The Best Men’s Running Shirts of 2024

The author in Soar Hot Weather Tee; (photo/Nick Presniakov)

By now, we all know the best running shirts should be moisture-wicking. But why is moisture-wicking so important? Sweat is the main mechanism by which your body cools itself, but did you know that not allowing sweat to wick off your skin can be a source of overheating?

If sweat isn’t removed from your skin through evaporation or wicking, it can impact your body’s ability to cool itself. The solution? You guessed it — a high-quality, moisture-wicking men’s running shirt.

Like the best running shorts or any good workout apparel, the best running shirts will feel soft and comfortable when running and will help wick sweat off your skin, drying it quickly to prevent moisture buildup. Some shirts even come with anti-odor properties and can guard against harmful UV rays.

Finding the best running shirts isn’t easy — there are loads of options out there. We took a wardrobe’s worth of running shirts out for countless miles to find the best ones for sweat-wicking, drying quickly, odor-prevention, and more. If you’re looking for a running shirt, odds are there’s one on this list that’ll work for you. 

To find out more about what to look for in a running shirt, check out our buyer’s guide section, comparison chart, and FAQ, or you can scroll down to the best in each category below.

Editor’s Note: For our May 17, 2024, update, we added the top-rated Icebreaker Merino 150 Tech Lite III, budget-friendly Path Projects Basis Logo Tee, and high-end Arc’teryx Men’s Norvan Downword Logo Long Sleeve shirts

The Best Men’s Running Shirts


Best Overall Men’s Running Shirt


Icebreaker Merino 150 Tech Lite III

Specs

  • Material
    100% merino wool
  • Weight
    5 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection
    30
  • Anti-odor
    Yes


Product Badge
The Best Men’s Running Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Lightweight

  • Breathes extremely well

  • Dried within minutes

  • Excellent anti-odor properties

Cons

  • Merino wool still gets that “wet dog” smell when it gets wet

  • Wool isn’t the most durable material


Cory Smith

Best Budget Men’s Running Shirt


Path Projects Basis Logo Tee

Specs

  • Material
    74% polyester, 19% Tencel, 7% Spandex
  • Weight
    4.8 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection
    50+
  • Anti-odor
    Yes


The Best Men’s Running Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Great value

  • Soft against the skin

  • Plenty of stretch

Cons

  • Takes a while to dry

  • Anti-odor treatment not the strongest


Cory Smith

Best High-End Men’s Running Shirt


Arc’teryx Men’s Norvan Downword Logo Long Sleeve

Specs

  • Material
    100% polyester
  • Weight
    3.9 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection
    Not specified
  • Anti-odor
    Yes


The Best Men’s Running Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight and airy

  • Laminated neckline reduces irritation

  • Long sleeves provide plenty of sun coverage

Cons

  • Expensive

  • Long sleeves aren’t for everybody


Cory Smith

Best Wool Men’s Running Shirt


Ibex Merino Tencel

Specs

  • Material
    45% merino wool, 45% Tencel, 10% nylon
  • Weight
    4.3 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection
    50
  • Anti-odor
    Yes


The Best Men’s Running Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Outrageously soft

  • Not scratchy

  • Natural UPF 50 protection and anti-odor

Cons

  • Heavy

  • Can get warm in really hot temps


Cory Smith

Most Comfortable Men’s Running Shirt


Vuori Strato Tech Tee

Specs

  • Material
    96% polyester, 4% Elastane
  • Weight
    4.1 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection
    30+
  • Anti-odor
    Yes


The Best Men’s Running Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Crazy soft to the touch

  • Great color options

  • UPF 30 and anti-odor

Cons

  • Long drying time


Cory Smith

Best Sleeveless Men's Running Shirt


Rhone Swift Tank

Specs

  • Material
    100% polyester
  • Weight
    3 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection
    No
  • Anti-odor
    Yes


The Best Men’s Running Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Lightweight and airy

  • High-quality fabric

Cons

  • Expensive for a tank


Cory Smith

Best of the Rest


Rab Sonic Tee

Specs

  • Material
    100% polyester
  • Weight
    3.4 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection
    No
  • Anti-odor
    Yes


The Best Men’s Running Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight

  • Airy

  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Thin


Cory Smith


Black Diamond Rhythm Tee

Specs

  • Material
    100% merino wool
  • Weight
    3.3 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection
    Yes
  • Anti-odor
    Yes


The Best Men’s Running Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • One of the lightest wool shirts you can buy

  • Fast drying time

  • Natural UPF protection and anti-odor

Cons

  • Expensive

  • Durability issues


Cory Smith

Men’s Running Shirts Comparison Chart

Men’s Running ShirtMaterialWeightUPF RatingOdor Control
Icebreaker Merino 150 Tech Lite III100% merino wool5 oz.30+Yes
Path Projects Basis Logo Tee74% polyester, 19% Tencel, 7% Spandex4.8 oz.50+Yes
Arc’teryx Men’s Norvan Downword Logo Long Sleeve 100% polyester3.9 oz.Not specifiedYes
Ibex Merino Tencel45% merino wool, 45% Tencel, 10% nylon4.3 oz.50+Yes
Vuori Strato Tech Tee96% polyester, 4% Elastane4.1 oz.30+Yes
Rhone Swift Tank100% polyester3 oz.NoYes
Rab Sonic Tee100% polyester3.4 oz.NoNo
Black Diamond Rhythm Tee100% merino wool3.3 oz.YesYes

How We Tested Men’s Running Shirts

Cory ran road, track, and trails in Southern California and Mammoth Lakes, Calif., to vet and ultimately find the best running shirts on the market today. 

Billy ran weeks of distance and sprint intervals in Central California, heading to the nearby Sierra Nevadas to see how the shirts performed on trails. We evaluated each shirt for comfort, wicking ability, drying times, and bonus features such as UPF and anti-odor properties.

Why You Should Trust Us

We enlisted the help of long-time running gear reviewer and running coach, Cory Smith. Cory has been running for over 25 years and has been reviewing running gear since 2014. 

For the 2024 update, Affiliate Managing Editor Billy Brown tested about a dozen new running shirts. Billy has spent over a decade testing running gear from Northern California’s Trinity Alps to the Wadi Rum desert wilderness in southern Jordan. 

The author in Lululemon Fast and Free
The author taking a break mid-test; (photo/ Nick Presniakov)

Buyer’s Guide: What to Look For in a Men’s Running Shirt

Buying the perfect running shirt may not take as much effort as running shoes or even shorts. However, knowing a few key features can help you pick the best running shirt for your unique needs. Consider the options below before simply choosing your next running shirt based on style or color.

Fabric

As highlighted at the beginning of this article, moisture-wicking is the name of the game here. Luckily, pretty much every running shirt these days uses a moisture-wicking fabric.

There are two types of moisture-wicking fabrics: synthetic and natural. The three most popular types of synthetic moisture-wicking fabrics are polyester, polypropylene, and nylon. Wool, like the merino used in the Icebreaker Merino 150 Tech Lite III, is by far the best natural moisture-wicking fabric.

Each fabric has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, wool tends to be one of the best moisture-wicking fabrics and is capable of retaining 35% of its weight in water. It has natural anti-odor properties, but is more expensive and less durable than polyester and nylon.

On the other hand, polyester, polypropylene, and nylon are all extremely durable and more affordable, but not as good at wicking and odor control as wool.

Many running shirts are made with a blend of fabrics, enabling them to get the best features of each material. The most popular blends are polyester, polypropylene, or nylon blended with a stretchy fabric like spandex or Elastane. This gives the fabric just enough stretch to increase mobility.

GJ Running Shirts BG Jack Wolfskin venting
Some shirts use physical vents to release hot air; (photo/Billy Brown)

Fit

Fit is somewhat of a personal choice and largely depends on your body type and preference. It is expressed in two main ways: how tight around your body the fabric sits and the length of the hem and sleeves.

Manufacturers will often disclose how a shirt is intended to fit in the description. From tightest to loosest, here is a list of terms most companies will use: skin-tight, slim-fitting, athletic fit, and relaxed fit.

Those with a larger midsection may want to consider shirts with a longer hem to ensure enough length to reach below your waistline. Loose-fitting shirts can feel heavy and annoyingly floppy when wet. Because of this, many prefer a closer-fitting shirt, such as skin-tight or slim-fitting, when it’s raining.

One thing to consider if you’re interested in shirts with UPF sun protection is the more stretched out a shirt is, the less effective it is at blocking the sun’s UV rays.

The author in TNF Wander
Wicking away sweat is a key factor in evaluating running shirts; (photo/Nick Presniakov)

Wicking

Wicking is the process that draws moisture away from the body and transfers it into the fabric. It works by using tiny capillaries (tubes) in the fabric’s weave. These capillaries work by sucking the moisture from your skin into the fabric’s inner layer and then moving it toward the outer layer to dry.

Every shirt we tested had above-average wicking ability, especially against a non-performance fabric such as cotton. However, there were varying degrees of wicking power. For example, the Icebreaker Merino 150 Tech Lite III and Ibex Merino Tencel had the excellent wicking power, while the Vuori Strato Tech Tee had the worst but offered a far softer feel than both the Lululemon and Ibex options.

Drying Speed

As mentioned above, most of today’s best running shirts do a great job of wicking sweat off your body. The most significant difference can be found in how quickly they dry once wet. Drying speed measures this, and if you’re pushing yourself enough to sweat, it’s perhaps the most crucial factor to consider when buying a running shirt.

When moisture is wicked away from your body and absorbed into the fabric, that moisture is then transferred from the inside layer of the shirt to the outer layer to dry with the help of wind and the sun.

Shirts with poor drying time will stay wet longer. Wool tends to have the best drying time, followed by polyester and nylon. A shirt’s thickness also affects drying time.

Anti-Odor

Let’s start with a little odor science. Believe it or not, sweat isn’t the sole source of B.O. It’s when sweat and bacteria that live on your skin react that a foul smell is created.

Because moisture-wicking fabrics pull the sweat away from your skin and move it through the inner layer to the outer layer to eventually dry, bacteria can grow in the tiny capillaries in the fabric. As bacteria gets trapped in the fabric, odors start to release.

There are two ways that shirts can help ward off odor. The first way is through the use of natural fabrics such as wool. Wool’s unique chemical makeup blocks odor by locking away the bacteria within the fibers.

The second way to ward off odor is through an antimicrobial treatment, which can be through chemicals or natural metals such as silver or gold.

GJ BG Running shirts Arc'Teryx flatlock seam
Low-profile flatlock seams can reduce chafing and irritation; (photo/Billy Brown)

Seams

For simplicity, let’s divide seam stitching into two categories you should be aware of: flat and overlock. Flat seams are when two pieces of fabric are bonded together at their edges, creating a low-profile seam where they meet. Overlocking seams are folded over one another, producing a flap where the two meet.

Generally speaking, most running shirts use a flat seam construction because the low profile is less irritating and less likely to cause chafing. If you struggle with chafing that’s centered around the seam, we suggest looking at the type of seam.

If it’s an overlock, shop for some new shirts with flat seams. The best running shirts will avoid placing seams in high-friction areas such as under the arms and on the shoulders.

Sun Protection

Runners spend a lot of time in the sun. While many runners will think to put sunscreen on their face, arms, and legs, putting sunscreen on the skin underneath your shirt may not be as obvious. The sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate most fabrics, leaving the skin under your shirt exposed to sunburn.

Cotton, for example, only offers a UPF of 5, whereas polyester and wool have a UPF of around 30. The American Cancer Society denotes, “A UPF of 30 to 49 as offering very good protection, while UPF 50+ is rated as excellent.”

Some shirts will offer added protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays by adding a chemical treatment that can give a shirt a UPF rating of 70+. Most running shirts that offer extra UV sun protection will list their UPF number in the description.

FAQ

What kind of shirts are best for running?

The best running shirts are made with a material such as polyester, nylon, polypropylene, or wool. Known as moisture-wicking, these fabrics are designed to wick (or remove) the sweat from your skin while running. The moisture is then absorbed through the fabric and moved to the outer layer to dry faster. The result — you’ll be more comfortable and feel cooler.

Why shouldn’t you run in cotton?

Cotton is considered a “non-moisture-wicking” fabric because instead of wicking moisture through the fabric to the outer layer to dry, cotton absorbs the moisture and takes an excessive amount of time to dry.

While running in a sweat-drenched shirt may seem harmless in the dead heat of the summer, it actually affects how your body cools itself, and accumulation prevents heat from escaping. Once a piece of the garment becomes soaked through, sweat starts to pool on your skin, acting as an insulator and blocking your skin’s ability to cool itself.

Should a running top be tight or loose?

There is no universal rule on how your running shirts should fit, and it’s 100% a matter of personal preference. The most important thing is that the shirt feels comfortable when you’re running.

However, when it’s raining, a tighter shirt may be better than one that is loose. Loose-fitting shirts tend to get heavy and excessively flop around once soaked through, which can be annoying. A close-to-the-skin shirt will stay put.

The post The Best Men’s Running Shirts of 2024 appeared first on GearJunkie.

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