In my experience, there are three factors that determine the overall quality of a running shirt. Each factor can be assessed, one by one, in a very specific order. I tested out the Brooks Ghost short-sleeve tee, a lightweight, warm-weather shirt, and here are my takeaways in each of those categories.
When I initially tried the shirt on, I was struck by how loose-fitting it was. I wouldn’t say it runs large, as the overall length and the sleeves fit quite well, but it is not a tight shirt. I suspect that is intentional, since it is designed to have a light, airy feel and if it felt constrictive in any way that would likely defeat the purpose. The neck is somewhat wide, but not very deep. If I have one complaint on the general fit of this shirt, I would like to see the neck go just a bit lower in the front and be a bit narrower. I’m not big on a neckline that sits out on my shoulders.
As far as color options, the previous iteration of this shirt had various designs, while this one only comes in solid colors. They have two grey options, a hi-viz yellow, and blue. Personally, I am a fan of the patterns, but this isn’t a huge deal either way.
In terms of function, a good running shirt is like a good cycling saddle: if you don’t notice it, that’s a very good sign. The hope is that it does its job and stays out of the way. In the case of a running shirt, especially one like the Ghost that is designed for warm-weather runs, the primary purpose is to wick sweat away from the body. I have owned the whole range of tech shirts in this respect: some that stay light an airy in spite of heat and humidity, some that will manage to soak up an inordinate amount of sweat and very quickly become heavy and uncomfortable. After running in the Ghost in a wide variety of conditions, I can confidently say that it is one of the most effective moisture-wicking shirts I have run in.
Additionally, the slightly loose fit and extremely light weight help in the comfort department. Overall, this shirt performs as well as any, and substantially better than most, when it comes to function while running.
Often, light weight and breathability can come at the expense of durability. Unfortunately, this shirt does not appear to be an exception. It held up fine for shorter runs, but once I tried wearing a vest over it for a 5-hour excursion in the heat, I started to notice some pilling and the fabric roughed up a bit around the seams. To be fair, I have not yet found a shirt that feels this light while running that holds up any better under a vest, but the search continues.
Also, a bit of advice from some real-world testing: if you have a cat with sharp claws, maybe avoid holding said cat while wearing this shirt.
So, here’s the gist of it
The Brooks Ghost is a perfect shirt for warm-weather running, but I don’t recommend wearing it on runs that require a vest or pack. Treat it gently; if you must put it in the dryer, do so on low heat. At $40, it’s not particularly cheap, but on a hot day, it’s worth having a shirt that doesn’t become drenched after 20 minutes of running.