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REI Co-op Active Bikini Review

While this model delivered a competitive performance, we were disappointed by the overall quality and durability as we watched the seams begin to unravel after minimal use
REI Co-op Active Bikini
Photo: REI Co-op
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Price:  $17 List | Check Price at REI
Pros:  Breathable, affordable
Cons:  Quality, durability, uncomfortable seams
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Lauren DeLaunay & Trish Matheny  ⋅  Jul 13, 2021
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 13
  • Comfort - 35% 7
  • Fit - 30% 6
  • Drying Time - 25% 8
  • Packability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

As one of the only products in this review made with polyester, we didn't know what the REI Co-op Active Bikini would feel like — but for the killer price, we had to check it out. One tester loved the thin, soft feel of this pair, and it was considered an award-winning product by us in the past. However, another tester had a vastly different experience (with a separate pair of this model). After her first test run with this model, the flatlock seams already started to unravel, leading to a very short-lived window of useability before we disposed of them. Furthermore, while we love the thicker waistband, we couldn't help but notice that it did not keep these undies in place. This product is definitely one of the most affordable in our review but unfortunately, you get what you pay for.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Breathable, affordableBreathable, comfortable, inexpensiveInexpensive, soft, quick-drying, no bulky seamsAffordable, breathable, nice waistbandBreathable, quick drying
Cons Quality, durability, uncomfortable seamsTight fitImperfect fit for someNot very durable, flatlock seams unraveling with minimal wearFit prevents garment from staying in place during activity, runs large
Bottom Line While this model delivered a competitive performance, we were disappointed by the overall quality and durability as we watched the seams begin to unravel after minimal useThe Barely Hipster is a super comfortable and affordable product made to stand the heatSoft, stretchy, and quick to dry, this value-forward garment won us over without making us pay a high priceThe affordable price tag is alluring, though our testers were disappointed by the fit, durability, and longer drying timeFeaturing maximum comfort and four way stretch, this bikini is one of our favorite more affordable options
Rating Categories REI Co-op Active Bi... Patagonia Barely Hi... Pure Stretch Hipster REI Co-op Active Thong Give-N-Go 2.0 Bikini
Comfort (35%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Fit (30%)
6.0
9.0
5.0
8.0
7.0
Drying Time (25%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
6.0
Packability (10%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Specs REI Co-op Active Bi... Patagonia Barely Hi... Pure Stretch Hipster REI Co-op Active Thong Give-N-Go 2.0 Bikini
Material 86% Polyester/14% Spandex 89% Nylon, 11% Spandex 68% Nylon, 32% Elastane 86% Polyester, 14% Spandex Mesh, 100% Cotton Liner 89% Nylon, 11% Elastane
Measured Weight (oz) 0.6 oz (S) 0.8 oz (S) 0.7 oz (S) 0.4 oz (M) 1.2 oz (S)
Flat-lock Seams No Seamless Seamless Yes Yes
Cut Tested Bikini Hipster Hipster Thong BIkini
Cuts Available Bikini, hipster, brief, thong Hipster, bikini, thong Hipster, cheeky, thong Bikini, thong Bikini

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Active Bikini has all the potential to be a great pair of travel underwear. However, we found that its quality and durability issues made it difficult for us to consider this product a top performer.

Performance Comparison


Washing the REI Active Bikini after lots of use in Cochamo, Chile.
Washing the REI Active Bikini after lots of use in Cochamo, Chile.
Photo: Lauren DeLaunay

Comfort


Comfort can mean different things to different people, but we've identified a few characteristics that help us describe each product's performance in language we can agree on. In this category, we evaluated each garment's material construction and breathability.

The Active Bikini is one of the only products we tested mostly made of polyester. While some of the products we tested are merino wool, most of them are a nylon blend. At 86% polyester and 14% Spandex, we loved how soft the material felt next to our skin, but found the flatlock seams to be itchy and poorly constructed next to other competitors that featured a more well-constructed design.

A close up of the breathable polyester blend material of the REI...
A close up of the breathable polyester blend material of the REI Active Bikini.
Photo: Trish Matheny

Fit


When our testing team brainstormed the metrics that would define the travel underwear category, we knew instantly it was all about feel. But the more we tested, the more we realized how many things work together to make something comfortable. So, we separated "fit," which we've defined here as the cut, shape, and stretch of a garment from the material feel.

Unfortunately, our team did not love the fit of the Active Bikini. We felt that the sizing runs large and the waistband did not adequately control the movement of the garment, thereby causing us to stop and adjust for wedgies more times than we can count.

Having tested a few different cuts, from thong to bikini to hipster to boy shorts, we did find this one to have a great blend of coverage and style. Even though this product is offered in different cuts, including ones with more or less coverage, we did really like that the bikini model which is made with active outings in mind. After weeks of hiking in the Patagonian rain forest and scaling rock walls in the desert southwest, we know that the Active Bikini would be a product better left behind.

While we were initially intrigued by this affordable bikini, we were...
While we were initially intrigued by this affordable bikini, we were not wowed by the fit or the quality.
Photo: Trish Matheny

Compared to other products in our review, the Active Bikini offers a competitive combination of coverage without also having too-snug leg openings. The just-right leg openings also creates a more seamless visual effect, aka less visible panty lines. While the waistband is more comfortable than many others that we tested, at the end of the day we wished it had more control over the movement of this bikini. Even though the waistband is well-integrated into the design and made of the same polyester material blend, we preferred other models for a more seamless look and fit.

Drying Time


The products we picked for this review all have one thing in common: they're meant to take us somewhere. And whether that's around the world with nothing but a backpack or deep into the wild, at some point, we need to be able to wash and dry our clothes quickly so we can get right back to adventuring. For this category, we did multiple rounds of side-by-side testing to see which products dried faster than others; additionally, we took copious notes throughout our weeks of wear and tear.

The Active Bikini had a competitive drying time in this review. Its material is super-light, which is typically an indicator of drying speed. That aside, it's one of the only polyester products we reviewed, and we think that this has something to do with the Active's performance. In addition to drying fast on the clothesline, we also noticed how dry we stayed on the trail even when drenched with sweat. Even though the Active Bikini is a very breathable pair of travel underwear, the quality issues prevented us from giving it higher scores.

The REI Active was easy to wash and dry while on the go in Chile.
The REI Active was easy to wash and dry while on the go in Chile.
Photo: Lauren DeLaunay

Packability


The packability of a travel product tells us a lot. We measure the weight and folded dimensions to get a full sense of how easy it is to bring each product along for a variety of travels.

Weighing in at just 0.6 ounces, the Active is one of the very lightest products when compared to other bikini models, the thong models being the lightest overall. While we're talking about fractions of ounces, everything adds up, and we certainly noticed the lightness of this product — some of its competitors weigh twice as much. Based on weight alone, it is possible to head into the backcountry or on a multi-month journey with several of these in your pack.

Weighing the REI Active to get an objective measurement on...
Weighing the REI Active to get an objective measurement on packability.
Photo: Lauren DeLaunay

Value


Unfortunately, REI Active seems to be one of the least expensive products for a reason. By paying less you get a cheaper product, sacrificing both quality and durability, with a high likelihood that this bikini will fall apart on the trail. Needless to say, not our first choice.

Conclusion


Formally a favorite of OutdoorGearLab staff, during our latest round of testing, we were disappointed by the overall quality and performance of this bikini. We found that the soft and breathable material, as well as the lighter weight, was not enough for us to give the REI Co-op Active Bikini high scores or our recommendation.

Laundry day in Cochamo is easy with the quick-drying REI Active...
Laundry day in Cochamo is easy with the quick-drying REI Active Bikini.
Photo: Lauren DeLaunay

Lauren DeLaunay & Trish Matheny