, and sufficient layer for a great price. This is a wonderful option if you don't need a highly technical base layer and low cost is a priority for you. A nice fit and comfortable fabric make this a great layer for resort skiing or hanging out in cool to cold conditions.


Roland Mott