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.
Arc'teryx Motus Crew Review
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
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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