The REI Co-op Midweight Tights are a great synthetic option if you are seeking an affordable base layer. Boasting one of the lowest retail prices in this review, these synthetic tights still offer a competitive performance. While the fabric is thinner and lighter weight, these tights are still thick enough to trap a surprising amount of body heat. They also successfully wick moisture away from the skin, but the fabric can absorb the moisture and requires a longer drying time. Featuring a soft and stretchy fabric that is comfortable and thick enough to be worn on its own, we experienced no durability issues during our testing period. While not one of the highest-performing pairs of long underwear, these are a great wardrobe addition, and the price is very approachable.Editor's Note: This review was updated on November 22, 2022, to include the latest iteration of these tights.
Cons: Absorbs and holds moisture, fabric retains odor immediately
Compare to Similar Products
REI Co-op Midweight Tights - Women's
$54.95 at REI
|$80 List||$60 List|
$59.99 at Amazon
|$65 List||$40 List|
$39.95 at REI
|Pros||Smooth and silky fabric, easy to wear alone or when layered, cute and fitted style, affordable||Excellent warmth, soft elastic waistband, odor-free, high waisted design for additional coverage||Great value, very warm, breathable, comfortable waistband, versatile fit||Very breathable, ultralight construction, quick drying, great snug fit||Affordable, incredibly breathable, soft and stretchy fabric|
|Cons||Absorbs and holds moisture, fabric retains odor immediately||Thicker fabric doesn't breathe as well in warm climates, fabric shows signs of wear after minimal use||Stretches out over time||Not as comfortable as merino fabric||Waistband doesn't provide enough structure, lacks warmth, fit runs large|
|Bottom Line||This synthetic base layer option features a soft and stretchy polyester fabric that offers moderate levels of warmth and breathability for an affordable price||These heavyweight 100% Merino wool long johns offer superior warmth and comfort at a fraction of the cost||A Merino wool pant that's warm, comfortable, and offers a great value, though they do stretch out the longer you wear them||A highly breathable layer that dries quickly, making it exceptional for intense cool to cold weather activity||Lightweight, breathable, and highly affordable, these tights unfortunately lack warmth and require constant adjustment due to the stretchy fabric and wide waistband|
|Rating Categories||REI Co-op Midweight...||Ridge Merino Invers...||Meriwool Merino 250...||Odlo Performance Li...||REI Co-op Lightweig...|
|Comfort and Fit (30%)|
|Specs||REI Co-op Midweight...||Ridge Merino Invers...||Meriwool Merino 250...||Odlo Performance Li...||REI Co-op Lightweig...|
|Material||92% polyester, 8% spandex||100% Merino wool||100% Merino wool||69% polyester, 27% polyamide, 4% elastane||92% polyester, 8% spandex|
|Fabric Weight (g/m²)||Not disclosed||270 g/m²||250 g/m²||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Measured Weight (size medium)||6.4 oz||7.9 oz||7.8 oz||3.1 oz||5.8 oz|
|Cuts Avaliable||Full length||Full length||Full length||Full length||Full length|
|Smelly Over Time?||Yes||No||No||No||Yes|
|Odor Control Fabric||N/A||Naturally odor resistant||Naturally odor resistant||N/A||N/A|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Co-op Midweight Tights are a fully synthetic base layer option for those allergic to wool or simply looking for an affordable layer that doesn't break the bank. Constructed from 92% polyester and 8% spandex, they offer a four-way stretch that allows for freedom of movement and a thicker waistband that provides structure, should you wear them a few times between washes. While they are not the most breathable option available, they do efficiently wick moisture away from the skin; however, the fabric then absorbs the moisture and takes a while to dry. Still, these tights are easy to layer, thanks to their smooth exterior, and they are a great choice for those moderate cold weather activities like resort and cross-country skiing where you're not necessarily looking to work up a major sweat.
The Midweight Tights are built with midweight comfort thanks to their soft and stretchy polyester blend, but we found that they offer more of a lightweight level of warmth. Tightly woven fabric successfully traps body heat generated through moderate activity, but the synthetic fabric itself feels cold when getting dressed early in the morning. When worn alone, our testers found the thinness of the fabric provided enough insulation for spring and fall, but once the nighttime temperatures dropped, we were happy to layer some wearm puffy pants over the top.
During our fall testing period in Yosemite Valley and Indian Creek (Northern California and Utah), our testers found these tights perfect for the crisp days and nights when the first signs of winter catch you by surprise. A perfect amount of warmth for the 30-50 degree Fahrenheit range — anything warmer and the lack of breathability made these tights absorb moisture which dropped our core body temperature. Colder than 30 degrees when out for a two-hour trail run, we'd want thicker insulation. All in all, these tights offer a solid amount of warmth for shoulder seasons and work well to insulate at the base of your lower body layering system as long as your activities are lower intensity.
While the Midweight Tights successfully wicked moisture away from our skin, the fabric unfortunately held onto that moisture and required a longer drying time. The tightly woven fabric is somewhat air permeable and allows for a little air to flow through, but the slim fit and thicker waistband tend to pool moisture and reduce overall body heat.
On fall training runs in high humidity, we found this layer to retain sweat, which dropped our core temperature. Afterward, we found ourselves seeking more insulation due to the extended drying time once wet. Therefore, we only feel comfortable recommending these tights for moderate activities where you won't be working up a lot of sweat. Great for those in-between seasons when the temperatures drop but not the best for cold winter days of backcountry skiing or high-intensity training runs that require a layer that offers better thermoregulation to maintain warmth and comfort.
Comfort and Fit
The Midweight Tights feature a silky smooth and stretchy fabric that is soft to the touch and feels comfortable next to the skin. The four-way stretch doesn't restrict range of motion, and the flatlock seams increase comfort while reducing any potential for chafing. These are one of the most comfortable synthetic base layers we've had the pleasure of testing. We love the thicker elastic waistband, but it, unfortunately, does not lay entirely flat against the skin.
The slim-fitting design of the Midweight Tights sat right in line with our lead tester's belly button. These tights are cute and thick enough to be worn alone without embarrassment. We found the fit to be true to size, and the spandex blended fabric allows enough stretchiness to fit a variety of body types. While not as cozy and comfortable as some of the Merino wool options we tested, these still have one of our favorite synthetic fabrics.
The Midweight Tights have a flatlock seam construction that gave us no trouble during our fall testing season. While the fabric can show some signs of wear through minor pilling, we were satisfied with the durable polyester fabric, which kept its shape even when taken on multiple adventures between washes. This is a durable yet affordable design.
However, our testers were disappointed when these tights retained body odor after our first extended trail run. This has been our experience with most synthetic polyester blended base layers — they tend to retain odor after minimal use. While we're not psyched about the smelly fabric, this wasn't helped by the fact that, during testing, we were on an extended camping trip and not showering as often. If you shower regularly while wearing these, you'll likely have less of an issue with odor retention.
Should You Buy the REI Co-op Midweight Tights?
You simply can't beat the price of these synthetic long underwear tights. While they are not the highest performer regarding overall warmth and breathability, our testers love their light and stretchy fabric that doesn't restrict range of motion. While the fabric does retain body odor, the reinforced flatlock seams and thick waistband inspire confidence in their durability. If you're looking for an affordable pair of long johns for the upcoming winter season, these tights are a great option for your consideration.
What Other Long Underwear Should You Consider?
If you're looking to invest in a synthetic pair of long underwear that offers better performance, check out the Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottom. If you'd like to check out another affordable and lightweight synthetic option that features better breathability, the Odlo Performance Light Bottoms are excellent. And finally, if you're open to a Merino wool blend and after top-of-the-line performance, check out our top dog, the Icebreaker BodyfitZone Merino 260 Zone Thermal Leggings.
— Trish Matheny
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More