This inexpensive shirt offers style and comfort at a bargain. It feels great to throw on before a lazy football Sunday, but is also presentable enough for engagements outside the home. We are reluctant, however, to refer to it as a technical 'base layer' because its 60% cotton fabric contradicts modern layering theory. When wet, cotton will not insulate, and is potentially dangerous to wear in the backcountry. If you only need a shirt for urban occasions, then this is a steal, but technical shoppers should look elsewhere.
Duofold Midweight Crew Review
Cons: Cotton, won't insulate when wet, dries slowly, difficult sizing
Our Analysis and Test Results
This is a barebones top that has style and comfort but lacks the appropriate composition to be a sensible backcountry piece.
Around the house or in town, this top offers a similar level of warmth to the other mid weight layers reviewed. However, the insulation of this top is compromised by its composition, 60% cotton. The same soft, comfy, fibers, that make cotton the world's most popular textile, absorb moisture and do not provide any warmth when wet. This forms the basis for the adage "cotton kills", and makes this shirt, and any clothing composed primarily of cotton, unsafe to use in the backcountry.
The flipside to this base layer's deficiency in warmth is its superiority in breathability. The 60/40% cotton-polyester blend breathes better than any of the other layers tested. This is one of the reasons why this top feels so nice to wear. As a non-technical base layer, this top performs quite well.
In our air dry test, this was the shirt that was slowest to dry; taking more than twice as long as the top performer, the Patagonia Merino 2 Lightweight Henley. One possible explanation for this shortfall is that the portion of cotton in the fabric is able to absorb more water than the other shirts made of wool or polyester. More initial water will consequently take longer to dry and may be why our testers observed such a slow time. Drying speed for a cotton garment is especially important when you consider that it will not retain heat when wet.
The relaxed fit of this top allows it to be worn as a next-to-skin layer or over a thin shirt. Other tops, like the Patagonia Capilene 4 Expedition Weight 1/4 Zip Hoody, fit better as a second layer, but this shirt performs as well as most of the field in layering ability.
This long underwear exhibits above average durability, and with such a low price that the cost of replacing one when it finally does wear out is not unreasonable. We would expect it to last longer than any of the merino wool base layers tested.
Comfort and Fit
We like the cotton/polyester blend a lot for lounging at home. The fabric combination feels soft and light on the skin without any of the scratchiness or stuffiness of the other fabrics. A thoughtless seam placed directly on the top of the shoulder causes irritation when carry a pack for a while.
There does appear to be issues with the fit of this base layer. Amazon customer reviews seem to include an equal number of complaints about the sizing being too large, or too small. Our confused testers thought the sizing of the chest and back was normal, but the length of the sleeves was too short. Long-limbed shoppers should be careful or pick something else.
This shirt is ideal for anyone on a tight budget or who doesn't need a performance technical layer. When fit correctly, it looks just as sharp as any of the others. Consider it a good option for lazing on the couch or social occasions where your survival is not dependent on the insulation of your clothing.
Value is the one category where this top really shines. For about 15 bucks you get a well made shirt that will look good and keep you warm (when dry). This price is enormously less than any of the other shirts tested, and makes it a viable option for users who only need something comfortable to wear close to home. Duofold also makes a 100% synthetic base layer at the same price point that could work as a cheap option for some users.
Overall, the Duofold Midweight Crew is a fashionable shirt at a great price. It can serve as nice shirt to wear out for a beer, yoga class, or just to get dirty doing yard work. Across our ratings categories, however, it performed poorly and most of the other long underwear tested work better for extended outdoor use.
Other Versions and Accessories
Varitherm Performance Midweight
- 96% polyester / 4% spandex top
- This version rings up at only $15
- This could solve many of the problems created by the cotton composition of the Midweight Crew
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: March 30, 2015
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