Best Running T-shirts Reviewed & Tested

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All of the gear you pick makes a difference in your run, especially your clothing. Check out this guide on the best running t-shirts around.

At first thought a t-shirt may not seem like it makes much difference. A t-shirt is just a t-shirt right? Well in some senses yes, and in others no. When it comes to running, particularly if you’re competitive about it, every piece of gear and clothing matters. So overlooking a garment that covers your torso, and overall a good percentage of your body, seems a poor choice.

Our Top 3 Picks
Mountain Hardwear Wicked
  • Mountain Hardwear Wicked
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Wick.Q moisture wicking technology
  • Price: See Here
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Brooks Distance
  • Brooks Distance
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Drilayer Burst odor-resistant fabric
  • Price: See Here
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2XU Ghost
  • 2XU Ghost
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • X LITE PRO fabric with few seams
  • Price: See Here
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Jump to Full Review

But above all else our goal is provide a useful resource that highlights some of the best running t-shirts out there. We’ve done the legwork so you can sit back a peruse as you like. For a detailed breakdown of the top ten best running t-shirts read on!

Mountain Hardwear Wicked

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Our personal preference is for gear that is comfortable, affordable, long lasting and produced by an ethical company. The Wicked t-shirt manages to check all the boxes, and because of this it gets our nod as staff pick. Mountain hardwear gear is built to be indestructible and the wicked top will be with you workout after workout. Its this longevity that for us, sets it apart. Of course it’s got a number of slick features and functionality perks and for those give our list below a quick look.
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About the product:

Polyester, comes in a decent range of color choices

Patented Wick.Q technology offers moisture-wicking that’s well above the average grade

Fast drying fabric, performs amazingly quickly

A antimicrobial finish minimizes odor, and helps you maintain hygiene

Flatlock seam construction goes above any beyond to make sure there is no uncomfortable rubbing.

Reflective trim for added visibility.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Flatlock seams ensure less chance of irritation
  • Wick.Q moisture-wicking material
  • Antimicrobial finish fights odor
Cons
  • Reflective accents don't last super long

Brooks Distance

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The Distance Tee from Brooks is made from DriLayer® Burst odor-resistant fabric that is comfortable and also offer a high degree of functionality. This shirt is built for the long haul and does extremely well with sweat build up and the aforementioned odor. It is semi fitted, which means that it would be loose or baggy but also won’t choke you like say Under Armour does on occasion. All in all a great pick, run happy as they say.
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About the Product:

Lightweight stretch blend material leaves the run free and flexible

DriLayer Burst, odor-resistant fabric

Material actually consists of 83% polyester 11% Tencel 6% spandex

Subtle logo on the left shoulder

Crew neck. Short sleeves. Overall cut designed for comfort
Pros
  • Lightweight, stretchable material
  • DriLayer Burst, odor-resistant fabric
  • Good choices of different colors and prints
Cons
  • No obvious reflective properties

2XU Ghost

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If you really like to pay attention to things like weight, bulk or extra drag you’ll love the Ghost sleeve top from 2XU. This shirt is designed to feel like it’s not there, and while this is obviously impossible they’ve managed to get impressively close. The top is made from X LITE PRO, the “world’s lightest specialist run fabric through wet and dry conditions.” The weight of this shirt is a paltry 86gsm, it protects you from UV Rays and allows you to be free while your body moves. While its defining characteristic is its weight, the Ghost Sleeve Top has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a premium grade running shirt. See below.
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About the product:

Made from 100% polyester

Specially contoured raglan sleeves provide optimised freedom of motion

World’s lightest run top whatever conditions you are training in

Has very minimal seams, anti-chafe

Only weighs 86gsm (X LITE PRO fabric)

Reflective detailing along the trim for safety
Pros
  • Made for all types of training conditions
  • Chafe resistant construction
  • Their X LITE PRO fabric is incredibly light
  • Reflective details
Cons
  • The lightweight material may not be an ideal choice when layering for colder temperatures

Joe's USA - All Sport Neon Color High Visibility Athletic

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This is a pretty standard shirt when it comes to fabrics and construction. The one thing that sets it apart however is its visibility. This Tee has a roomy, athletic cut, its made from 100% cationic polyester and it is budget priced. Each of the color choices here are neon, making you hard to miss on the road or sidewalk. Top drawer quality these shirts are not, but they absolutely have their utility. They’re great to throw on for an evening run and can be worn over a base layer easily as well.
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About the product:

Sport cut for maximum comfort.

The lightweight material breathes well and controls sweat with ease

PosiChargeTM technology built into the fabric

Weighs 3.8-ounces, 100% cationic polyester interlocking material

Set-in sleeves

Available Colors: Neon Yellow, Neon Orange, Neon Pink

Adult Sizes available : XS-4XL
Pros
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • High visibility colors
  • Wide range of sizes
Cons
  • The fit isn't exactly the athletic style that some customers were hoping for

ASICS Ready-Set

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Essentially all of the shirts on this list are quite comfortable, but the Ready-Set top gets a special nod in this sense. This shirt has a textured mesh construction that rests easy around the shoulder blades and fits nicely around the torso. It’s made from 100% and has flat lock seems to the odds of it irritating your skin in any way are minimal. This top also performs well in the heat, with highly breathable, sweat-wicking properties. Overall ASICS is a brand we love, and this shirt is no exception.
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About the product:

100% Polyester knitted training top

Made in the USA

Specially textured mesh is extremely comfortable and has sweat reducing technology

Set-in sleeves for a nice fit

Comes in a wide range of colors
Pros
  • Sweat reducing textured mesh
  • Set-in sleeves
  • Many colors to choose from
Cons
  • There aren't really any high visibility color options

 

Arcteryx Accelerator SS Zip Neck

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Unsurprisingly Arc’teryx tops our list when it comes down to technical performance-based merit. This shirt is great for everyone, but especially for those who value top of the line material and high grade performance. The top has a mechanical stretch which provides increased mobility, and it also features a zip neck. The zip neck provides coverage and also allows for easy temperature moderation. The seams on the Accelerator are extremely small, and the entire construction is carefully engineered to a perfect fit. This top does well in cooler temperatures, it also protects from the sun and of course when it comes to low visibility it’s got you covered there as well. For a thorough breakdown of its perks see below.
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About the product:

Midweight fabric construction with luxurious mechanical stretch, protective and mobile

Collar height and front zipper provide coverage and assists in temperature regulation

Merrow stitch seam construction reduces seam size, and ensures no irritation or chafing

Reflective blades located on lower back

Ample sun protection (UPF 50+) material

Comes in four primary colors

Anatomical fit, features no-lift gusseted armpits
Pros
  • Stretchable midweight material
  • Zippered neck makes this a great choice for layering
  • Reflective portions on lower back
  • Anatomical design
Cons
  • The higher neck may not be for everyone, especially in hotter climates

Nike Dri-Fit Contour

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Nike succeeds with the Dri-Fit contour shirt by delivering an excellent bang for your buck (among many other things). As the name obviously implies this shirt is going to go a good distance toward making sure you stay dry. Part of its secret is a body-mapped design that is knit with mesh to increases airflow. This helps regulate temperature along with the all important wicking dynamic. The bottom line is that you know what you’re getting here a well designed running t-shirt that performs well and isn’t going to break the bank.
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About the product:

Made from 100% polyester

Patented Nike Dry fabric with Dri-FIT technology helps to fight moisture buildup and keep you comfortable

Knit from loose to tight for a form fit

Zoned breathability, overall a very smart design

Comes in a wide range of color options

Have reflective details for low visibility running
Pros
  • Many color choices
  • Extremely breathable
  • Nike's Dri-FIT moisture wicking technology
Cons
  • Not available in long sizes

Brooks Steady

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Slow and steady wins the race as they say. The Brooks Steady t-shirt is a good utility player of sorts. It’s not flashy, it doesn’t have the newest state of the art technology, it’s almost — dare we say it a bit boring. Boring usually implies a negative. In this case we believe the opposite is true. This top has a simple design, a crew neck and a superimposed logo on the left shoulder. Its got thermoregulation capabilities ensuring that you stay in the comfort zone whatever the forecast calls for. Open mesh on the back allows for good breathability and the shirt has proven to be highly durable. All in all there’s a lot to like here.
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About the product:

Made from Drilayer® Steady infused material

Brand logo at tactfully placed on left shoulder

Straight hem, along with a nicely fitted construction

83% polyester, 11% lyocell, 6% spandex

Machine wash cold okay, tumble dry low or air dry

Comes in two color choices river and desert
Pros
  • Drilayer® Steady infused material
  • Comfortably fitted construction
Cons
  • Only two color choices

Icebreaker Aero

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Sometimes it can be hard to gauge what clothing to wear, throw on a fleece and you will quickly overheat, go with a skimpy t-shirt and you’ll end your run frozen. The Icebreaker Aero short sleeved shirt is for just these occasions. The Aero is made from extremely soft, ultralight, temperature-regulating merino. Because of merino’s exceptional ability to regulate body temperature the top will offer you a bit more protection than the average. Did we mention it’s comfortable? Any product made from Merino will likely be one of the most comfortable you ever try.
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About the Product:

Made from 120gm jersey 90% merino 10% nylon

Comes in a wide range of color options, (5-8 choices)

Flatlock seams create a smooth rid and prevent chafing

Drop tail hem for added coverage, this shirt won’t ride up like some do

Fabric dries fast, ensuring you stay dry

Regular fit, if sized right won’t constrict or be too baggy

Set-in sleeves, contour nicely with the body
Pros
  • Fast drying Merino regulates temperature well
  • Good amount of color choices
  • Drop-tail hem prevents shirt from riding up
Cons
  • Some may find the material itchy

Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool

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It’s no secret that the sun can really take it out of you when you’re running, so fight back with Way2Cool tank from Mountain Hardwear. This top is mesh as far as the eye can see, and has built in cooling properties that help you from overheating. This 92% polyester, 8% elastane shirt has tiny blue circles embedded in the fabric which contain a cooling polymer. It is this small piece of technology that is responsible for the shirts ambitious name. Of course the shirt is also sweat wicking, fast-drying, and has an antimicrobial finish to help fight odor. Overall if you run in the heat at all regularly this shirt is definitely worth a look.
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About the product:

The Body fabric consists of: 92% polyester, 8% elastane

Active fit, tactile, flexible, contours nicely with body

Patented Cool.QTM ZERO provides an instantaneous and noticeable cooling sensation

Rigorously user tested for optimum quality

Patented MicroClimate ZoningTM: engineered mesh knit construction helps with ventilation

Moisture wicking, fast-drying fabric that sits light on the skin

True fit, no need to size up or down
Pros
  • Flexible for active movement
  • Patented Cool.QTM ZERO provides a noticeable difference in temperature control
  • Fast drying material
Cons
  • Sleeveless

Criteria for choosing Best Running T-shirts

Running t-shirts are as good as running shoes or any other important running gear that is why one  should be very careful when  choosing a pair of running t-shirt from the many variety offered in the market today. You can buy t-shirts with no sleeves, short sleeves, 3/4 sleeves and long sleeves. Rather than being a very simple cut, they are now cut to the needs of the different shapes of men and women. You can even get some t-shirts which contain fibres which will help maintain body heat, fight static electricity and reduce body odour!

Of course, in cold weather, you may be looking for a thermal type of t-shirt. Again this have advanced in recent years, as with warmth you still want to be able to wick away moisture from your skin to avoid chaffing.

Best running tees should be  moisture wicking and breathable. If you’ve never tried a technical running tee, trust us it will revolutionize your running, you’ll never look back! Most  should be slim or loose cut with a few form-fitting and stretchy. They wash and dry easily and will keep your running happily in warmer weather. They also work well layered under a windproof jacketin mild but wet weather.

Probably the best innovation has been in the material used. Many running t-shirts are now made from wicking material – this means that the moisture from you skin (yes some of us do sweat!) is drawn away from your body and evaporates rather than just weighing down the t-shirt and causing chaffing.

A lightweight, breathable, wicking material is useful. It should fit well and might have any of the extras mentioned above. In addition, if you run at night, some reflective strips on the t-shirt might be useful.

It is also possible to get t-shirts made out of compression material, which are designed to help reduce the onset of fatigue, by enhancing the transportation of lactic acid away from muscles.

If you are going to be running early in the morning or late at night a t-shirt or t-shirt with some reflective properties is a good idea – these are easily available.

The right running t-shirt will keep you dry and free from chaffing while you train. Luckily there are so many innovative brands offering high-tech running t-shirts, it’s hard to make a bad decision. Still, the perfect option is out there waiting for you. This guide will help you learn how to choose the best running t-shirt for your needs.

 

Factors to consider when choosing the Best Running T-shirt

So when looking for a running t-shirt think about the following;

STYLE

There are three basic styles of running t-shirts, differentiated by arm length:  short sleeve and long sleeve

SHORT SLEEVE: The most popular style of running t-shirts for men, technical short sleeve t-shirts provide flexibility and comfort when made from the right materials. Running-specific short sleeves are typically made from fabrics that will keep things nice and dry to prevent chaffing and discomfort, while still offering a high range of movement in the arms.

LONG SLEEVE: When the weather gets cooler, long sleeves keep the runner warm, whether in the form of a long sleeve base layer, pullover (some come in half-zip style), or zip-up jacket. Layering long sleeves over shorter sleeved t-shirts or tanks can be a great way to maintain comfort during a long run, especially if the weather might change. Long sleeves are typically worn during regular exercise runs or training runs. Most runners prefer to keep clothing minimal during races to maximize speed.

FABRIC

Running t-shirts are typically composed of synthetic fibers, synthetic-cotton blends or cotton fibers. Fabric type generally dictates how well the t-shirt fits, how breathable it will be and how long it will hold up in the long run.

SYNTHETIC FIBERS: Running t-shirts made of 100 percent polyester, like tech t-shirts, provide the highest amount of moisture-management for breath ability, but styles with sleeves sacrifice best fit for women. While short and long sleeve tech t-shirts tend to fit men better than women, tanks made completely from synthetic fibers do fit the female torso well. However, synthetic blends (think polyester-elastic) can also provide great fit for women in sleeved styles without sacrificing sweat wicking capabilities, especially in pullovers or zip-up jackets.

SYNTHETIC-COTTON BLENDS: Synthetic-cotton blends (like a polyester-cotton or nylon-cotton blend) tend to provide fantastic fit, while still having a good amount of sweat-wicking moisture management. These fabrics tend to be a little less breathable than completely synthetic blends and are more likely to show sweat.

COTTON FIBERS: running T-shirts made of 100% cotton, although breathable; provide the least amount of moisture management. Though breathable, they are also highly absorbent and will soak up sweat, which can lead to chaffing and overall discomfort since the t-shirt will feel heavier. That said, cotton is soft to the touch and provides a comfortable fit for shorter-distance runs.

SEASONALITY

When running in colder or unpredictable weather, it’s best to layer running t-shirts to maintain comfort through the entire run. Long sleeve base layers under a short sleeve t-t-shirt and jacket can keep the runner dry and warm in the winter. In the heat of summer, it’s best to wear as little as is comfortable on t-shirt to avoid overheating.

REFLECTIVITY

Most running jackets and some t-t-shirts and tanks have reflective strips on either the back or arms to help keep visibility as high as possible for running in the dark and around areas with high vehicle and bicycle traffic. Some materials like 3M’s Scotch lite can reflect light up to 160 Meters (a car can see a person wearing dark colors at 30 meters, giving over five times the distance for a car to recognize you on the road).

Comfort

Another very important criterion when choosing the best running t-shirt for your routine is comfort.  . Any chafing, rubbing, or pressure points are greatly magnified when running because of the natural bouncing action of the body. Add in long distances and time and you can see why comfort is so critical. The most comfortable packs were the ones that used elastic and stretchy material to hug the body, rather than adjustable straps. While adjustable straps, especially on the sides, allow for greater adjust ability, they also rub and chafe more. Packs that included shoulder adjustment straps tended to be more comfortable than those without because of the fine-tuned fit.

A well comfortable running t-shirt will give the runner an easy time running and not concentrate on the t-shirt but the exercise.

Apparel Basics

Running t-shirts are typically made to block wind, retain warmth, and repel water. Most running apparel is made from a lightweight polyester blend; although, you’ll see many brands use special fabric technology to put their own spin on the classic blend. Running jackets and t-shirts are ideal for chilly weather and dusk, when temperatures drop and reflectivity is necessary.

Suit Your Needs Before buying a running t-shirt. It is important to assess your running environment and personal preferences. Is it typically cold where you live or would a lightweight mesh jacket be sufficient? Do you get cold easily or do you need more ventilation? Since you know your body better than anyone, be sure to choose a running t-shirt based upon your comfort level. For those who often encounter windy conditions, a running t-shirt would be more suitable than a jacket, provided that the temperature is mild enough where sleeves aren’t necessary. Running t-shirts do an excellent job at blocking the cold wind so you can retain more heat. Running jackets provide greater coverage and warmth, while some still offer excellent breathability. After assessing your environment, start choosing which specific features you want your running apparel to have

Functionality

Many women enjoy wearing sports t-shirts both inside and outside the gym. Today’s sports t-shirts are well-designed and stylish affairs that can look as good on an errand run as they can in a yoga class. Many sports t-shirts feature reinforced bra support elements, making them very comfortable garments to wear. Razorback sports t-shirts are particularly popular as they give arms a full range of motion and also add more support to the chest.

Other factors to consider are;

Get the Right Size: A good running t-shirt should fit more like a model’s T-shirt than a skater’s hoody. The baggier it is the more drag you’ll create and the less warm it will be.

Know Your Features: If you often run at night, go for a t-shirt that’s big on reflectivity. A zip is useful if you get hot quickly, while thumb loops are a nice touch to keep hands warm and t-shirt cold air going up your sleeves. Get a hood if your ears are prone to icing up and a neck gaiter if you want maximum skin coverage.

 

Frequently Asked Questions.

Q. What is technical running t-shirt fabric?

Technical fabric is lightweight, high performance fabric designed to move moisture away from the skin. This helps you control your body heat — even in cold temperatures!

Technical fabric typically uses synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester or Lycra.

For attire that will keep you dry and comfortable during your run, st-shirt by our store and let our staff help you find running and walking clothing to fit your needs.

Technical Fabric is Breathable

When running, you want breathable fabric. Breath ability is defined by determining by how much air flows through fabric in one minute, and is measured in cubic feet per minute.

  • Synthetic t-t-shirt: breath ability rating of 150 cfm.
  • Cotton t-t-shirt: breath ability rating of 30 cfm.
  • Garbage bag: breath ability rating of 0 cfm.

It’s easy to see the best option: technical fabric. In this example, technical fabric made from synthetic materials allows your body to breathe, sweat efficiently, and regulate core temperature.

Wearing a technical t-shirt keeps you cooler because moisture is moved away from your skin to a greater surface area. This allows evaporation to occur more rapidly, meaning a synthetic t-shirt can keep you dryer and cooler than not wearing a t-shirt!

Technical Fabric for running t-shirts is Lightweight

In addition to breath ability, weight is an important factor to consider when choosing running apparel.

Because technical fabric is designed to wick moisture away from skin, it stays lighter throughout your workout — versus cotton, which holds moisture.

On its own, a dry standard cotton t-t-shirt weighs about 8.5 ounces, whereas a dry standard synthetic t-shirt weighs about 4.5 ounces. When sweat is added, the cotton t-shirt becomes even heavier.

Q. How do I care for or wash my running t-shirt?

A. it is recommended that you care and wash your t-shirt by;

  • Wash on low heat 30 degree, cool wash
  • Wash t-shirt turned inside out
  • Avoid washing t-shirts with items that have zips
  • Avoid drying in long periods of direct sunlight
  • Do not add bleach to the wash
  • Do not tumble dry after washing
  • Hang dry
  • Do not iron print
Q. Why can I not have a water based print on ALL T-shirt colours?

A. Some garment colours do not discharge very well. Strong, bright colours such as purple, royal blue and kelly green are difficult to remove colour from. Some black garments can also be problematic depending on the t-shirt dye , and the polyester content. It is best to contact us for our recommendations when discharge printing is required.

We’ve titled this guide “best” running t-shirts, but the thing is “best” can be subjective to a degree. There are very few absolute “bests” when it comes to these type of things. So we’ve gone for a bit of variety. Herein you’ll find t-shirts that get style points, t-shirts that a dream-like comfortable, t-shirts that are high performance, t-shirts that are meant for hot conditions, t-shirts that are reflective  and t-shirts that are just downright cool. Did we cover all of it? Phew!

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