7 best women’s running tops
Off for a run? Here's how to look the part
Whether running on a treadmill for a quick warm up before your workout or training for a half marathon, what seems like the simplest form of exercise can be the toughest both physically and mentally.
When you are pushing through that final mile or facing that big hill, the last thing you want to be worrying about is how hot you are, how sweaty you feel or how tight your vest feels on your arms.
We tested a wide range of running tops on the market, selecting our favourites in the list below. They're all lightweight and fashionable.
We tried every one of these tops on outdoor runs to examine how cool they kept us, their breathability, how comfortable they were on our skin, and how well they washed and retained their shape after the sweatiest of runs.
NB Ice 2.0 Mesh Tank: £35, New Balance
This stylish racer-back vest from New Balance offers everything you would want in a running top. We loved the lightweight nature of the mesh fabric which made up the outer layer of this vest; its efficient ventilation kept us cool and calm during our run.
The patented Ice material is great at managing moisture; it dried really fast so our sweat didn't weigh us down.
The vest was incredibly comfortable and with reflective branding on the front and back, this kept us visible on early morning and late evening runs.
Our favourite thing about this vest was how it looked – the double layer style and the flattering racer-back meant this looked great with all our running leggings and shorts.
At £35, it sits in the middle of the range we tested. However it washed extremely well so it will last a couple of running seasons at least!
Pacesetter Run Vest: £45, Sweaty Betty
The softest of all the running tops we tested, this Run Vest from Sweaty Betty was the most expensive, coming both in black and white.
The Pacesetter vest is really flattering; its higher neckline and dipped hem design meant it looked stylish during our post-run brunches. This was super loose fitting which meant it kept us cool and comfortable during our run; no concerns over rubbing or tight seams here.
The fact that this material is very light (enhancing running speed) does mean it is quite transparent at the front, so we would recommend wearing with a sturdy sports bra underneath for good coverage.
This also meant it felt a little less durable and we would recommend washing delicately to maintain its sweat wicking properties.
Open Back Tank: £20, Victoria’s Secret
This was one of the cheapest running top we tested, and while it may not have as many high performing qualities as brands such as Mizuno or Columbia, it is good option for those who want to add some style to their jogging.
The open back design is really striking and kept our skin cool while running. The low armholes meant there was no chafing or rubbing, meaning it was a really comfortable fit. This tank comes in a range of fun, bright colours such as coral and turquoise, so you can find one to match your current running attire.
However, due to its lack of advanced performance qualities, we would suggest this top for someone who combines running with working out and gym classes too, or for someone just starting on their running journey.
Breathe Metallic Tank Top: £29.95, GapFit
For those who believe running doesn't have to forgo glamour, this vest from GapFit is the one for you.
Long and loose fitting, this is a brilliant option for those who do not want a figure-hugging running top. The four-way stretch technology in this top meant that it was incredibly flexible with our running movement however this top kept its shape really well after multiple runs and washes.
The metallic ombre effect was unlike any other top we had seen, and added a bit of sparkle to even the toughest and dreariest of runs.
Aero Running Tee: £35, Mizuno
For those who like a little more coverage when running, this Mizuno T-shirt is the perfect option
We loved the contrast of the gorgeous maroon colour with the bright reflective orange stripes on the sleeve; a design inspired by the practice of Kiriko, an over-layering colour gradient concept used in Japanese ceramics to express dynamic lines.
The strong, almost seamless hemlines around the bottom and the sleeves meant while this was a snug fit, it wasn’t abrasive or restrictive at all when running and similar to the Sweaty Betty option, the thinness of the material meant conditions were kept dry and airy even during the hottest weather.
Available from mid-September.
Titan Ultra Short Sleeved Shirt: £25, Columbia Sportswear
Columbia’s Titan Short Sleeved Shirt was one of the most high tech one we tested and performed exceptionally well on one of our longest and toughest runs.
Light and silky, this material felt lovely on our skin and was great at keeping us comfortable.
Designed for hikers, their patented Omni-FREEZE Zero technology uses your own sweat to lower the temperature of the material ensuring you are kept cool even on the longest of runs.
What we loved about this shirt was the antimicrobial protection woven into the fabric, which keeps the shirt smelling fresh and prevents antibacterial growth; great for those who want a top which is going to be long lasting and wash well.
This wasn’t the most flattering cut, despite coming in a range of colours. However for those who take their outdoor running seriously, this is a great choice.
Scoop Back Pulse Vest: £18, Gym Shark
At the lowest end of our price scale, this low-back vest from work-out brand, Gym Shark, is perfect for those who are wanting a product to run in as well as take to the gym.
We liked the softness of the cotton blend on our skin and the elasticity of the material meant it supported all movement during the run without restriction.
This top comes in a range of pastel colours as well as versatile black and grey. We liked the length of this top as it skimmed over our hips and provided great coverage over the bum, meaning it didn’t ride up annoyingly on our run.
The Verdict: Best Running Taops
Each running top kept us warm at the beginning of a run yet cool when the heat started rising.
However, we loved the double layer design and the sweat wicking properties of the New Balance option, as well as its affordability, resulting in it being crowned our Best Buy. For those who want some serious protection over a long run, we would also suggest the Columbia shirt for excellent performance.
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