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

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

A high value synthetic option.
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Price:  $50 List | $49.95 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 8, 2019
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 10
  • Warmth - 25% 5
  • Breathability - 25% 7
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 7
  • Layering Ability - 20% 8
  • Durability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

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 makes it very affordable. 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. Unfortunately, it's not warm enough to stay immobile for long and isn't as soft as merino contenders. However, if you're looking for a great deal, it'll perfect for high aerobic sports where you won't be standing or sitting around too much.

New Colors Available

Since our testing period, REI released some fresh colors for our Best Buy winner. One of the new hues is shown above.

September 2019


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Great value, fitted, cute patterns, quick to wick, good breathabilityWide range of thermoregulation, cute, super cozy, great fit, fantastic breathability, no odorGreat thermoregulation, exceptional at wicking, impressive durability, least itch factor of all wool tops testedCozy fleece interior, easy to layer, warm, high quality performance, versatile, stash pocket, tight fitGreat thermoregulation, comfortable and fitted fabrics, great patterns and colors
Cons Not super warm, stinky fabric over time, lacks durabilityLacks durability, absorbs waterNot very cozyMore expensive, not super breathablePoor durability
Bottom Line A high value synthetic option.Our favorite base layer with the best thermoregulation that we continue to love.Icebreaker uses the most comfortable wool in this seemingly lightweight base layer.This high performance synthetic is a Top Pick for pretty much any adventure you dream up.A great thermoregulator with some durability issues.
Rating Categories Midweight Base Layer Crew Merino 250 1/4 Zip Merino 200 Oasis Crewe Rho LT Zip 185 Rock'N'Wool Long Sleeve
Warmth (25%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Breathability (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Comfort And Fit (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
Layering Ability (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
Durability (10%)
10
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6
10
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7
10
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8
10
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9
10
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3
Specs Midweight Base... Merino 250 1/4 Zip Merino 200 Oasis... Rho LT Zip 185 Rock'N'Wool...
Fabric Weight Lightweight Midweight (250-grams) Midweight (200-grams) Lightweight (185-grams) Midweight (185-grams)
Material 92% polyester / 8% spandex 100% Merino wool 100% Merino Torrent (84% polyester / 16% elastane) 100% merino wool
Cuts avaliable Crew, 1/2 zip neck 1/4 zip, crew, 1/2 zip hoody Crew, 1/2 zip neck 1/4 zip neck Crew, 1/4 zip
Smelly over time? Yes No No Yes No
Odor Control Fabric None Naturally odor resistant Naturally odor resistant Polygiene Naturally odor resistant
Thumb Loops? No No No No No
UPF (Sun Protection) 50+ 50 No N/A No
Length (short, medium, long) Medium Medium Medium Long Medium
Fit (Based on 5'7, 140-lb woman wearing size small) Tight and medium, true to fit. Fitted (not tight), true to fit. Fitted (not tight), true to fit. Tight and long, true to fit. Fitted (not tight), true to fit.
Accessory Pocket? No No No Yes (on arm) No
Flat-lock seams (prevents chaffing) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Midweight base layer is a very affordable and top-performing base layer tested. Wear it all year while relishing in its exceptional breathability, style, and fit.

Performance Comparison


The Midweight Base Layer is notable for its low price and fine performance.
The Midweight Base Layer is notable for its low price and fine 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 is supremely wet or humid outside.

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.

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 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, it 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.

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.

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.

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 crafted. 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.

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

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.

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.

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 and pills after a few uses.

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.

Value


We think this base layer is of high value. It has a low price and is a durable product. It will keep you happy for years to come. We appreciate a low price tag for a product category that undoubtedly won't last as long as other gear purchases.

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.

Conclusion


This budget-friendly option 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, the durable REI Co-op Midweight Crew is a great synthetic option.


Amber King