Best Running Shirts
Running can be an enjoyable and invigorating way to get in shape, and as an activity, it greatly benefits both your physical and mental health. Clothing is something that is important to think about because having the right duds will not only make you more comfortable but can also boost your overall performance. A good running shirt is essential to a runner's wardrobe. Running shirts will provide breathability and comfort so that you’re feeling good while you are hitting the trails. Check out our top picks below and hit the road in style.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 10 hrs of research
- New Balance Ice Short Sleeve
- Patagonia Capilene Lightweight T-Shirt
- ASICS PR Lyte Short Sleeve
- Salomon Fast Wing Tee
- The North Face Kilowatt Short Sleeve
- Adidas Ultimate Short-Sleeve T-Shirt
- Joe's USA Athletic All Sport Training Tee Shirts
- Russell Athletic Basic Cotton Long-Sleeve T-Shirt
- Tesla Men's Thermal Wintergear Compression Baselayer Long Sleeve Top
- Vapor Apparel Sun Protection Long Sleeve T-Shirt
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Expert Interviews & Opinions
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. New Balance Ice Short Sleeve
Mesh shoulder area could be more durable
New Balance’s Ice Short Sleeve offers you a comfortable polyester material that is soft to the touch, and feels great whenever you wear it. You’ll get plenty of comfort even if you run long distances with this shirt, since it is very lightweight and offers you a lot of breathability. In fact, the ventilation in this shirt is so impressive, you’ll love the antimicrobial materials and how dry you stay when you run.Read more
Comfort: New Balance’s Ice Short Sleeve offers you a comfortable polyester material that is soft to the touch, and feels great whenever you wear it. You’ll get plenty of comfort even if you run long distances with this shirt, since it is very lightweight and offers you a lot of breathability. In fact, the ventilation in this shirt is so impressive, you’ll love the antimicrobial materials and how dry you stay when you run.
Versatility: This shirt is designed primarily as a warm weather shirt, and it is designed to be one layer only. While this shirt works very well for what it has been made for, and in fact it excels in that department, it’s not the type of shirt you’d want to wear when the weather is cold. You won’t get the protection and warmth you need when the temperature drops.
Features: New Balance’s Ice Short Sleeve offers a lot of great features for its affordable price. You’ll get an excellent amount of breathability, which is where this shirt really excels. Also, you’ll also get some high-quality UPF protection with its UPF 30 plus rating. We also like that it is antimicrobial, so that you don’t have to worry about embarrassing odors. We also like the reflective paneling on the shirt which is made to keep you visible when you run in low light conditions.
Value: This shirt is priced to be a great value overall, especially if you are looking for a warm weather t-shirt. First, it is very affordable, and made to be both breathable and comfortable. It also comes with sun protection, and really excels for running outdoors when the weather is hot.
2. Patagonia Capilene Lightweight T-Shirt
Under arms can feel small to some
As a brand, Patagonia offers some impressive sports gear and clothing, and that has earned them a fantastic reputation throughout the years. Because they make such high-quality products, they’ve earned a lot of popularity, and their Capilene shirt fits their usual excellent standards. The overall performance of this shirt for running is excellent since it offers you a lot of comfort, it has a great ventilation system that wicks away moisture, and it can be worn alone on warm days or as a layer on colder days.Read more
Comfort: This shirt is extremely comfortable, and we really loved how soft the polyester fabric feels against the skin. The material is soft and also lightweight, making you feel like it’s hardly there when you run. Also, the seams don’t rub on your skin, and it is also designed to ventilate well. So, you’ll get a lot of breathability with this shirt’s mesh panels.
Versatility: This shirt features a very simple design, and surprisingly, it also offers a lot of versatility. It is very durable, since it isn’t designed with mesh paneling, but it still ventilates very well because of the quality of the material. Also, you can use it to layer during the winter, or as a single layer in the summer.
Features: We love the overall fabric design in this shirt. Although it is very simple by design, the fabric’s structure is very well-designed, and there was a lot of thought put into this. You’ll get a polyester fabric that uses Polygiene odor control, and that will prevent the shirt from smelling as you stay active. Also, it has moisture-wicking capabilities that help it dry out quickly.
Value: This shirt is a bit more expensive than some of the other product choices on our list, but it still has a lot to offer. With its excellent fabric design that helps to make it both durable and versatile, you’ll be able to use this shirt year-round. With its excellent comfort and nice breathability, it is certainly still worth the price.
3. ASICS PR Lyte Short Sleeve
Can run large
ASICS has a wonderful reputation for making some excellent, high-quality gear products for athletes, which has helped them become a very popular and well-known brand. With their PR Lyte Short Sleeve Shirt, you get a nice piece of gear for running that offers excellent ventilation and is also made to be fast-drying. You’ll also get a lot of flexibility, since this shirt uses spandex as well.Read more
Comfort: Designed to provide excellent comfort, you’ll get a cozy shirt that fits well. This shirt is made to be a bit larger in fit, and with the spandex material in it that adds flexibility, it won’t interfere with your movements while you are on the go. Also, you’ll get a lot of nice breathability here structured into the polyester fabric. In the fabric you get breathing holes instead of mesh.
Versatility: This shirt is made for running mostly when the weather is warmer, since it is very thin and features a ventilation system that has tiny holes throughout the fabric of the shirt. Designed to be lightweight, the material here is quite thin. This means it probably would not work well as a base layer. However, it does work well as a breathable shirt for warm weather.
Features: While this shirt has a ventilation system that works well during the summer, it’s not the greatest shirt for layering or cold weather. You will get reflective logos on the front and back sides of this shirt, which will help to keep you safe and make you visible to oncoming traffic if you run in low light conditions. Also, you get colored panels on the shoulder areas of the t-shirt.
Value: While the PR Lyte is a bit more expensive than some of the other products on our list, it still does offer a lot of nice options if you want a breathable, comfortable shirt that works well in warm weather.
4. Salomon Fast Wing Tee
Salomon’s Fast Wing Tee was designed well with running in mind, and offers a lot of excellent features that make this shirt an interesting option. While it is a bit pricey, everything it offers you helps to make it a nice choice for running. This shirt offers some extra durability, for instance, with the silicon print you’ll see in the shoulder areas. This means that you can easily carry a backpack with this shirt. Also, it comes with some great pockets on the sides.Read more
Comfort: The fit of the Fast Wing is well-designed, and with its “active fit,” you get a shirt that can accommodate wide shoulders and still feel very flexible throughout the shirt. Basically, you won’t ever feel like this shirt is restricting your movements, so you’ll feel free to move how you want. The polyester fabric feels a bit rough overall, but otherwise, you get a nicely designed shirt. Plus, you’ll also get plenty of mesh panels for ventilation, giving you a lot of breathability.
Versatility: If you are looking for a lot of great versatility in a shirt, then you’ll certainly get it here. You can easily carry a backpack with it, because it is reinforced at the shoulders, making it very useful. Plus, you can also use it as a layer since it is very durable, and the zipper at the neck lets you get more ventilation if needed. Plus, the side pockets give you plenty of room to bring your important items along with you.
Features: One of the best features in this shirt is the dual side pockets, which are placed near the waist and are very easy to access. You’ll be able to get your items easily whenever you need them, and take along some snacks or whatever you think you need. Also, the pockets won’t interfere or restrict your movements, which is a nice touch.
Value: While this shirt has some amazing features that do make it well worth considering, it is a bit pricey compared to some of our other options. However, you’ll love how much you get with it, and since it is designed to offer a lot of durability, you’ll get plenty of use out of this shirt for the money.
5. The North Face Kilowatt Short Sleeve
Lots of versatility
The North Face has earned an excellent reputation for making high-quality athletic gear and clothing. This brand is so popular because their products are well thought out and usually present an excellent design. Their Kilowatt Short Sleeve shirt is made to be very durable, and comes with fully taped seams that won’t rub against the skin. Also, you’ll get plenty of comfort and breathability. However, this shirt is expensive, although it does offer some nice features.Read more
Comfort: This shirt offers you some well-constructed seams that help provide you with excellent comfort and durability. The seams in the shirt are sewn, and then fully taped to prevent rubbing while you run. Also, you’ll get a nice ventilation system that offers mesh panels for breathability. The shirt is designed to fit loose so that it is very comfortable and won’t restrict your movements.
Versatility: This shirt offers you a lot of excellent versatility. You’ll get a quick-drying fabric material that ventilates well so that you won’t feel like you are overheating or soaking in your own sweat. Also, you won’t need to worry about tears since you get a lot of abrasion resistance from The North Face’s FlashDry-XD knit body. You can use it as a layer, or on its own, so it can be used year round. Also, it is made to allow you to carry a pack easily.
Features: One thing that is nice about this shirt is that you’ll get plenty of durability, as the the polyester fabric used here is thicker than some of the other more lightweight polyesters made by other manufacturers. The taped seams are very nice, and help prevent chafing on the skin. You’ll also get some reflective details to make you more visible to traffic if you run in low light conditions.
Value: Compared to some of the other products on our list, this shirt does cost a bit more, but it still has a lot to offer. It is very versatile, and you can use it year-round. Also, since it is made to be very durable, you’ll get a lot of use out of it before you’ll need to worry about replacing it.
6. Adidas Ultimate Short-Sleeve T-Shirt
Lots of color choices
Fit may feel small to some
Adidas is a well-known brand in the running world, and they have been making high-quality running gear for several years. Their Ultimate Short-Sleeve T-Shirt is made to be very durable,and offers a lot of excellent stitching designed to last a long time. You get an excellent fabric that can resist abrasions and last many years. With its affordable price and long-lasting capabilities, you’ll wind up with a reliable shirt that you’ll be able to use for many years.Read more
Comfort: Designed to look and feel like a classic short-sleeved t-shirt, you get a lot of comfort with the stitching, which is made to prevent rubbing and chaffing. Plus, you also get plenty of ventilation with the materials in this shirt, so you keep dry. The fabric is moisture-wicking and also designed to dry quickly. While the polyester fabric isn’t as soft as some other product options, everything else about this shirt is very comfortable.
Versatility: Since this shirt is so durable, you can use it all year round as either a single layer during the warmer weather, or a base layer when the weather gets colder. Also, the shirt is durable enough to be worn when you carry a backpack, and will bring you plenty of breathability and comfort. Also, you’ll get a flexible shirt that is designed to move with you while you are on the go.
Features: One thing we like about this t-shirt is that you’ll get plenty of color options with it. You’ll be able to find a color that you love, so you’ll feel fashionable while you get the benefits of a functional t-shirt as well. Also, since this t-shirt ventilates so well, you’ll stay dry no matter how far you decide to run.
Value: Considering all of the durability that comes with this shirt, you also get a cost-effective product here that will work great even if you are shopping on a budget. Since this shirt is so affordable and will last you a long time, you’ll be able to use it easily for many years. That means you are getting a good value purchase.
7. Joe's USA Athletic All Sport Training Tee Shirts
Might feel too loose to some
Joe’s USA Training Tee offers you an affordable option if you are shopping on a budget and still want a nice, high-quality shirt for your running needs. It offers you a lot of versatility overall, since it is durable and can easily adapt to what you need. Also, it offers you a lot of great comfort and ventilation with its moisture-wicking fabric and quick-drying features.Read more
Comfort: Comprised out of 100% polyester, this shirt is very lightweight and also quite flexible. It is made to move with you, so you won’t feel like you are restricted while you run. Also, the polyester material feels soft to the touch, and feels very comfortable against your skin. You get plenty of breathability with the Dri-Equip technology that is featured in this shirt.
Versatility: One thing that this shirt certainly offers is versatility. You get a shirt that is made with running in mind, but it is well-designed enough to be used for other training activities like weightlifting. Also, it fits loosely and gives you plenty of flexibility and a wide range of motion so that your movements don’t feel restricted.
Features: This shirt comes in plenty of color options, so you’ll be able to find the color choice you want and need. Also, this shirt does tend to fit loosely and runs large, so if you like form-fitting shirts, this might not be the design for you. However, if you want something that is comfortable and breathable, then this is a great option.
Value: This shirt is priced very affordably for all of the features it offers. It has a cost-effective price tag, and with all of its comfort and breathability, you’re getting a high-quality product. This shirt is durable and long lasting so you should get plenty of use out of it, and you’ll also be use it for other athletic activities if you choose.
8. Russell Athletic Basic Cotton Long-Sleeve T-Shirt
Russell’s T-Shirt offers you a very comfortable and machine washable shirt that is comprised of lightweight cotton and polyester. You’ll get plenty of softness with the nice blend of materials, and decent ventilation with Dri-Power moisture wicking technology to keep you dry. You’ll also get UPF 30+ designed into the shirt to protect you from the sun, all at a cost effective price.Read more
Comfort: Comprised out of 50% cotton, this shirt feels very soft against the skin, making it very comfortable. With the 50% polyester also added into this shirt, you get a nice design that will help you in almost any sport. Although the shirt isn’t moisture-wicking or quick-drying, you do get a light shirt that is also very breathable.
Versatility: With this shirt, you’ll get a design that offers a lot of versatility and flexibility. Since the shirt provides you with a relaxed fit, you’ll get plenty of freedom to move while you run. Also, the cuffs in the arms fit well and stay in place when you roll up the shirt. This shirt can be worn as either a single layer or a base layer, meaning you can use it year round.
Features: Designed with a lot of durability, this shirt features double stitching in certain areas of the shirt, meaning it will last a very long time. Also, you can throw this shirt in the machine washer to keep it clean, so you can easily keep it clean. Plus, you’ll get odor resistant fabric and a stylish look overall.
Value: This shirt provides you with a cost-effective option and a lot of excellent features that you’ll love when running. You’ll get a comfortable, soft fabric and a very durable design, so you’ll be able to use the shirt for a long period of time. Also, you can easily keep this shirt clean, and that is a nice bonus.
9. Tesla Men's Thermal Wintergear Compression Baselayer Long Sleeve Top
Lots of color options
Can run small
Tesla Men's Thermal Wintergear Compression Baselayer provides you with a warm and stylish shirt that works great when the temperature drops, because it offers you a comfortable fleece lining. Also, the shirt is made out of polyester and spandex materials, so you’ll get a lot of flexibility and a shirt that is made to move with you. Also, you get a shirt that wicks moisture away and dries quickly, bringing you a great ventilation system.Read more
Comfort: With its light design and combination of 87% polyester and 13% spandex, you’ll wind up with a very flexible shirt and won’t feel restricted while you are on the go. You’ll get fabric that wicks away moisture and dries quickly, offering you plenty of ventilation. That means you won’t feel like you are overheating or soaking in your own sweat. With a two-way ventilation system, you’ll get plenty of effective temperature control so that you stay warm, but you don’t overheat.
Versatility: The combination of polyester and spandex gives you a pretty versatile shirt. Since the spandex helps to make this shirt flexible, you won’t feel like your movements are restricted, and you’ll be able to move however you wante. Also, with plenty of durability coming from the polyester material, you’ll be able to use this shirt in a wide variety of athletic events.
Features: This shirt offers you a fashionable, yet still functional option to help you with your running needs. You’ll get a lot of color and style choices, so you can select what you want, as well as a shirt that offers a nice, stylish appearance. Since it is also warm and comfortable, you’ll love how great it feels when you run.
Value: This shirt offers you a low-cost option in comfortable running apparel, and will feel good to the skin. This shirt works great in colder weather and offers a nice fleece lining. It comes with a two-way ventilation system, so you stay warm, but you don’t overheat. Also, made with a lot of durability, you’ll get plenty of use out of this shirt.
10. Vapor Apparel Sun Protection Long Sleeve T-Shirt
Sizes run small
Vapor Apparel’s Sun Protection Long Sleeve T-Shirt is a cost effective option that will offer you a lot of great features if you are shopping on a budget. You’ll get a shirt that has sun protection, so you know you are safe from UV rays. Also, the shirt is very comfortable and breathable, and features anti-microbial technology so you stay dry while you are on the go.Read more
Comfort: Comprised out of 100% polyester microfiber materials, you’ll get a lot of comfort with this shirt since it feels very soft against your skin. It is designed to be lightweight and comfortable, and it also has an excellent ventilation system. With PURE Tech moisture wicking technology in the fabric, you’ll get an effective and functional shirt that will keep you very dry.
Versatility: This shirt is designed to have a loose fit, so it feels very comfortable and works well not only for running, but several different types of workouts. Since it feels relaxed when you put it on, you’ll get plenty of flexibility, and you can use it for every type of training possible. You’ll get a lot of use out of this very durable shirt.
Features: With UPF 50 plus sun protection designed into this shirt, you won’t need to worry about exposing your skin to the sun’s harmful rays as you run. Plus, this shirt is also odor-resistant, so you won’t need to worry about any embarrassing smells as you run. You also get anti-microbial protection to prevent bacteria from building up, which also adds durability to the shirt. We also like that this shirt offers a wide variety of color choices and is also very stylish.
Value: Priced affordably, you’ll get a great value product here that offers a lot of fashion and functionality. With a stylish look and lots of color choices, this shirt provides you with a lot of comfort, durability, and versatility. You’ll be able to use this shirt for a long time as well, making it a nice product choice.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Comfort is probably the most important factor to consider when you are trying to find a great shirt for running. If the shirt isn’t comfortable, then most likely, you probably won’t get much use out of it. So, finding something that feels good will not only make you feel great when you run, it’ll probably improve your overall performance because you won’t be distracted.
Most shirts that are made for running are designed with some combination of materials that feature polyester. Some shirts are 100% polyester, and others combine a large amount of polyester with a smaller percentage of spandex. A less frequent combination of material you’ll see is a blend of polyester and cotton.
Polyester is frequently used in these types of shirts, because the material is durable, and typically, also very soft to the touch. Also, polyester is a material that manufacturers can easily combine breathability and ventilation, which you certainly want when you are running often. Some brands also combine other features into polyester, like sun protection, for example.
How versatile a shirt is usually depends on the design and how good the range of motion and comfort levels are. Many shirts that are made for running are still versatile enough to be used for other sports, or even for training. Typically, running shirts are either made to be slightly over-sized, so they are comfortable and easy to move in, or they are made to provide a more form-fitting style. The more form-fitting shirts usually also feature spandex in the shirt, so you get that stretchy, flexible feeling.
Even if a shirt was meant to be designed only for running, it can still provide you with other useful options. And if you wind up with a very durable shirt, you’ll be able to use it for a long period of time and in all sorts of physical activities.
Versatility also factors in whether or not you can wear a shirt all year round, or just for one season. Some shirts are made to be used only for warm weather and are too thin to use as a base layer. Typically, these shirts are used just as a single layer. However, some warm weather shirts are thick enough to be used as a base layer, so they can be used in a wide variety of ways. Also, you typically have shirts made for cold weather that are designed to provide warmth during the chillier seasons.
Some of the features you’ll find in these shirts include things like UPF or sun protection, as well as abrasion resistance. Some of these shirts have built-in sun protection to help keep your skin healthy, which is a great bonus. Others are made to be abrasion resistant, giving you plenty of durability. Also, depending on the manufacturer and style of shirt that you select, there are several fashionable shirts that come in a wide range of colors but are also very functional.
While you don’t necessarily need all of these different types of features to have an effective shirt, take the time to prioritize what you need and want in a shirt to feel your best while running.
Depending on what type of weather you plan to run in and what the seasons will be, you’ll need to plan ahead when you select your shirt. If you know the weather is colder where you live, then you’ll want to consider a long-sleeved shirt designed to keep you warm. Shirts made like this often feature fleece lining and two-way ventilation systems. Those ventilation systems allow for moisture to escape so that you don’t overheat, but still help you stay warm in cold temperatures.
Short-sleeved shirts are sometimes made to be either very thin, or thicker. Thin, lightweight shirts typically don’t function well as base layers and should only be used as a single layer in the warmer weather. On the other hand, thicker short-sleeved shirts that have some level of durability can be used as a base layer when it is cold, but also as a single layer when it is warm.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Some people assume that a regular old t-shirt will work well for hitting the trails - but this isn’t necessarily true since regular cotton shirts don’t ventilate or breathe as well as the patented synthetic fabrics used in sweat-wicking running clothing.
Other Factors to Consider
Finding the best type of shirt for your runs requires you to think about a couple of other things. First, you need to think about the climate, which, of course, includes weather and temperature. Next, consider if you want a shirt that you can layer or if you want an all-year-round shirt. The concept of value with these products can vary from person to person, but on our list, we looked at price, what the shirt offered, and how long the shirt would last. Some shirts will cost more because they’ll have more to offer you, while others have fewer features but are still very functional and come with a more affordable price. Also, durability is very important when we look at value because if you purchase a long lasting shirt, you won’t need to replace it as quickly and you’ll get a lot of use out of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What should I look for if I want a flexible shirt?
If you want plenty of flexibility in your shirt, then you should consider purchasing one that has spandex in it. Usually, the percentage of spandex will be low, but it should still offer you enough of the material to make it flexible.
q: How do I know if my shirt is durable?
With these shirts, durability can usually be judged by the thickness of the material and the stitching. Thicker types of material tend to be more durable than thinner materials. Also, seam-sealed or tape-sealed shirts will be more durable than ones without these features.
q: Does durability depend on cost?
Not necessarily. Again, price won’t always dictate how durable the shirt is, the design probably will. Durability is determined by the thickness of the material and the type of stitching in the shirt.
q: Can having a shirt that is designed for running really improve my performance?
Yes, it can. T-shirts, for example, are generally made out of 100% cotton, and cotton doesn’t ventilate well. So you won’t get a lot of breathability, and you’ll wind up covered in your own sweat, which isn’t comfortable at the best of times, let alone when you need to feel fully functioning. Comfort is really key here, and that’s what specifically designed shirts will give you.
q: Is a good idea to purchase a shirt with UPF protection in it?
Of course, it is. That will give you plenty of protection from the sun when you run so that your skin stays healthy, and you feel better. However, some of this will depend on when you run, and whether or not you need sunscreen protection in your shirt.