Watch any elite running race and you’ll quickly notice that when it comes to gear, skimpy is very much the style. The shortest of short shorts are paired with a vest, no matter the weather.
Given the stick-thin build of elite runners it’s safe to assume that they’re not choosing vests to show off their hulking upper bodies. Sleeveless tops are the norm because they offer better air circulation than T-shirts, keeping the pros cooler when the pace heats up. But you don’t have to be running at elite speeds to enjoy those same benefits – running vests are a great pick for anyone on race day or when it’s hot, and by wearing one in the summer you’ll avoid the T-shirt tan lines sported by regular runners during the warmer months.
The Best Running Vests
Iffley Road Nottingham Lightweight Vest
We’re longtime fans of the classic style of Iffley Road’s Lancaster vest (opens in new tab), but while the material it’s made of is comfortable and dries quickly, we prefer something lighter for fast training runs and races. The new Nottingham vest takes the same striped design but uses a breathable, featherweight fabric called Ice-Café, which is made partly from recycled coffee grounds and designed to cool the skin by 1-2°C. The result is a fantastic vest to use on race day and throughout the summer months.
In recent years many amateur runners have found that by using the same shoes as elites – namely carbon plate racers like the Nike Vaporfly – they have been able to chip minutes off their PBs. It only stands to reason, then, that picking up the race vest worn by the likes of Eliud Kipchoge will have similar benefits… doesn’t it? Well, probably not, but the AeroSwift singlet is a lovely, lightweight vest that now comes in an especially striking blue colour, and it’s made from 75% recycled fabric.
Buy from Nike (opens in new tab) | £59.95
Adidas Terrex Agravic Tank Top
A featherlight vest that’s ideal for runs in the hottest conditions, the Agravic tank top is also made from 100% recycled polyester, which is a very welcome move from Adidas. We like the relatively simple design but if you are after something more exciting, there’s also this flashy number (opens in new tab) to be found in the Adidas Terrex range.
Zouma Volt Singlet
Zouma is a new UK running gear brand that has two aims: to be as sustainable as possible, and to offer runners something a little more flamboyant than the usual garb available. This vest succeeds on both counts – it’s made from 100% recycled polyester, and it catches the eye with its teal, white and black design.
New Balance Impact Run Singlet
The pindot mesh used for this singlet makes it even better ventilated than your average running vest, so you can be sure it won’t contribute to you overheating on the run. There is also a special London Marathon edition of the Impact Run top, which you might dismiss out of hand given that the 2020 race has already been postponed and could yet be cancelled, but we reckon that makes the souvenir vest a potential collector’s item. And even if it’s not, the red design is pretty smart.
dhb Aeron Run Singlet
The mesh back on this vest makes it just about the most breathable running top we’ve come across, so it’s ideal for your hottest runs. The shoulder section on the top is a little wider than on most running vests, which is not really a bad or good thing, but worth noting if you prefer a slender strap.
Buy from Wiggle (opens in new tab) | £25 (currently reduced £15-£17)
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Kalenji Run Dry Tank Top
Unsure if running in a vest is for you? Give it a try with this insanely cheap top from Decathlon’s in-house brand Kalenji. It’s breathable and sweat-wicking, and at £4 the only real criticism we have is that there aren’t more colours available.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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