Montane Dart Zip-Neck
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The Montane Dart Zip-Neck is a long-sleeved synthetic…
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample for testing and review provided by Montane)
The Montane Dart Zip-Neck is a long-sleeved synthetic shirt that is an ideal year-round base layer (a short-sleeved tee is also available). It wicks moisture away from the body very quickly, is exceptionally tailored, and protects the skin with a high UPF factor. If you’re looking to start your cold weather kit from skin out, I’d highly recommend it.
- Slim fit
- High UPF rating
- Deep zip for venting
- No sweat lines
- Resists odours
- Large label on hip
Long-sleeve Dart Zip Neck on the left, short-sleeve Dart T-Shirt, also reviewed, on the right
FIT AND COMFORT
The Dart fits exactly as I would design an active base layer to fit. Slim, without being restrictive, and with a little extra length in the hem. I am 6 foot, 170 lbs and the size large fits perfectly. This is one of the main selling points to me, compared to a cheaper competitor's synthetic shirt. There is no extra baggy fabric around the stomach/chest/arms to bunch up and the extra length keeps it tucked in under a waist belt or harness. Having a form fitted first layer also helps it layer with outer or mid-layers a lot easier.
- All the seams are flat-locked and moved off the top of the shoulders to minimize rub points.
- Sleeve length and circumference are all perfect for an athletic build.
- Printed on label on upper neck, however there was a massive tag on the hip that caused a lot of irritation. I cut it off promptly.
A real high point about this shirt is how well it deals with moisture. From Montane’s website:
“The Apex D-Fuse fabric has a dual layer construction, with an exceptionally soft and wicking pique knit next to the skin and a smooth, marl effect face.”
While I couldn’t read any more into this (the Montane website doesn’t even list the Apex fabric under its “technology” header) I am convinced it is working. This shirt moves moisture (sweat) away from the body better than any synthetic I’ve ever worn, and equally as well as wool.
On multiple occasions I’ve come home from a run, dripping in sweat, and the interior has felt dry to the touch. The shirt has dispersed the moisture over a greater surface area on the outer and the inner side of the shirt feels dry. This is a huge factor for me personally (as someone who sweats a lot), in which shirt I choose from the overstuffed drawer of synthetic t-shirts.
In terms of highly aerobic activities, like running or mountain biking, this greatly reduces the risk of chafing, in colder weather and when layering, it’s the first step in pushing the moisture away towards the outer layer before it freezes.
The surprising thing about the Dart is that while it is a little heavier (in terms of weight and fabric thickness, probably due to the double layer construction, mine weighs 165 grams) it dries just as quickly as any other lightweight synthetic shirts. I laid out six similarly designed synthetic shirts that I already owned, everything from a cheap big-box retailer, to the outdoor industry competitors' shirts and the Dart came in fourth out of the seven. On average an hour of direct sun, flipping it occasionally, and it would be totally dry.
There are some pictures on my review of the short-sleeve Dart T-Shirt, as well as drying times against other comparable offerings (North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Lululemon, First Ascent, Old Navy, Nike). The fabrics are the exact same on the Zip-Neck as the T-shirt version so expect similar dry times.
More info including the test results can be found on the short sleeve review here:
I can’t say I’ve ever noticed anything exceptional about the breathability of the Dart. I’m not sure if that is because it does such a good job moving moisture away that it is harder to notice a breeze coming through, or not, but again, I would say pretty average on that front. It certainly doesn’t feel clammy, even on a strenuous run in high humidity. I have taken to wearing this long-sleeve version even in the warmer summer months for a couple reasons. One, the added sun protection in the form of sleeves and a high collar, and two, the deep zip allows you to vent better than the tee version.
As I mentioned above, I foresee this shirt being a really good mild winter base layer. Paired with a highly breathable mid-layer, synthetic insulation or a fleece, would make for an ideal ice climbing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, etc combo. As mentioned above (see: fit) the extra hem length would allow you to tuck it in to your pants to seal off any gaps where cold air could creep in. Both the arms and body of the shirt are fairly tight fitting (not compression level) so it makes it easy to layer underneath a similar fleece mid.
- I love the high UPF (40+) factor for those exposed ridges and sun soaked beaches. Gives a nice piece of mind that you don’t have to rely entirely on chemical blockers.
- Polygiene odour resistance treatment has been added to minimize the stink. I say minimize because short of wool, any synthetic is going to stink (after I exercise in it at least). I wouldn’t expect to go multiple days in a row wearing this, especially if I were going to be without a wash or rinse/seeing people, but I wouldn’t expect any synthetic shirt to do that. Weekend trips at the max for me, but that's saying something as I usually can only get a couple hours out of most synthetic shirts before they start to stink out.
The Dart is an excellent synthetic shirt. Fantastic at keeping you dry, well tailored/designed to eliminate any chafing or baggy material and boasting a strong UPF rating. It excelled during any high exertion activity and I believe it will work just as well as a base layer going forward into cooler temperatures.
I have been testing the Dart Zip-Neck over the past three months (August, September, October) throughout what has been a hot, muggy summer. It has been my primary shirt used for trail running, biking, camping, and hiking. I’ve lost track of how many days of use it has on it (I wear it quite frequently for casual use as well, it’s quite comfortable and doesn’t look out of place in town).
My thanks to Trailspace and Montane for the opportunity to test the Dart Zip-Neck and T-shirt.