Hands-on Gear Review

The North Face Warm Crew - Women's Review

One of the quickest to dry synthetic mid-weight base layers tested.
By: Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 27, 2018
Price:  $50 List  |  $49.95 at Backcountry
Pros:  Warm, quick-to-dry, absorbs little water, soft fabrics, great value, durable, lightweight
Cons:  Smelly over time, not super breathable, not very stretchy, shorter fit
Manufacturer:   The North Face
68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 9
  • Warmth - 20% 7
  • Breathability - 20% 5
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 5
  • Layering ability - 15% 8
  • Drying Speed - 15% 9
  • Durability - 10% 8
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Our Verdict

Are you in search of a warm base layer that will dry quickly? The North Face Warm Crew is a high valued synthetic midweight base layer that provides unbeatable warmth for a synthetic contender. The 100% polyester construct does a great job repelling water and drying quickly, making it a fantabulous option for those that appreciate a quick-to-dry layer. The fibers are incredibly burly, making it one of the most durable base layers tested. That said, it has a thicker fabric construct that doesn't breathe or wick away moisture as well as our Best Buy award winner the REI Co-op Midweight base layer. The fit is a little shorter and less stretchy than the REI Midweight Base Layer. As a result, even though this shirt is only $50, it did not win our Best Buy award — but it's an excellent alternative for those looking for a warmer high-value synthetic base layer. Wear it throughout the seasons on its own or in a layered system. It'll serve you well!


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

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The North Face Warm Crew stands out for its 100% polyester construct that does an impeccable job repelling water and drying quickly. It's the warmest synthetic baselayer tested at a reasonable price. Wear it through the fall, winter, and spring as a wear-alone piece or as apart of a layering system. It'll keep you warm while sipping hot chocolate on the coldest days of winter.

Performance Comparison


The North Face Warm Crew is a synthetic base layer with a thicker cut and shorter fit.
The North Face Warm Crew is a synthetic base layer with a thicker cut and shorter fit.

Warmth


As the name indicates, this synthetic base layer is warm with a decent range of thermoregulation. Constructed with 100% polyester (43% recycled), this is one of the warmest synthetic products in this review scoring an eight out of ten. In comparison to the REI Co-op Midweight Crew the fabric is a little thicker and features more insulation. We are happy to wear it into the double negatives of deep winter under a midweight layer or jacket. It also functions well as a wear-alone option in temperatures up to sixty degrees.

If you prefer a warmer synthetic option, check out the Arc'teryx Rho LT that features a super cozy fleece-lined interior and a wider range of thermoregulation.

The fabric is thicker providing ample warmth.
The fabric is thicker providing ample warmth.

Breathability


While this top does feature breathable fabrics, it's less breathable than other competitors. The face fabric is thicker than most, hosting some "holes" that allows moisture to transfer and evaporate. But because of its thickness, moisture doesn't transfer as easily as other options with a thinner design like the REI Co-op Midweight Crew.

Tthe fabric is tightly weaved, unlike Merino wool competitors like our Editors' Choice award winner the Smartwool Merino 250 1/4 Zip. Overall, its scores a five out of ten, making it an excellent option for stand-alone warmth and moving on colder days, but not our top pick for warm or super sweaty situations.

A look at the porosity of the thicker fabric.
A look at the porosity of the thicker fabric.

Comfort & Fit


While the synthetic fabric is soft to the touch, it is not the most comfortable or fitted base layer, earning a five out of ten. The thicker and somewhat stretchy synthetic features a "close-to-skin" fit that hugs the body. Since the fabric is thicker, it doesn't conform to the body as well as the REI Co-op Midweight Crew or the Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip. The fabric also doesn't move as freely, providing less comparative comfort.

The fit of this top worked for most women on our testing team. However, the arms and torso are a little shorter than other options and didn't work well for our longer-limbed or bustier testers. If you prefer a synthetic top with a longer fit with a less constrictive fit across the chest, check out the REI Co-op Midweight or the Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip. The Hannah accommodates a longer torso and is made from Merino.

A look at the fit of the crew-collar Warm  from The North Face.
A look at the fit of the crew-collar Warm, from The North Face.

Layering Ability


We took this layer with us while skiing at the resort and in the backcountry. In both scenarios, we wore it on its own and under a fleece mid layer. While the face material is slippery (making it easy to layer), the fabric is a little thicker, causing it to bunch in the arms a little bit when pulling on grabbier mid layers. Aside from that small caveat, we think the Warm Crew is easy to layer earning an eight out of ten.

If you prefer a shirt that is tight to the skin and the easiest to layer of all tested, check out the Arc'teryx Rho LT or the REI Co-op Midweight; both offering a super slippery face fabric and a thinner fabric construct. That said, we found that tank tops and smaller shirts layered better under the Warm Crew than other competitors. Overall, this shirt is decent for layering working well as a stand-alone top or under a mid layer.

Look! We have a beard! Layering is easy with this piece. Here we ski with a mid layer overtop for a super warm experience.
Look! We have a beard! Layering is easy with this piece. Here we ski with a mid layer overtop for a super warm experience.

Drying Speed


We were astounded by the performance of this synthetic competitor! This base layer was the second quickest to dry, next to the our Top Pick for Breathability the Patagonia Midweight Capilene Crew. During our dryer tests, it dried in just 50 minutes when exposed to low temperatures. While in the field, we observed the same pattern with the fabric drying out quickly after being in a light rain.

That said, the fabric doesn't wick away moisture as well as other Merino wool contenders whenon like our Top Pick for everyday wear, the Smartwool Merino 250 Baselayer Crew. However, if taken off, it dries out quickly in the sun. As a result, its recommended for women charging through wet weather (with bouts of sunshine) that might require a layer that dries out quickly. In addition to the drying tests, it proved to absorb the least amount of water, similar to the REI Co-op Midweight Crew.


Durability


During our testing period of three months, we did not notice any major signs of durability issues. The 100% polyester fibers are naturally resistant to wear and tear and stood up while we bushwhacked through the backcountry. Unlike Merino wool competitors (like the Smartwool 250 Crew), the threads do not snag or catch on bushes or sticks, proving to be highly durable for years to come. This top did not shrink or pill in our testing period. That said, the fabric did get a touch stinky, unlike the Smartwool 250 Zip. These features coupled with the thicker face fabric makes this layer ultra-durable, earning an eight out of ten.

Best Applications


As quick-to-dry synthetic that is built as an activewear piece, we recommend it for any outdoor endeavor. While it doesn't perform at the same level as other base layers tested, it is certainly meant to take on the elements. Wear it as a part of a layering system in super cold weather that dips into the double negatives. Or opt to wear it alone while hiking or biking around town. It's also a great option for those who tackle wet weather and are in need of a quick-to-dry layer.

Taking a little skin hike uphill in Leavenworth  WA with the Warm shirt.
Taking a little skin hike uphill in Leavenworth, WA with the Warm shirt.

Value


As a competitor for our Best Buy award, the Warm Crew is of great value. Even though it didn't score as high as the REI Co-op Midweight Crew that won our Best Buy award winner, it costs about the same at just $50. If you seek a great valued Merino wool layer, check out the WoolX Hannah for just $79 (or less online).

Even though this shirt doesn't win any awards in our women's review, it did earn the Best Buy award in our Men's review!

Conclusion


The North Face Warm Crew is warm and super quick to dry. Featuring a 100% polyester construct, this midweight top is warm for a synthetic. Wear it out during all kinds of weather in either a layered system of on its own.

Amber King

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Most recent review: March 27, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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