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

REI Co-op Lightweight Base Layer Tights - Women's Review

An inexpensive lightweight synthetic base layer bottom.
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Price:  $35 List | $34.50 at REI
Pros:  Inexpensive, cozy fabrics, stretch materials, good thermoregulation, exceptional wicking and breathability.
Cons:  Lacks durability, thinner design, not very warm.
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 19, 2018
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59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 8
  • Warmth - 30% 3
  • Comfort & Fit - 30% 5
  • Breathability & Drying Speed - 30% 9
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Seeking a lightweight base layer on a shoe-string budget? The REI Co-op Lightweight Base Layer Tights is constructed of 100-percent polyester and offers excellent wicking and breathability. Since the material isn't very warm or insulative, its best for cooler weather or aerobic activities where you're not going to slow down in cold weather. Think skate skiing or uphill winter training or any sport where you're going to sweat. If you're not interested in sweating, but you want a decent wicking layer, this will do that, too. While this contender didn't score very high in most of the metrics, it's still a high-quality piece offered at just $35. If you need a layer for super cold weather, consider layering it with more insulating layers to increase its versatility. After all, a base layers bottom's main job is to regulate moisture and it does that very well. Take this high-value base layer home and add it to your gear list for your next high-value adventure.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

This lightweight base layer is perfect for aerobic sport on cold days or while lounging around the fire on a brisk evening in the fall or spring. Use it as a wicking layer as it doesn't provide a whole lot of insulation.

Performance Comparison


The REI Co-op base layer tighters are a lightweight synthetic option that is very inexpensive.
The REI Co-op base layer tighters are a lightweight synthetic option that is very inexpensive.

Warmth


Designed as a lightweight option, it's not warm. It's a great option for cool weather worn with an overlayer. While this is a lightweight design, it is perfectly suited for aerobic activities like snowshoeing, skiing, and busting your buns uphill. While you could add many more layers to make it a decent base layer for any condition, it's ideal as an additional wicking layer that doesn't add a whole lot of insulation. Take it out if you intend to turn up the heat in your body, but opt for a warmer base layer if you're planning on hitting frigid, polar temperatures with little reprieve.

The thinner materials makes this piece less warmth and a great wicking layer.
The thinner materials makes this piece less warmth and a great wicking layer.

Comfort and Fit


The synthetic materials are quite soft and feel nice on the skin. The 100-percent polyester design does not integrate any additional stretch materials, but the material itself is inherently stretchy. Wear them all day long. Also, the bottom is super lightweight, weighing only 5.2 ounces.

Front - Model is 5'6"  140 lbs.
Front - Model is 5'6", 140 lbs.
REI Co-op Merino Wool
REI Co-op Merino Wool
Back
Back

The waistband is not super tight and pretty bare bones. It's a simple elastic sewn into the material of the pant and feels okay next to the skin. The ankle hem is nicely fitted and opens up nicely to fit all shapes of calves. The length is a little bit short, which isn't ideal for taller women who want a full-length base layer bottom. Aside from that, we are surprised at how soft and fabulous this lightweight contender's fabrics feel. Since it's not the thickest materials, it doesn't earn the highest score, but we still like it to wear under a pair of hiking pants, or for lounging around the house.


Breathability and Drying Speed


This lightweight design doesn't offer a whole lot of insulation but wicks and breathes exceptionally well. If you're searching for a simple base layer that will wick away moisture to ensure your skin stays dry, this lightweight option will do the trick. In our in-lab tests, when we put a little moisture on the face of the fabric, it immediately absorbed, showing that the polyester isn't as hydrophobic as merino wool contenders (that wouldn't allow it to absorb). That said, when we dunked this bottom in the water, it absorbed only 6.7 ounces of water. It dried at roughly the same rate as other long underwater bottoms.

The synthetic material readily absorbs water.
The synthetic material readily absorbs water.

These tests and our running tests verify that while this fabric isn't super insulating it is exceptionally breathable, regulating moisture well. Use it for everything from cold winter day runs to layering underneath insulated pants. If you feel the need to go charge in the winter months, this may be the base layer bottom for you.

Durability


Fully loaded with 100-percent synthetic materials, this base layer is fairly durable, but not perfect. We didn't notice any major pilling or signs of wear and tear, but we did manage to wear a small hole in the knee after encountering a few sharp sticks on the trail. That said, base layer bottoms are not meant to be worn on their own, and we realize that. Had we just worn these under a pant, it would surely last for many years to come. Overall, this is a durable base layer, but because of its thinner materials, it can rip easily.

After use (both alone and with a layered system) we evaluate the relative durability of all fabrics. While long underwear is not meant to be worn on its own  some bottoms are more durable than others. Here we see a hole as a result of crack climbing in Indian Creek on fall afternoon.
After use (both alone and with a layered system) we evaluate the relative durability of all fabrics. While long underwear is not meant to be worn on its own, some bottoms are more durable than others. Here we see a hole as a result of crack climbing in Indian Creek on fall afternoon.

Best Application


Looking for a lightweight base layer for aerobic endeavors and cool weather? This piece has your number! Take it with you on cold, sweaty days. Or wear it on cooler summer nights as a stand-alone layer.

Looking for an additional layer to hike uphill all winter with? This ultra-breathable and low cost option is a perfect fit for just this function!
Looking for an additional layer to hike uphill all winter with? This ultra-breathable and low cost option is a perfect fit for just this function!

Value


As the least expensive product in this review with a decent performance rating (it is a lightweight piece after all), this base layer offers exceptional value. If you're considering a base layer on a shoestring budget, this is the best option.

Conclusion


This lightweight synthetic base layer does an awesome job controlling moisture. While it's not very insulative, it's a perfect option for those in need of an inexpensive, high value, wicking layer that does well for any big aerobic endeavor.


Amber King