Best Running Apparel Tested
With the seasons changing, it’s time to think about the right running apparel to keep pace with you and the weather.
From wicking shirts to light jackets to shorts, we have got you covered. Adjusting to temperature changes, weather conditions and daylight savings just got a lot easier with these top ten pieces to make your run more comfortable, safer and even more fun!
The choices for good performance running apparel are a lot and at times it is difficult to be sure of what is exactly right for you. Choosing the best running apparel to work with other elements of your collective running gear is very important, for example, you may well choose a perfect pair of very good running shoes but lose out on comfort and performance through not choosing an equally high-performance pair of running socks.
Choosing a running hoodie which works for you can go wrong if you choose to wear a shirt underneath which is cheap, not very well made and lacks wicking ability and gives a bad overall fit. Getting the right combination of running apparel to form part of your collection of running gear can be best achieved through reading trusted reviews and re-visiting the reviews so that you stay in touch with innovative running apparel updates.
Here we offer a great selection of running apparel which covers all the seasons and many of our chosen products can be worn through more than one season, giving you value for money.
Let’s take a quick look at a person who is a prolific runner and takes on all sorts of running. From this profile, we can backtrack in terms of needed running gear right down to the most basic running styles and basic running gear.
Profile: I am serious about running and I appreciate the benefits which are good for my health, my psychology, my overall well being and even my social life. I run in all the yearly seasons regardless of the weather conditions, I run locally, try out different types of trail runs, I run in triathlons and I even run obstacle courses. I have five pairs of running shoes and all of them are different, eleven short sleeved and singlet t shirts , a dozen pairs of socks, four diffent types of running jackets, six pairs of shorts, three pairs of compression tights, nine sets of runners underwear, four hoodies two of which are fleece lined, a light weight runners back pack, seven pairs of running shorts, a nice choice of seasonal head gear etc etc etc. When I look out the window and I double check the weather forecaste online, I then go and select from my running gear the exact combination of running apparel which I will wear.
It’s taken me time to get together the perfect combination of running apparel to ensure I can comfortably run all year round and I am a regular visitor to online reviews and always looking for updated innovative running gear. I think investing in the right apparel for running has not been expensive because I did it gradually and it has been money well spent.
- Under Armour Tech Hoodie
- Moisture Transport System
- Nike Dry Fit Element Top
- Dry fabric + Dri-FIT
- Champion Long Mesh Short
- Light breathable mesh
Best Pieces Of Running Apparel
1. Under Armour Tech Popover Hoodie
The UA Tech Pop Over Hoodie is an excellent choice for an active lifestyle. Runners appreciate its design, which is simultaneously comfortable with a relaxed fit, and also high performing with several sports' minded design elements. The knit fabric is soft but also functional with a quick drying technology built into the fabric. The color options are great - select from dark or bright red, cobalt blue, green or classic hues like grey or black. It's a great transitional piece and serves the dual purpose of meeting all athletic expectations with an on-trend aesthetic.
The Under Armour trademark Moisture Transport System confidently wicks perspiration and keeps runners dry. The UA fabric is designed for quick-dry with an ultra soft knit that feels natural. Wearer's are assured a comfortable run, no matter how long or what the conditions! Anti odor technology is one more feature that allows runners to feel sure of freshness - a great component especially when a run is followed by an impromptu lunch date. The 2-snap placket, contrast stitching and lining are perfect touches on this multi-purpose Henley.
Reasonably priced - taking into consideration how dual-purposed this hoodie is.
- Several great colors
- Quick dry materials
- Moisture Wicking technology
- Soft, relaxed fabric
- Material is very thin.
2. Nike Dry Element Half Zip Running Top
The Dry Element Long Sleeve Running Top is so well fitted and trendy that it’ll easily transition from ride to dinner-ready at the local eatery. It comes in several hues, including soft shades of heather grey green. If you like a “pop” of color, you can enjoy a fun shade of pink, purple or blue (just to name a few). What’s really wonderful about the Dry Element top is the soft, cozy feel. Even with the confidence of Dri-FIT wicking fabric, texture isn’t sacrificed. Additionally, flat seams translate into an even smoother fit.
In this pullover, 88% Dri-FIT meets 12% polyester and spandex for a comfy, confident stretch fit that provides excellent flexibility and range of motion. Built-in reflective features mean a safer run no matter the weather, lighting or time of day or night. Accent features like thumbholes at the cuffs keep runners warmer and customize the fit and style. Add a media-cord loop positioned at the upper back and it’s ready-set-go!
This pullover is moderately priced for optimum apparel.
- Dri-FIT technology meets ultra comfort
- Media Cord loop
- Slightly higher end price
3. New Balance Lite Packable Jacket
Ultra stylish and simultaneously lightweight, the New Balance Lite Packable Jacket is also convenient. We like the ease of packing it into its own zipped chest pocket. A perforated logo down the back makes for on-trend breathability and ventilation without the sacrifice of cool and the navy blue selection is extremely handsome. Spring means a few unpredictable showers, winds and changes in lighting. This versatile jacket lets you combat fluctuations in the elements safely without hindering the fun of the run.
The jacket weighs a mere pound and is made of 100% nylon and Nab Dry for enhanced moisture control and faster drying capability. A perforated logo down the back does double-duty as a ventilation system for chic breathability. The 360 reflective tape logo and trim provides visibility and safety. The hood tie down, located at the back of the neck, is a nice stability feature while the zip pocket storage meets our standard of convenience. With such a versatile and well-functioning jacket, runners can keep their focus on the ride, where it should be.
This is an average priced piece of running gear.
- Reflective 360 degree tape and trim
- Great price point
- Ultra lightweight
- Not many color choices
4. Champion Long Mesh Shorts
The Champion Long Mesh Short makes a great running and everyday short. Casual and athletic, it's perfect for a run, workout, or just hanging out. A favorite aspect is that it comes in a variety of colors - 22 to be exact! It also comes in a range of sizes, small through XXX-large. So basically this really is "every guy's" perfect short. Enjoy the breathable, relaxed style of the Champion Long Mesh Short and hit the trails, the courts or your favorite diner in comfort.
This short packs some nice features into its casually athletic appearance, including two sizeable pockets for storage and a draw string for a secure, right-sized fit. These are made out of breathable, 100% polyester for a comfortable cool feeling. The lightweight mesh short has a convenient elastic waistband and is machine washable. These shorts truly are easy, athletic and functional.
Reasonably priced - wouldn't hurt to grab a few pairs at the great price point and so many colors to choose from.
- Casual athletic, everyday style
- Pockets for storage
- Many colors
- Fit varied - use provided size chart, may run large
5. Under Armour Tech Short Sleeve
A smooth, brushed fabric makes this comfy t-shirt a favorite. The loose fit looks great running or for a social gathering. The aesthetic defines its wearer as both athletic and casual. Being so light and comfortable, we promise this shirt will become a favorite. Throw it on for a fun run then just...have fun!
This is where it gets interesting. The technology within this seemingly everyday t-shirt is outstanding. On long runs or workouts it can't be missed that the fabric is cooling, quick drying and ultra soft and natural feeling. UA patented Tech fabric provides fast drying while the Moisture Transport System wicks sweat quickly and assists with drying. A loose cut translates to mobility for better running and overall comfort. You'll still love your favorite old t-shirt, but the tech promises to become your favorite new.
Excellent price for the performance
- Trademark wicking and drying fabric
- Soft, natural, lightweight feel
- Many colors
- Great loose cut but make sure not to order compression or fitted, both offered under the same descriptive heading.
6. Tesla Compression Base Layer Short Capris
The Tesla Compression Capri makes a bold apparel statement. Its modern aesthetic reflects the concept of "machine" as much as apparel. We especially like the orange hue selection, but you can choose from several colors including black, red and gray. Sporting compression wear that is as high functioning as the Tesla Capri will enhance your athleticism and fuel your fun. You'll feel all the part of a serious runner and look it, too.
The compression capri has a flat-lock seam for a smoother fit and seamless feel. Worry not about a run in the sun with the UPF 50, which shields over 99% of harmful rays. The compression design assists with early recovery after a tough run or hard workout by helping to control blood flow and prevent muscle pain. The fabric technology has a built in deodorization function, repelling odors connected to residue, sweat and grime. The all-season apparel is designed for all seasons, wicking moisture, releasing heat and offering a cooling effect. Truly, a these tights are well-engineered and will enhance your run.
Shockingly reasonable for the value
- Wicking, heat release and cooling fabric
- UPF 50 Protection
- Flat lock seam
- Early recovery benefits
- Should purchase a size larger than usual, runs small.
7. Champion PowerTrain Performance Tee
The Champion PowerTrain Performance Tee is a must have for runners who appreciate a pretty transitional piece for everyday. Available in many colors and a nice range of sizes, wearers can also choose between a V-neck, scoop neck or crewneck. The softness might easily distract from the performance value, but this little tee has both. Enjoy comfort and fashion while reaping the benefits of a well crafted fabric boasting the latest performance technologies.
The 100% Polyester material is machine washable and designed with Quick Drying Champion Vapor technology which helps to wick and evaporate sweat and moisture. The fabric is designed for extreme softness and comfort and includes chafe-resistant flat lock seams for a smoother fit. At 4.8 ounces, this is a throw-it-on and forget-about-it kind of tee, except that the softness lends itself to a constant reminder. We can live with that.
Good price point for a well fitted tee with additional components that ensure a performance-with-comfort run
- Trademark wicking and moisture absorbing fabric
- Extremely soft
- 3 styles to choose from
- Each style (crew, V-neck or scoop) has unique elements so be sure to pick a design with the features desired.
8. CW-X Stabilyx Tights
This fabulous looking tight is a must have for any runner who appreciates a great fashion piece. The trendy style is matched with excellent support in all the right places, including the core for a toned, even appearance. The color schemes and patterns are so fun, you can't help but feel airier and lighter on your feet. A bonus for runners!
Components that make this tight more than a fun fashion piece include anatomically engineered, gender specific comfort and ease of motion, flat seam construction to protect against abrasions, "flash" reflective logo for nighttime visibility, a key pocket and double reinforced waistband with draw cord for a more secure fit. Finally, for wicking the fabric is comprised of 80% Coolmax and Lycra for stretch, with UPF 40 protection for an extra fun run in the sun!
A bit pricey but for the fashionable fun with equal parts performance, we think it's a great value!
- Excellent for joint support
- Fabulous colors and patterns
- Coolmax wicking fabric
- Must use size chart for fitting details
- Slightly higher priced
9. Skirt Sports Gym Girl Ultra Skirt
Taking the prize for most colors and sizes, the Gym Girl Ultra Skirt With Athletic Shorts is available in 27 hues and a very wide range of sizes. With a philosophy encouraging all women to feel great in their bodies (and their running gear), Skirt Sports ensures a versatile collection of prints, themes, colors and sizes with the objective that all women will run (and love athleticism) with extreme confidence. Mission accomplished!
Look forward to a dual commitment of fit and flare with a semi-compression short beneath a light skirt. A fabric fusion of Jersey, Polyester, LYCRA, and mesh provide moisture wicking support with motion and flexibility as well as just-right compression for a toned aesthetic. 5" shorts stay neatly tucked beneath a 13.5" skirt (add another inch for the backside). Two pockets located on the shorts' legs create storage for keys, phone, cards or other small necessities. Add a built-in Sonic Music Port for media headset cord and run for miles in a rhythmic bliss.
Slightly pricey but this two-for-one is a lot of value for the cost
- 27 colors
- Fitted shorts for a toned appearance and comfort with a pretty, light skirt for a feminine aesthetic
- Moisture wicking
- Slightly higher end
10. Under Armour Fly By Run Short
Great colors and an attractive fit make this short a favorite. Race tones like red/white or unique hues like anthracite/harmony/red/reflective and several options in between create options for every taste. While the fit isn't snug, it's also not loose. A close to the skin fit without compression feels comfortable and looks amazing. Feminine, scalloped cuffs contrasted with mesh side panels add a pretty yet urban accent. Flattering and functional, this short is a winner for runners!
So much technology is packed into this short, it's unbelievable. HeatGear, an Under Armour trademark technology, keeps perspiration wicked away from the skin and moves it quickly to the surface where it evaporates. Built-in briefs assist in odor protection and comfort, while Moisture Transport System technology provides wick protection back up. Add a cute elastic waist band with draw cord. The fact that the brand is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and we have a hit!
These shorts are priced around the average for similar items.
- Member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition
- Fitted without being tight
- Cute scalloped detailing
- Dual wicking technologies
- Some experienced bunching in the front, which can be resolved with size adjustment.
11. Men's Odlo Evolution Warm Long Sleeve Tee
This long sleeved shirt is lightweight and a very good baselayer which feels comfortable and gives a nice fit.
The fabric density is varied and focuses on giving high moisture wick performance in targeted areas such as the armpits.
Comfort, warmth and good protection for those chilly cold weather runs.
Designed with a body-hugging seamless construction, slip this on under another shirt or running jacket and you are sure of warmth and protection.
Zero chance of skin irritation from this fabric which is light and while giving protection against the cold it also gives the right amount of protection.
This is underwear for sports designed to the maximum with runners needs in mind and can also be used for other outdoor sports activities.
A high performing moisture wicking fabric which ensures you stay dry, warm and comfortable.
The shirt has strategic zones where material density is designed to promote wick and ensure dry comfort.
The shirt is seam free so little chance of irritation from rubbing seams.
Odor build up and prevention is technically designed into the shirt so little chance of the growth of odor-creating bacteria. The rear hem of the shirt is longer to ensure consistent body coverage during body movement.
The shirt design hugs the body while also ensuring appropriate airflow combined with insulation.
Offered at a price which comfortably reflects value for money.
Good comfortable fit.
Limited range of colors
12. SKINS Men's A400 Compression Long Tights
Through a dynamic application, compression is applied in right amounts to muscles, and the level of compression works in conjunction with the movements of a runner.
These running tights give perfect all round fit and top performance, blood flow is very effectively stimulated to feed muscles and enhance performance.
Read on and find out more about these top running tights.
The benefits result from the high performance of the compression tech designed into these running pants.
Blood flow is stimulated, oxygen update by working muscles is increased, muscle groups are anchored and stronger energy output results in better forward momentum. The level of vibration to muscles is greatly reduced which means your muslces will feel much less soreness after a challenging run and recovery time will be quicker.
Stay comfortable and dry due to wrap knitted fabric which promotes moisture wicking, you also get reduced odor problems through innovative anti-bacterial tech.
MX fabric is strategically targeted around the TFL and ITB muscles to enable easy movement with effective controlled compression.
Compression is dynamic and provides appropriate levels of compression for different muscles which in turn inhibits lactic acid build up, alleviates muscle tiredness and greatly reduces the effects of vibration.
These tights can be worn for running in all seasons, the clothing tech ensures warmth in winter and coolness in warmer weather. Stay free from chafe problems due to the A-seams which have a stretch factor, great skin comfort free from irritations due to flatly bonded hems.
A good back pocket for securely carrying a small item and these pants even provide a level 50 UV protection factor, for being seen in dark evenings or morning the pants have designed in reflectivity at 360 degrees,
A fair price to pay for a pair of very high-performance compression pants.
Enhanced blood circulation leading to better muscle performance
Moisture wick performance is very good.
Anti Odor capability
The price is a little higher but this reflects value for money
13. Men's Stance Fusion Run Crew Socks
The socks give smartly targeted compression to those areas of the run which will benefit a runner such as the ankles, arches and the sock length ensures warmth for the lower leg area.
This is a good performing sock for wearing during the fall and/or during the cold winter months.
The socks are offered in a very wide choice of highly attractive & artistic individualistic designs. You look seriously stylish and fashionable while getting high performance, protection, and comfort.
It's easy to say that these high performing socks offer maximum style in a very broad range of choice.
When sock style features are designed by artists you just know that you are going to get a unique range of styles to choose from and all the styles are incredibly creative, stunning and appealing. Think of a combination of colors and dersigns and it is highly likely that these socks offer that choice for you.
The cushion factor is strategically designed into the sock to offer superb protective comfort and this is topped off with very thoughtfully designed compression capability to ensure top performance from the sock.
The list of features built into these stylish attractive socks are truly impressive:
Sock height is-crew length for protective warmth.
Air channeling ventilation combined with high performing strategically built in cushioning
To performance wick factor and designed for targetted compression.
The hell and toe areas are reinforced for comfort and durability.
Durability, protection and comfort through a combination of fabrics: Elastane at 4%, Combed cotton at 5%, Polyester at 18% and Nylon at 73%.
The good news is that these socks might cost just a little more than basic socks but you get a long-term highly durable sock which looks stylish and provides, protection, comfort, and very good performance.
An incredible choice of highly attractive designs and colors
Great built-in cushion, strategically placed for maximum protection
Good performing wick-factor
Targetted designed in compression
Calf length for warm protection and secure FIT
Reinforced at the heel and toe
Thoughtfully designed in ventilation capability
A combination of fabrics giving long-term durability, comfort and a good level of protection
There are some runners that prefer a simple one color design.
14. Men's Asics Lite Show Winter Jacket
Fully windproof and giving the right level of breathability to ensure dryness and comfort, each side of the jacket has two spacious good sized secure pockets so you can carry all that you need.
A very stylish and protection function fleece lined collar which can be fully zipped up to ensure 100% protection against the cold wind. The wrist cuffs are ergonomically designed to stop the sleeves riding up and also keep out chilly wind.
This is a nice light-weight highly protective jacket offering really nice comfort and functionality.
Comfort and style radiate from the nice FIT, a very appealing design style, the jacket holds nicely to the body but is loose enough to enable flexible mobility.
High performing thermal insulation is designed into the jacket to ensure consistent warmth and protection.
Excellent for protection against cold chilly winds and light rain, the zip system can serve a double purpose, fully zipped it closes up a fleece lined collar around the neck area to keep you super warm, adjust the zip down to serve towards regulating your body temperature while you run.
Impressive features which get straight to the point with regards to comfort, style, performance, and protection.
You get an extended back hem for maximum practical coverage.
Strategically designed in reflective tech to ensure visibility, even when street lights are off.
Secure hold and FIT, cuff system which is ergonomically designed for secure hold and protection.
Two good sized pockets which can securely carry anything you want.
A fabric which is highly p[rotective against the wind while also giving good breathability, dryness and warmth.
The price, when measured against product performance and value for money, is really comfortably affordable.
Top notch protection against cold wind
Good protective fabric with breathability
Built-in thermal protection
Two nice sized side pockets.
Fleece lined collar
Very good reflective clothing tech strategically built into the jacket
Very nice style
Great for use with layered clothing
Not for serious heavy duty rain
15. Montane Allez Micro Hoodie - SS18
The thoughtful designing involved for this hoodie deserves to be applauded, the weight ratio to warmth capability means you will retain warmth but you won't find yourself overheating. The clothing tech is innovative and has hit the right balance for retaining heat but allowing a degree of cooling combined with high-performance wick-ability.
Further personal body temperature control can be done through manipulating the sturdy half zip system, if you want to feel warmer zip it up, cooler and you simply adjust the zip to allow ventilative air flow. Simple body temperature regulation which puts you in full control.
The designers have built in flatlock seam systems as added protection against friction/chaffing, the top incorporates a design which allows for arm articulation ( free unrestricted movement) while also ensuring arm movement does not pull on the hems at the waist.
For light-weight combined with performance, this hoodie is design specific and heads for ten out of ten and it's also good for using as layered clothing.
The hood has stretch factor so when you use it, the hood shapes to a great FIT and stays in place and a very light piece of versatile clothing for runners.
Style is beyond question, this style offers a unique appeal which is comfortable and stylish. Comfort is assured even when wearing it in combination with other clothing for layered comfort and protection.
The high performing wick capability ensures a dry comfortable experience and the heat balancing combination of fabrics will ensure you stay comfortably warm.
The hood fabrics are protective and have stretchability so when you pull on the hood it snugly shapes for a secure FIT.
In terms of seasonal weather wear, your not restricted, wear it as a layer item in the very cold winter months, it will perform with other layers of clothing, you can be creative and wear this hoodie for much of the year -excluding hot summer months.
The features built into this jacket speak volumes in terms of creative and thoughtful high-performance clothing for sports or casual wear.
Heat-balancing PowerGrid combined clothing tech, stretch factor from spandex at 9% which is just enough for good performance without overstretching, durable, protective wick giving polyester at 91%.
This unique knit of fabrics ensures moisture if lifted from the skin surface while reducing the potential of odors through designed in Silver ion.
Plenty of freedom for arm articulation without the pull on other areas of the hoodie such as secure hem areas.
A hood which stretches to shape snugly to the head, flatlock seams ensure a minimal risk of friction resulting in uncomfortable skin chafing.
Fabrics are synthetic so you get durability combined with performance. The half zip system is protected by a wind resistant strip and you can use the zipper as an additional temperature regulation tool.
The hoodie is very easy to slip off or on and easy to clean.
The jacket sits at comfortably affordable while offering good style and performance for runners or even as casual wear and is very light-weight.
Stretch FIT hood
Very good wick capability
Very nice for thoughtful layering with other clothing
Use the half zip system for temperature regulation
Protective and durable
Avoid heavy-duty rain and use as per the design/conditions for which it was made
The Criteria We Used To Find The Best Running Apparel
Whether you are just starting out or a more seasoned veteran in the world of running, we know you have a LOT of options to choose from when it comes to what to wear for your runs. The global revenue numbers for the running apparel industry estimate that annual sales are over $145 billion, and constantly growing. And as technologies change and running trends evolve, so too does the way a consumer runs and works out. Long gone are the days of one or two big-name companies having a monopoly over the running apparel industry. Just walk into any running or athletic clothing store and you will easily find at least fifteen different manufacturers putting out clothes, all of whom declare themselves as the best option for you. So how do you choose? What do you really need in an article of running clothing? And how/what metrics should you use to narrow down your options from such a wide range of styles and brands? The following criteria are the metrics we used to find the best all-around pieces of running apparel for everyone from beginners to experts.
From long-sleeved shirts and tights, to adverse weather gear, to shorts that keep you cool in the heat, we know you have got to stay comfortable. Your weekly schedule is already packed with an ever-growing to-do list, your muscles are already tired before you start, and the workout on your training plan is killer. It might not take much of the pain away, but having a comfortable wardrobe at least helps makes the grind just a little less grinding. With so many different styles and options of running clothes, we have considered several aspects of comfort.
The fit – Running clothes can easily be too tight or too loose, and finding your specific “sweet spot” is not always easy. They should be fitted enough that they comfortably snug your skin without being overly constricting. (However, in the case of base layer clothing, such as running tights, the fit should be a bit tighter than just a regular pair of running trousers. There should not be a lot of extra fabric that gathers and bunches as you move, but should remain so close against your body that it acts almost like a second layer of skin.) You want to avoid a lot of excessively loose-hanging fabric, as that will get heavy and uncomfortable once you start to sweat, and will weigh you down – not to mention, if it is REALLY loose it might start to hurt as it flop against you during your run. On the other hand, clothes that are too constricting will make it harder to pump your arms and move your legs faster. Seam lines that are fitted too tight against your body can cut into your skin. This list of best running apparel contains items that have minimal seams to decrease rubbing and eliminate chafing. The same can be said for ultra-tight waist bands. Opt for pieces that have easily adjustable elastic waistbands. Overall, the clothes contained in our list are all fitted in a way that the wearer hardly notices them much at all; they are flexible in such a way that they move easily with you without constricting or inhibiting your run.
The material – Advances in running clothes and the material used to make them are growing. The first thing to remember when picking out a piece of running clothing – from pants to tops to sports bras and even socks – is that pieces made from cotton should be at the bottom of your choice list. While your favorite pair of fitted jeans might be 100% cotton, this fabric tends to chafe easily because it does not wick moisture well. Instead, cotton holds onto water and soaks it up so that when you sweat, your cotton clothes will become heavy and hot (which is just about the last thing you want to experience on your mid-day run in the summer in 90+ degree heat). Instead, you want to look for clothes made out of “technical fabric;” aka, fabric that is breathable, light, moves well with you, and ventilates moisture away from your body to help control body heat in both hot and cold conditions. Examples of technical fabric include nylon, polyester, spandex, and Lycra. Typically, as in the case for most of the items on this list, you will find blends of different ratios of these fabrics. Different blends of fabrics create different feels, so it is important that you know what feels best to you.
To be competitive among top ranking running apparel brands, clothes need to be stylish. Long gone are the days in which running apparel was purely functional. With the popularity of “athleisure wear” on the rise, workout clothes now should be cute and practical. It is especially important that your workout clothes be easily transitional – that is, that you can go straight from the grocery store to your kids’ soccer game to the running trails, all the while looking chic. All the pieces on this list are definitely stylish enough to be seen outside the darkness of your basement home gym. (Yet, they are not so overly trendy that they’ll be out of style next week.) Think about specifics for tops versus bottoms, as well. For instance, consider necklines for your shirts. Among some popular styles to choose from include crew necks, v-necks, and scoop necks. What you choose, and what is included in this list, are stylish as well as functional. Many of the options on this list also come in various colors and patterns. A complete running wardrobe is not only practical, but should be as fun and unique as you.
3. Durability and Performance
Your running performance is the most important factor by which to judge what is the best running apparel. Whether you base performance off of time, mileage, or just personal enjoyment, the best running clothes stand up to whatever conditions you are exposed to throughout your training season. We first consider how each piece of clothing endures the particular temperatures and weather conditions it is designed to be worn in. The heat gear on this list will keep you cool even on the hottest of afternoons and the cold-weather gear will keep you warm on the chilliest of mornings. If a piece of clothing is supposed to keep you dry on a rainy day, then it should do just that. Compression clothes should be both supportive and aid in early recovery. In some instances, running clothes are made to be dual-purpose in that they were created to serve more than one function or be worn for multiple purposes. Again, if a jacket is supposed to both keep you warm when it is cold and keep you dry during a spring shower, then it needs to live up to its branding. Our list of running apparel functions in the ways in which they are made to and remain true to their advertising.
The clothes on this list should also hold up well even over the course of multiple training seasons and thus, multiple washes. We know you don’t want to waste your money on a pair of running tights that you only get a couple uses out of, so we have ensured that all the clothes on our list of best-running apparel stand the test of time (and of the washing machine).
4. Special Features
To make a list of the Best Running Apparel, the clothes have got to have a little something extra. There are hundreds of running apparel options to choose from, so to be on this list, we found the clothes that have the “bells and whistles” that set them above and beyond competitors.
Some common features that you will likely find in any quality piece of running attire, and which are included in this list, include reflective features (most commonly found on shoes but nowadays more and more tops/shorts/pants/hats are being made with reflective strips) to ensure safety in darker running conditions, anti-odor technology that both keeps you dry and keeps your sweaty stench at bay, and contain some way for you to stow essentials. Multiple pockets are becoming more and more popular, and are often made to hold specific essentials (such as a small, narrow pocket for your car or house key, and wider and easy-to-reach pocket for gels and fuel, and a narrow pocket in cold-weather gear through which to slip your headphone cords). On our list, you’ll find some variation of all of the above mentioned features in one capacity or another. In addition, some of the items (such as the New Balance Lite Rain Jacket) are made with travel and limited gym bag space in mind, so they can be easily condensed to a small, packable size. Even the simplest features shouldn’t be overlooked: half-zip features (such as the Nike Dry Element Half Zip Running Top) are handy because they keep you super warm when you need it, and can be adjusted to cool you down as temperatures start to rise.
We know you work hard for your money, and we know the sacrifices that you have to make to stick to your training plan and reach your running goals. You shouldn’t have to worry about your running clothes letting you down after just a few wears, nor should you need to take out a second mortgage to be able to buy new stuff when what you’ve purchased falls apart far too soon. Running clothes CAN be expensive – but they don’t HAVE to be. Our list of best running apparel features pieces that are durable, versatile, come equipped with special features, are made from technical fabrics, and still won’t break your budget. Running apparel brands range from very cheap to ultra expensive, but you can count on the items on our list to be reasonably priced among competitors without sacrificing quality or performance.
Other Things to Think About When Purchasing Running Apparel
What season, temperatures, and/or conditions will you be running in?
Some of the items on this list are meant specifically for colder weather or cooler climates. However, if you call Southern Florida home, there are very few days out of the year that you will need a long-sleeved shirt or running tights when you’re out on the road. Perhaps purchasing one is a wise investment (especially if you ever intend to travel a bit north) but you won’t need to fill your closet. The same can be said for other items on this list – if you live in a very dry, arid climate, a pricier rain jacket might not be worth your money, whereas those of us who run year-round in Oregon definitely need the best rain gear we can get. One important factor to consider in regards to climate, no matter where you live, is purchasing clothes that comes equipped with UPF sun protection (that is, Ultraviolet Protection Factor which measures UV protection capabilities of fabrics). Even if where you live and run tends to only see cloudy days, the damaging effect of the sun’s UV rays can be detrimental to your skin, and overexposure is a serious concern. The highest UPF rating is is 50 (meaning it only allows 1/50th of UV rays to pass through, blocking 98% UV radiation). Several pieces of clothes on this list come with excellent UPF protection.
Are you a male or female?
This might seem like a bit of a no brainer, but not all the clothes featured on this list are meant to be unisex. The shirts designed specifically for men won’t fit the female build correctly, and guys probably won’t have much interest in running skirts. However, pieces like the rain jacket can probably be worn comfortably by either gender. Also, if you do see something that is specifically intended for the opposite gender, chances are the same brand sells something very similar (and similarly priced) for your gender.
How are you naturally built?
Part of the beauty of the running community, and running in general, is that it is certainly not limited to one kind of body or body type. Running is for everybody, and for everybody. Even among the highest ranking professionals, individual body sizes and builds vary. Therefore, you might absolutely fall in love with a brand or style of clothing online that just does not fit you or your natural build. But never fear! There are so many options to choose from today, that you are sure to find something that is uniquely YOU without sacrificing quality, price, or convenience. If you have broader shoulders, you might not be as comfortable in a typical, form-fitted long-sleeved shirt. If you are taller, not all pants and tights are going to be long enough. It’s best to know your body, what you are comfortable wearing during your run, and then what you specifically need.
What is your personal style?
Some runners like to keep it simple, both when it comes to running attire and their everyday wardrobe. They primarily stick to neutrals and keep it basic when it comes to style. They are minimalists and don’t particularly care about hidden pockets and extra features. No fuss, no frills. Some even identify as “ninja runners” because you’ll find them out on the trail dressed head to toe in nothing but black or dark colors. If that’s you, then you’ll more likely lean toward very traditional running clothes, styles, and colors. However, some runners like to stand out. They want their shoes, shorts, and tops to be as colorful and bold as their personalities. For these runners, options of running clothes that come in a variety of patterns, colors, and styles are probably more suitable. They will likely be some of the first to try a new, unique-looking piece of athletic wear.
What time of day do you prefer to run?
Until the dream of getting paid to run for a living comes true, most of us have jobs, school, or parent/spousal duties and other commitments that take up the majority of our daylight hours. Especially during the colder months when daylight is shorter, you might never see the sun beside through your office window. Sometimes, running in the dark or limited light is all we can manage, so you’ve got to make the best of it (and stay safe). If you’re an early morning or late night runner, opt for running clothes that come with reflective strips and in a variety of bright colors and noticeable patterns.
Do you prefer the trails or the pavement?
Knowing WHERE you’ll be doing your running is a huge factor when picking out appropriate running materials. Obviously, if you’re strictly a treadmill runner, then clothes that come equipped with multiple pockets and features probably isn’t of high concern to you. If you stick close to home and just jog the streets of your neighborhood, then you probably still aren’t very concerned with all the fun features; but if you plan to log some serious mileage out on the roads (and especially if you plan to go off-roading on the trails) it’s critical that you purchase running clothes that have pockets for your fuel and essentials like your phone and music device, if you run with one. Above all else, it is most important to consider your personal safety and how your clothes can help!
Q. What is the price range of the items on this list?
Because value is such an important metric by which we use to measure our products, everything on this list of running apparel stands up well to competitors in terms of price. For long-sleeved shirts, you’ll pay around $20-$25 and for short sleeves, you’ll stay around the $15-$20 mark (very reasonably priced, compared to other brands). Tights and running skirts are going to be a little pricier, between $50-$75, but shorts are more reasonable at around $30.
Q. How can I ensure the quality of my clothes?
Certain brands of clothes – including a few on this list – are apart of the SAC, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. The SAC is an organization that promotes the sustainable production of clothes, shoes, and home textiles around the world. Using the Higg Index, the SAC measures a manufacturer’s environmental, social, and labor sustainability and then ranks them. The goal of the SAC is to improve the efficiency of these companies while reducing harmful risks to the environment and the people employed there. As a member of the SAC, a company ensures that their products are made with integrity, of high quality, and sustainably.
Q. Can I wash it in the washing machine?
While all of the items on this list are machine washable, it’s advised to always pay attention to specific washing instructions for each product to avoid shrinkage and to maintain optimal performance and condition for longer.
Q. Does it travel well?
One of the best ways to see a new city or place is on foot, so it’s important to have running clothes that you can easily pack and take with you. Clothes that travel well can be folded up to a small size and fit neatly away in all sizes of suitcases and bags, including in your carry-on and any size gym bag.
Q. What colors can I get?
Most of the items come in the standard neutral tones, such as black, grey, and dark blue. Especially for the models designed for women though, there are a wide range of other colors (and even patterns) on this list, from pinks and reds to blues and greens. Be wary though – in some instances, a certain color will increase or change the price.