The perfect running shirt, does it exist? Probably not. There are just too many variables when it comes to the climate. You might be able to narrow it down to the “the best shirt for the current season” and I think Mountain Hardwear’s Way2Cool Tank ($52) may have earned it’s spot as my go-to shirt of the summer. How could I already have a favorite summer shirt since it’s just now June? Easy, here in the Midwest (St. Louis area to be more specific), we’ve been getting pounded with record temps since early May. The mercury has already been over 100 multiple times and the humidity is routinely over 80% every morning and leveling off in the 40% range daily. Summer may not be here in full force yet, but I’ve had more than enough days where I have come home from even modest runs soaked with sweat.
The Way2Cool Tank (as well as the short sleeve model) comes in three color choices. Regardless of which color you choose, the front and sides are white. From there, it’s a matter of which color you want the back of the shirt, some accents, and the stitching to be. Those color selections are State Orange, Azul (dark blue), or Zour (bright yellow). Additionally, there are three reflective hits located on the left side chest, upper back just below the collar, and in the lower middle-back of the shirt.
Now, back to why this garment has worked well for me in the heat and humidity. First off, it is very lightweight at 3.1 ounces. Multiple types of fabric patterns have been used in strategic areas of the shirt to aid in breathability and wicking. The most noticeable aspect of these various patterns is the upside-down “T” shape that runs from the neck to just below the sternum area in the main front panel. As we runners know this tends to be the channel where sweat runs down. The Way2Cool tank is perforated here to allow that sweat to get out quicker to help keep you dryer or at least gets you there a little faster. This design also does a better job of keeping the shirt from sticking to you. It’s worth noting that this perforated fabric is not sewn in or laminated it is all part of the same panel, no seams to chafe. The sides of the shirt extending into the back also use this perforated pattern. The rest of the shirt’s white portions are a solid smooth pattern much like that found in other technical clothing.
The back of the Way2Cool tank is very, very thin. In the picture below, I have placed a gel under the back and you can faintly see the words on the package. The thinness here again aids in venting. The entire back as well as a small panel on each side are made from this thin colored semi-stretchy micro mesh.
This is a fitted style that sits close to the body but it’s not tight or constricting. The overall length of the shirt is shorter. Mine hits me just below the belt line. The neck and arm holes are smaller than most traditional running tanks tops. In fact, it fits more like a shirt that had the sleeves cut off of it. I prefer these types of styles as it adds a little more coverage over the long haul, tends to keep its shape better when wet, and does not have unnecessary fabric hanging at the bottom.
Any downsides you ask? Actually yes, I’m not a huge fan of the white. Mine is already a little dingy looking as the dirt from the trails has left its mark. I’ve also noticed some weird bunching of the micromesh panels on the sides. More than likely, that bunching is from having the shirt in the dryer too long. Now I just let them air dry, which is what this tank is really good at anyway.
Call for Comments
If you’ve worn any of Mountain Hardwear’s Way2Cool tops, what did you think?
I wanted a Way2Cool top since the first time I saw/held one in December 2010. I relentlessly tried to get one before last year’s Western States… but only received a tank version in the final miles of the race. I immediately put it on. Not long after, I received the short sleeve version and fell in love. It’s light, it’s cool (and cool looking), it’s great fitting. In other words, it’s everything I want in a warm-weather shirt. I’ve worn it for a race in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, TNF UTMB, hut-to-hut touring the Swiss Alps, and, most recently, for a seven-consecutive runs on La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands. I’d brought other running shirts, but in hot weather I’ve not been able to bring myself to wear any other.
[Disclosure: Mountain Hardwear provided the tank for review. The Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool Tank is available from the iRunFar Store along with other Way2Cool tops.]