The Arc'teryx Motus Crew is an excellent running shirt or base layer. The trim fit doesn't feel restrictive, as it has cleverly designed anatomical panels that conform to your body. The 100% bicomponent polyester fabric is breathable, quick-drying, and lightweight. Simply put, this was an incredible base layer, making it a natural choice for our Top Pick Award. The marriage of durability, comfort, and unrivaled fit made for one of our favorite shirts ever. Ultimately, we didn't just use this shirt for running; it was our go-to for hiking, biking, climbing, use as a base layer, and anything in between.
Arc'teryx Motus Crew Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Comfortable flat-locked merrow stitching, durable Phasic FL polyester fabric, lots of reflectors, UPF protection
Cons: Doesn’t allow direct air flow as easily as mesh shirts, holds lots of moisture
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Arc'teryx Motus Crew didn't dry as quickly as some of its competition but when we took it out in the real world, we quickly discovered why. In the desert, some materials can dry too quickly, robbing you of a critical evaporative cooling effect. The Motus Crew hit the sweet spot with evaporative cooling and was ultimately the most capable shirt we tested.
Part of the reason we awarded the Motus Crew with the Top Pick Award is because of the fit. The hip-length trim fit and clever anatomical paneling help the Motus slip comfortably under our layers, even those that are a bit snug. The shirt never felt bunched up under our layers, nor did we feel like there was too little fabric when wearing it as a standalone running shirt.
Even though the Motus Crew isn't equipped with completely unnoticeable taped seams, it does have high-quality flatlock seams that utilize what is called a "merrow stitch". This stitch pattern is one of the smoothest and least abrasive seams we've encountered in this type of shirt and feel that this is a large part of why the shirt is so capable as a base layer.
Overall, this wasn't the most comfortable shirt we tested if used solely for running. The fact that it's so comfortable when worn under other layers or when used with a pack is what sets it apart. The focus on small comfort details, such as utilizing the merrow stitch and adding in specific anatomical panels, help the Motus Crew maintain a high level of comfort, even when wearing a running pack or hiking backpack, making it uniquely comfortable for such uses.
Where some shirts opted to add in strategically placed mesh panels to aid with breathability, the Motus Crew opted for continuity and utilized the same bicomponent material throughout the entire shirt; this comes with pros and cons. The tightly woven polyester material doesn't allow air to pass through as easily as some of the mesh utilized in other shirts and essentially cuts into the breathability score. On the upside, this continuity added durability, as well as a bump in the evaporative cooling effect in super hot and arid climates.
As a base layer, the fabric keeps moisture away from our skin, as you would expect from a 100% polyester material. Even if the shirt had mesh fabric, once we added layers on top, the mesh wouldn't be able to perform like it would in open air. Breathability is all about fabric density. When put up to the light, it's easy to see how dense the polyester fabric is, as it barely lets any light through (compared to other mesh style fabrics).
Our standardized drying speed test revealed some interesting stats about the Motus Crew. The polyester appears to be quite dense when viewed up against a light source. When we saturated the shirt and put it through a spin dry, we found it was capable of holding 48% of its total weight in water; 14% more than any other shirt we tested. This seems to indicate that the Motus Crew has a lot of fibers/surface area for water to cling to.
Not surprisingly, all of this surface area requires more time to dry. During our drying test, we found that after 10 minutes, the Motus Crew had lost only 87% of its moisture and took a full 30 minutes to reach its original dry weight. While this dense fabric does make the shirt feel soft and comfortable against the skin, as well as more durable, it does, unfortunately, cut into the drying speed.
In the real world, we never really felt that much of a difference between the Motus Crew and other shirts tested. It never felt heavy with moisture, nor did we find it unable to breathe or assist with evaporative cooling. On the contrary, this shirt kept us regulated and comfortably moving.
The Motus Crew is heckin versatile. It excelled at pretty much anything we could think of doing, including camping, climbing, hiking, running, layering, krav maga, photography, and yes, running. The tightly woven fabric adds a level of durability, making it a good option for hiking with a pack and adding layers.
The attention to small details, such as making sure the sweatband on the neck had no visible seams, and welding the anatomical panels together with a morrow stitch helps boost the versatility of this shirt. It's easy to pile layers on or wear a pack without causing discomfort. Being able to use this shirt as a primary running shirt or as a complement to your hiking, skiing, or cycling kit gives it a considerable advantage in the versatility department.
While many running shirts are slimmed down to the bare essentials, the Motus Crew does have a few extra features. There is an ample amount of reflective markings that really "makes this shirt shine". While many running shirts have one or two reflective markings, the Motus has five. The added sweatband in the neck also stands out, as it has no visible seams, and is completely unnoticeable to the touch.
Even though the Motus Crew shines as a base layer, it is equipped with the most reflective emblems of any shirt we tested; a critical feature that we wish all clothing had. A massive boost in safety when running in an urban environment, these reflective markings are on the chest, arms, and back of the shirt.
The tightly woven polyester provides a UPF protection rating, which makes this shirt suitable for intense sun or use on highly reflective surfaces, like snow. Finally, a tag/hanger loop-free design cuts out any potential discomfort in the neck from abrasion, making for a mega comfortable shirt.
The Motus Crew is one of the most durable shirts we've tested. Not only is it durable, but there is a high level of detail put into the design and build quality. The result is a very comfortable and capable shirt that also boasts a big price tag. It's not a steal by any means, but you are getting an excellent shirt that will last.
The Arc'teryx Motus Crew is a great shirt. It might not be the absolute best running shirt out there, but when it comes down to it, it's the one we highly recommend to friends. Not only is it a highly functional performance running shirt, but it's the most capable to be utilized as a base layer.
— Brian Martin