While some may scoff that The North Face has gotten too big, too commercial and the like, but very regularly, they come out with innovative fabrics or designs that truly keep the competition on its toes. FlashDry was introduced to the media last year and is now embedded throughout their performance line. It’s amazing stuff and my first full-fledged test has been with the Better Than Naked Cool Crew shirt.

The North Face BTN Cool Crew Features:

  • Polyester/spandex blend fabric is moisture wicking and quick drying; mesh panels increase ventilation
  • Fabric provides UPF 50+ sun protection, shielding skin from harmful ultraviolet rays
  • Flatlock seams maximize motion and minimize abrasion
  • MSRP: $50

The North Face Better Than Naked Cool Crew Review

In my first report of The North Face FlashDry, all it took to win me over was a drip of water on a fabric swatch. While that was amazing, I was anxious to get it out on long runs and bike rides in soaring temperatures.

What’s different about FlashDry is that the technology is infused in the fabric itself. It doesn’t wash out or wear out with use. On a micro level, each thread features an increased surface area to rapidly dissipate moisture away from the skin and into the air. Other treatments or fabrics lose their effectiveness over time, but not FlashDry. All Summer long, I’ve been enjoying its amazing wicking properties.

Most of the time, I’ve chosen the hottest days to pull out the BTN Cool Crew. The combination of the ultralight weight of the fabric with its body-mapped mesh-like material makes this shirt feel downright wispy. I mean, they don’t call it “Better Than Naked” just for the fun of it… this thing is literally better than being naked.

In the most extreme test of this shirt, I specifically chose to wear it on my mid-day assault up the first half of RAGNAR hill in June. It was hot and I had 1500 ft. of climbing ahead of me. The shirt kept me cool and never felt like I was wearing a wet towel — it never held onto enough water to feel loose and sloppy.

FlashDry wicks moisture away and dries faster than any fabric I’ve ever worn. Because it dissipates so quickly, it seems as if the salt tends to gather right on the edges of the perspiration area instead of spreading out. The salt ring buildup is very evident once the shirt dries. Some may argue that having a wet shirt aids in cooling, but the evaporation process actually cools your skin — I felt that. However, I will say that I think FlashDry may have an even greater opportunity in Winter apparel as it will dramatically speed up moisture movement.

The size Large fits great… not too snug yet at the same time not too loose. For reference, I’m 5’11” and 175 lbs.

Good BTN Cool Crew

  • Extremely lightweight fabric feels like you’re wearing nothing
  • FlashDry fabric dries in about half the time as other shirts
  • Surprisingly-durable for being so thin
  • Flat seams and body mapping make this shirt ultra-comfortable

Bad BTN Cool Crew

  • Salt buildup on the edges of perspiration ring

Bottom Line: The North Face Better Than Naked Cool Crew

I’m very impressed with FlashDry. The North Face has a corner on a great technology that will dramatically improve breathability and performance of its apparel. The BTN Cool Crew is ultralight and comfortable on long runs.

Buy Now: Visit REI.com (a steal at $34.93)

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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