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Arc'teryx Motus Crew Review

The trim fit, soft fabric, and smooth seams make this an excellent running shirt or base layer
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Price:  $69 List | $69.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable flat-locked merrow stitching, durable polyester fabric, lots of reflectors, UPF protection
Cons:  Doesn’t allow direct air flow as easily as mesh shirts, holds lots of moisture, pricy
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Jeff Colt and Brian Martin  ⋅  Jun 2, 2020
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 10
  • Comfort - 30% 7
  • Breathability - 30% 8
  • Drying Speed - 20% 9
  • Features & Versatility - 20% 8

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Motus Crew is an excellent running shirt or base layer. The trim fit doesn't feel too restrictive, and it has anatomical panels that conform to the body. The linear weave of the 100% bicomponent polyester fabric is breathable, quick-drying, and lightweight. The marriage of durability, comfort, and tapered fit make for one of our favorite shirts. A highly effective base layer, we love the snug fit when it comes to pulling on additional layers on cooler days. Ultimately, we didn't just use this shirt for running, as it is highly durable and stands up to many different adventures and tasks.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Arc'teryx Motus Crew doesn't dry as quickly as some of its competitors, but when we took it out in the real world, we quickly discovered why. In the desert, some materials can dry too quickly, robbing you of a critical evaporative cooling effect. The Motus Crew hits the sweet spot with evaporative cooling and is one of the most capable shirts we tested.

Performance Comparison


While the black color scheme of the Motus Crew may not be the ideal choice for hot and sunny days on the trail  the thick polyester fabric  body mapping design  and excellently comfortable and durable stitching makes it one of our favorite shirts.
While the black color scheme of the Motus Crew may not be the ideal choice for hot and sunny days on the trail, the thick polyester fabric, body mapping design, and excellently comfortable and durable stitching makes it one of our favorite shirts.

Comfort


The hip-length trim fit and clever anatomical paneling help the Motus slip comfortably under other layers, even those that are a bit snug. This shirt never felt bunched up underneath a warmer piece, nor did we feel like there was too little fabric when wearing it as a standalone running shirt. It performs well when paired with hydration packs and larger backcountry ski packs.

Even though the Motus Crew isn't equipped with completely unnoticeable taped seams, it does have high-quality flatlock seams that utilize what is called a "merrow stitch." This stitch pattern is one of the smoothest and least abrasive seams we've encountered in this type of shirt, and we feel that this is a large part of why the Motus is so durable and effective as a base layer.

The "merrow" stitching and body-mapped panels of the Motus Crew make it highly durable and comfortable to wear on long adventures with a pack.
The "merrow" stitching and body-mapped panels of the Motus Crew make it highly durable and comfortable to wear on long adventures with a pack.

Overall, this isn't the most comfortable shirt we tested if used solely for running. The fact that it's so comfortable when worn under other layers or when used with a pack is what sets it apart. The focus on small comfort details, such as utilizing the merrow stitch and adding in specific anatomical panels, help the Motus Crew maintain a high level of comfort, even when wearing a running pack or hiking backpack, making it uniquely comfortable for longer efforts like ultramarathons or thru-hikes.

The "merrow" stitch is the most comfortable and durable stitch we encountered while testing running shirts. This stitch  while not completely flat  is smooth and far more durable than taped seams.
The "merrow" stitch is the most comfortable and durable stitch we encountered while testing running shirts. This stitch, while not completely flat, is smooth and far more durable than taped seams.

Breathability


Where some shirts opt to add in strategically placed mesh panels to aid with breathability, the Motus Crew opts for continuity, utilizing the same bicomponent material throughout the entire shirt. This comes with pros and cons. The tightly woven polyester material doesn't allow air to pass through as easily as some of the mesh utilized in other shirts and essentially cuts into the breathability score. Additionally, the trim fit and linear weave doesn't allow for much movement or stretch while running, further restricting natural airflow. On the upside, this continuity adds durability, as well as a bump in the evaporative cooling effect in super hot and arid climates.

The Arc'teryx Cormac Crew (left) has a gridded weave that allows for four-way stretch. We prefer this fabric design to the Motus Crew (right) as the linear stitching only stretched well laterally.
The Arc'teryx Cormac Crew (left) has a gridded weave that allows for four-way stretch. We prefer this fabric design to the Motus Crew (right) as the linear stitching only stretched well laterally.

As a base layer, the fabric keeps moisture away from the skin, as you would expect from a 100% polyester material. Even if the shirt had mesh fabric, once you add layers on top, the mesh can't perform like it would in open air. Breathability is all about fabric density. When put up to the light, it's easy to see how dense the polyester fabric of the Motus is, as it barely lets any light through (compared to other mesh style fabrics).

As you can tell  not much light can get through the tightly woven polyester of the Motus Crew. This makes for a durable shirt that is capable of withstanding the abuse of base layer duty. The breathability does take a hit  though  as this shirt doesn't incorporate any mesh panels.
As you can tell, not much light can get through the tightly woven polyester of the Motus Crew. This makes for a durable shirt that is capable of withstanding the abuse of base layer duty. The breathability does take a hit, though, as this shirt doesn't incorporate any mesh panels.

Drying Speed


Our standardized drying speed test revealed some interesting stats about the Motus Crew. The polyester appears to be quite dense when viewed up against a light source. When we saturated the shirt and put it through a spin-dry, we found it was capable of holding 71% of its total weight in water; as much as any other shirt we tested. This seems to indicate that this shirt has a lot of fibers/surface area for water to cling to.

We were surprised to find that during our drying test, the Motus Crew retained only 26% of its weight in water after the initial spin cycle. After two 5 minute cycles in the dryer, the shirt was effectively dry, making it among the fastest drying shirts we tested. Despite lacking some breathability, this dense fabric makes the shirt more comfortable, durable, and UPF 25 rated, all while remaining fast drying.

In the real world, the Motus Crew never felt heavy with moisture, nor did we find it unable to breathe or assist with evaporative cooling. On the contrary, this shirt kept us regulated and comfortably moving.

Features & Versatility


The Motus Crew is heckin' versatile. It excelled at pretty much anything we could think of doing, including camping, climbing, hiking, running, layering, krav maga, photography, and yes, running. The tightly woven fabric adds a level of durability, making it a good option for longer efforts with a hydration pack or thru-hikes.

The attention to small details, such as making sure the sweatband on the neck had no visible seams, and welding the anatomical panels together with a merrow stitch helps boost the versatility of this shirt. It's easy to pile layers on or wear a pack without causing discomfort. Being able to use this shirt as a primary running shirt or as a complement to your hiking, skiing, or cycling kit gives it a considerable advantage in the versatility department.

This comfortable and breathable shirt is good for almost any activity you decide to take on.
This comfortable and breathable shirt is good for almost any activity you decide to take on.

While many running shirts are slimmed down to the bare essentials, the Motus Crew does have a few extra features. There is an ample amount of reflective markings that really make this shirt shine. While many running shirts have one or two reflective markings, the Motus has five. The added sweatband in the neck also stands out, as it has no visible seams, and is completely unnoticeable to the touch.

The sewn in sweatband on the back of the neck works well. It also has a smooth  low profile  making it unnoticeable when worn as a base layer.
The sewn in sweatband on the back of the neck works well. It also has a smooth, low profile, making it unnoticeable when worn as a base layer.

Even though the Motus Crew shines as a base layer, it is equipped with the most reflective emblems of any shirt we tested, a critical feature that we wish all clothing had. A massive boost in safety when running in an urban environment, these reflective markings are on the chest, arms, and back.

With a reflective logo  reflective bands on each sleeve  and two reflective bands on the lower back  this shirt is designed for running and will keep you visible at night.
With a reflective logo, reflective bands on each sleeve, and two reflective bands on the lower back, this shirt is designed for running and will keep you visible at night.

The tightly woven polyester provides a UPF protection rating, which makes this shirt suitable for intense sun or use on highly reflective surfaces, like snow. Finally, a tag/hanger loop-free design cuts out any potential discomfort in the neck from abrasion, making for a mega comfortable shirt.

Value


The Motus Crew is one of the most durable shirts we've tested. Not only is it durable, but there is a high level of detail put into the design and build quality. The result is a very comfortable and capable shirt that also boasts a big price tag. It's not a steal by any means, but you are getting an excellent shirt that will last.

Checking out the Narrows of Zion Canyon on a rest day hike while wearing the Motus Crew.
Checking out the Narrows of Zion Canyon on a rest day hike while wearing the Motus Crew.

Conclusion


The Arc'teryx Motus Crew is a great shirt. It might not be the absolute best running shirt out there, but when it comes down to it, it's one we highly recommend to friends. Not only is it a highly functional performance running layer, but it's ideal as a base layer or with a pack.


Jeff Colt and Brian Martin