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I’ll open this up by saying – I love old shirts. I love a shirt that a race has given away for free or from a fundraiser for a local Girl Scout troop. I’ll wear a shirt until there’s hole in the collar, holes in the side seams, and sweat stains permanently adhered to the underarms. A shirt is a shirt is a shirt. But, there’s a dark side to wearing an old shirt. The chafing. The bad smells from a fabric not designed to combat sweat. The lack of breathability causing embarrassing sweating. And of course, you don’t look cool. There are apparel brands all over the world that sit around and think – “how do we design the best mens running shirts?”
Many claim to be the best – but what does that actually mean? If you’re the best in running a half marathon, you probably won’t win the 100 yard dash.
So, we tried on thirty (yes, thirty) different men’s shirts and are giving you our opinions on the best running shirts for men.
To help you in your journey here’s a quick explanation of how material blends feel most often:
- Recycled Polyester: Very breathable mesh-like fabric with more weight
- Polyester-Spandex Blend: Very breathable and stretchy. The higher than spandex, the more stretchy the shirt will feel.
- Merino Wool: A stretchier, breathable soft wool. Not as stretchy or breathable as a polyester-spandex.
- Cotton: Slightly more rigid and coarse but lightweight.
At A Glance: The Best Mens Running Shirts:
- The Best All-Around Mens Running Shirt: Rabbit EZ Tee
- The Best Warm Weather Mens Running Shirt: lululemon Fast & Free Short Sleeve Shirt
- The Best New Brand Mens Running Shirt: SaySky Clean Pace T-Shirt
- The Best Technical Mens Running Shirt: New Balance Q Speed Jacquard Short Sleeve
- The Best Budget Mens Running Shirt: Nike Miler Dri-FIT UV Short-Sleeve
- The Best Merino Wool Mens Running Shirt: Tracksmith Harrier T-Shirt
- The Best Workhorse Mens Running Shirt: Janji Run All Day Tee
- The Biggest Surprise Men’s Running Shirt: Ibex Journey Short Sleeve
- The Best Running Shirt You Can Wear Casually: Roark Mathis Core Tee
Best All-Around Mens Running Shirt: Rabbit EZ Tee ($48)
Wow. The bang for the buck on this shirt is really exceptional. Take out of the equation that the shirt has very unique color options (we got the charcoal heather), the shirt is 94% polyester and 6% spandex which make it breathable and yet stretchy. It’s exceptionally lightweight but also, exceptionally soft. The fit is tailor and personally, we’re a fan of the shirt construction. The construction where the sleeve attaches to the neck of the collar instead of the shirt torso has made a difference for mobility and versatility in the shirt. This makes the best all-around pick on our list of best mens running shirts.
Best Warm Weather Running Shirt: lululemon Fast & Free Short Sleeve Shirt ($78)
This shirt is light. Breathable is an understatement. If you live in the southern states and it’s anywhere between May and August, we can’t recommend this more highly. Now, if it’s fall in Wisconsin and you’re interested in merino wool and want to feel like you’re wearing weight between you and the road we wouldn’t recommend it. The shirt is made from 100% recycled polyester but doesn’t have a bulkier mesh-like feel that other recycled polyester shirts do.
lululemon designs a lot of their products like they’re from the future. They have extremely high quality “anti-stink technology” (it’s treated with zinc) and boast that it’s quick-drying, which we agree with. The seams of the shirt are bonded instead of stitched which prevent chafing along the seam lines. This makes the best pick for running in warm weather on our list of best mens running shirts.
Best New Brand Running Shirt: SaySky Clean Pace T-Shirt ($62)
SaySky was founded back in 2013 in Copenhagen, Denmark but, it’s only recently making it to our content. The shirt is a blend of recycled polyester, polyester, and spandex which give it a more structured but still breathable feel. The Clean Pace t-shirt is stretchy, but we’d more recommend it if you’re interested in European shirt construction – a slimmer fit with a shorter sleeve. The shirt materials are more environmentally friendly than most and the color options conceal sweat. The shirt is a blend of recycled polyester, polyester and spandex which means it has a stretchy and technical mesh-like feel.
Best Technical Running Shirt: New Balance Q Speed Jacquard Short Sleeve ($49.99)
We were actually pleasantly surprised by this New Balance t-shirt. New Balance shoes and apparel have historically carried the reputation similar to Nike and adidas – reliable, simple, without all the frills, bells or whistles. The shirt is described as having practical performance features with cutting-edge modern style – and we agree. First, the materials – 50% of the materials meet New Balance’s green leaf standard – sourced as environmentally preferred – it’s made from 100% recycled polyester. But, the feel of the shirt is like a modern day well-constructed soccer pinnie. It’s extremely breathable but supportive like a futuristic mesh. The shirt sides have a fabric cut which make the shirt feel more supportive on top and less constrictive on the bottom which we found made more of a difference in comfort than we had expected. There are also reflective trim details in different sections of the shirt to keep you visible during any time of day. This makes the best technical shirt pick on our list of best mens running shirts.
Best Budget Running Shirt: Nike Miler Dri-FIT UV Short-Sleeve ($35)
Nike knows running. We find Nike always one of the most consistent producers of high-quality running shoes and apparel. This shirt is no exception. The Nike Miler Dri-FIT is the reliable workhorse of men’s best running shirts. Sweat? No problem. Stains? Won’t matter. This shirt is affordable and is worth every penny. The material is 100% recycled polyester (read: sustainable). It’s sweat-wicking, breathable, and the added bonus of offering UV protection. It’s hard to find something to complain about. This makes the best affordable pick on our list of best mens running shirts.
Best Merino Wool Running Shirt: Tracksmith Harrier T-Shirt ($78)
If you’re not familiar with Tracksmith, they’ve pushed forward the art form of running apparel. Merino wool is our preferred material for spring and fall running. If the temperature falls anywhere between 45ºF and 60ºF, we prefer the merino blend to polyester with a jacket. The shirt is odor-resistant, moisture-wicking, and lightweight to an extent we’ve never seen before. Why is this important? When normally you have to ditch a running shirt to the washing machine after the first run, the Harrier t-shirt can be worn two or three times in a row which means it may reduce the amount of shirts you need to match your running frequency. We also loved the Session t-shirt as a very solid polyester/spandex option.
Best Workhorse Running Shirt: Janji Run All Day Tee ($58)
I’ve read more about Janji than I have come into contact with anyone actually wearing Janji. Of all the shirts we tried on, the Janji Run All Day tee feels like it has the most unique perspective on construction. The fabric has all the status quo elements you’d be expecting from a trail-running shirt – moisture-wicking, quick-drying, UV protection and odor-resistant as it’s made from simply 100% polyester. The shirt has a wider neck than any other shirt on the market – which makes the shirt more breathable and cling-resistant. Some polyester shirts you’ll feel the impulse on a hot day to ditch on mile 12, but not the Janji. The flatlock seaming and neckline structurally prevent chafing in all climates and for all sweat-levels. The shirt also comes with a 5-year guarantee and 2% of every purchase is donated to support clean water projects.
Biggest Surprise Men’s Running Shirt: Ibex Journey Short Sleeve ($97)
We didn’t think we’d “get” the hype around Ibex. But, this shirt is built differently. While the shirt is a majority merino wool, it has a nylon core for durability. This means the shirt core feels structured and supportive without feeling tight. The wool feels lighter than the Tracksmith merino but heavier than the polyester blends you’ll see on the market. The shirt itself has a standard cut and construction otherwise, but the wool innovation make it an underdog winner for us.
The Best Running Shirt You Can Wear Casually: Roark Mathis Core Tee ($49)
If you’re headed out to a dinner party with friends, it’s awfully hard to show up in a hard-core polyester spandex blend and look like you’re not about to sprint home afterwards. Of the Roark products we’ve tried, what stood out to us the most is the versatility. With a loose, approachable fit, high quality fabric, affordable cost, and great color ways – this just might be your every day, all weather, all occasion running shirt.
Other Best Mens Running Shirts We Tried
For the Fashion-Forward: Miler Running Base Running Tee
Miler Running’s Base Running Tee ($100 USD) The Miler Running Tee feels like you’re back in high school wearing a pinnie to designate that you were on the red team but, it’s way cooler. Like, maybe even too cool for you to wear. The shirt has a boxy fit as opposed to fitted. The shirt is made from 83% polyester and 17% spandex.
For the Reliable & Fashionable: Vuori Strato Tech Tee
Vuori Strato Tech Tee ($54 USD) We actually really liked the Vuori Strato Tech Tee in that it’s reliable. It feels like the kind of shirt you buy ten of and then never think about buying another shirt again – which is what they’re going for. The shirt boasts being “the softest piece of workout apparel on the planet, doubling as your go-to t-shirt” and we agree – but it also means you’re not just an exceptional running shirt. Get if you want to consolidate two shirt purchases into one. The shirt is 95% polyester and 4% spandex.
For the Technical Trail Runner: Arc’teryx Motus Crew Neck
Arc’teryx Motus Crew Neck ($70 USD) We’ll open this with saying – we are not trail runners so we may not be able to appreciate all that goes into this shirt. When we first put it on compared to the other shirts, it felt overly-technical. Because Arc’teryx is really about technical running, when they say soft and lightweight with the Phasic bi-component fabric (a technical polyester), it felt heavier and more restrictive than some of the other moisture wicking shirts we wore like the lululemon. What this shirt does have? A textile that provides protection from exposure to ultraviolet radiation in sun or snow and is fair trade certified.
For the Coolest Runner You Know: Satisfy Running Auralite T-Shirt
Satisfy Running Auralite T-Shirt ($120 USD) We were really excited for the Satisfy Running shirt and were hoping that a $120 price tag carried a technical innovation that made us rethink shirts forever. The shirt has a few very cool innovations that we really enjoyed – it’s reflective print for greater running visibility, care label outside the shirt to avoid chafing, UV-resistant, and made of anti-wrinkle fabric from Japan. But, from the very normal running we do on the city sidewalks, it’s unclear whether any of those really were worth the price you’ll be paying. If you’re fashion forward, however, you cannot find a sleeker shirt in the running industry right now.
For the Mountaineer: The North Face Sunriser Short-Sleeve Tee
The North Face Sunriser Short-Sleeve Tee ($50 USD) The North Face is more known for their backpacks and mountaineering gear, so we figured they’d be capable of a good running shirt. The shirt itself was middle of the pack in terms of its breathability, quality, construction and reflective patches. It’s simple and reliable. But if you want the best reliable, go Nike or Vuori.
For the Adidas-Enthusiast: Adidas Own The Run
Adidas Own The Run Tee ($35 USD) If you own adidas running shoes, maybe that’s the reason you also buy adidas running shirts and shorts. These shirts are reliable. And it’s hard to understate the value of a reliable shirt. Technically, the shirt has a lighter mesh underneath the armpit which probably helps reduce the amount of heat captured and released during running, but we’re not scientists. If you like adidas’s brand, you won’t go wrong just stocking up on a dozen of these shirts.
For the Environmentally Conscious: Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily
Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily ($39 USD) I’ll start off by saying – I love Patagonia. They have a great brand, they care about the environment, and they do great things for humanity. But, I wouldn’t recommend this shirt for any serious runner looking to upgrade your tee-shirt game. Its a shirt that will get the job done, but don’t ask for anything more serious.
Another Great Environmentally Conscious Option: Pressio Elite S/S
Pressio Elite S/S Tee Shirt ($65.00) This shirt is made from 10 recycled plastic water bottles which is, to be honest, pretty incredible. The more incredible part? Pressio just does a lot of cool things with a lot of simplicity. The shirt boasts a “four-phase moisture management” process which is designed to distribute moisture (read, sweat) evenly for quicker drying. The more you sweat in one location, the wetter it becomes, the longer it takes to dry.
For the Recreational Trail Runner: REI Co-Op Swiftland Running Tee-Shirt
REI Co-Op Swiftland Running Tee-Shirt ($64.90 USD) The shirt was designed for trails. It’s lightweight but for some reason despite being polyester, it lacks the stretch you’d look for in an everyday running shirt. The material is strangely breathable but snug.The construction is cool with specific arm fabric and under arm fabric.
For the Cotton-Lover: On Running Active-T
On Running Active-T ($69.99 USD). On is doing some innovative work with the construction of their men’s running shirts. The back of the shirt has an inverted v-cut fabric assortment which allows for greater shoulder mobility when running. Uncommon for a running shirt – the Active-T is made from a majority of cotton (55%) with a blend of Modal (an eco-friendly cotton alternative) and Elastane (spandex). This also means the shirt doesn’t feel as light or technical as your other shirt options. We also tried on the On-T Running Shirt ($54.99) and, at 100% cotton, didn’t feel like it incorporated the most modern technical fabrics you’d want from your next purchase.
For the Merino Wool Lover: YMR Running Torekov Men’s T-Shirt
YMR Running Torekov Men’s T-Shirt ($72 USD). We tried on the YMR Torekov Men’s T-Shirt and the Lysekil T-Shirt. The Torekov feels like a mixture between the Tracksmith Harrier and the Vuori Strato Tech – it’s a merino wool athletic shirt that doubles as a casual shirt for all occasions. It’s simple and has a modern-Swedish slim but longer fit. The Lysekil is a recycled polyester shirt with the modern-mesh feel you’ll see in the New Balance Q Speed. Like the Torekov, the construction is simple with no frills but the material is shiny and exciting – if that’s your kind of thing.
For the Reliable Trail Runner: HOKA Glide Short Sleeve
HOKA Glide Short Sleeve ($52 USD) HOKA began as a trail running shoe brand but in more recent years, has entered the mainstream running community with some of the softest foam for runners as well as the wildest colorways. The Glide shirt is made entirely of recycled polyester, has bonded seams and hems to reduce friction on the runner, reflective features, and a wider armhole for mobility. It’s light and technical-feeling. No complaints.
For Every Runner: Brooks Atmosphere Short Sleeve 2.0
Brooks Atmosphere Short Sleeve 2.0 ($31.20 USD) The Brooks Atmosphere is a great bang for the buck. Brooks makes the most accessible running shoe, the Brooks Ghost, that feels like the shoe anyone can slip on, lace up, and go. The shirt is no exception. While you won’t get all the bells and whistles of the shirts from other brands – it’s environmentally-friendly and lightweight. Warning – it does fit looser than most other shirts on the market.
We want to emphasize strongly, picking the best mens running shirts is entirely based on preference. It depends on fit, material, and weather conditions. To find more comprehensive lists of all the gear you’ll need to run a half marathon, we made a must-have guide for that. And for our recommendations on the best half marathon shoes, we made a guide for that as well.