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Arc'teryx Cormac Zip-Neck Review

Made for high intensity activities and speed first, sun protection comes in at second place
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Price:  $95 List | $95.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightest shirt in our tests, best choice for serious athletes
Cons:  Lacks many sun shirt specific features, not very versatile, expensive when compared to features
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Justin Simoni ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 3, 2020
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 11
  • Comfort and Fit - 30% 7
  • Sun Protection - 25% 6
  • Breathability - 20% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 6
  • Durability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Cormac Zip-Neck is a very slick, slim-fitting, fast looking athletic top with some sun shirt-like characteristics. But if you don't already know your lactate threshold numbers, or don't have a race (real or virtual) already planned, you probably aren't going to be very interested in this techy and expensive offering. For the right athlete, it surely has its benefits, but for most folks and most situations, it simply isn't ideal.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Designed and sewn for performance first and sun covering a distant second, the Cormac Zip-Neck has soft and comfortable fabric that hugs tightly against the body. This shirt comes in at a bantamweight of 5.1 ounces, also taking the top ranking for wispiness. You'll be sweating anyways when doing your high-intensity workouts, so let the Cormac absorb your perspiration efficiently so that it can then evaporate quickly. Durability and breathability are fine, but the minimal features compared to its price will leave you as breathless as your next anaerobic threshold test.

Performance Comparison


The Arc'teryx Cormac Zip-Neck is most useful at high intensity activities  like running.
The Arc'teryx Cormac Zip-Neck is most useful at high intensity activities, like running.

Comfort and Fit


Bring your A-game body, as the Cormac will leave nothing to the imagination. The slim fit will reduce drag at your next wind tunnel test compared to every single other shirt we tested. The pedigree of this shirt is obvious: performance. Sleeves are tighter than any other shirt we've tested — so tight that it probably isn't possible for most people to roll them up at all. To carry on with the theme established, seam length is also shorter than all other shirts. Our size medium measured at 26" — 1-3 inches shorter than all other shirts in our test. The fabric itself is soft and comfortable; chafing shouldn't be an issue during high-intensity activities. Which is good, as it'll rest, for the most part, right next to your skin.


Sun Protection


The fabric on the Cormac is rated at the highest limit: UPF 50+, and we believe it. The problem is that, looking at this shirt in the lens of a sun shirt, it really won't cover all that much of you from the sun. Sleeves are tapered, the shirt's seam length is short, there's a turtle-neck like collar and no hood. It's rather similar to a cycling jersey.

To buy this shirt as first and foremost a sun shirt would be a mistake. The Cormac won't make an all-day fishing trip or mountain hike all that enjoyable on its own, and it would be imperative to accessorize it with all the accouterments: neck gaiter, wide-brimmed hat, sun gloves, etc. The only real feature this shirt has that make it more sun-friendly than any other shirt for running is, "has long sleeves", which we find not the strongest card to play.

Breathability


The Cormac Zip-Neck has a very different strategy to deal with breathability since it's made for high-intensity activities where sweating is a given. While using this shirt in sunny, hot environments, you're just going to sweat. Better to have the fabric close to your skin already to help move perspiration from your body, onto the shirt, where it then can evaporate. This works well if the body is in movement — the faster the better. It won't work the best if you're not: sweat will just accumulate, and you'll feel as if you're living in your own swamp. The only feature that this shirt has to dump excess heat is a single half-length zipper. You could always take the shirt off entirely, but that defeats the purpose of wearing a shirt!

A single half length zipper is the only option when wanting to dump excess heat on the go on the Cormac
A single half length zipper is the only option when wanting to dump excess heat on the go on the Cormac

Versatility


This shirt is made for your high-intensity workouts, period. The Cormac Zip-Neck looks too ready to help you PR your favorite running loop to be worn to the coffee shop, on a date, at work, or even while at home doing yard work. You'll look completely out of place in any more casual situation, except if that casual situation just so happens to be working an aid station at the Leadville 100 with the rest of your trail running club buddies.

The Arc'teryx Cormac performs best in only a narrow number of roles  including running.
The Arc'teryx Cormac performs best in only a narrow number of roles, including running.

Durability


The lightweight and stretchy fabric of the Cormac are of the highest quality, as is the stitching; exactly what we expect from Arc'teryx — and especially given the price of the garment. This is a performance piece of gear, so it may do well to be washed gently and air-dried for maximum lifespan. Although high in price, it's within the realm of reality when you look at other high-performance gear from top brands that people trust.

Features


The weight of the Cormac Neck Zip is the lightest of all the shirts we've tested at 5.1 ounces, giving away already what it's pedigree is. But the shirt is so minimal that we have to list, "has long sleeves" as a feature.

Reflective details on the ends of the sleeves near the collar, as well as a reflective logo on the chest, may help if you want to run and be seen during, I dunno: a total solar eclipse. The half-length zipper can help somewhat to dump excess heat while on the go, but its real purpose may be to simply allow one to put on and off the shirt, as it would be impossible to put one's head through without its inclusion.

The slim  tapered sleeves aren't something you'll be able to roll up  but do feature reflective material  just in case you need to travel through some longer than usual tunnels on your mid-day run and need to be visible.
The slim, tapered sleeves aren't something you'll be able to roll up, but do feature reflective material, just in case you need to travel through some longer than usual tunnels on your mid-day run and need to be visible.

Value


Brand loyalty to Arc'teryx products borders on fanaticism, which is lucky for Arc'teryx, as their products are also some of the most expensive out there. Is the premium worth it? Unless you're looking for a dedicated sun shirt for a high-intensity activity like running, it's hard to see the value in paying so much for a shirt with so little to offer in features. This wouldn't be a shirt we'd tell our fishing buddies to run out and grab or even hiking buddies. And running buddies may already have their mind up on what they love, but may want to take a gander at this.

Conclusion


As an editor, it's an interesting exercise to look at the Arc'teryx Cormac Zip-Neck and compare it with both the hooded and button-up sun shirts that we've been testing. Within this group, the Cormac flies high up and solitary in its unique take on the problem of protecting oneself from the sun, but it's also been educational to understand why it takes the direction that it does. If anything, it highlights the strengths of the other options that are available. If your goal isn't to set the next neighborhood FKT, look at those other options first, especially if you're still in your frugal, Once a Runner, phase of your athletic career.

Justin Simoni