A simple and quality pair of lightweight synthetic bottoms that won't cost you an arm and a leg.
The REI Co-op Lightweight Bottom.
As a lightweight bottom, warmth isn't going to be as significant as a midweight bottom but it provides a nice layer of insulation for anything that lives above super cold conditions. The fabric is a similar thickness to the Smartwool Merino 150 but because it is synthetic, as opposed to merino, it doesn't boast nearly the insulation ability compared to weight. Slightly thicker than the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight bottoms, these bottoms provide a little more warmth but don't excel at breathability and wicking sweat as well as the Capilene.
These bottoms are going to serve you well in conditions that require a little something to enhance warmth from chilly spring and fall nights to all but full on winter conditions. As we mentioned with the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight, these bottoms may be a consideration if you tend to run on the hot side and are prone to overheat in traditional weight long johns. For warmth, these bottoms are pretty versatile as you can easily layer them underneath warmer layers when the temps really drop, but you aren't going to overheat in more moderate climates.
Chilly winter river mornings on the the Colorado.
These bottoms are made of synthetic material which means, inherently, they are not going to regulate body temperature and breathe as well as a natural fiber like merino wool. Being thin allows them to breathe pretty well but not nearly as well as a lightweight merino bottom like the SmartWool Merino 150. We've noticed that the polyester fabric tends to hold onto moisture easier than merino wool which isn't ideal for conditions where you're working hard and creating a lot of perspiration.
The good thing is that they dry extremely quickly. But we would rather not be wet in the first place. If you are looking for a truly lightweight bottom that breathes well and dries lightning fast, consider the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight.
Perfect to layer on cold days hiking with the pup.
Comfort & Fit
We enjoy and are quite impressed with the quality of fit and construction on these bottoms for the price. The lightweight polyester is soft and comfortable next to the skin. The legs are a good length and stay in place when layering, which the smooth material does very well. They have a comfortably snug fit that you would expect from a base layer bottom.
A purposeful design incorporates a gusseted crotch for enhanced mobility; minimal flatlock seams reduce the number of unnecessary seams in the bottoms - there is just one single inseam that connects to the gusseted crotch, no seam on the outside of the leg which is nice. Speaking of crotches, the fit is wonderful — no crotch sag and a comfortable waistline. For the price point, the comfort and fit are superb. It makes us happy that bottoms are finally blending function with a quality fit. The REI Co-op Merino Midweight Bottoms are a very similar fit but with a cozy merino fabric that offers more warmth.
The fit of REI's Lightweight bottoms on our 6ft, 30in waist, lead tester.
Even though these are on the thinner side of bottoms we tested, the synthetic fabric makes them significantly more durable than merino bottoms of the same weight. The closest weight merino bottoms we tested are the Icebreaker Everyday Leggings which didn't stand a chance in the abrasion test; they now have a dime sized hole. The REI Co-op Lightweight Bottoms fared well with some surface wear but no hole. For the price, the durability of these are a great value. They'll be able to stand up to abuse and last you a good long while.
The lighter weight did a good job for late season hut trips where you're skinning and skiing in warmer temps. Brothers on a 10th Mtn. Division hut trip
These bottoms are ideal for someone who is on a budget but can benefit from a quality bottom for the price. For $35, we didn't find any glaring flaws, just an honest pair of bottoms that aren't the fanciest or most technical out there but will be a good adventure companion for those that aren't pushing the boundaries in harsh conditions. Great for spring and fall adventures as well as mild winter conditions. We loved them for river trips, fall camping trips, and early winter mountain biking.
Around your ankles may not be the best application but we thought they were great for milder weather hut trips and the inevitable trips to the outhouse.
For $35, the value of these is hard to beat. An honest pair of bottoms that are great for everything outside of extreme endeavors in cold conditions. A quality pair of blue-collar bottoms that provide terrific quality, comfort, and fit for a great price.
All in all, the REI Co-op Bottoms are a hard working synthetic bottom perfect for those who aren't pushing the edges of their sport but just need a good ol' blue-collar pair of bottoms to accompany them on fall fishing trips, shoveling the driveway, or winter hikes with the dog.