The Dri-FIT Tailwind top from Nike is an outrageously soft, loose-fitting tee that is just at home on the track as it is on the couch. Our testers loved the fit and feel of this shirt, but its less-than-stellar breathability and slower drying time make it a more difficult choice for sweaty activities. After months of testing, our testers agreed: as much as we love this shirt for a variety of activities, it's not as purposefully designed for running as some of its competitors.
Nike Dri-FIT Tailwind Review
Cons: Less breathable, slow to dry
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The one thing that comes to mind when we reflect on the Nike Dri-FIT Tailwind shirt is comfort. Luxuriously soft and fit for easy lounging, we loved being in this shirt. That being said, we found it to be heavier and slower to dry than some of its competitors, making it a poor choice for people with an intense running regimen.
Comfort is a big category; it encompasses a wide variety of traits, from materials and fit to seams and range of motion. While we recognize this is a bit subjective, we asked friends and colleagues their opinions on each shirt in this review in order to achieve a consensus on overall comfort scores. Some shirts, like the Patagonia Windchaser, our Editors' Choice Award winner, excelled in material softness but not in stretch, and others, like the Marmot All-Around, had amazing stretch without the luxurious feel. The Tailwind, similarly, has a great feel but lags behind the competition in stretch and fit.
Constructed with a combination of 85% polyester and 15% cotton, the Tailwind is one of the coziest shirts we tested. This was hands-down our favorite shirt to lounge in, and its soft feel had us wearing it long after our workouts ended. We could definitely notice the cotton which created a completely different texture than the fully synthetic shirts we tested, like North Face Reaxion Amp.
While our reviewers loved the cotton feel, we had very mixed feelings about the fit. The Tailwind was definitely the loosest fit of any shirt in this review, and while it may have aided in breathability, we found it to be slightly less flattering. Some of our reviewers appreciated the loose design, but others preferred a more form-fitting design for their activewear. The sleeves were long, especially when compared to the stifling sleeves of the All-Around and Arc'teryx Taema, which helped avoid chafing when wearing a pack or hydration vest.
One way the Tailwind lagged in this metric was in stretch. The cotton blend resulted in much less stretch than some of the synthetic blends, though we generally felt that the range of motion was still ample due to the loose fit.
Breathability and drying time are two factors that work closely together to keep us dry and cool when we're working up a sweat. For this metric, we wanted to measure how much airflow a shirt allowed and how this translated into keeping us feeling dry and fresh. The Tailwind was an average contender in this category, far behind the Editors' Choice Award-winning Windchaser.
The Tailwind, though cotton, had two things working for it that resulted in greater breathability than the Brooks Distance which has the same 85/15 polyester/cotton blend. The first of these is the holes in the back. The entire back of this shirt is built with minuscule holes that serve to promote airflow. At first, we thought this might just be a design gimmick, but after weeks of testing, we found it to be wildly successful when compared directly to other cotton shirts.
The second factor is the looser fit, which we touched on above. The Distance has a form-fitting design, and our testing team often found the shirt sticking to them when they started to sweat. The Tailwind, on the other hand, hung loosely off the torso and had a much more effective airflow system.
Our testers know that there are two qualities that work together to keep us dry. While breathability measures how little moisture accumulates on a garment, drying time tells us how quickly the accumulated moisture evaporates. While our favorite shirts, like the Windchaser, perform well in both of these categories, a knockout performance in either, or average performance in both, might be enough to keep us happy on the trails.
After soaking each shirt in water and hanging them up to dry side-by-side, we were disappointed, though not surprised, to find that the Tailwind was one of the slowest to dry. We already expected this out of a cotton blend, and our testers also knew that weight is pretty closely tied to drying time. The other cotton blend in this review, the Distance dried much faster but is also lighter.
By directly comparing cotton blends, what we found comes down to this: while the Tailwind might prevent you from getting too sweaty, the Distance will dry out faster once you do.
Features & Versatility
There are a variety of factors that make something a running shirt and not just a baselayer, and our testers wanted to find out both how well suited a shirt was to running as it was to other activities. We looked at odor prevention, sun protection, and reflectivity as three main running-specific features. Unfortunately, the Tailwind is generally lacking in all three, though it does feature a very small reflective logo on the front and back. Because the logo on the back is in the center, our long-haired testers noticed that this was usually covered by their hair.
Though the Tailwind lags behind the competition in features, especially when compared to the UPF-rated All-Around and Arc'teryx Taema, we did find it to be highly versatile. The loose fit and long sleeves make it a solid baselayer choice for wearing with a pack, and we loved it in the gym because of its long torso that kept our stomachs covered even when we lifted our arms.
After months of testing, we came up with a weird conclusion: we loved this shirt, but we just didn't love it for running. The long, loose fit and wide sleeves made it an excellent shirt for the gym, but those same features made it a poor choice for yoga or anything requiring being upside down. The breathability and drying time are below average, making the Tailwind a questionable choice for very sweaty activities, but conversely, the superior comfort and coziness of this shirt makes for awesome lounging.
At $45, we have a hard time justifying this purchase. If you're looking for a shirt to go to the gym in and sometimes run in, we think the Tailwind is a solid pick. If you're predominantly a runner, however, there are better shirts for fewer dollars available on the market.
After months of testing, the Dri-FIT Tailwind definitely stood out. It has a much looser, more luxurious fit than many of the other shirts we tested in this review, and our testing team had mixed feelings about it. We loved it for a wide range of activities, but running just wasn't one of them.
— Lauren DeLaunay