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. It is a great price point and works well for staying warm in cool to cold situations that don't demand technical aspects out of a top.
The North Face Warm Crew Review
Cons: Not very durable, not super breathable
Manufacturer: The North Face
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Taking 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.
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 in the top 4 for 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 tops 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 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.
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.
At $49 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.
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