The North Face Reaxion Amp V-Neck Review
Cons: Slower to dry, no cool features
Manufacturer: The North Face
Our Analysis and Test Results
The North Face Reaxion Amp screams value. This shirt was no doubt one of our favorites in this review, and once we realized that it was also one of the cheapest, we were sold. This top makes an excellent base layer and is well suited to a wide variety of outdoor activities thanks to its stretchy construction and breathable design.
Comfort is a big category and one our testers were back and forth on through the entire testing process. After our three-month testing period, we decided on the most important qualities that would be included for this scoring metric. First and foremost we looked at materials. We wanted to be able to provide information, objectively, on what each product is made of, as well as describe, subjectively, how it compared. We asked for feedback from friends and colleagues to reach our conclusions about material comfort, and we generally found that the Reaxion was a top scorer.
Constructed with one cohesive polyester material, the Reaxion is very soft, though not quite as luxurious as the Patagonia Airchaser. The fit was one of our favorite parts of this shirt and one of the factors that makes it so versatile. Our testers appreciated that this shirt was form-fitting, making it a good choice for yoga, while still providing great airflow, making it a great pick for running. The v-neck and sleeves, likewise, are flattering enough to wear out on the town.
Another great comfort quality of this shirt was the range of motion. The Reaxion is much stretchier than the Airchaser, which makes it great for running as well as a host of other activities. That being said, the Best Buy Award-winning Marmot Aero is definitely stretchier. The seams are a bit more intrusive than those of some of this review's more expensive shirts, but we did appreciate that there are no seams on the tops of the shoulders which helps prevent sore spots when wearing a pack.
There are two characteristics of shirts that work simultaneously to keep us dry: breathability and drying time. The first of these measures how well air moves through the shirt so that we don't end up saturated in sweat. The second measures how quickly a wet shirt dries. For breathability, we used empirical research to reach our scores. Our testers often found themselves changing shirts halfway through a run or hike to see how different products performed in the same environments.
Overall, we found the Reaxion to have ample, though not superior, breathability. No shirt that we reviewed compared to the Airchaser's outrageous airflow, but compared to the rest of the lineup, the Reaxion has a decent amount for its price point. This shirt is definitely a bit heavier than some of its competitors, and our testers could feel the difference. Compared to the Airchaser, for example, the Reaxion does not promote nearly as much airflow, but that shirt is more than twice the cost. For just $7 more, however, the Marmot Aero features a great mesh panel on the back the allows more room to breathe.
As we explained above, drying time is one-half of the equation when evaluating how sweat-proof a shirt is. While breathability measures how much sweat a shirt might absorb, drying time tells us what happens after absorption. To measure this, our testers conducted a controlled experiment. On a partly sunny, breezy day in Yosemite National Park, we dunked all eight of our women's running shirts in a bucket of water, soaked them, wrung them out gently by hand, and hung them on a line to dry.
Out of eight shirts, the Reaxion was the fifth to dry. With similar performance to the Nike Tailwind and Aero, we were a bit surprised. The Tailwind, on one end, is partially cotton, while the Aero is a synthetic blend and the Reaxion Amp is 100% polyester. Despite this, all three of these shirts dried fairly quickly, though as with breathability, none compared to the quick-drying Airchaser.
Features & Versatility
As with all the shirts that we tested, there are certain features that are best suited for running and ones that make a shirt more versatile. In this category, we investigated each product to see what they offered to make a shirt a running shirt and not just a base layer. But since we always appreciated being able to use a product in a wide variety of circumstances, we awarded points for versatility as well.
The Reaxion Amp is, to be blunt, pretty lacking in running-specific features. While this shirt does feature a reflective logo on the front, this top has no sun or odor protection, things that we appreciated about the Arc'teryx Motus. Our testers never noticed odor buildup with the Reaxion, but we'd be a little more cautious about this fully synthetic top.
While the Reaxion lost some points for a lack of features, it definitely made up for it with its versatility. We found the fit, comfort, and breathability to contribute heavily to this product's wide range of uses. The stretchy material makes for an excellent range of motion, something that we really appreciate in our standard base layers.
The Reaxion Amp is an excellent choice for a basic, multi-purpose baselayer. The stretchy material creates an awesome range of motion for skiing, climbing, hiking, and running alike. We loved that the fit and cut were form-fitting and flattering enough to confidently hit the town straight from the trailhead, and the decent breathability and drying time make this a solid choice for sweat-inducing activities.
It's important to us that we evaluate each product as objectively as possible, which means ignoring price tags during testing. While the Reaxion scored in the higher end of overall scores in this review, the Marmot Aero, for just a bit more, scored much higher.
Comfortable, stretchy, and breathable, the Reaxion Amp was one of our testers' favorite shirts in this review. We loved the form-fitting cut that provided adequate airflow without compromising style, and the materials and seams were destined for comfort. And, as one of the least expensive shirts that we reviewed, we were more than impressed by this product's high-quality performance.
— Lauren DeLaunay