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|Bottom Line||A heavyweight Merino wool bottom that's high performing and naturally odor-free||While not recommended as a stand alone piece due to the see-through polyester fabric, we love the superior breathability that helps keep us warm and dry||A solid synthetic base layer bottom thanks to its ample warmth and versatile performance||These lightweight tights feature a soft and stretchy fabric that is easy to layer and maintains substantial warmth when dry||Lightweight, breathable, and highly affordable, these tights unfortunately lack warmth and require constant adjustment due to the stretchy fabric and wide waistband|
|Rating Categories||Ridge Merino Invers...||Patagonia Capilene...||Patagonia Capilene...||REI Co-op Midweight...||REI Co-op Lightweig...|
|Comfort and Fit (20%)|
|Drying Speed (10%)|
|Layering Ability (10%)|
|Specs||Ridge Merino Invers...||Patagonia Capilene...||Patagonia Capilene...||REI Co-op Midweight...||REI Co-op Lightweig...|
|Material||100% Merino wool||92% recycled polyester, 8% spandex||100% recycled polyester||92% polyester, 8% spandex||92% polyester, 8% spandex|
|Fabric Weight (g/m²)||270 g/m²||129 g/m²||147 g/m²||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Measured Weight (size small)||7.36 oz||4.90 oz||4.80 oz||6.40 oz||5.44 oz|
|Cuts Avaliable||Full length||Full length, boot length||Full length||Full length||Full length|
|Smelly Over Time?||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Odor Control Fabric||Naturally odor resistant||HeiQ Fresh||HeiQ Fresh||N/A||N/A|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ridge Inversion Leggings are a heavyweight base layer that offers superior warmth and comfort for a decently affordable price. One of the warmest and thickest layers that we tested, these long johns are designed with winter outdoor activities in mind. Though they breathe well in colder temperatures, sweat pooled in the waistband when tested in warmer and humid climates. These leggings feature an excellent high-waisted fit and a full-length pant that extends to the ankle. A brushed and stretchy elastic waistband increases comfort without being distracting, and the flatlock seams are minimal to prevent chafing. Our only durability complaint with the Inversion is the minor piling in the fabric after minimal washes. But overall, this layer is perfect for staying warm and cozy during any cold-weather adventure.
Finally, a long underwear garment that lives up to its advertised weight — the Inversion Heavyweight Merino Leggings are exactly that, a heavyweight garment built for the coldest of winter adventures. These are hands down one of the warmest pairs of long underwear we've tested, thanks in part to the high rise of the waist for added warmth in addition to the 270 g/m² of thick and heavyweight Merino wool.
During our fall testing period, when the temperatures dropped, we remained warm and cozy while camping in the cold and dark. The smooth Merino wool of the Inversion Leggings increases their layering ability when paired with other pants over the top for added insulation. These leggings quickly became one of our go-to's for extra warmth around the campfire or for long trail runs in the shade. They are perfect for backcountry ski adventures when layered below your bibs, whether riding the lift or earning your turns in the backcountry during the coldest conditions.
While the Ridge Inversion Leggings breathe decently for a heavyweight 100% Merino wool pair of long johns, they do not breathe as well as other light and midweight options tested in this review. The simple, stripped-down design also does not feature any ventilation panels for moisture to escape, except through the thick and tightly woven wool material. These leggings are designed with winter sports in mind and are far too thick and heavyweight to be considered functional for the entirety of the year. That said, the Merino wool fabric is so soft and cozy that they are perfect for those crisp fall evenings when you need a little extra insulation.
While the fit of this layer is neither super tight nor loose, it still allows air to flow through the fabric, thereby wicking moisture away from the skin to prevent any clamminess. Still, our testers noticed that the thick waistband often collected sweat that was difficult to release with other layers over the top. While not the highest performer in this metric, the Ridge Inversion offers effective moisture management in the colder conditions for which it is designed.
Comfort and Fit
Premium 18.5-micron fibers in this 100% Merino wool fabric create next-level softness and increase next-to-skin comfort, making these leggings a great choice for rest days, cold nights in the tent, or pushing yourself in the mountains. The flatlock seams reduce chafing and prevent discomfort, while the brushed elastic waistband lays flat against your skin. Removable labels also enhance comfort, and the Merino wool design didn't itch or cause any irritation.
The fit of the Inversion is slim enough to retain body heat but loose enough to allow for full range of motion, even when layered below your ski or puffy pants. The high-rise waist increases warmth and offers more coverage around the waist with full-length pant legs that extend just below the ankle. These leggings easily accommodate athletic calves without any constrictions. Our testers were impressed by the overall comfort and fit offered by these affordable Merino wool leggings, whether layered below an outer layer or worn on their own during a mellow rest day at home.
We're happy to report we noticed only minor fabric piling after many weeks of rigorous testing. After many trail runs through sharp manzanita forests and cold fall camp nights, these long johns held up rather nicely. The 100% Merino wool fabric is naturally odor-free, even after many uses between washes.
The fabric is thick enough to be worn on its own, though if you purchase these in a light color, they will, unsurprisingly, stain more easily. The lighter colors can also pick up bits of darker fabrics worn over the top, often changing the color, if ever so subtle. Aesthetics aside, the Inversion Leggings are ready for cold outdoor pursuits, thanks to reinforced flatlock seams and the 270-gram Merino wool heavyweight fabric.
To properly test this metric, we simulated washing and drying each layer while in the backcountry for a multi-day adventure. We soaked each bottom in a local stream, wrung them out, tossed them on a line to dry, and started our stopwatch. Unfortunately, the Inversion offered the slowest drying speed at 78 minutes, but they are also the thickest and considered the only true heavyweight fabric in our lineup.
After working up a sweat, we noticed that the lack of breathability in these thick and heavyweight bottoms also prevented a fast drying speed, requiring one hour to dry on the body post-ski. We don't recommend drying this layer in the dryer, which can often damage Merino wool due to high heat; rather, we would recommend allowing it to dry fully overnight after washing in a machine.
Though one might suspect that the Inversion leggings would be difficult to layer due to their fabric thickness, our testing team couldn't help but notice the smooth interface of these leggings when paired beneath rain or puffy pants as well as our ski bibs. As long as the layer over the top isn't too slim-fitting, these leggings should easily layer underneath.
It's worth considering the thicker fabric of these heavyweight leggings based on the activity you select for the day. If your ski bibs run a little snug, the Inversion may not be the best choice and may prevent full range of motion due to limited space. If you're out winter camping and your puffy pants fit snugly around the waist, the Inversion may limit overall comfort, even with a waistband that sits above the natural waistline. That being said, if layered within a system that leaves a little extra space for the 270 g/m² Merino wool fabric, these are great.
Should You Buy the Ridge Merino Inversion Leggings?
If you're looking for an affordable 100% Merino wool long john that doesn't sacrifice performance or comfort, these are a great option. Ultrafine Merino wool traps heat and sheds moisture during the coldest months of the year. A naturally odor-free and durable design makes these more than worth their modest price tag.
What Other Long Underwear Should You Consider?
If you're psyched on a 100% Merino wool design but prefer a lighter weight and want to reduce excess bulk in your ski and snowboard boots, check out the Ortovox 185 Rock'N'Wool Short Pants. Another Merino wool design isn't quite so thick is the Icebreaker 200 Oasis Leggings.