Let's jump to the point: the Patagonia Airchaser is one of our favorite pieces of running apparel we've ever worn. Lightweight and breathable, it boasts a great fit and super-soft feel. We wore this shirt everywhere we went, running around the hills of Yosemite and the Eastern Sierra. After weeks of testing, our team unanimously agreed that this shirt's high scores in nearly every metric made it a clear choice for our Editors' Choice Award winner. And with a reasonable price on top of it all, we can't help but recommend this exceptional garment.
Patagonia Airchaser - Women's Review
Cons: Expensive, not as stretchy
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Airchaser from Patagonia is an update to last year's Editors' Choice Award winner, the Windchaser. We found the Airchaser to be even more comfortable than its predecessor, and with a reduced price, we fully support this update.
As you can see by the Airchaser's supreme score, it was the obvious choice for our esteemed Editors' Choice Award. With high scores across the board, this shirt quickly became one of our favorite pieces of clothing, period.
There are a lot of factors that go into making a shirt comfortable. For this review, we looked at the qualities that affected each shirt's comfort while being worn about town and while on our most strenuous missions. The most important factors we evaluated were fabric texture, stretchiness, seam types and locations, and overall sizing and fit.
The Airchaser was one of the most comfortable shirts we tested, hands down; we loved the way its soft, thin polyester fabric felt on our skin. While the sides and back feature a different, more breathable fabric, both textures are silky smooth and felt great on our skin. This material also has a bit of stretch, which was a nice addition from last year's version of this shirt. While not quite as stretchy as some other products we tested, the Airchaser's excellent fit made up for it. We loved this top's crew neck and fit that is simultaneously feminine and athletic. The shirt is slightly longer in the back than in the front, and the garment moves effortlessly with us no matter how much we pick up the pace.
Another thing we appreciated about the Airchaser was the seams. While the shoulder seams are right on top of the shoulder, these seams are taped to eliminate the possibility of chafing. The other seams are flatlock; while not as "seamless" as taped, flatlock is better than overlock. The thin material, which we'll describe more below, was undoubtedly one of our favorites in this review. Compared to heavier shirts like the Brooks Distance or those with unflattering cuts like the Arc'teryx Motus, the Airchaser shines.
The Airchaser is one of the most impressively breathable garments we've ever tested. To test this suspicion, we ran all through the spring in the glaring heat of California, up and down the steepest trails we could find.
While every part of the Airchaser is breathable, we were impressed with this shirt's purposefully-placed differences in material. The front and sleeves of this shirt are a slightly heavier material, similar to, though much lighter than, other shirts like the Marmot Aero or The North Face Reaxion. This polyester material features a grid pattern that promotes airflow and quick drying.
Like some other shirts in this review, the Airchaser has different material where breathability matters most. The sides and back of this shirt are made of an even thinner material that is silkier and a bit stretchier. This fabric did a great job of keeping our back dry when we were exerting serious energy, whether we had a pack on or not. We might have liked to see this venting include the underarms, but when compared to the other shirts in this review, the Airchaser truly stands out in this category.
While the breathability of a shirt may tell us how wet it might get, the drying time tells us how quickly it dries out when saturated. We already knew that the Airchaser had exceptional breathability, barely getting damp no matter how sweaty our testers got. We still wanted to know, however, how it would dry out if we did manage to get it soaked.
What we found did not actually surprise us. As the lightest shirt that we tested, the Airchaser also dried the most quickly. It was significantly faster than its competitors, even next to the second-place finisher, the Best Buy Reaxion Amp. These test results continued to bolster our confidence in this shirt's place as the best pick for warm or humid weather.
Features & Versatility
If there's one realm in which the Airchaser falls behind, this would be it. Because we were looking for running shirts, not just any old exercise shirt, we wanted to know what features each manufacturer included that appeal directly to the runner. At the same time, technical clothing is expensive, and versatile shirts earned more points than ones that had only one purpose.
The Airchaser is definitely a running shirt. The athletic cut and minimal stretch make for a great running piece, but the lack of stretch is not as great for other activities with larger ranges of motion, like yoga or climbing. The only additional running-specific feature on this shirt (other than its cut and breathable fabric) was reflective logos. With just a small logo on the front and back, this might not be our first choice for running in the dark. We would have loved to see a UPF sun protection rating on this shirt, like the Arc'teryx Motus, since this was our Top Pick for Warm Weather.
As the quickest drying and most breathable shirt in this review, the Airchaser shines in hot weather. No matter how humid or scorching the day, we stayed cool in this top. Its lack of significant stretch makes it lower on our list for other activities, but for a fast-drying running piece, this shirt is outstanding.
At the end of the day, if you're looking for a shirt that will keep you feeling dry and fresh mile after mile, the Airchaser is what you want. With a price of $49, it's significantly less expensive than the previous version of this shirt, but it's still twice as expensive as our Best Buy winner, the Reaxion. That being said, this shirt is much better in warm weather than the budget pick, so if staying dry and comfortable is what you're after, we think this is a great investment.
The Airchaser is not a cheap shirt, and it shows. With excellent breathability and exceptional comfort, there's no shirt we'd rather have on our backs during a long run in warm weather. The silky fabric felt great against our skin, and its quick drying time kept us cool and fresh no matter the temps. While not exactly chock-full of fancy features, the fabric and fit made it hands-down our favorite running shirt; we had no problem awarding it our Editors' Choice Award for its overall great performance and thoughtful design.
— Lauren DeLaunay