REI Co-op Merino Midweight Bottoms - Women's Review
Cons: Not durable, less cozy features
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This high-value 100% merino wool contender earns high points across most metrics for its fantastical performance in cold weather. If you seek an affordable merino wool option, this is one to consider.
Loaded with 200-grams of Merino wool, this baselayer provides sufficient warmth both while heading uphill and hunkering down for a meal. As a versatile base layer, it provides great warmth and offers a wide range of thermoregulation. The fibers are naturally hydrophobic and do a great job wicking away moisture and moving it to the outside of the fabric. When worn with a sufficient insulating layer, it can perform well in everything from deep polar temperatures to warm summer nights (on its own). This is a warm baselayer bottom with a wide range of thermoregulation.
The REI Merino Wool bottoms offer a great level of breathability in addition to quick drying times and sufficient wicking power. Merino wool does a fantastic job of wicking away moisture and repelling water. In our tests where we ran up several trails in varying conditions, the fabric kept our skin dry even when sweating.
In our drying tests, it proved to have a similar speed of drying as the rest. Of the merino wool contenders, it absorbed only 6.75 ounces of water, proving to be a less absorbent piece. This is in part because the fabric is lighter than other models. We also noticed that this fabric didn't readily absorb water, but repelled it until agitated underwater. This in addition to our in-field tests proves that this fabric is incredibly breathable and offers an average level of drying capabilities for a merino wool layer. Where it during high or low output activities or lounge around the campfire on cold days with a sufficient insulating layer.
Comfort & Fit
Like all bottoms constructed of Merino wool, this contender feels comfortable and plush against the skin. It has a lightweight construct (5.95 oz) that layers well underneath a pair of skinnier work pants. The elastic waistband is sewn in and doesn't offer any additional cushioning or comforts, but still feels good to wear all day. Overall, this offers a sufficient amount of comfort with a good fit.
The fabrics are stretchy and provide enough room to accommodate many body types that range from thick to thin. The ankle hem is nicely elastic, stretching a broad diameter to accommodate all shapes and sizes. While the fabric is thinner than our Editor's Choice winner, it still provides decent comfort that is good enough for lounging around all day long. The fit is true to size, with the legs providing enough length for even our taller testers.
Our only caveat runs the same for most merino wool products. After running in this piece for 8 miles, we noticed that the fabric didn't retain its shape and seemed to have stretched out. While it did return to its "tighter" configuration after washing, we wish that it would maintain its form while in motion. Aside from that, we appreciate the comforts of this nicely fitting base layer bottom.
Being constructed of merino wool, durability is about sub-par. Through our testing period, we noted some minor pilling but no stitching fly-aways or holes. We were surprised when we went running through some sharp, bushy terrain and the fabric didn't catch, which meant that the face fabric provides some level of durability. While we didn't note any holes throughout our period, the fabrics are much more fragile than a synthetic contender. Overall, given its thinner construction of merino wool fibers, this contender provides a decent level of durability, but certainly not the best on the market.
This is the highest value merino wool contender tested. It costs less than other merino wool products and offers an exceptionally high level of performance. It is durable and comfortable without accumulating smells over time. If you are a person who loves merino wool and a good price, this is one we'd consider.
This high-value merino wool contender is a perfect option for pretty much any winter activity. It's perfect for any cool to cold weather activity with its ample range of thermoregulation. Wear it all day for awesome comfort and warmth.
— Amber King