The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

New Balance Mesh NB Ice 2.0 Review

A light and airy running layer, making it effective even in extreme heat.
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Price:  $40 List | $27.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Highly breathable, lightweight, quick drying
Cons:  Very athletic fit, fragile material
Manufacturer:   New Balance
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 25, 2019
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 11
  • Comfort - 35% 5
  • Breathability - 20% 9
  • Drying Speed - 15% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 5
  • Features - 15% 4

Our Verdict

The New Balance Mesh Ice 2.0 is a highly breathable running shirt. The entire garment is comprised of 100% polyester woven into a pin-dot mesh, which allows for air to flow freely through the shirt. All this breathability comes with a price. The mesh is quite fragile and feels coarse against the skin, especially around the shoulders. The athletic (snug) fit and coarse polyester mesh make for a moderately uncomfortable shirt. However, the overall functionality of this shirt is high, and it can shed moisture quickly; the evaporative cooling effect was noticeable. High output or short duration running is where this shirt truly excels. While we might not want the coarse pin-dot mesh against our skin with a backpack on top, the fabric was undeniably quick-drying and breathable.


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Price $27.99 at Amazon$49.00 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Highly breathable, lightweight, quick dryingHighly breathable, lightweight, quick dryingLots of features, very versatile, dries fast, awesome ventingComfortable flat-locked merrow stitching, durable Phasic FL polyester fabric, lots of reflectors, UPF protectionDries quickly, versatile, affordable, soft material, odor resistant
Cons Very athletic fit, fragile materialTaped seams on shoulders less durable than sewn seamsFabric feels rough and artificial against skin, chest pocket is smallDoesn’t allow direct air flow as easily as mesh shirts, holds lots of moistureHeavy when wet
Bottom Line A light and airy running layer, making it effective even in extreme heat.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 running shirt, well-suited for any endeavors that require layering.An affordable and comfortable short sleeve running shirt.
Rating Categories New Balance Mesh NB Ice 2.0 Patagonia Airchaser Ambition 1/4 Zip Arc'teryx Motus Crew Brooks Distance
Comfort (35%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
Breathability (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
Drying Speed (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
4
Versatility (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
Features (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
5
Specs New Balance Mesh... Patagonia Airchaser Ambition 1/4 Zip Arc'teryx Motus Crew Brooks Distance
Material Polyester Recycled polyester 58% Polyester, 42% Recycled Polyester Double Knit With FlashDry Phasic FL (100% polyester) 85% polyester, 15% spandex
Weight (oz.) 3.6 oz. 3.1 oz. 9.4 oz. 4.0 oz. 5.5 oz.
Reflective material? Yes Yes - 2 Yes - 1 Yes - 5 Yes - 1
UPF? N/A N/A 30 25 Yes, number not specified
Odor Control? Yes Yes - HeiQ Fresh durable odor control No No Yes - DriLayer Burst fabric
Zip Neck Option? No No Yes No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The main reason the Mesh Ice 2.0 was out of the running for any awards was the low level of comfort. Coarse fabric, combined with an athletic cut, made for uncomfortable, long days on the trails. Fortunately, it boasts incredible breathability and dries rapidly. These attributes work best for someone who doesn't have sensitive skin and is into high-intensity interval training - where you get your entire workout done in less than an hour.

Performance Comparison


Hot  arid deserts sometimes require a shirt to hold on to a bit of moisture in order to cool you. If your shirt feels completely dry as you run  even when you're sweating  you might not be getting the ample evaporative cooling effect.
Hot, arid deserts sometimes require a shirt to hold on to a bit of moisture in order to cool you. If your shirt feels completely dry as you run, even when you're sweating, you might not be getting the ample evaporative cooling effect.

Comfort


Fit, fabric, and seams. These are the critical components when determining the comfort of a running shirt. The Mesh Ice 2.0, while it does have low profile flatlock seams, isn't what we'd define as comfortable. The fabric is a pin-dot mesh, and the fit is "athletic".

Flatlock seams are critical for comfort especially in a running shirt. Unfortunately the pin-dot mesh was a bit too abrasive to make this shirt competitive with some of the softer polyester fabrics in our testing.
Flatlock seams are critical for comfort especially in a running shirt. Unfortunately the pin-dot mesh was a bit too abrasive to make this shirt competitive with some of the softer polyester fabrics in our testing.

The athletic fit is quite snug; our 5.11", 175 pound gear tester noted the size large shirt was especially snug around the shoulders and chest. This snug fit wouldn't be an issue if the polyester was slippery and smooth like many polyesters, but the pin-dot pattern makes the material coarse. As you can imagine, snug and coarse isn't a recipe for comfort.

The Mesh 2.0  despite being size large  was still the most snug athletic fit we tested. Our tester admitted hitting the cookies a bit too hard this summer but would have liked a bit more space in the chest.
The Mesh 2.0, despite being size large, was still the most snug athletic fit we tested. Our tester admitted hitting the cookies a bit too hard this summer but would have liked a bit more space in the chest.

Breathability


The upside for having this moderately coarse pin-dot mesh polyester is a highly breathable shirt. During real-world testing, there was a pronounced difference between the amount of air we could feel flowing through the mesh. This translated to an increase in evaporative cooling and the ability to sustain homeostasis in high temperatures. At the gym, when standing in front of the floor fan, we were able to rapidly cool down.

Since the entire shirt was made from ultra-light pin-dot mesh  the breathability of this shirt was superb.
Since the entire shirt was made from ultra-light pin-dot mesh, the breathability of this shirt was superb.

Drying Speed


Via our drying speed test, we discovered just how rapidly the Mesh Ice 2.0 could shed moisture; spoiler alert, it was swift. While the shirt only retains 26% of its total weight with moisture (this isn't much), it can lose all of that moisture within the first 10 minutes of dryer time. This rapid drying speed puts the shirt alongside the best.

The real-world testing revealed more of the same. We often wear a fanny pack while out hiking to carry essentials; this pack creates a place where moisture can't evaporate until we remove the pack. The Mesh Ice 2.0 allowed for the gross, sweaty patch to dry within moments of taking off the pack. Unencumbered by dense fabric, any gust or slight breeze could be felt passing through the shirt.

Versatility


The highly breathable but coarse fabric makes it more of a specialist than a versatile shirt. It was too coarse for wanting to wear it with a running pack or backpack, plus the added layers hindered the high level of breathability. To get the full benefit from this shirt, wearing it for high-intensity low duration workouts seemed to be what it was most suited for; we're talking intervals where you are maxing your heart rate, sweating, and trying to cool off before the next soul-crushing interval.

The highlight of the Mesh Ice 2.0 is its ability to breathe. The pin dot mesh allows air to blast through this shirt unencumbered by tightly woven fabric.
The highlight of the Mesh Ice 2.0 is its ability to breathe. The pin dot mesh allows air to blast through this shirt unencumbered by tightly woven fabric.

Features


The Mesh Ice 2.0 is equipped with a few features. There are reflective tabs on both sleeves and a reflective NB emblem on the chest. This is an often overlooked safety feature that we wish was added to more shirts! Unfortunately, there isn't any anti-odor treatment on the fabric, and for a shirt designed for sweat, we find this is unfortunate.

A sewn in sweat band and small reflective tab can be seen on the neck of the Mesh Ice 2.0. Running shirts aren't typically highly featured and the Mesh Ice is no exception.
A sewn in sweat band and small reflective tab can be seen on the neck of the Mesh Ice 2.0. Running shirts aren't typically highly featured and the Mesh Ice is no exception.

Value


There are a few setbacks that make the price tag seem quite steep. Firstly, the low level of comfort is an issue that even much more affordable shirts have solved. The second issue is how specialized this shirt is regarding what activities it's suited for. If it were a bit more comfortable and a tad more versatile, we would feel the price was justified. As it stands now, this shirt doesn't seem like good value.

Conclusion


The NB Mesh Ice 2.0 is an incredibly fast drying and breathable shirt suited well for high output short-duration activities. This could be a more versatile shirt for those that do not have sensitive skin, or if the mesh fabric were a bit less coarse and softer to the touch.


Brian Martin