The New Ice Short Sleeve vs. the Original
The Ice Short Sleeve is currently available in twelve colors, from vibrant blue, green, and orange to more subdued navy and black. Still retailing for $45, the current version of this shirt has a significantly updated design than the one we originally reviewed. We have confirmed that the fabric, which was one of our favorite things about this shirt, has remained the same. Check out the new look here, with the updated version on the left and the original on the right. Then, keep reading for a full summary of the design update.
- Mesh Panels — The original version of the Ice that we tested had mesh panels on the front and shoulders with annoying, sometimes uncomfortable seams. The shirt has been updated and now includes mesh panels only under the arms. The back mesh panels seen below are no longer a design feature. While we haven't tried this new version just yet, we're curious about this change and hope that it makes the shirt even more comfortable without compromising breathability.
Because we haven't gotten our hands on the newest version of this shirt just yet, the rest of this review continues to reflect the original Ice Short Sleeve.
Hands-On Review of the New Balance Ice Short Sleeve
More than anything else, what separates the New Balance Ice Short Sleeve from the rest of the men's running shirts is its comfort and breathability. No other shirt offers so much lightweight mesh fabric to encourage air flow to keep you dry and cool, hence the name "Ice." It is simultaneously super functional and minimally simplistic and was our head tester's favorite shirt to wear while running.
Road running was the preferred use for this light and comfortable shirt. Its polyester weave is so silky smooth it is hard to even tell you are wearing it. The Ice was hands down our favorite running shirt.
The New Balance Ice Short Sleeve shirt was the most comfortable one in the review, although it could be slightly more perfect. The seam sewing around the mesh panels, especially under the arms, rubbed us slightly. However, even on long runs this was not a problem, and we loved how silky smooth and light this shirt feels. It is a loose fitting shirt that runs slightly large.
Hands down the most breathable shirt in the review, we gave this model a 10 out of 10 points. Mesh paneling on the shoulders, around the neck, halfway down the back, and under the arms ensures that sweat has every possible means of evaporative escape, thereby cooling you down more quickly as you begin to work up a sweat.
On the New Balance Ice, large mesh panels made of extremely thin breathable fabric are re-inforced with a diamond shaped grid pattern. Also shown is the back reflective strip. This was the most breathable shirt we tested.
While we found it to be the most breathable shirt, the main polyester weave was not as quick to dry in our drying test as the Patagonia Fore Runner Short Sleeve
or ASICS PR Lyte Short Sleeve
. It was in the middle of the pack in terms of drying speed, but we also felt that this negative attribute was offset by the incredible amount of breathable mesh that in practice didn't allow much sweat to soak the shirt in the first place.
The Ice is designed to be worn as a single layer in warm weather, and the features that make it good for that purpose are a detraction for versatility. Basically, its mesh is not very durable and abrades more quickly than other shirts when used while wearing a running pack. We would also not recommend this shirt for running in cold weather, as it gives much less protection than the shirts with less mesh paneling. We gave it a 6 out of 10.
For such a simple shirt, our Editors' Choice winner has some great features. Besides the mesh breathing panels already described, the shirt is one of only two that offers enhanced UPF protection. It has a UPF rating of 30, meaning only 1/30th of the harmful UVB rays that come in contact with the shirt manage to penetrate it. It also features an anti-microbial treatment to control odor. Lastly, it has the most reflective paneling of any shirt in the review, making it the best choice for low-light road running.
Front view shows the breathable mesh over the shoulders and circling the neck, as well as under the armpits. The solid polyester main fabric is silky smooth and was the most comfortable we tried. Also shown are the reflective logo and reflective stamps on shoulders.
We couldn't score this shirt highly for style. It looks like specialized work-out clothing, plain and simple.
This shirt will excel in hot weather running where shedding sweat is a must. It is fine for either trail or road running, and a great race option. We wouldn't recommend it for layering, wearing in the cold, or with a running pack.
As it is our favorite shirt in the review and one of the cheapest at $39.99, we think it's an excellent value.
The New Balance Ice Short Sleeve is the most comfortable and breathable shirt we reviewed. It also has a well-thought-out set of features that easily makes it our Editors' Choice. Designed for hot weather running, we are confident that no other shirt we reviewed will keep you cooler and less soaked in sweat than this one.