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

The North Face Warm Crew - Women's Review

A synthetic top that offers great warmth and versatility.
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Price:  $50 List | $49.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Warm, quick-to-dry, absorbs little water, soft fabrics, great value, durable, lightweight
Cons:  Smelly over time, not super breathable, not very stretchy, shorter fit
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 14, 2018
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 10
  • Warmth - 20% 7
  • Breathability - 20% 5
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 5
  • Layering Ability - 15% 8
  • Drying Speed - 15% 9
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Are you in search of a warm base layer that will dry quickly? The North Face Warm Crew is a high valued synthetic midweight base layer that provides unbeatable warmth for a synthetic contender. The 100% polyester construct does a great job repelling water and drying quickly, making it a fantabulous option for those that appreciate a quick-to-dry layer. The fibers are incredibly burly, making it one of the most durable base layers tested. That said, it has a thicker fabric construct that doesn't breathe or wick away moisture as well as our Best Buy Award winner the REI Co-op Midweight base layer. The fit is a little shorter and less stretchy than the REI Midweight Base Layer. As a result, even though this shirt is only $50, it did not win our Best Buy Award — but it's an excellent alternative for those looking for a warmer high-value synthetic base layer. Wear it throughout the seasons on its own or in a layered system. It'll serve you well!


Compare to Similar Products

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.

Performance Comparison


The North Face Warm Crew is a synthetic base layer with a thicker cut and shorter fit.
The North Face Warm Crew is a synthetic base layer with a thicker cut and shorter fit.

Warmth


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.

The fabric is thicker providing ample warmth.
The fabric is thicker providing ample warmth.

Breathability


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.

A look at the porosity of the thicker fabric.
A look at the porosity of the thicker fabric.

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.

A look at the fit of the crew-collar Warm  from The North Face.
A look at the fit of the crew-collar Warm, from The North Face.

Layering Ability


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.

Look! We have a beard! Layering is easy with this piece. Here we ski with a mid layer overtop for a super warm experience.
Look! We have a beard! Layering is easy with this piece. Here we ski with a mid layer overtop for a super warm experience.

Drying Speed


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.

Durability


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.

Best Applications


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.

Taking a little skin hike uphill in Leavenworth  WA with the Warm shirt.
Taking a little skin hike uphill in Leavenworth, WA with the Warm shirt.

Value


As a competitor for our Best Buy Award, the Warm Crew is of great value costing only $50.

Conclusion


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