Heading out on your daily run can sometimes feel like a drag. That's why people listen to music! But what about those dangling cords that bounce around on your chest the whole run? Well, check out our Top Pick for Running with Headphones, the New Balance Ice 2.0, which features a simple little loop on the back of the collar that does a great job of keeping those cords out of the way. Just thread your headphone cord through this loop, and they will stay on your back whether your phone is in your pocket or on your arm. So simple and so practical! Oh, and the rest of the shirt is pretty rad as well.
New Balance Ice 2.0 Review
Cons: Isn’t the fastest to dry out
Manufacturer: New Balance
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New Balance Ice 2.0
|Price||$32.99 at Amazon||$49.00 at REI|
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|$70.00 at Amazon||$44.93 at REI|
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|Pros||Cool headphone cord keeper, lots of breathable mesh, comfortable fit, affordable||Very comfortable, Polygiene odor control works well, breathable and dries quickly||Lots of features, very versatile, dries fast, awesome venting||Durable and versatile, fairly breathable and quick drying, uses natural fibers||Super comfortable fabric and stitching, sleek stretch fit|
|Cons||Isn’t the fastest to dry out||Taped seams on shoulders less durable than sewn seams||Fabric feels rough and artificial against skin, chest pocket is small||Pricey, still made of almost 50% synthetic fiber, not as soft as others||Dries very slowly, doesn’t have chest pocket|
|Bottom Line||Providing a very simple solution to a problem we didn’t realize we had.||Exceedingly comfortable and fast drying are the two top attributes for the best running shirt you can buy.||The best running shirt for winter or on cold days in the fall and spring.||A great choice for those who appreciate natural fibers, or who just want a durable and versatile running shirt.||A versatile and comfortable winter running shirt.|
|Rating Categories||New Balance Ice 2.0||Patagonia Airchaser||Ambition 1/4 Zip||Smartwool PhD Ultra Light||Nike Element 1/2 Zip|
|Drying Speed (15%)|
|Specs||New Balance Ice 2.0||Patagonia Airchaser||Ambition 1/4 Zip||Smartwool PhD...||Nike Element 1/2 Zip|
|Material||100% polyester||100% recycled polyester||58% Polyester, 42% Recycled Polyester Double Knit With FlashDry||56% Merino Wool, 44% Polyester||88% polyester, 12% spandex|
|Weight (oz.)||4.4 oz.||3.2 oz.||9.4 oz.||5.1 oz.||9.8 oz.|
|Reflective material?||Yes - 5||Yes - 2||Yes - 1||Yes - 3||Yes - 2|
|Odor Control?||No||Yes - Polygiene||No||Yes, natural to wool fiber||No|
|Zip Neck Option?||No||No||Yes||No||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The New Balance Ice 2.0 is an updated version of the running shirt that won our Best Overall award in the year 2016. It is made entirely of polyester but features two different weaves. On the front, sides, and sleeves is a thin, breathable fabric, whereas the entire back is a panel of airier perforated mesh. This shirt did well in all scoring metrics: it was comfortable, breathable, and relatively versatile. The combination of all its positive attributes landed it in the third spot in our overall scoring, suggesting this is a shirt you should check out. It also comes with the added benefit of being the most affordable of the top six scorers, so presents a pretty good value.
What we liked about this shirt was how a simple loop of cord that is barely noticeable could so easily eliminate the annoyance of headphone cords bouncing as we run. When in use, the cords from your headphones run down your back, where they still bounce, but not in your field of vision. This feature works great regardless of where you prefer to store your phone while running, and we think that this feature alone, not present on any other running shirt we have seen, makes this shirt worth owning.
When assessing for comfort, we found that three things, in particular, had the potential to cause discomfort: fit, fabric, and seam sewing. While the Ice 2.0 doesn't feature taped seams that are the most comfortable and low profile like the The North Face Better Than Naked, we still found them to be very comfortable against the skin. The flatlock sewn seams lie flat against the body of the shirt and cause little to no irritation, even on long runs.
Two types of thin polyester fabric are used to make this shirt. On the front, sides, and sleeves New Balance used a very thin material that breathes well, whereas on the back and underarms they use an even lighter perforated mesh. Both fabrics feel great against the skin. The fit is athletic, but not tight in any way. Specially gusseted underarms help with the fit, and no matter how we moved, we never felt any constriction. We awarded 8 out of 10 points for comfort.
The older version of the Ice had large mesh panels on the tops of both shoulders, but we like how for this version they have moved the lighter weight mesh to cover the entire back, as well as under the arms. This not only gives the wearer more breathable mesh but puts it in a place that is more durable and practical for wearing a running vest.
We found that both the primary material and the mesh on the back are very breathable and allow for good air flow through the shirt to aid in the evaporative cooling process. That said, the mesh used was nowhere near as thin or permeable as that used on the back of The North Face Better Than Naked. It was far more breathable, however than the thicker and more durable polyester weave on the Arc'teryx Motus Crew.
Despite being made entirely of non-absorbent polyester, like most of the shirts covered here, the Ice 2.0 took a bit longer to dry. It dried about as fast as the Salomon Agile SS Tee, but unfortunately this was slower than five other shirts.
The speed with which a shirt can dry out affects the amount of cooling effect so that a shirt that dries slower will not offer the same amount of relief to the wearer. That said, what relief it does provide will persist for longer. This shirt weighed in at 1.4 ounces heavier than the lightest shirt, which meant that it had more woven fibers to trap water, and thus dried out slower than some shirts.
We felt this shirt worked fairly well for various uses, not simply as a running shirt. In that regard, we rated it similarly to the Russell Athletic Dri-Power Core Performance shirt.
While the lighter weight mesh panel found on the back presents a bit of a durability concern for usage while wearing a pack, we think that it is a vast improvement over the previous version, and can probably withstand a bit of abuse before breakdown. As we said before, it is nowhere near as light as the Better Than Naked shirt, and its mesh seems far more robust. With an athletic fit, we think this shirt works quite well as a base layer under more warmer clothing, although we still recommend the Arc'teryx Motus Crew specifically for this purpose. We gave it 7 out of 10.
Including the headphone loop that we have already talked about, we think this shirt is right up there with the best in this review for features. However, it doesn't by any means have all of the features we could imagine it having.
It has a nice sweat band on the back of the neck, and also includes five reflectors on all sides of the body, including on the sleeves, so that this shirt is one of the few that can genuinely claim to offer 360-degree reflectivity. The Arc'teryx Motus Crew was the only other shirt with this many reflectors. On the other hand, it didn't provide any odor control, like that found on the Under Armour UA Tech, and likewise didn't have increased UPF protection. It tied for the top score for features, receiving 8 points.
Since we awarded it our Top Pick for this purpose, we think that this shirt is best suited for those who like running with headphones. It will also serve well as a workout shirt for the gym, as wearing headphones on the treadmill or stationary bike gives one the same bouncy cord problems, as well as for any other type of running, whether long or shorter. It wouldn't be our first choice but could work admirably as a base layer or for other activities like hiking as well.
This shirt retails for $45, making it the least expensive of our top scorers. Since it has unique features and was the third highest overall scorer, we think this shirt presents pretty awesome value.
The New Balance Ice 2.0 is our Top Pick for Use with Headphones because of its little keeper loop that effectively holds cords on the back instead of on the front where they bounce around. We felt that this feature alone was enough for us to recommend this shirt, but the fact that it was the third highest scorer simply adds weight to this recommendation.
— Andy Wellman