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New Balance Ice Short Sleeve Review

New Balance Ice Short Sleeve
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $45 List | $44.52 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Very comfortable, breathable, lightweight, and simple
Cons:  Mesh shoulder panels reduce durability when layered with pack or jacket
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   New Balance

Our Verdict

The New Balance Ice Short Sleeve is the winner of our Editors' Choice Award for the best men's running shirt for 2017. It was the most comfortable and most breathable shirt we reviewed. Its feather-light weight and super smooth polyester fabric made it feel as if it was hardly there, an attribute we appreciated. It also includes a fantastic set of features for such an affordable shirt: large mesh panels enhance breathability, anti-microbial fibers cut down on odor, and a variety of reflective overlays make sure you will be seen. There was no other shirt that combined such handy features and incredible comfort.

Product Update — October 2017
The Ice Short Sleeve has been updated this year! With a new design and a whole host of flashy colors, this year's version is nearly unrecognizable. Keep reading for the full scoop.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Running Shirt Review for Men


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Andy Wellman
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
October 5, 2017

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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.

New Balance Ice Short Sleeve
 
  • 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.

Performance Comparison


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.
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.

Comfort


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.

Breathability


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.
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.

Drying Speed


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.

Versatility


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.

Features


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.
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.

Style


We couldn't score this shirt highly for style. It looks like specialized work-out clothing, plain and simple.

Best Applications

Our Editors' Choice winner keeps you cooler and dryer than any other shirt as it is easily the most breathable one we tried. It is also super light  you will hardly even know you are wearing it.
Our Editors' Choice winner keeps you cooler and dryer than any other shirt as it is easily the most breathable one we tried. It is also super light, you will hardly even know you are wearing it.
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.

Value


As it is our favorite shirt in the review and one of the cheapest at $39.99, we think it's an excellent value.

Conclusion


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.
Andy Wellman

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: October 5, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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