REI Swiftland ½ Zip Run Pullover Review
As summer dwindles and temperatures cool off, ’tis the season for the humble midlayer. At its best, a quality fleecy top can keep your puffy in your pack by providing breathable warmth that you might not mind getting a little bit sweaty. Early start or late finish? Stay comfortable with a lightweight midlayer. REI’s Swiftland Pullover was designed with runners in mind, but don’t let them have all the fun. The half-zip and low weight are features that even the 2mph crowd can appreciate.
REI Swiftland ½ Zip Run Pullover At-a-Glance
Materials: 91% Polyester, 9% Spandex (bluesign approved)
Weight: 7.2 ounces
Country of Origin: El Salvador
Colors: Teal, black, and a discontinued yellow
Availability: Men’s, Women’s, Plus Sizes
Per REI, the best uses for the pullover are running, trail running, and fitness. As this is The Trek, I felt it should also be tested while camping and hiking.
Circumstances of Review
I received the REI Swiftland ½ Zip Run Pullover in mid-summer and have been using it more and more as the weather here in the Midwest has begun to cool down. It has traveled with me on hiking, camping, and backpacking trips to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s upper peninsula, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Tennessee, and multiple spots in Ohio. And, as “Run” is in the name, the pullover has gone trail running as well. I am 6’ 2”, 180 lbs, and feel the size large fits very well.
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REI Swiftland ½ Zip Run Pullover Features
Stretchy warmth: This midlayer was definitely designed for runners. The material itself is Polartec Power Grid fleece. It stretches comfortably while moving. While the outside finish is smooth, the interior has ridges designed to trap air for warmth.
Breathable: The material is thin enough to breathe and release heat as you run. (At 65 years old, I’m not sure I can still run fast enough for the heat to be pulled away, but the concept is good.) In addition, the long front zipper can be adjusted for temperature as well.
Fancy fabric: The material is bluesign-approved and received a Polygiene antimicrobial treatment designed to reduce odor.
Thumbholes: Thumbholes can be used to keep the sleeves from riding up, though the fit is good and I’ve not had that issue.
Reflective details: The logo and details on the sleeves are reflective to improve visibility when running in low light.
Pockets: There is a zippered pocket on the chest for small items; think key or credit card. A standard cell phone can fit, but weighed heavily as I wore it. In addition, REI states that the “top packs into chest pocket for storage.” While that may be theoretically possible, I gave up after about 5 minutes of trying and wasn’t even close.
How’d it do?
REI states that the best use for this pullover is running and I couldn’t agree more. It adds a bit of warmth before, after, and at the start of shoulder season runs while being very breathable and light during the run itself. I stayed comfortable when a tighter weave midlayer would have had me overheating. In addition, it has been just a comfortable pullover to wear. I see the Swiftland ½ Zip Run Pullover becoming my favorite midlayer running top.
This is purely subjective, but after multiple wearings, I still felt it smelled fine. Chalk one up for the Polygiene antimicrobial treatment. So far, it hasn’t shown any ill effects from washing either.
REI Swiftland vs. my other fleece
For backpacking and camping, I compared the Swiftland ½ Zip Run Pullover to my go-to midlayer, a 100-weight fleece pullover. On the plus side, the Swiftland is a bit lighter (7.2 oz versus 7.8 oz) and takes up less room in the pack, even if I can’t get it crammed into the chest pocket. Its breathability allowed me to wear it longer once I started hiking.
However, when camping, I value clothes that can handle a wider range of conditions than the Swiftland. After all, during most trips, I’m both sitting around camp and working hard up steep trails. In addition, the weather forecast has a tendency to shift while in the backcountry, which makes versatility all the more important so that you’re not caught out unprepared.
A breezy morning at 60 degrees had me digging out my rain jacket to put on over the Swiftland, where a 100-weight fleece by itself would have been fine. Below about 50°F, the pullover and a rain shell would have not been enough. Therefore, in my experience, the temperature range of the Swiftland seems a bit too narrow to carry on anything but mid-summer backpacking trips.
And for the short, rough life my camping clothes endure, I also appreciate that I can always pick up a 100-weight fleece for less than the $89.95 of the Swiftland.
REI Swiftland ½ Zip Run Pullover Pros
Lightweight breathability: The Swiftland ½ Zip Run Pullover is a good-looking, comfortable, lightweight midlayer specifically designed for running. It fills that niche extremely well. Designed to give a few extra degrees of comfort before and after runs, the weave is very breathable during the run.
Thoughtful features: The thumbholes, reflective touches, long zipper, and chest pocket are the kind of details that keep the Swiftland on the “top of the pile” of my running clothes. The use of environmentally conscious bluesign-approved materials is a big plus. The funk-reducing Polygiene treatment is as well.
REI Swiftland ½ Zip Run Pullover Cons
Over-specialized: Not so much an actual con, but in my experience the Swiftland ½ Zip Run Pullover’s running-centric design is not quite as well suited for shoulder season backpacking. When putting as little as possible into a backpack, each article of clothing needs to handle a wide range of conditions. The Swiftland’s great advantage of light breathability during a run is not so helpful while taking a break at the top of a windy climb or when breaking down camp during a cool morning.
Limited colors: One other minor point; the pullover is only available in black or a dark teal. (The yellow is being discontinued.) As whoever is now wearing my old forest green fleece can attest, it’s much easier to notice and remember the clothes that you set down at the campsite if they are a bright color.
The Swiftland ½ Zip Run Pullover is a high-quality, well-made product with several added details that improve its performance for runners. At $89.95, it is not cheap, but is a good value for this level of clothing. In addition, if you like yellow you can pick it up for 40% off, while supplies last.
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The REI Swiftland Pullover was donated for the purpose of review.
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