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17 Best Running Tops: Men, Women & Kids (2020)

Here we have compiled 17 of the best running tops in the UK, which include men's running tops, women's, and juniors. 

We all know that spring and summer are around the corner, but our list of running shirts is strictly multi-seasonal thanks to how unpredictable the British weather can be!

If you're passionate about exercise and interested in starting your career in fitness, why not check out our Diploma in Personal Training before you carry on reading...

Things to Know Before You Buy 

What are the best running tops? Well, there are a few things to know before you invest in a shirt to make sure that you're getting the best value for your money.

Fabric technology is all the buzz in the fitness industry, especially due to the number of features that it brings to the table in comparison to cotton.

Many running shirts are designed with this in mind to ensure that you have all the help that you need when running, mainly through moisture-wicking capabilities. They've certainly come a long way since your previously standard cotton shirt! 

These features can include but aren't limited too:

  1. Helping combat sweat
  2. Chafing
  3. Odour Control
  4. Energy return

To give you more of an insight into what you should know before you buy, here are some factors you should look out for when choosing the best running top for you...  

Drying Time 

Sweat absorption is a key quality when buying a running shirt, there are shirts on the market with their selling point on their quick absorption times, this is normally down to high-quality wick count. 

Wicking Ability

Expanding on drying time and taking into account the question; ‘What is the best material for running tops?’, well let's start by talking about wick absorption. This is down to the number of moisture wicks in the fabrics which absorbs the moisture from the skin and transfer it to the shirt.  

Some materials just aren't meant to be exercised in for example cotton, and linen, these retain water so there will be a damp heavier feel when exposed to excessive liquid.  

The most popular materials for running shirts are polyester and wool, both of these have high absorption to sweat-wicking ratios. Polyester is more popular due to being less expensive and slightly more durable and easily cared for than wool. 

Wool is, however, better for colder weather, it's popular for its absorption of sweat and odour and is predominantly used a lot in hiking gear, coming in at the more expensive range. 

Fit

Running shirts are normally categorised into different trims, these can vary largely from different brands and lines within the brands and you are probably familiar with the types such as athletic fit and fitted etc. 

The best fits are all down to personal preference, some runners tend to want a more fitted shirt this gives a secure feeling when running and no exposure, however, some people prefer a looser fit to feel they have more flexibility when running. 

A thing to note though is that the tighter the shirt the more likely it is to rub and when they are too loose there's an increased chance of chafing which we cover shortly. 

Sun Protection 

A recent feature for running gear is that the fabric includes UPF (UV Ray Protection Factors), this is basically a sun rating for clothes instead of SPF which is for the skin. The higher the rating of UPF the fabric has, is more protective and keeps out harmful rays from the sun. 

It's definitely worth investing in gear with UPF if you run in hotter climates, or during the summer when the temperatures are more harmful and the sun is out for longer in the day. 

If you are looking for running clothing that is suitable for hotter climates, take a look at our list of the top sunglasses for running here. 

Odour Control

Running itself becomes a very sweaty exercise and as comes with sweat can come foul odours. A lot of shirts now offer odour control within the fabric, this helps to manage and maintain the smells. 

A good feature for calming any anxious runners who have a fear of a smelling when they run.  They’re also good for the long-standing bacteria which can build up over time, which can become very difficult for the normal detergent to remove. 

Odour-protected fabric such as wool is a natural resistant to bacteria, and treated garments help to prevent a buildup so look out for these materials when shopping!

Look for Chafe Free 

Chafing is one of the most annoying pains caused by exercising that gets even worse when the weather is warmer (summer is around the corner). Although this is seen more in the leg region, it still occurs between your arms when running. 

Chafing is when repetitive friction between your skin and the fabric causes irritation and rashes. The best way to combat chafing is to wear a shirt which is anti-chafe. These shirts can be made with different materials in comparison to your standard cotton shirt or even just hemmed differently. 

Best Running Tops for Men

Nike Therma-Sphere 3.0 

This is a perfect running Men's top. It incorporates Nike’s Therma Sphere technology, which is a lightweight and breathable material made for movement. It absorbs sweat, whilst keeping your body temperature high for the colder climates. 

The fabric is made up of closed mesh so allows a more insulated fit. This is an excellent running top for the colder conditions in autumn or winter, and it has built-in mittens which provide additional warmth for your hands when running. 

Price: £64.95

TERREX XPERIOR ACTIVE LONG SLEEVE

This recycled number is a new addition from Adidas. Not only is it a staple in any runner's wardrobe, but it's also environmentally friendly. It's made from recycled material which of course helps to reduce waste and energy. 

The material is soft and stretchy and ensures that you have no restriction when running. This is pretty important, as without getting the comfort side of things right you will never forgive yourself, especially if you're running long-distance! 

 

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This top is more suitable for colder weather conditions during the winter, or if you live in the likes of Scotland here in the UK, which is, of course, prone to arctic breezes.

We'd go as far to say that this is one of the best winter running tops that we've seen during our research, especially seeing as it doubles as an underlay for those who like to run, and maybe even enjoy skiing on the side!

Price: £64.95

Patagonia Men's Capilene® Cool Lightweight Shirt

This is a versatile shirt which is best for both cold and warm climates because of Patagonia's technology incorporated within.  The material is made up of light-weight knit wicks which keeps the body warm but has a fast-drying component allowing quick absorption on sweatier days. 

It's a great running shirt that helps keep foul-smelling odours out with their patented HeiQ®  and is always made with at least 52-100% recycled content.

The highlighting feature of this product is designed with chafing in mind. It has been styled to combat chafing between the arms as you run, giving you the most mobility as you run.

Price: £40

Men's UA Streaker Short Sleeve

This shirt from Under Armour is great for the warmer months of the year and is one of the best running tops for hot weather (or if you seem to sweat a lot during any run). 

Made with modern fitted technology, it enables the fabric to dry up a sweat fast whilst not clinging to you even though its a fitted shirt. To make it even more breathable, they have added mesh panels throughout the shirt to add maximum breathability. 

This is the perfect purchase for those who like to run at night or near roads during low visibility, as there are reflective details on the shirt to help motorists see you. 

Price: £30.00

S/LAB NSO TEE M

Coming up in the more expensive region, this shirt from Salamon is incredible. It has innovative technology built-in throughout it. There are oxide mineral NSO patches throughout the shirt which help to activate the body's energy flow, they enhance muscle tone, improve cellular balance, and help the body recover-even during exercise, making this one of the best running compressions tops in the market right now.

In addition to this, it includes  37.5c technology. The technology essentially allows the optimization of your body's microclimate, it helps to maintain the ideal core temperature allowing a longer enhanced performance. Further features include odour reducing materials and reflective decals making this a night proof running shirt. 

As mentioned before the innovative technology is what makes this shirt expensive, but worthwhile to those who are avid runners and want to benefit from these features.

P.S. if you're planning on running at night then check out these night running safety tips before heading out! 

Price: £90.00

Nike Therma-Sphere 3.0

 

This is another great product from the Therma Sphere range, offering the same benefits as the other shirt we mentioned at the start. This, however, offers a warmer alternative, it has the built-in mittens as well as a zip to help combat diverse temperatures depending if you are too warm and cold.

This shirt is aimed at the windier runs, as it has more inbuilt thermal technology to combat the cold gales. This is the ideal product if you often find yourself battling hard winds when you run (especially if you live by a waterfront). 

Price: £67.95 

OWN THE RUN T-SHIRT


The cheapest running shirt for men which we have listed, this shirt is a staple for any runner’s wardrobe.  It's simple yet sleek designs offer ventilation with the mesh panels, whilst the fit of the shirt offers a snug feel but still loose enough to freely workout. This is a great choice for those who are on a budget but still would like a multipurpose running shirt that offers breathability and sweat control. Also great for the warmer seasons. 

Price: £24.95

Best Women's Running Tops

Nike Women's Running Top

This design by Nike is made for the colder weather climate. Its long sleeve design allows for a sweat-free stride, whilst also keeping you snug making it one of the best running tops for cold weather. 

The thumbhole details add the extra bit of insulation for your hands as well as keeping your shirt in place for the more challenging runs. 

As with any Nike shirt, it incorporates their Dri-FIT Technology, which allows you to stay dry and comfortable when you run. 

Price: £42.95

Transform Perfect Tank

This is the perfect summer wardrobe addition and one of the best running tank tops for women we have found. It's designed to be form-flattering, and wearable in hotter climates. It incorporates the NB Dry fast material and the peek-a-boo slit between the shoulders aids in ventilation, while still giving off a stylish touch. 

One of the superb features about this top is its soft, stretchy knit fabric which helps you perform to the best ability whilst being at maximum comfort. 

It also comes in three colours and is one of the cheapest shirts we have listed, making it easily purchasable for any beginner runner. 

If you are just beginning your running career why not check out OriGym's ultimate list of Running Apps to help you along with your journey. 

Price: £25.00

WOMEN'S FLEX LONG-SLEEVE T-SHIRT

A great addition from The North Face this long sleeve running shirt is great for the outdoors, North Face typically specializes in outdoor clothes for rigid climates. Their flagship FlashDry technology works by soaking in the moisture from your skin then exhaling it through the fabric of the shirt. 

One of the features this shirt has is a chafe-free design, the flat-locked seams and loose fit allow for a smooth anti-chafing stride. 

They advertise this as being a perfect stand-alone edition, in addition to layering up for the colder and wetter runs. Making this one of the best trail running tops for women. 

If you want to properly gear up for the cold check out our Winter Running Essentials to combat the cold! 

Price: £50.00

Women's Thermal Tech Tee Long Sleeve Baselayer 

One of the best thermal running tops great for those winter runs, this thermal is designed to trap in hot air as you run, it incorporates ARGENTIUM®, which is Berghaus’s fabric technology which is odour resistant and anti-moisture. 

This tee is all about comfort, it has flat-locked seams for a no-itch stinging feel. The added zip allows temperature control for when you need more ventilation, or more warmth (also makes for a quicker getting it and off for running out the door). 

Price: £45.00

Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve Crew 

Coming up as the most expensive shirt in the female range, we think this is one of the best long sleeve running tops.  This versatile shirt is good whatever the weather, it's superb for running and training, as it gives comprehensive anti smell coverage, whilst still being lightweight and breathable. 
Again, another shirt which features a seamless design to help combat chafing whilst running. This shirt even goes a step further in their anti-sweat aim, they have panelled mesh around the shirt in the areas where you typically sweat the most.

This shirt aims to be super form-flattering. It's got body-skimming material which comes up to your hip length and the thumbhole feature helps keep the shirt in place allowing you to feel secure and carefree whilst running. 

It's also super absorbent of sweat and the bacteria in the sweat which causes odour. Making it an all-round excellent running shirt.

Price: £68.00

Best Running Tops for Kids 

We know that there is an increase in children being interested and engaging with fitness from even earlier ages now, so we have listed the best shirts we have seen for youngsters

There has been a hike in the demand for family fitness and fitness aimed at youngsters, by sharing physical activity and engaging kids with exercise, you can improve children’s health. 

If you find that you are interested in working in children's fitness, learn how to become a Personal Trainer for kids and see what a career in this niche would entail, and what qualifications you would need, etc. 

Long-Sleeve 1/2-Zip Running Top

As with most Nike running gear, this top applied their flagship Dri Fit technology to their junior range. This enables kids to perform at their highest performance, while still staying dry and comfortable. 

They have added a zip to help the younger ones adjust their temperature and thumbholes for the colder months of the year when they run. A great shirt which also comes in three colourful designs making this a unisex purchase. 

Price: £34.95

KALENJI KIDS' ATHLETICS LONG-SLEEVED JERSEY ESSENTIAL - GREY ABYSS

Designed by specialists especially for children who participate in sports in cold weather/seasons. This kid running shirt aims to keep kids warm from temperatures of up to 5C. Even though it's made for the colder weather this still has moisture management to absorb away perspiration whilst running, whilst still giving them ventilation with the zip and design.

What's special about this shirt? Its that the polyester fabric is made out of recycled plastic bottles, making this a sustainable product to purchase 

At the price of £7.99, we think this a great price for a  branded product. 

Price: £7.99

Boys' HeatGear® Armour Long Sleeve

A great addition for a young runner, it has a close snug fit but isn't tight enough to irritate the skin, the heatgear is super soft and extremely comfortable material.

It's not only lightweight but also offers a close fit which allows the wicks in the material for super-quick absorption of the sweat.

A great product for the winter months and also comes in two colours! 

Price: £26.00

Karrimor Long Sleeved Running Top Girls

A versatile product from Karrimor and one of the best long-sleeved running tops for juniors. This is because it allows for a more warm fit for colder runs but the panelling ensures that you won't overheat in this shirt and ensure improved breathability. 

This young girls running shirt is an ideal purchase for little runners, this is a great shirt at it features reflective accents on the shirt making them more visible in dim-lit areas. 

Price: £9.00

ALPHASKIN T-SHIRT

 

Adidas has a great shirt here, one of Adidas's unique lines- this Alphaskin tee has a pre-shaped construction designed to match and enhance the body's movements during activity. It has built-in UV protection and has reflective decals on the shirt to allow for visibility on low lit roads. 

This running top for juniors offers a compression fit which allows total free movement to run. Like other products, this one also has mesh inserts to help keep you cool. 

In addition to the great benefits we have already talked through, similar to the Kalenji shirt, this is an environmentally friendly product made up out of 83% recycled polyester. 

Price: £14.95

Nike Pro Tank Top

Like the other shirts by Nike, The Nike Pro Tank encompasses their Dri-FIT technology making this a breathable shirt great for the more active runs. The stretchy fabric has a racerback design that lets you move freely helping you run to your maximum potential. 

The shirt has mesh panelling throughout to keep you cool and dry. Perfect for the summer months when the weather is warmer and one of the best tank tops for running. 

Price: £16.95

Taking Care of your Running Shirts

Once you have invested money into a running shirt, there are a few things you should know about taking care of them if you want to keep them as good as new.

A lot of shirts you should wash with care, as they are all made up out of different fabrics that require different levels of care when it comes to washing.

For instance, depending on if a shirt is made with a lot of moisture wicks, it's easy to overload it with detergent and fabric softener.  This is actually more harmful and can trap the odour bacteria that builds up from a lot of sweat. So when loading up with products take it easy and refrain from using any fabric softener gel or beads.

A few of the shirts we have listed are imbued with drying technology, a lot of brands have patented technology which is similar in the way you should take care of them so here is a few tips to take care:

  • Machine wash inside-out in cold temperatures 
  • Wash with colours similar to the garment.
  • Don't wring excess water.
  • Air dry if possible  
  • If you have to tumble dry do this on the lowest heat possible
  • Don't use any form of bleach, dryer sheets or fabric softener.
  • Don't dry-clean.
  • If needed, iron on a cool setting to avoid damaging wicks or any logos or reflective decals. 

Before you go! 

We hope you enjoyed our list of the best running tops on the market, and found what you were looking for! 

It's so important to get the right gear for running, especially when it comes down to comfort and how practical the clothes you choose are for the specific type of run that you're completing.

If you're looking to turn your running hobby into a potential career path, why not take a look at our REPs Recognised PT qualifications or download our course prospectus here to find out more about what you could be learning? 

 

Enquire to Become a Personal Trainer

Enquire today and kick-start your fitness career!

Written by Natasha Barnes

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Natasha on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Natasha holds an Msc Digital Marketing degree in addition to a BA in Business Management & Marketing from Liverpool John Moores University. Combining both her passion for fitness and content creation, she enjoys producing in-depth exercise guides and reviews on the market's best fitness gear. Since joining OriGym, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer, with a keen interest in weight training.  After work, if not found in a local powerlifting class, you can usually find her taking her dog on scenic nature trails.

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