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

REI Co-op Midweight Base Layer Crew - Women's Review

This value winner provides a great range of thermoregulation for versatile all-year round use.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $50 List | $34.89 at REI
Pros:  Great value, fitted, cute patterns, quick to wick, good breathability
Cons:  Not super warm, stinky fabric over time, lacks durability
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 14, 2018
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 10
  • Warmth - 20% 5
  • Breathability - 20% 8
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 8
  • Layering Ability - 15% 9
  • Drying Speed - 15% 8
  • Durability - 10% 8

The Skinny

The REI Co-op Midweight Base Layer Crew is a high-performance active-wear base layer suited perfectly for year-round use. Its affordable price tag and performance through a plethora of conditions earns it our Best Buy Award winner this year. The soft polyester-spandex blend provides a versatile and long fit for all body types. It's easy to layer, making it simple to wear with a cozy mid-layer or jacket. Thanks to its thinner construct, it doubles as a fantastic wear-alone piece in the warmer months or and dumps heat well while going uphill.

We tested this base layer while winter running, fall hiking, and skiing both in the backcountry and at the resort. While it's quite breathable, it's not nearly as warm or comfortable as the Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Neck, featuring a fleece-lined interior and a skin-tight fit. While it kept us comfortable and warm on the move, it wasn't our favorite for standing around in super cold temperatures because the fabric seems to retain moisture more readily than other merino-wool based contenders. That said, it's perfect for more aerobic sports in the winter and as a great stand-alone piece in the summer months. To boot, its durable and the price for just $50 (retail) isn't bad either. If you're looking for a base layer that won't empty your wallet while providing decent performance overall, this award-winner is our best recommendation.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Taking home the Best Buy Award, the REI Co-Op Midweight base layer is the most affordable and best-performing base layer tested. Wear it all year while relishing in its exceptional breathability, style, and fit.

Performance Comparison


The Midweight Base Layer wins our Best Buy award for its low price and great performance.
The Midweight Base Layer wins our Best Buy award for its low price and great performance.

Warmth


As a thinner synthetic base layer option, it certainly is not the warmest of all the contenders. Featuring a 92% polyester/8% spandex blend, it performs well to wick away moisture and keep your skin dry. However, the material is not the greatest at allowing for the evaporation of moisture and instead holds moisture in the fabric if it supremely wet or humid outside.


We tested this piece while backcountry skiing through the winter and hiking in the winter. As a stand-alone piece, the fabric is super thin and provides great thermoregulation to dump heat. That said, in the winter, it is not our top choice for super cold days as the material simply doesn't insulate as well as other layers with a fleece lined interior or a merino wool construct. That said, it performed superbly for aerobic activities in cold weather. Overall, great for active cold weather wear but not a fantastic option to wear if you're going to be sitting around in the cold in the Arctic.

This top is a little thinner than most and as a result  it's not the warmest in this review. That said  it does well as a base layer in colder weather.
This top is a little thinner than most and as a result, it's not the warmest in this review. That said, it does well as a base layer in colder weather.

This top is also available in the REI Co-op Midweight Base Layer Half-Zip. This top can add a little extra warmth by covering up the neck.

Breathability


If breathability is what you seek, the Midweight Base Layer Crew provides! In all things outdoorsy, it performs quite well keeping you warm and mostly dry in a wide range of temperatures. The polyester blend is tight fitting, wicking away moisture from the skin in temperatures ranging from zero to 50 degrees. The material is thinner and somewhat porous, allowing air and moisture to move readily. That said, it doesn't breathe well in all conditions.


While it works well in warmer temperatures, we found that when layering it under a mid-layer, the fabric wicks, but doesn't readily evaporate well. When ski touring on a cold day, when wearing this base layer on its own, we were comfortable and dry. However, when the wind picked up, we added a mid layer, and it stopped breathing as readily. It still managed to wick moisture away, however it seemingly got trapped in the fabric. When stopping to eat a sandwich, we noticed our core temperature dropping. The fabric was colder than other options out there sadly. As a result, we wouldn't recommend it as a layer to wear in super cold temperature where you might have to sit around for long periods of time after sweating. But it does a great job during warmer runs or hikes as a stand-alone piece.

The crew collar of the Midweight base layer is perfect for snow hiking on warmer days.
The crew collar of the Midweight base layer is perfect for snow hiking on warmer days.

Comfort & Fit


We adore the comfort of this contender. Our testers love the stretchiness of the thinner fabric and its stretchy, longer fit through the torso and arms. It is simple and well crafting. While layering it under fleecy layers, the shirt stays in place and conforms to the curves and shoulders of even our more voluptuous testers. It hugs thinner frames and provides great coverage for all body types. It is true to its size.


While the face fabric is soft to the touch, it's not as cozy or comfortable as merino wool contenders. The fabric also feels great against the skin, without itching when it gets wet or sweaty. Overall, this comfortable bare-bones baselayer is excellent for wear-all-day or multiple days on end.

A look at the fit of this comfortable synthetic base layer.
A look at the fit of this comfortable synthetic base layer.

Layering Ability


Featuring a slippery face fabric and thinner construct, this top is easy to put underneath fleece mid-layers or jackets. The fit is tight to the skin, so it doesn't bunch up or catch when pulling layers over on top.


Because of its tight fit, though, it's not ideal to put a t-shirt underneath. Only a tight tank top will fit readily. Overall, it's easy to layer.

Trying on different layers in double negative digits in Northern Ontario.
Trying on different layers in double negative digits in Northern Ontario.

Drying Speed


Looking for a shirt to wear when it's pouring outside? The Midweight Crew doesn't absorb a whole lot of water and dries quickly. In our dryer test, it took only 50 minutes to dry! In the field, we observed a similar pattern after getting caught in a little snow storm. The top did not absorb the snow easily (like Merino wool contenders), and after it stopped, it took a few minutes before we felt dry again.


As a result of this great performance in both field and at-home objective tests, it's a good option if you plan on experiencing wet weather or if you need a top that will dry quickly (when the sun comes out after a storm).

Durability


With over three months of testing and over 15 washes, durability is a non-issue. We took it running, climbing, and skiing, wearing it with heavy (and light) backpacks in a wide range of temperatures. Through it all, it shows little to no wear and tear! We didn't observe any pilling or stitching fly-aways.


The burly polyester fabric provides resistance to high-friction sports like crack climbing and canyoneering. Our only caveat in this category is the fabric (despite the odor-resistance) started to retain a stench after this period.

This layer proved to be fairly durable  except there was minor pilling observed at the seams.
This layer proved to be fairly durable, except there was minor pilling observed at the seams.

Best Applications


As a thinner, fitted baselayer, the REI Co-op Midweight Crew is best for warm to cool weather as a stand-alone piece. It performs well for all seasons thermoregulating in temperatures from zero to 50 degrees. It's a great option for hiking in the Fall or Spring, or while touring uphill on colder days. It's highly layer-able making it a great option for cold-weather wear, even though it's not the warmest option out there. It's perfect for most outdoor adventures that don't involve standing around in the cold for too long. Its cute design also makes it wearable for days out with friends or strolling around town. Take it running, hiking, or skiing all year round!

Take this layer winter exploring or on your next adventure into the backcountry.
Take this layer winter exploring or on your next adventure into the backcountry.

Value


Winning our Best Buy Award, we think this base layer is high value. At only $50 retail (and for less online) this fairly durable product will keep you happy for years to come. No base layer lasts very long (when worn frequently), so we appreciate a low price tag for a product category that undoubtedly won't last as long as other gear purchases.

Conclusion


This Best Buy winner will have you charging uphill in the snow, spring, and fall. Wear it as a stand-alone piece in the winter or under a cozy mid-layer in the winter. For a great low price of $50, the durable REI Co-op Midweight Crew is a great synthetic option.

Skinning out in Leavenworth WA after a fun day in the snow.
Skinning out in Leavenworth WA after a fun day in the snow.


Amber King