If you are seeking a cheap pair of base layers, the REI Co-op Midweight Tights - Women's is a synthetic option to consider. With a retail price that is the lowest in this review, it offers performance on the same level. The thinner materials do good work to breathe with some warmth. Unfortunately, when layered underneath a pair of pants that aren't very breathable, and you being to sweat, these bottoms tend to absorb water and have a harder time drying out. While they are comfortable and can be worn on their own, this isn't our favorite base layer bottom to recommend. However, its low price is pretty attractive, and if you just need a layer for general cold-weather wear, it is functional.
REI Co-op Midweight Tights - Women's Review
Cons: Not super durable, absorbs and holds water, stinky after a month of heavy use.
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Our Analysis and Test Results
These midweight bottoms are made from 100% synthetic materials and provide a comfortable feel when wearing them. They are stylish enough to wear on their own but lack performance in extreme temperatures. Built for the outdoorswoman that likes to get out in the winter, but doesn't need amazing thermoregulation performance, it offers sufficient cold protection at a very low price.
This synthetic base layer bottom is built with midweight comfort but offers very little in the way of warmth. While the fabric knit isn't as well-spaced apart as other synthetic contenders that breathe a little better, its knit tightly together. While this offers warmth underneath a layer, the thinness of the fabric leaves little for insulation. Wear it with a pair of insulated pants on a cool day in the mountains. Just know that this layer is specific for wicking and breathing. While it's called a 'midweight' option, it seems more lightweight when we wear it.
The fabric allows a nice amount of airflow when wearing them on their own. Under another pair of pants, they also offer great wicking potential. The downfall of this base layer bottom is when the upper layer that it is layered under doesn't ventilate. Unfortunately, it is constructed with the same fabric through the width of the fabric.
This means there is no buffering fleece layer or additional knit layer that the moisture can sit in, away from the skin. When the layer can't breathe, it will hold moisture, which inevitably can lead to cooling. While it breathes well on its own, the knit construction takes more time to dry out than other synthetic layers. As a result, we'd leave this at home for days where it's especially cold. That said, it's great to wear as a running bottom in the winter, or layered underneath a more breathable top layer.
Comfort & Fit
The fabric to the touch is super silky smooth and comfortable. When you slide it on, it feels really, really good on the skin. It's one of the most comfortable synthetic base layers that we've had the pleasure of testing. However, it only earns an average score in this category because it's not plush or super cozy wither. The waistband is a simple elastic with a seam that isn't completely flat, but not uncomfortable to wear either.
Given the fabric construct that holds moisture, it gets cold after you slow down in it. So, wearing it form the hill inside is totally possible, but not the coziest base layer to do so with. In addition, the fabric holds stench after heavy use that is hard to rinse out in the washing machine.
It offers a fitted design and works nicely under a skirt or on its own. We love that the appearance isn't too technical and can even be worn out amongst friends with its cute pattern. Fit is true to size, and the stretchiness of the fabric provides versatility for all shapes and sizes. Overall, it's comfortable with silky-like fabrics, but not a top performer in this category.
While made of synthetic materials, the fabric does pill after just a few washes. The stitching looks solid, but not nearly as durable looking as other synthetic contenders tested. Given that it holds stench, its devalued as well.
You simply can't beat the price on this one. We considered it as the Best Buy winner but decided on giving that to a bottom that offers better performance. While it's not the best out there, it's not the worst either. If you seek an inexpensive base layer, this is a good option to consider.
The REI Midweight Bottoms is a synthetic base layer bottom that is silky smooth to the touch. While they don't have the same performance as other high performing merino wool contenders or synthetics, they are thin and offer cool comforts. They stand out for their ultra-low price, even though the value isn't as high as our Best Buy Award winner. These are best for those seeking the lowest price with decent performance across the board.
— Amber King