The Patagonia Airchaser was, without a doubt, our favorite running shirt this year. From taped shoulder seams, gusseted underarm panels, reflective logos front and back, and insanely fast-drying, this shirt has it all. We took this shirt out on long jogs in hot weather and found it to have superior wicking abilities; unless we were wearing a running pack, this thing seemed to dry as fast as we could sweat. What makes the Airchaser standout is the attention to small details. Patagonia stripped the tag out of the neck for extra comfort, shoulder seams are taped instead of sewn to reduce abrasion, and key panels are made from polyester mesh to aid in ventilation without sacrificing comfort. We feel confident in saying you can't go wrong with this shirt.
Patagonia Airchaser Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Highly breathable, lightweight, quick drying
Cons: Taped seams on shoulders less durable than sewn seams
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|Price||$49.00 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Highly breathable, lightweight, quick drying||Lots of features, very versatile, dries fast, awesome venting||Comfortable flat-locked merrow stitching, durable Phasic FL polyester fabric, lots of reflectors, UPF protection||Super comfortable fabric and stitching, sleek stretch fit||Dries quickly, versatile, affordable, soft material, odor resistant|
|Cons||Taped seams on shoulders less durable than sewn seams||Fabric feels rough and artificial against skin, chest pocket is small||Doesn’t allow direct air flow as easily as mesh shirts, holds lots of moisture||Dries very slowly, doesn’t have chest pocket||Heavy when wet|
|Bottom Line||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.||A versatile and comfortable winter running shirt.||An affordable and comfortable short sleeve running shirt.|
|Rating Categories||Patagonia Airchaser||Ambition 1/4 Zip||Arc'teryx Motus Crew||Nike Element 1/2 Zip||Brooks Distance|
|Drying Speed (15%)|
|Specs||Patagonia Airchaser||Ambition 1/4 Zip||Arc'teryx Motus Crew||Nike Element 1/2 Zip||Brooks Distance|
|Material||Recycled polyester||58% Polyester, 42% Recycled Polyester Double Knit With FlashDry||Phasic FL (100% polyester)||88% polyester, 12% spandex||85% polyester, 15% spandex|
|Weight (oz.)||3.1 oz.||9.4 oz.||4.0 oz.||9.8 oz.||5.5 oz.|
|Reflective material?||Yes - 2||Yes - 1||Yes - 5||Yes - 2||Yes - 1|
|UPF?||N/A||30||25||N/A||Yes, number not specified|
|Odor Control?||Yes - HeiQ Fresh durable odor control||No||No||No||Yes - DriLayer Burst fabric|
|Zip Neck Option?||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Airchaser, or a variation of this shirt from Patagonia, has been our Editors' Choice Award Winner for several years running. Patagonia has done an excellent job of keeping useful attributes and refreshing the ones that needed some attention. This is an extremely comfortable, lightweight, and quick-drying running shirt that works well in a variety of outdoor pursuits.
Patagonia has gone to great lengths to make the Airchaser incredibly comfortable. Not just comfortable in the dressing room at REI, but while you're actually using it. Some of the highlights include taped shoulder seams, varying types of polyester fabric paneling, and Midori bioSoft fabric softener baked in to make the polyester feel softer and less like slippery plastic.
As far as fit is concerned, our tester opted for size large and was happy with the in-between slim and relaxed fit. For scale, our tester is 5'11" and 170 pounds and wears a size large. Gusseted underarms and stretchy polyester provide a full range of movement unencumbered by tight fabric. The Airchaser is an excellent companion when out rock climbing, as overhead arm movements felt unrestricted. As a bonus, the shirt dried incredibly fast after long sweaty approaches to the crag.
Against our skin, the Airchaser was incredibly soft. The miDori bioSoft adds a level of suppleness to the polyester that we didn't find in other shirts. The taped shoulder seams made hauling a backpack or running pack a friction-free affair, and our bony shoulders appreciated it. Thanks, Yvon.
The cleverly placed polyester mesh panels on the Airchaser helped to make it the most breathable shirt we tested. In all reality, the front panel (lighter blue) is also quite breathable; it just happens that the mesh paneling lets air pass through seemingly unrestricted.
The three types of fabric which comprise the Airchaser are all incredibly lightweight polyester. The heaviest of these fabrics weigh in at only 2.7oz per yard, and the entire shirt (in size large) weighs only 3.1 ounces. These lightweight fabrics, coupled with clever mesh panel placement, really do make for a noticeably breathable shirt.
The rate that a shirt dries once wet affects how much cooling effect you get from your sweat. In our experience, having a fast drying speed directly correlates to the quality of evaporative cooling, you experience in warm, dry climates. When we put the Airchaser to the test with our spin cycle water retention method, we found some interesting information.
After a spin cycle in the wash, the Airchaser only retains 23% of its weight in water and lost all of that water weight within the first 10 minutes of drying time. Not only was this the only shirt to completely dry that fast, but it also retained the least water as a percentage of the entire weight of the shirt.
These findings might not sound that impressive on their own, but you can truly feel how well this shirt dries during activity. In the name of gear testing (and to test evaporative cooling), we rode our bike around the city of Tucson on a 105-degree day. We were pouring sweat for the entire ride, but by the time we rode the last downhill to our apartment and walked inside, the shirt was almost completely dry.
We were impressed with the Airchaser's performance. While there are some downsides to having such a lightweight garment, such as potential durability issues, we are willing to cast those to the side for the amazing benefits (the Patagonia guarantee doesn't hurt, either).
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.
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 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.
Running shirts are quite simple. The simplest have no light reflectors, odor control, variability in fabric types, or fabric softeners; the Airchaser has all of these. The miDori bioSoft fabric treatment gives the typically slippery synthetic feeling fabric a more cottony feel, making this shirt a bit more of an all-arounder. The odor control has proven to be effective, even after heavy use through an Arizona summer. If you remember when synthetic fabrics became a staple in the outdoor community, you also remember the tragically ripe hoards of granola munching hikers passing you on the trail. The Airchaser has HeiQ applied to keep the ripeness at bay, and indeed it does.
The collar has no tag, adding to neck comfort and decreasing the potential for chaffing, and the collar has a soft, thin sweatband sewn in to help control Niagara Falls as it pours from your scalp. In a clothing category that typically has few extra features, the Airchaser is loaded with comfort, yet retains an ultralightweight and high level of comfort.
The Airchaser is an excellent value. The shirt itself is functional, comfortable, performs as it is advertised, and is backed with Patagonia's replacement/repair program - if you do manage to destroy it. Patagonia has also put effort into using recycled polyester, making sure the materials and labor fall under fair trade regulations. These are important things that boost the cost without necessarily boosting the performance of the shirt; the fact that Patagonia can boast fair trade and that some of the material is recycled (and maintains exceptional performance) makes it a great value.
We like everything about this shirt. Its good value, the eye towards sustainability, and its performance. We haven't found a quicker drying or more comfortable shirt yet. The Patagonia Airchaser isn't the running shirt we deserve; it's the running shirt we need.
— Brian Martin & Andy Wellman