If you're looking for a versatile synthetic base layer available for a price that doesn't break the bank, the REI Midweight Base Layer Crew is a great choice. While not the warmest or highest performing layer, it features a soft and stretchy polyester-blended fabric that will keep up with you during those shoulder season adventures. Strategically placed flatlock seams enhance overall comfort and durability, while the longer cut and thumb loops increase warmth. Because this layer tends to hold onto moisture once absorbed into the fabric, we do not recommend it for high-output cold-weather pursuits. That said, it is a great budget-friendly option for those looking to stay warm during moderately cold weather activities.Editor's Note: This review was updated on November 15, 2022, after we retested this layer for our Fall update.
REI Co-op Midweight Base Layer Crew - Women's Review
Cons: Tightly woven fabric doesn't breathe very well, smelly
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
Compare to Similar Products
REI Co-op Midweight Base Layer Crew - Women's
Check Price at REI
|$75 List||$55 List|
$54.99 at Amazon
$59.99 at Amazon
$49.95 at REI
|Pros||Affordable, thumb loops, soft fabric, great fit, durable||Affordable, thumb loops, long cut, easy to layer over top, soft and durable fabric||Affordable, warm, breathable, thumb loops, 1/4 zip design improves ventilation||Exceptionally breathable, well-priced, doesn't smell, functional for all seasons||Excellent wicking power, breathable, super cute design, comfortable fabrics against the skin|
|Cons||Tightly woven fabric doesn't breathe very well, smelly||Material is not midweight||Odd fit, traps odor||See-through, lacks durability, pilling||Poor durability, requires specific maintenance, see-through with lighter colors|
|Bottom Line||This durable base layer features a soft and stretchy fabric and a slim fit for a variety of activities, all for an affordable price||This affordable base layer features ultra fine Merino wool fibers that are super comfortable next to your skin, effectively wick away moisture, and remain odor-free||This blended polyester and Merino wool base layer provides warmth and breathability at a fraction of the cost||A low cost, lightweight Merino wool top that breathes well and doesn't hold on to stink||A comfortable and very lightweight silk base layer that requires care so as not to damage|
|Rating Categories||REI Co-op Midweight...||Ridge Merino Aspect...||Carhartt Force Heav...||Roman Trail Outfitt...||REI Co-op Silk V-Neck|
|Comfort and Fit (20%)|
|Layering Ability (20%)|
|Specs||REI Co-op Midweight...||Ridge Merino Aspect...||Carhartt Force Heav...||Roman Trail Outfitt...||REI Co-op Silk V-Neck|
|Fabric Weight||Midweight||Lightweight||Midweight||Lightweight (160 g/m²)||Silkweight|
|Measured Weight||7.5 oz||6.0 oz||7.8 oz||4.2 oz||2.4 oz|
|Material||92% polyester, 8% spandex||84% Merino wool, 16% nylon||81% polyester, 19% wool||100% Merino wool||Ribbed silk|
|Avaliable Cuts||Crew, 1/2 zip neck||Crew, 1/4 zip||Crew, 1/4 zip||Crew||V-neck, cami|
|Odor Control Fabric||None||Naturally odor resistant||Naturally odor resistant||Naturaly odor resistant||None|
|UPF (sun protection)||50+||50+||No||N/A||No|
|Fit||Fitted, true to size||Slim||Fit is small, size up||Fitted, true to size||Loose and fitted, true to size|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Co-Op Midweight features a polyester and spandex blended fabric that never limits range of motion, thanks to the four way stretch design. Our testers love the discreet thumb loops and longer cut that increase overall warmth and make the top easier to layer. The thoughtfully placed flatlock seams increase comfort when shouldering a heavy pack and also inspire confidence that this base layer will last for many adventures to come. While not the highest performer in terms of breathability, our testers would recommend this base layer for moderate cold weather pursuits when you are not generating a ton of sweat that needs to be wicked away from the body and released through the tightly woven fabric.
While not the warmest nor the thickest base layer that we tested, the REI Co-Op Midweight features a tightly woven synthetic fabric that will help protect you against the cold. This layer features quite a slim fit and a 92% polyester and 8% spandex fabric construction that successfully trapped body heat during our cold weather activities. Our testers love the thumb loop feature that covered the majority of our hands when fully extended and kept our digits warm when the temperatures dropped. We also love the longer fit that increased warmth below the waist to our hips.
During our fall trail runs, we noticed that while the layer was able to trap our body heat and move sweat away from our skin, the fabric holds onto the moisture generated after gaining some elevation. We found that this lowered the level of warmth the layer can maintain when dry and therefore we only recommend this layer during moderate activities. While the midweight fabric itself provides enough warmth for shoulder seasons when the temperatures aren't consistently below freezing, the thin layer will not be warm enough as a stand alone piece during those winter days on the chairlift.
When compared to other synthetic base layers in this review, the REI Co-Op Midweight, does not offer a competitive performance in terms of breathability. The slim fit and tightly woven fabric seem to prevent the layer from breathing as well as other layers that are more air permeable, allowing more moisture to be wicked away from the skin.
On a long trail run, our testers noticed that the layer successfully wicked moisture away from the body, but did not successfully evaporate the sweat out the layer. This issue was compounded when we layered the top beneath other fleece and synthetic jackets as the base of the system trapped moisture and thereby reduced the overall warmth. That being said, it performed well during moderate activities such as hiking or rock climbing in the shade when you aren't necessarily working up a sweat during high output activities such as backcountry skiing or trail running.
Comfort & Fit
The REI Co-Op Midweight features soft and stretchy fabric and a slim fit. The long cut extends beyond the torso which not only increases warmth but also allows the layer to remain tucked in, a feature our lead tester appreciated when wearing with her harness during fall days at the crag. While we would agree that the fit is true to size, it is slim, hugging your curves and fitting tightly around your shoulders. If you're after a loose fitting base layer, this would not be our first recommendation.
The polyester and spandex blended fabric feels soft next to our skin, softer than you might expect from a synthetic layer. We appreciated the 4 way stretch design that never limited our range of motion as well as the flatlock seams that are strategically placed so as to prevent chafing when wearing a backpack. All in all, our testers were satisfied with this slim-fitting base layer thanks to its stretchy fabric built to move with you throughout a variety of activities.
Our testers love the thumb loop feature which enhanced the layering ability of this top by holding it in place and preventing the layer from bunching up while combining with a midlayer fleece or jacket over top. We also found that the polyester and spandex blended fabric created a smooth surface that didn't grab other fabrics when layering in a system.
While the REI Co-Op Midweight is rather easy to layer over top, we noticed that the slim fit prevented layering underneath with anything more than a tank top. When trying to layer anything with sleeves underneath, our testers found it far too tight, thereby limiting breathability as well as range of motion. Overall, this base layer is easy to layer over top, however, too tight of a fit to layer anything more than a tank top or sports bra underneath.
After an extensive three month testing period during the fall in Yosemite Valley and Indian Creek, we subjected this layer to every abrasive activity we could think of, from long trail runs to the rims to off-width climbs up to 150 feet in length. We're happy to report that we experienced no issues with durability after multiple adventures and washes.
Perhaps our only complaint in this metric is that the synthetic fabric smells almost immediately. This can be a concern if planning on an extended road trip or an overseas adventure when you don't have access to a shower or laundromat. We must admit this is often the case with synthetics and merino wool is often our first choice for a naturally odor-free fabric. That being said, the smell would subside after washing with detergent. After hundreds of feet of offwidth climbing, our testers are confident in the durability and construction of this affordable base layer.
Should You Buy the REI Co-op Midweight Base Layer Crew?
While this base layer doesn't perform as well as other synthetics layers in this review, our testers believe that you get what you pay for. Features like strategically placed flatlock seams enhance the overall comfort and durability of this layer. Additionally, it's available for a fraction of the cost of other synthetics while still providing enough warmth, thanks to a durable and stretchy fabric, as well as a slim fit that effectively traps body heat during moderate cold weather activities.
What Other Women's Base Layers Should You Consider?
Our testers love this layer for its budget-friendly features, however, if you're willing to invest a little more for a higher performing base layer, check out our Top Pick for Midweight Breathability, the [Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Zip-Neck - women's | Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Zip-Neck]. Or for a base layer that offers incredible features that make it worth the investment, check out our ultra durable Editor's Choice for Synthetic Base Layer, the [Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Neck - women's | Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Neck].
— Trish Matheny
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More