The Patagonia Airchaser is hands down the most comfortable running shirt we have ever worn, reason enough to give it our Editors' Choice award as the best overall running shirt. While virtually every running shirt is made of synthetic polyester, or a blend of it, the Airchaser incorporates a natural, seed-based fabric softener called miDori BioSoft that makes it feel as soft as silk against the skin. Combine this with taped seams on the top of the shoulders, the most likely seams to chafe when running (especially with a pack), ensures the Airchaser is so comfortable that we enjoy wearing it all the time, not just when we are running. Of course, it also includes Polygiene odor control and dual front and rear reflector logos to increase the versatility and land it with the highest overall rating in our comparative review.
Patagonia Airchaser Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Very comfortable, Polygiene odor control works well, breathable and dries quickly
Cons: Taped seams on shoulders less durable than sewn seams
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Airchaser is an update to our previous Editors' Choice winning Patagonia Windchaser. We like the new version even better because it reduces the taped seams to only over the shoulders, where they are very beneficial to minimize rubbing and chaffing, especially when wearing a running pack or when going for very long distances where even the slightest amount of rubbing can become a big problem. Taped seams are by far the lowest profile and most comfortable, but are far less durable that sewn seams, especially if you (or someone you live with) happens to wash or dry these shirts on high heat, which will cause the seams to delaminate and come apart rather quickly. The Airchaser should have greater longevity than the Windchaser due to the flat sewn seams found everywhere except over the shoulders, which we still found to be very soft and non-abrasive. While not as see-through thin on the back as The North Face Better Than Naked, we found that in our intensive drying test the two shirts managed to dry in roughly equal time, suggesting that the Airchaser is a great choice for hot weather. In the end, the decision really comes down to comfort, though, and no other polyester shirt from this selection, or that we have ever worn, can match the silky smooth comfort found in this shirt, which is why we recommend it to you.
We've already mentioned a couple times how incredibly comfortable this shirt is, but compared to the competition, there really isn't any. To our knowledge, none of the other shirts we have tested and reviewed incorporates a fabric softener to cut the sometimes fake, plastic-like, and often itchy feel of polyester. This one uses the miDori bioSoft, a natural plant-based additive supplied by a company that Patagonia funds called Beyond Surface Technologies. Name-dropping and marketing spray aside, this stuff works; this fabric is insanely soft. Even compared to the previous Windchaser, which we tested it against and which didn't use the softener, it is noticeably more comfortable against the skin, and pretty much begs to be worn.
Like many Patagonia garments, we found our men's size large to be larger fitting than those of comparable shirts such as the Arc'teryx Motus Crew or the New Balance Ice 2.0. It is not what we would call a slim fit, and instead fits wide, flowy, and loose on skinnier runner's frames.
If you don't have the body of a half-starved marathoner, this shirt will certainly fit less tightly than other companies "athletic" fits. We think it feels very comparable overall to the similarly soft and loose Under Armour UA Tech, but isn't plagued by the never-ending static buildup we experience in that shirt, especially when it's worn under another layer. Long story short, this is the most comfortable running shirt we have ever worn, plenty enough reason to purchase it.
The Airchaser is a highly breathable top. It is made of two different fabric patterns: striped, highly breathable recycled polyester on the front and sleeves, complemented with a solid patterned, equally as breathable fabric on the back. The back panel is made with square mesh that more easily absorbs and wicks moisture than the striped fabric on the front, a good quality for the areas where sweat builds up the fastest.
Air easily passes through both sides of this shirt, but we still find that the ridiculously thin mesh on the back of The North Face Better Than Naked shirt breathes better. Likewise, the New Balance Ice 2.0 seems to be a hair more breathable, but its hard to say for certain. Regardless, it ranks up there with the best and breathability is not a concern you will have while wearing this shirt.
The rate that a shirt dries once wet affects how much cooling effect you get from your sweat. Typically, faster drying is more desirable because it not only gives you the most drastic evaporative cooling effect but also ensures that when you stop you won't get too chilled because your shirt will already have dried off. In our comparative drying speed testing, the Airchaser ranks right up there with the best.
We found that it dries at virtually the same speed as the Better Than Naked. Considering these two shirts are far and away the two lightest shirts at 3.0 (The North Face) and 3.2 oz. (Patagonia), it would stand to reason that there are less fibers for water droplets to get trapped in between. Polyester itself, which all of the shirts in this review are made of, is completely non-absorbent as a fiber. These shirts dried quite a bit faster than the SmartWool PhD Ultra Light or the Brooks Distance, both of which were among the next quickest drying group of shirts.
While many people will love to wear this shirt as a base layer beneath thicker warmth layers in the winter, due to the usage of taped seams on the shoulders, we don't think it is as versatile as other shirts for this purpose. For use as a base layer, we feel like the Arc'teryx Motus Crew and SmartWool PhD Ultra Light are the two best choices among the t-shirts we tested.
Not only do taped seams come apart faster than sewn ones, imploring you to limit the usage to times without a pack, but the larger fit means that it isn't quite as easy for us to layer over the top of this shirt. It also only has two reflectors to aid with night visibility, in contrast to the five reflectors found on some of the other shirts.
This is a relatively simple shirt. The main feature not already discussed is the Polygiene odor control, which is designed to limit the ability of body fats in sweat to bond to the polyester fibers, where bacteria that cause bad smells can live and eat them.
Polyester workout clothes are notorious for building up pretty ripe odors, and Polygiene is meant to help with that. Although our Airchaser is relatively new, we have been wearing our old Windchaser with Polygiene for the last year and find that it smells significantly better than most of our other running shirts without odor control, even though it's our favorite that we wear, and sweat in, the most. This would suggest that the Polygiene is indeed effective and a valuable addition to this shirt.
That said, this shirt does not have specifically stated UPF protection, and only has two nighttime reflectors. It doesn't have pockets or zippers, and truth be told, is a very simple running shirt. While its features work well, it doesn't have many to speak of.
The Airchaser is ideal as a running shirt for days where it is warm enough to not need to be layered over. We think it will have a longer life if you don't wear a running pack over the top of it too often, although it certainly works fine for this purpose as well. While it's designed as a running shirt, we think it's so comfortable that we couldn't help wearing it while rock climbing and hiking, and often forgot to change out of it once we got home.
This shirt retails for $49, which is average amongst other options in our fleet. However, as the top scorer in our testing, and backed by Patagonia's Ironclad guarantee, we think it is certainly worth the money and presents solid value.
The Patagonia Airchaser is the running shirt that we would recommend before any other. Simply put, it is more comfortable than any other, which is enough for us to be firm proponents. It is also highly breathable, dries fast, and has effective odor control technology. If you don't mind spending a bit more than most shirts might cost, we don't think you will be disappointed.
— Andy Wellman