Airchaser vs. Windchaser
Patagonia replaced the Windchaser with the new Airchaser in their lineup. These two shirts are similar, offering ventilation in the form of mesh back and shoulder panels. The Airchaser is offered in some fresh new colors and is $10 cheaper than the Windchaser, retailing at $49. Compare the new Airchaser (left), to the Windchaser we tested (right).
We link to the new Airchaser shirt above, and we've purchased it for testing, but until we finish our testing period, the review to follow refers to the Windchaser.
Hands-On Review of the Windchaser
The Patagonia Windchaser is a knockout. It's light, breathable, quick-drying, and stylish-- what more could you want? Despite its steep price tag, we came back to this shirt time and time again, leaving us no choice but to deem it our Editors' Choice Award winner. For serious runners looking to beat serious heat, this is your one-stop shop.
What better place to test the Windchaser than the windiest place on earth, Argentine Patagonia?
Comfort is a big metric, and not just in importance. The qualities that make a shirt comfortable as vast, and as such, a shirt can be comfortable in a variety of ways. The Windchaser had some great comfort features that some of its competitors lacked, and vice versa. The first thing we noticed about this shirt was how light and soft it was, two qualities that definitely boosted this product's comfort rating. This shirt is from super light 100% polyester, but it features two different constructions. The top half of the shirt, as well as the sleeves, are silky smooth and very light. The bodice is a bit heavier and but is also very soft.
One of the standout characteristics of this shirt is the taped seams. We appreciate when a shirt's seams are located off the top of the shoulder so that backpacks or running vests don't rub on them and cause chafing or sore spots. We found the seams of the Windchaser to be thoughtfully placed as well as beautifully constructed, aiding significantly in the comfort of this product.
The taped seams of the Windchaser added to the silky smooth comfort of this award-winning top.
Our testers really liked the fit and style of this shirt. It is definitely looser than some of the form-fitting models we tried, like our Best Buy Award-winning The North Face Reaxion Amp V-Neck. We found the cut to be flattering to the female shape, and we'd be happy to wear this shirt out and about after running. The Windchaser's bodice is also significantly stretchier than the shoulders and sleeves, something that we found to limit range of motion, which is one of the reasons this shirt lost some points in this category.
While a shirt does not necessarily need to be stretchy in the shoulders and sleeves in order to permit adequate running motions, a lack of stretch does prevent this shirt's use for other activities, which we explain further in the "Features & Versatility" section below.
For hot or humid weather, no other shirt that we tested compares to the Windchaser. Our testers couldn't believe how dry and fresh we felt, no matter how sweaty the workout.
Our testers appreciated that the Windchaser had two different materials suited to the places on our bodies that need a little extra airflow. We thought that the loose fit of this non-clingy shirt really helped promote that air movement. No matter how hot the weather or how fast we ran, this shirt was just never wet. Even during our drying test, which we explain more below, it was difficult to even get the Windchaser to absorb water. We had it sitting in a bucket of water and could see the water being repelled off of the fabric.
No matter how hot the temps, the Windchaser keeps us dry and cool.
Compared to some of its competitors, like the tighter-fitting The North Face Reaxion Amp or the mixed-cotton products, like the Brooks Distance, the fully synthetic, loose fit of the Windchaser was unparalleled.
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 Windchaser had exceptional breathability, barely becoming 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 Windchaser also dried the most quickly. It was significantly faster than its competitors, even next to the second-place finishers, the Top Pick Award-winning Smartwool PhD Ultra Light and 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.
Taking a close-up look at the Windchaser's ultralight, mega-breathable fabric.
Features & Versatility
If there's one place where the Windchaser lags behind, this would be it. We looked for all the special features one might want in a running shirt and found that the Windchaser had some room for improvement.
We would have loved to see some sun protection with this shirt. As our favorite choice for hot weather, a UPF rating really would have sealed the deal as the perfect summer top. The only two shirts in this review with added sun protection were the Marmot All-Around, with a rating of UPF 30, and the Arc'teryx Taema, at UPF 50+. While it did sport some odor control, we didn't find odor to be an issue with any of our products. The reflective logos are small, but we still appreciated their existence. Truthfully, none of the shirts we tested had very impressive reflective features.
The Windchaser is the perfect complement to a warm spring day in Yosemite.
As far as versatility goes, we have to admit that the Windchaser is really only suited to walking. Because of the tight fit in the shoulders and sleeves, our testers found it difficult to climb, stretch, or do anything that requires a substantial range of motion in the upper body.
The Windchaser is meant for hot weather. The loose fit and soft material are unbelievably efficient at keeping us cool, and the soft, silky material means we never want to take it off. While this shirt isn't as versatile as some of its competitors, it is the best suited for running. Hiking and backpacking could also be great uses for this shirt, but yoga and climbing are not.
At $59, the Windchaser is just about tied for one of the most expensive shirts in this review, and honestly, we're a little conflicted about it. We wholeheartedly believe that serious runners will get more than their money worth with this shirt. If we were gearing up for a big race, a very long run, or if we live in a really warm climate, we think that this shirt is very worth the price tag. If, on the other hand, you're a sometimes runner who could use a shirt that doubles as a good base layer for other activities, we would probably recommend looking elsewhere.
At the end of the day, the Patagonia Windchaser is hands-down the best running-specific shirt that we tested in this review, which is why we had no problem awarding it our Editors' Choice Award. We fell in love with its soft, light material that kept us happy, dry, and fresh no matter the weather. And while there are a few additional features we might want to add to help warrant the steep price tag, we just can't help but admit how awesome this product is.
The Windchaser and Argentina are two of our favorite things.