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Please add " campsaver. The ten shirts that we chose to test for this review are all designed primarily as running shirts, but can at times be worn as technical layers for other activities as well, such as working out at the gym, playing team sports, or for hiking and backpacking in the outdoors.
Regardless of whether you prefer running on trails or on roads, these shirts will serve you equally as well although we tested them primarily by running on trails. Their intent is to protect you from sun or wind, or a running vest, while also aiding in the process of sweat evaporation to keep you cool, and providing increased visibility with nighttime reflectors. For continuity sake, we only tested crew neck t-shirts designed specifically for men, size large, although many of these shirts come in similar long sleeved or zip-neck options as well.
It is worth pointing out that despite the differences in ratings shown above, all of these are excellent shirts that we firmly believe are worth owning. In order to accurately assess each shirt, we rated it based on five metrics that are the most important for a running shirt's performance: For each metric, we awarded a shirt a score of , with the scores being determined through comparison to the other products in the review.
Each metric was weighted based on its relative importance to the performance of the shirt, and the scores were added together to produce a shirt's overall score. Each of the metrics, including the important considerations, how we tested for each, the metric's weight in scoring, and the best products for that particular metric, are described in greater detail below. We encourage you to delve deeply into the separate metrics, as well as individual reviews, to match up your needs and desires with the perfect running shirt.
With so many quality options to choose from, it can be a tough job to choose the best running shirt for your needs. To help summarize which shirts offer the best value, which we think of as the best features relative to price, we created the table below.
Award winners are represented by the larger blue dots, and the further right and lower a product appears, the better value we think it offers. The most important thing about a shirt is how comfortable it is. Itchy fabrics, restrictive cuts, or abrasive seam sewing might not be super noticeable while standing around or trying a shirt on for the first time, but try running a marathon in an uncomfortable shirt and you may end up with rashes, chafing, or worse.
In a way, comfort can be determined by figuring out which shirt is the least noticeable while wearing it. When we notice a piece of clothing it is usually because it is bothering us, an experience we desperately want to avoid while running. We found that there were three major contributors to a shirt's comfort level: Each of these will be described in greater detail in a product's individual review. The number, location, and type of stitching used to join seams of fabric together play a large role in how comfortable a shirt is.
Running is a very repetitive motion, and seams provide a rough, protruding surface to rub or chafe against the skin over long distances. Three types of seams were commonly found on these running shirts: More detailed descriptions of the pros and cons of each type of seam can be found in our Buying Advice article, but for the sake of comfort, taped seams were the very best. Only the Patagonia Windchaser used entirely taped seam construction, so perhaps it was no surprise that we found it to be the most comfortable shirt.
The North Face Better Than Naked also used taped seams on the back of the shoulders, and was also found to be very comfortable. Most of the shirts in this review liberally employed the use of flatlock seam sewing, while the cheapest occasionally used overlock seams. All of the shirts we tested are made of polyester, although some are also blended with other materials like nylon or wool. Polyester is a synthetic fabric that, in general, is quite slippery and soft to the touch, making it a comfortable choice for most garments.
However, the pattern of the weave of each shirt differs drastically, making some far more comfortable than others. In contrast, the tight, Phasic FL polyester woven fabric found on the Arc'teryx Motus Crew was slipperier to the touch, but also very comfortable against the skin. Each shirt is cut to a different shape, despite all being men's size large.
Fit is a subjective thing based on body shape, so we made an effort to mention the fit in each individual review, and not grade for it too harshly. In general, these shirts were either designed with an "athletic fit" that was trimmer and fit closer to the body, or were designed to be fairly loose and baggy for maximum mobility. Let's face it, if you are running then you are going to sweat.
These shirts are designed to make sure your sweat evaporates as fast as possible, cooling you quicker. Two important factors effect how quickly this happens: The most effective way for a shirt to breathe, and therefore quickly transfer moisture away from your body, is through direct air transfer.
This means that air easily travels through the fabric of your shirt to quickly aid in the evaporation process. Most commonly, this is accomplished by incorporating panels of thinner mesh in areas of frequent sweat buildup, such as on the back, shoulders, or underarms.
Some shirts were made of "mesh" throughout, but the types and styles of air-permeable mesh was different from shirt to shirt.
Made with exceptionally light mesh material, especially on the back, The North Face Better Than Naked was the most breathable shirt that we tested, the primary reason we awarded it our Top Pick for Hot Weather. Also doing a very effective job of breathing were the New Balance Ice 2. These shirts used different types of air-permeable mesh to aid with breathability and evaporation, although in different places on the body.
How quickly a shirt dries is another important attribute that affects how cool it will keep you as you run. While some shirts aim to allow for the maximum amount of direct air transfer, assessed as breathability above, others aim to wick the moisture away from your body, moving it to the outside of the shirt where it is exposed to the air and can dry much faster.
Shirts that used this method of quickly cooling the runner typically did not feature mesh paneling, used slightly heavier fabric, and also tended to be a bit more durable.
For this reason we often liked shirts like these better for use as base-layers in the cold for example while backcountry skiing , or for hiking or backpacking where the shirt needs to be able to withstand the abuse of pack straps rubbing over time. To test the drying speed of these shirts head-to-head, we got them all dripping wet and hung them up next to each other in an open space.
We opened a few windows and put on the ceiling fan to allow for a bit of air flow, but did not have them in a direct wind, and were sure they all experienced the same conditions.
Every half hour we checked the shirts to understand which were drying out faster, and graded them in this way. The time it took for each shirt to dry is irrelevant, as in real life factors such as body heat, sunlight, and wind would greatly accelerate how fast they dried. Somewhat surprisingly, the Patagonia Windchaser and The North Face Better Than Naked were once again the top scorers, as they were when assessing breathability.
It is our belief that these shirts are so thin and light that they are unable to absorb as much water, and therefore dry out faster. Regardless, these two are obviously the best choices if you want to stay as cool as possible while running.
In versatility, we tried to account for how well the shirt will perform at other things besides simply running - or how well it will perform in different running disciplines.
Likewise, shoes that don't do a good job of naturally holding the foot in place meant that we needed to crank down the laces to provide a secure fit, often leading to discomfort along the top of our feet or front of the ankle joint over long distances.
Some shoes don't breathe very well and left our feet excessively hot and sweaty, while others are a bit too short for the size, meaning our toes would hit the front of the shoe, especially while running downhill.
Most of our findings for the Comfort metric were based on our anecdotal evidence from long runs on a variety of terrain. We also conducted the water drainage test described in detail below to get a better grip on which shoes absorb the least amount of water or sweat; our test also measured which contenders are the most efficient at drying out afterward, which we defined as another essential component of comfort.
At the end of our testing period, it was clear that three shoes were more comfortable to us than the rest. We experienced no rubbing, pinching, or blisters when running long distances in these shoes, and honestly, we rarely noticed them at all, perhaps the best compliment that can be made about a shoe after a long run.
At the top of this list was our best overall trail running shoe, the Nike Terra Kiger 4 , which we felt we could run in every day for the rest of our lives and be happy. The similar but more protective Nike Wildhorse 4 relied on many of the same design concepts to deliver unrivaled comfort. Lastly, the New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi Trail v2 is very well cushioned, both underfoot as well as surrounding the feet and ankle bones , leading to a supremely comfortable running experience.
Most of the other pairs of shoes tested are also very comfortable, and to some degree, it is impossible to eliminate user bias when grading for this metric. With that in mind, we still strongly recommend you try shoes on before committing to a purchase. If you decide to order online, do so from a company that will allow you to return them if they don't fit as well as you had hoped.
The idea behind this test is to attempt to scientifically prove what products absorbed the least amount of water and then shed it quickest, making them well suited for runs or races where your feet are guaranteed to get wet. Running in the mountains of Colorado on a daily basis, it seems our feet are always wet. We either have to ford streams and creeks or end up tromping through muddy swamps, and no matter how careful we can be, our feet get wet.
If we don't have these problems, it still seems like they get wet from morning dew on the bushes and grass, or from afternoon rainstorms, or simply by sweating because it's so hot. Whether you run in the mountains in summer like we do, or run trails on the East Coast or Pacific Northwest, we suspect that water management is a critical factor in the performance of a trail running shoe for nearly everyone.
To conduct this test, we weighed each pair when dry. We then dunked each model in a bucket of water for 20 seconds to give them a chance to absorb water, then held them upside down to drain for another 20 seconds. Finally, we quickly weighed them again to see how much water weight they had absorbed into their material. We then put them on without socks and jogged around the block for exactly five minutes, took them off, and weighed them a third time to see how much water weight they had shed while running.
For each model, we calculated as a percentage of their dry weight how much water they absorbed while being dunked for 20 seconds and how much water they still retained after a five-minute run compared to when they were dry. If you gave all the shoes the benefit of the doubt and allowed them five minutes of running to shed any water that was absorbed while dunking, these three still had the least increase in water weight, but were also joined by the Topo Athletic Runventure 2, which managed to shed the water pretty efficiently.
Check out the chart below to see how each pair of shoes performed in the water bucket test:. Weight proved to be a fairly easy criterion to judge. Fresh out of the box we weighed each trail running shoe individually and together as a pair, and completely ignored what the manufacturer claimed the weight was. For reference, every product that we received was a U. These weight scores should be representative, although not exact in their measurement, no matter what size feet you have.
We then paid attention to how heavy the shoe felt while running in them daily. A few were startlingly light, and the math was easily backed up while out wearing them. In general this year, we found that trail running shoes were more tightly grouped at the lower end of the weight scale, while not being willing to cut out necessary features like protection to attain a low weight. However, at a mere 16 ounces per pair, the Hoka Evo Jawz blew every other shoe out of the water, weighing three ounces less than the next closest competitor.
This shoe is reminiscent of a racing flat but designed with mountain running in mind. The second lightest shoe is the Scarpa Spin, which thrives on short and fast mountain runs. Numerous other shoes weighed in right around 20 ounces, but perhaps the most remarkable of these is the New Balance Gobi Trail v2 because it includes a very nicely padded upper in combination with a lot of underfoot foam, giving more protection than its weight would suggest. When grading for sensitivity, we tried to notice how well we could feel the trail while wearing any given shoe.
Like we mentioned before, sensitivity often comes at the expense of foot protection, and vice versa. We tried our best not to be judgmental about whether feeling the trail is a good or bad thing, or what amount of sensitivity we preferred but rather graded the most sensitive the highest.
While it is easy to decide which ones were the most and least sensitive, it is a preference thing regarding how sensitive you want your trail running shoe to be. Some people like to be intimately connected to the ground they are moving over, while others would prefer to have much more protection for their foot, which often comes at the expense of sensitivity. We tested the sensitivity of shoes pretty much the same way that we tested for underfoot protection — by choosing an especially rocky and jagged patch of trail and running back and forth over it countless times in each shoe, comparing how they felt.
The shoes that are the thinnest underfoot were most often also the most sensitive, a fact which shouldn't really be that surprising. Three shoes proved that they are designed to emphasize sensitivity and trail feel above underfoot protection. However, we find that adding this protection reduces the volume of the shoe enough that it is no longer comfortable for us to run in, and after asking everyone we have seen with these shoes whether they use it, they all concur that they prefer to run without it in place.
We graded the model based on not having the rock shield, thus enhancing its natural sensitivity. The two lightest shoes — the Scarpa Spin and Hoka Evo Jawz — are also some of the lightest on underfoot protection, a reliable indicator of sensitivity, and should be among the first shoes considered for someone who values trail feel more than protection.
There are so many trail running shoes available on the market today that choosing the best pair can present a real challenge. Even after testing the very best shoes available for literally hundreds of hours, we still have a hard time choosing the one that we like best, and indeed prefer to have a quiver to choose from based upon the run planned for each day.
We hope that the information that we have presented here has helped make your choice easier, and encourage you to delve deeper into the individual metrics and reviews to better understand which shoe will be optimal for your needs. Displaying 1 - 5 of Updated October The selection of trail running shoes available to the avid off-road runner is constantly being updated year round.
For that reason, we too are updating our trail running shoe review constantly to keep up to date with all of the newest innovations and fresh releases. Ten of the shoes reviewed here are brand new to our review this year, while the other seven are the newest versions of our top performers and award winners from previous years that have only been minimally updated from a season ago.
For our fall update, we couldn't help but include a freshly released shoe that we have been hearing rumors about for quite some time — the Inov-8 TerraUltra G — the world's first trail running shoe to enhance its outsole rubber with Graphene, the strongest material ever discovered by man.
We thought it more than lived up to the hype and awarded a Top Pick for Traction. Read on below for more information, or check out these other award winners freshly tested and crowned during our main testing period in early summer. While not a brand new release, we finally had the chance to test the Hoka Speedgoat 2 , and gave it our Top Pick Award for Maximum Cushioning.
As always, we will keep updating this review as new releases become available, so check back! See all prices 2 found. Low to the ground means super stable. See all prices 3 found. Extremely protective midsole and upper saves your feet from abuse. Graphene enhanced outsole rubber is the most durable you can find.
A ton of underfoot foam cushioning also offers great protection. See all prices 4 found. Zero drop makes for anatomically correct stride.
Wide fit throughout could be tough to dial in for some. The Lone Peak 3. We loved the way these shoes balance foot protection and sensitivity, and think that runners with wide feet especially should check them out. Paying Close Attention to Individual Metrics While all of the metrics combine to form the shoe's overall score, it is important to delve into the individual metrics to find the shoe that best fits your needs.
For instance, you may not be interested in our top-rated shoe if it scores highly in a metric that is not important to you. Maybe the model got that rating due to its exemplary foot protection when you might define sensitivity as your primary criteria. Don't necessarily write off a shoe simply because it isn't the highest scoring shoe in the review.
Delve deeper into the numbers that we have provided and carefully read the individual reviews! The Terraultra G is a revolutionary shoe meant for long distance trail running. They are highly durable, have great traction, and are also zero drop, a combination that many trail runners should love.
Testing them here on the trails of the Sisters Wilderness in Oregon. We awarded these shoes our Best Buy Award because they held up for so many miles across so much different terrain, like the sand and slick rock on this run in Dark Canyon, Bears Ears, Utah.
With 31mm of underfoot cushioning, the Challenger ATR 4 offer the most protection of any shoe in this review, ensuring that your feet will not feel the abuse of rocks underfoot. Traversing sharp rocks like here on the top of Neocani Mountain on the Oregon Coast is a good test of a shoes sensitivity and underfoot protection. This one is not super sensitive. On the return trip from the point of Falcom Arch, OR. The Speedgoat 2 are an ideal shoe for nearly any running adventure, although we like them best for long distances and smoother terrain.
After about two months of exclusive use, the tread on the TerraUltra G is pretty much unmarred. The graphene-infused rubber really does seem to drastically increase the longevity of this shoe's outsole, a boon for trail runners.
Three shoes with the most aggressive, and highest performing, traction. On the left is our Top Pick for traction, the Inov-8 Roclite Center is the Saucony Peregrine 8, and on the right is the Salomon Speedcross 4. The summit of Coxcomb Peak is well-known as one of the hardest 13ers in Colorado to access, with mandatory chossy 5.
Here is the author, about to reverse the crux section along the summit ridge, racing the impending lightning storm, while wearing our Top Pick for Traction, the Inov-8 Roclite Photo by Stephen Eginoire.
The Nike Terra Kiger 4 is low profile but clearly has enough material underfoot to offer solid protection. It was easily one of the most stable shoes in the review, greatly aided by how well the upper locked our foot in place. This section of high alpine trail running is part of both the Continental Divide Trail, as well as the Colorado Trail, as it traverses the Weminuche Wilderness.
We thought the combination of comfort and durability found in the Wildhorse 4 made it the perfect long run shoe. We love this shoe because it is so comfortable, perfect for lots of daily training runs.
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