The North Face Warm Crew - Women's Review
Cons: Smelly over time, not super breathable, not very stretchy, shorter fit
Manufacturer: The North Face
Our Analysis and Test Results
The North Face Warm Crew stands out for its 100% polyester construct that does an impeccable job repelling water and drying quickly. It's the warmest synthetic baselayer tested at a reasonable price. Wear it through the fall, winter, and spring as a wear-alone piece or as apart of a layering system. It'll keep you warm while sipping hot chocolate on the coldest days of winter.
As the name indicates, this synthetic base layer is warm with a decent range of thermoregulation. Constructed with 100% polyester (43% recycled) it is a warm synthetic option. In comparison to the REI Co-op Midweight Crew the fabric is a little thicker and features more insulation. We are happy to wear it into the double negatives of deep winter under a midweight layer or jacket. It also functions well as a wear-alone option in temperatures up to sixty degrees.
While this top does feature breathable fabrics, the face fabric is thicker than most, hosting some "holes" that allows moisture to transfer and evaporate. However, because of its thickness, moisture doesn't transfer as easily as those constructed with thinner fabrics. It is an excellent option for stand-alone warmth and moving on colder days, but not our top pick for aerobic activity.
Comfort & Fit
While the synthetic fabric is soft to the touch, it is not the most comfortable or fitted base layer. The thicker and somewhat stretchy synthetic features a "close-to-skin" fit that hugs the body. Since the fabric is thicker, it doesn't conform to the body as well as those that integrate a certain level of "stretch." The fabric also doesn't move as freely, providing less comparative comfort.
The fit of this top works for most women on our testing team. However, the arms and torso are a little shorter than other options and didn't offer a lot of length for our longer-limbed or bustier testers. As a result, its a wonderful option for those that are of short or medium builds.
We took this layer with us while skiing at the resort and in the backcountry. In both scenarios, we wore it on its own and under a fleece mid layer. While the face material is slippery (making it easy to layer), the fabric is a little thicker, causing it to bunch in the arms a little bit when pulling on grabbier mid layers. That said, it performs well in this metric. You can easily layer a tank top or thinner shirt underneath for added versatility. Overall, it functions well to layer and as a stand-alone top.
We are astounded by the performance of this synthetic competitor! This base layer super fast to dry, making it a great option for wet weather. During our dryer tests, it dried in just 50 minutes when exposed to low temperatures. While in the field, we observed the same pattern with the fabric drying out quickly after being in a light rain.
That said, the fabric doesn't wick away moisture as well as other Merino wool contenders. However, if taken off, it dries out quickly in the sun. As a result, its recommended for women charging through wet weather (with bouts of sunshine) that might require a layer that dries out quickly. In addition to the drying tests, it proved to absorb little water, similar to the REI Co-op Midweight Crew.
After our testing period, we did not notice any major durability issues. The 100% polyester fibers are naturally resistant to wear and tear and stand up while bushwhacking through the backcountry. Unlike Merino wool competitors, the threads do not snag or catch on bushes or sticks, proving to be highly durable for years to come. This top did not shrink or pill either. That said, it did get a touch stinky. These features coupled with the thicker face fabric it ultra-durable and a good option for abrasive recreation like bushwacking through the woods or shimmying through a slot canyon.
As quick-to-dry activewear synthetic base layer, we recommend it for most outdoor endeavors. While it doesn't perform at the same level as other base layers tested, it is certainly designed to take on the elements. Wear it as a part of a layering system in super cold weather that dips into the double negatives. Or opt to wear it alone while hiking or biking around town. It's also a great option for those who tackle wet weather and are in need of a quick-to-dry layer. A great option for cool to cold weather through all four seasons.
As a competitor for our Best Buy Award, the Warm Crew is of great value costing only $50.
The North Face Warm Crew is warm and super quick to dry. Featuring a 100% polyester construct, this midweight top is warm for a synthetic. Wear it out during all kinds of weather in either a layered system of on its own.
— Amber King