Vuori Strato Tech Review
Cons: Slow drying speed, no reflective accents
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Vuori Strato Tech
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|$49 List||Check Price at REI|
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|$35 List||$15.99 at Amazon|
|Pros||Incredibly soft, great fit, very comfortable, UPF rating||Highly breathable, comfortable, lightweight, quick drying||Lightweight, great fit, excellent ventilation||Comfortable, fast-drying, breathable||Inexpensive, comfortable stretch, durable, 360º reflective banding|
|Cons||Slow drying speed, no reflective accents||Taped seams on shoulders less durable than sewn seams||Not as versatile||Unnecessary flap of fabric across the back||Heavy, not very breathable|
|Bottom Line||The most comfortable shirt we've worn and it has specific features for running||Exceedingly comfortable and fast drying are the two top attributes for the best running shirt you can buy||A performance shirt for the runner logging miles in hot climates or hitting the gym||This shirt outperforms many of the best in terms of comfort and breathability without being cost-prohibitive||A comfortable running shirt with a full feature set for a fraction of the price|
|Rating Categories||Vuori Strato Tech||Patagonia Airchaser||Nike Dri-FIT Rise 365||Under Armour UA Str...||Baleaf Quick Dry|
|Drying Speed (20%)|
|Features & Versatility (20%)|
|Specs||Vuori Strato Tech||Patagonia Airchaser||Nike Dri-FIT Rise 365||Under Armour UA Str...||Baleaf Quick Dry|
|Weight (size Medium)||4.3 oz||2.6 oz||3.4 oz||4.4 oz||4.8 oz|
|Material||96% polyester, 4% elastane||Recycled polyester||80% polyester, 20% spandex||93% polyester, 7% elastarell||90% polyester, 10% spandex|
|Reflective Areas?||No||Yes - 2||Yes - 2||Yes - 3||Yes - 4|
|Seam Type||Flatlock and Overlock||Flatlock and Taped||Flatlock and Overlock||Flatlock||Flatlock and Overlock|
|UPF?||30+||Not Stated||Not Stated||Not Stated||Not Stated|
|Odor Control?||Yes - undeclared||Yes - HeiQ Fresh durable odor control||No||Yes - Active biocide zinc microbes||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
This shirt brings new energy into the field, redefining what a running shirt can be. Sure, we all secretly know that Hawaiian shirts are the best running shirts for their style and button-down breathability, but get this: the Vuori Strato Tech is more comfortable and stylish. It didn't hold up in head-to-head tests with our best performing shirts, but it did silky smooth talk us into a perfect score for comfort.
In assessing comfort, we start with fit. The Strato Tech leans toward a casual fit but is by no means too baggy or loose for active uses. We apologize in advance for using this word, but an athleisure fit best describes how the shirt drafts over the arms and torso. It extends longer and is slightly more relaxed than the performance fit of other shirts we assessed. Our tester is 5'10" and 155 pounds and the medium was as described, but it's worth noting that Vuori lists their medium model as 6'2" and 180 pounds. So it may be wise to size down.
Feel, fabric, and form — the Strato Tech gets perfect scores in all three subcategories. The 96% polyester 4% spandex blend looks really normal on paper but feels anything but. It is incredibly soft, has ample four-way stretch, and possesses full rebound to the form of the shirt. The weave of the fabric appears to be fairly ordinary, not too tight as to restrict breathability or stretch, and not too loose that it feels sloppy.
Flatlock stitching connects all of the seams except for the two vertical seams running along the sides of the shirt which are overlock seams. We weren't overly critical of this seam choice, as the material is so soft, we don't feel them at all.
Wearing the Strato is a pleasure, but the same components that make this shirt so comfortable also make it difficult to use with a hydration pack. No added ventilation across the back plus a stretchy fabric that gets heavy when wet causes the shirt to bunch and ride up with the slight bouncing of the pack. We took it out with several different size backpacks and found that for hiking and lower intensity objectives, we had no issues. On runs where we tried to go faster in the heat, the shirt contorted and bunched up behind the pack.
A tight weave only allows a little bit of light through the pores in between threads. With limited air passing through the shirt and no other implemented ventilation, the Strato ended up landing in the middle of the shirts reviewed. The fabric does breathe some, we know that from our runs and various adventures, but other shirts in our review breathe much better.
The loss in breathability is a trade-off for added warmth and comfort. In lieu of having a ventilation panel made of a slippery mesh, the Strato Tech makes a sacrifice on breathability, but as we said, it's a small price to pay for the most comfortable sh#t we have tested.
Weighing only 4.3 ounces, this shirt is smack dab in the middle of our review for weight. As with any shirt made of a uniform polyester blend, we anticipated the Strato Tech to dry slowly, or slower than shirts with some added wicking technology. Despite Vuori making claims of using moisture-wicking tech on their site, we didn't notice anything and couldn't find any additional information.
In our kitchen laboratory, we found that it took a full 25 minutes for this shirt to dry within 5 grams of its starting weight. This is on the slower side of all the shirts we tested. Also of note is the amount of water it held when saturated — since the shirt is on the heavier side, it held significantly more water than most other shirts we tested.
Out on the trails, we did notice this held true. If the shirt got damp with sweat, it remained damp for a while afterward, noticeable even on our drive home from a trailhead. On the upside, it didn't retain smells, so you can confidently put the Strato at the top of your list of shirts you can bring to work and exercise in without feeling self-conscious if you end up in a meeting before getting a chance to change.
Features & Versatility
This shirt lacks one critical feature that we look for, it has no reflective banding. With an understated stylish design, it's unsurprising that Vuori opted to forgo loud reflective accents, but these are important. Being seen by moving vehicles can be a lifesaver, and for a shirt positioned towards an urban playground runner, there is no excuse for leaving these off. What it does have is a UPF 30+ rating, an odor-control agent, and a sweat collar.
No other shirt has the exercise and lounge versatility that this shirt has. While we didn't love wearing it in conjunction with a hydration pack, we did love wearing it the rest of the time. In the context of performance running shirts, we think of versatility through the lens of compatibility with layers, other outdoor activities, and other gear. Well, we took the Strato Tech climbing and biking, and we really enjoyed wearing it. Indeed, it seemed better suited for lower intensity cardio activities that didn't hinge on breathability as much. While rock climbing, the stretch and fit were perfect for dynamic movements and the UPF 30+ rating was a blessing up on sunny Colorado crags.
This shirt provides truly unrivaled comfort across all articles of clothing we own, save a pair of cashmere pants that we wouldn't go exercise in. We are thrilled that we have this shirt, and we are confident that you will be too. If you are looking for a performance running shirt for your first half marathon or trail race, this likely isn't the best bet. That said, read through the other reviews and choose a performance-oriented running shirt, but get this one as well. You won't regret it. Following Marie Kondo's logic, this shirt brings us joy, and we are now reconsidering our old logo tees from High School that have settled to the bottom of our drawer.
Comfort and breathability are held with equal importance in this test, reflecting the dichotomy that often you can only have one or the other. The best shirts we tested have great comfort and breathability, but no shirt comes close to the soft feel and comfort of the Vuori Strato Tech. And, by going all in on comfort, breathability is sacrificed. That said, if cozy comfort is your #1 priority, this is the shirt to get.
— Jeff Colt