We were pretty blown away by the great quality and function of the Hot Chillys Micro-Elite Crew. If you're looking for a layer that serves as a jack-of-all-trades for a decent price of only $60, this might be your next piece of long underwear! In a close race for the Best Buy Award, the Hot Chillys performed well and scored evenly across the board. If you don't like the Patagonia Capilene 3 Crew - Women's and you're looking for an affordable, VERY durable, and awesome alternative, check the Micro Elite Crew out! It didn't win our Best Buy Award in large part because we simply didn't like the feel of the exterior fabric, but it did a great job fulfilling the basic functions of a good base layer.
Hot Chillys Micro-Elite Crew - Women's Review
Cons: Retains odor easily, very basic design, no stand-out features
Manufacturer: Hot Chillys
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Hot Chillys Micro-Elite Crew is a great midweight layer that scored evenly throughout our criteria. Take this jack-of-all-trades anywhere you want and be pleased by its performance.
This 89% polyester and 11% spandex base layer provides great warmth while offering cozy comfort. While out in the Nevada desert we were able to test its heat regulation during warm day hikes and through chilly nights. In both cases we found this Micro-Elite Crew to do a comparable job to the Icebreaker Oasis. Trust it to be a good companion through a wide range of temperatures. The face fabric also provides a wind barrier that cuts the wind, increasing warmth.
In the breathability department, we found that when running, hiking, and hanging out by the beach this was quite a nice and breathable garment. Not as breathable as the Under Armour Base 2.0 Crew - Women's, but more breathable than the Arc'teryx Rho LT.
With a soft and sleek face fabric that doesn't catch, layering isn't a problem. We noticed that insulating layers slid over while tanks fit nicely underneath. The fleece lining the inside of the shirt doesn't cling or build up static electricity either - bonus!
Comfort & Fit
There wasn't a whole lot special here. We didn't love it, but we didn't hate it either. This long underwear top has a soft fleece fabric liner that was cozy and nice when you feel the need to curl up with something warm. However, the face fabric is a little rigid and not as flexible as its merino wool contenders. The length of the arms and torso was just right and we thought the large and stretchy crew neckline was comfortable. We didn't like that it smelled after a day or two of use or that it didn't have thumb loops. Aside from that, it provides average comfort with a cozy interior.
Not pulling out to the front or ending up behind, this shirt dried at a similar rate as our Best Buy Award Winner the Patagonia Capilene 3 Crew - Women's, but not as quickly as the ultra breathable Under Armour 2.0 Crew. It's a good choice if you're going to be spending some time in the rain and need a layer that will dry quickly.
We were floored when we searched for any sign of wear and tear after 3 months and came up short. Comparable in durability to the Arc'teryx Rho LT, this shirt did not stretch out or shrink. The stitching patterns are solid and the fabric is tough. Expect this to last longer than more fragile merino wool garments like the Minus33 Ossipee.
This is a fantastic all-around piece for camping, hiking, climbing, or whatever you have on the itinerary. The sheen face fabric provides a nice wind barrier, making it perfect for breezy perches. The great temperature regulating fabric also makes it great for desert hikes and wallows by the river. Take it anywhere!
For only $60, this long underwear top was in the running for our Best Buy Award. Although no features of the Hot Chillys Micro-Elite stood out, it performed well across all categories and is well worth the tag price. If you want to spend a little more money for a bump up in comfort, take a look at the merino wool SmartWool Merino 250 Base Layer Crew - Women's for $90.00.
The Hot Chillys Micro-Elite Crew is a great all-around base layer that will perform wherever you want and whenever (except excruciating heat and Antarctic winters). In a close race for the Best Buy Award, this long underwear top offers a great performance at a low price.
— Amber King