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The Best Women’s Running Tops

Tried-and-tested running tops for women
A selection of the running tops the author has tested (Image credit: Camilla Artault / Future)

A great running top should be forgettable. The worst ones bother you from the first step to the last, while the right one fades into the background and allows you to enjoy your run. What counts as the right one will be unique to you, but we’ve pulled together a wide range of options for you to peruse. Rest assured they will all keep you as cool and dry as possible, while being soft and comfortable. You just need to decide on style (long-sleeved, short-sleeved, vest), fit and colour.

These days many running tops are made from recycled materials. If that’s the sort of thing that appeals, we’d recommend also investing in a mesh washing bag (like Guppy Friend, £29.99 from Lakeland (opens in new tab)) to catch the microplastics that are shed from synthetic materials – even recycled ones – in the washing machine so they don’t pollute rivers and oceans.

The Best Short-Sleeved Running Tops For Women

Adidas HEAT.RDY T-Shirt front and back views

(Image credit: Adidas)
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Adidas HEAT.RDY T-Shirt

Best for very hot, sunny weather

Specifications

RRP: £38

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight, cooling fabric
+
Reflective details
+
Anti-odour properties

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly see-through

When race day looks like a scorcher, reach for this super-lightweight and breathable running tee that should help keep you cool in the hottest conditions. The fabric is made with 100% recycled polyester – a win for the environment – and the anti-odour finish will help keep you smelling as fresh as you look – another win for you.


Asics Icon SS Top

(Image credit: Asics)
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Asics Icon SS Top

Boxy, loose-fitting tee

Specifications

RRP: £28

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Body-skimming cut
+
Bum-covering shaped hem 

Reasons to avoid

-
Short length
-
Boxy cut won’t suit everyone

A well executed and affordable staple, the Asics Icon is a lightweight tee that’s highly breathable and wicks sweat to keep you cool and comfortable. The cut is boxy and figure-skimming, with raglan sleeves for greater freedom of movement and a shaped hem at the rear.


New Balance Q Speed Fuel Short Sleeve

(Image credit: New Balance)
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New Balance Q Speed Fuel Short Sleeve

Flattering tee with an unusual jacquard weave

Specifications

RRP: £36

Reasons to buy

+
Flattering shape

Reasons to avoid

-
Thick fabric can feel too warm

This jacquard top is soft and stretchy, and a little thicker than most of the running tops on this list. With its perforated pattern it’s well aerated without being see-through and there’s a vent between the shoulder blades for extra airflow. The cut is feminine and body-skimming rather than skin-tight. We found it reasonably long in the body, and flattering, with curved hems and small side slits. It’s available in a range of colours, including a bold orange and a bright turquoise as well as the standard black, white and navy.


New Balance Impact Run

(Image credit: New Balance)
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New Balance Impact Run

Lightweight tee that’s a running wardrobe staple done well

Specifications

RRP: £30

Reasons to buy

+
Thin, light fabric that’s not transparent
+
Comfortable and well cut

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the best colour selection

This may look like a fairly standard T-shirt, but it’s extremely well cut, comfortable and flattering, with mesh panels across the top of the shoulders to help keep you cool. It’s a running wardrobe staple that’s available in four colours: black, red, pale blue and sulphur yellow.


Gym+Coffee Run Free Tee

(Image credit: Gym+Coffee)
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Gym+Coffee Run Free Tee

Cute coloured tees for your athleisure needs

Specifications

RRP: £27

Reasons to buy

+
Good colour selection
+
Not see-through

Reasons to avoid

-
Can feel restrictive
-
Comes up small

This body-skimming tee is slightly stretchy and breathable, with mesh panels to keep you cool. It’s also available in some attractive colours: pink, mint, coral, teal, black and white. It does come up very small though, so it’s best to size up.


Proviz Reflect 360 Short-Sleeve Top

(Image credit: Proviz)
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Proviz Reflect 360 Short-Sleeve Top

Best reflective running top

Specifications

RRP: £34.99

Reasons to buy

+
Highly reflective elements for safety at night
+
Soft, stretchy fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
A little clingy
-
On the warm side

This is a comfortable and flattering running T-shirt that has the added bonus of making you visible around traffic after dark. What looks like a subtle pattern of grey blobs on the raglan sleeves is in fact a subtle pattern of highly reflective blobs made up of tiny glass beads that gleam astonishingly brightly when a light is shined on them. The effect is bright when you need it, but quite unnoticeable otherwise. The T-shirt itself is body-skimming and fairly long, with a feminine cut, and the material is lightweight but densely woven – so there’s no chance of it being see-through. It’s available in seven colours including sky blue, teal, purple, hot pink and even a fluorescent yellow, if you wish to be even more visible.


Inov-8 Base Elite Short Sleeve

(Image credit: Inov-8)
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Inov-8 Base Elite Short Sleeve

Specifications

RRP: £45

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight, quick-drying fabric
+
Anti-odour properties
+
Made from recycled fabrics

Reasons to avoid

-
None

This eco-friendly option is made from recycled technical fabrics. The material is light and breathable, with mesh panels for ventilation. An anti-bacterial treatment suppresses stinkiness, while the welded hem and cuffs mean less chafing.


Rockay Tech Tee

(Image credit: Rockay)
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Rockay Tech Tee

Lightweight, comfortable running top

Specifications

RRP: £55

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight fabric keeps you cool
+
Comfortable 
+
Flattering cut
+
Not clingy

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

This Danish sock brand has branched out into sustainably made running gear and are off to a flyer with this winning tee, which is nicely cut, figure-skimming and light as a feather without being see-through. You can feel the excellent quality of the fabric, and the use of flatlock seams means it’s unlikely to chafe. This tee is made entirely of recycled fabrics, 50% standard recycled polyester and 50% Seaqual, a polyester yarn which actually includes some plastic waste from the ocean (most recycled yarns don’t, somewhat surprisingly given the ubiquitous ocean-saving marketing). This running top is also treated with anti-odour technology, so in theory you don’t have to wash it as often. There’s a choice between four colours, including forest green and the delightfully named dolphin blue.


CEP Wingtech Short Sleeve

(Image credit: CEP)
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CEP Wingtech Short Sleeve

Posture-enhancing top

Specifications

RRP: £55

Reasons to buy

+
Promotes good posture 

Reasons to avoid

-
Skin-tight style isn’t for everyone

Compression specialist CEP has created this Wingtech running top to help you run as efficiently as possible. The stripes running down over the shoulder blades like wings promote better posture and therefore better lung function and minimise the chances of posture-related injuries (at least according to CEP). Better posture means a stronger back too, so this top might be a good choice for runners with back problems. However, if you don’t like clingy T-shirts, steer clear of this.


Ashmei Merino Icon

(Image credit: Ashmei)
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Ashmei Merino Icon

Running T-shirt with the benefits of Merino wool

Specifications

RRP: £66

Reasons to buy

+
Temperature-controlling properties
+
Soft and comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
A little clingy

This high-performance tee is made from a Merino wool-polyester blend to combine the fabled temperature and sweat-wicking properties of the natural fabric with a softer feel. Ashmei has supercharged those wicking properties by embedding active carbon particles in the fabric, rather than using the chemical treatments employed by other wicking tech. The result is a supremely comfortable, breathable and quick-drying T-shirt with anti-odour properties. It doesn’t come cheap, but you’ll be wearing it for the next decade.


On Running Performance T

(Image credit: On Running)
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On Running Performance T

Featherlight high-performance tee

Specifications

RRP: £70

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight, great for hot weather
+
Flat seams
+
Hangs nicely

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Ideal for a warm-weather race, this lightweight tee feels barely there in the best possible way. The figure-skimming cut is flattering but not clingy, using floaty fabrics that are highly breathable and quick-drying, while the back panel is made of a non-opaque mesh fabric. We love the pleats between the shoulder blades which allow the top to drape nicely, encouraging more airflow.

The Best Running Vests For Women

Women’s UA Rush Energy Tank, front and rear views of model wearing the running vest in black

(Image credit: UA)

Women’s UA Rush Energy Tank

Figure-skimming tank for summer running

Specifications

RRP: £34

Reasons to buy

+
Opaque, non-clingy fabric
+
Flattering, figure-skimming cut

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite short in the body

This body-skimming tank is perfect for summer weather: the racerback shape with large armholes allows heat to escape, while the high neckline keeps the sun off your chest. The thin fabric manages to keep you cool without being see-through or clingy. It’s available in black or green.


Sweaty Betty Breathe Easy Running Vest, front and rear views of model wearing black vest

(Image credit: Sweaty Betty)

Sweaty Betty Breathe Easy Running Vest

Flattering vest in tasty sorbet colours

Specifications

RRP: £55

Reasons to buy

+
Flattering cut
+
Great choice of colours

Reasons to avoid

-
Light colours are slightly see-through

This lightweight running vest features a mesh racerback and generous armholes to keep you cool and allow for maximum freedom of movement. The curved hem offers a little more coverage front and back without getting in the way of your stride, and the soft fabric is made from recycled polyester. Take your pick from a delicious array of spring colours.


BAM Horizon Swing Vest Top

(Image credit: BAM)

BAM Horizon Swing Vest Top

Loose-fitting stylish vest top with eco credentials

Specifications

RRP: £29

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish cut hangs nicely
+
Longer length covers your bottom

Reasons to avoid

-
Bamboo viscose is warmer and clingier than polyester

Although bamboo viscose doesn’t score quite as highly in the sweat-wicking stakes as polyester, it does feel beautifully soft against the skin. This is a generously cut, loose-fitting racerback tank that hangs nicely. It has a straight hem and is fairly long in the body, so size down if you prefer a less baggy fit. All BAM products are carbon net positive: the company offsets its emissions from all stages of a garment’s life, including 50 washes. 


Reebok Speedwick Tank

(Image credit: Reebok)
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Reebok Speedwick Tank

Great-value simple, lightweight vest top

Specifications

RRP​​: £20

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight fabric
+
Mesh panel for extra airflow
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Straight hem is less flattering than curved

An airy top that will keep you cool on a humid day, this is a racerback tank with a mesh panel on the lower back for extra airflow. The armholes are generously cut so there’s nothing to distract you from your speed work.


Brooks Atmosphere Sleeveless

(Image credit: Brooks)
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Brooks Atmosphere Sleeveless

Body-skimming tank that offers more coverage than most

Specifications

RRP: £35

Reasons to buy

+
Offers more coverage than most tanks
+
Airy, lightweight material 
+
Body-skimming without excess fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
Too short in the body for some
-
Small neck hole may feel restrictive

This super-light and breathable sleeveless tee will make sure you don’t overheat. The body-skimming cut is functional but flattering, and it’s available in two colours: electric blue and pale pink.


Sundried Piz Fora

(Image credit: Sundried)
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Sundried Piz Fora

Great-value eco-friendly vest top

Specifications

RRP: £20

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value
+
Made from recycled consumer plastic
+
Good for tall runners

Reasons to avoid

-
Long length and large armholes won't suit everyone

We love this British brand, which makes eco-friendly sportswear – this lightweight number is made from recycled plastic bottles – and sells it at affordable prices. Quick-drying, soft, stretchy and breathable, it’s well suited to taller runners because it’s long in the body. The relaxed fit and racerback design will also help to keep you cool in summer.


On Tank-T

(Image credit: On Running)
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On Running Tank-T

Super-lightweight tank for running in hot weather

Specifications

RRP: £60

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight, airy fabric
+
Flattering draped cut
+
Taped seams to avoid chafing

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Meet your new favourite race vest. It’s airy and hangs nicely, with taped seams and a slightly longer hem at the back. Made from a Japanese technical fabric, it’s soft, super-light, and extremely fast-drying.

The Best Long-Sleeved Running Tops For Women

Whatever the season, it’s good to have a few workhorse long-sleeved tops in your running wardrobe. As well as being an essential warming layer in winter, a long-sleeved top can be worn on its own during transitional weather and shield you from the sun in summer.


Montane Blade Long Sleeve women’s running top

(Image credit: Montane)
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Montane Blade Long Sleeve

Warm base layer for long days on the trails

Specifications

RRP: £40

Reasons to buy

+
Flat seams to avoid chafing
+
Anti-odour properties
+
Warm base layer

Reasons to avoid

-
A little clingy to wear on its own

Designed for trail running, this long-sleeved top works well as a base layer or can be worn on its own. Form-fitting but not too clingy, it’s sweat-wicking and has low-profile seams to avoid chafing. It’s also treated with Polygiene which means you can be active all day and won’t have to worry about your T-shirt getting whiffy. It’s available in two choices of colour: paprika or stratus grey.


New Balance Transform Half Zip

(Image credit: New Balance)
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New Balance Transform Half Zip

Cosy half-zip top for adjusting your temperature on the run

Specifications

RRP: £40

Reasons to buy

+
Soft, stretchy fabric
+
Half zip allows you to adjust for temperature

Reasons to avoid

-
On the clingy side

You won’t find a softer top here – and it’ll keep you warm too. This is a soft, waffle-textured long-sleeved top that sits close to the skin but can still be layered up with a tank top underneath. With its high collar, dropped-back hem and thumb holes it will keep you snug on chilly days, and when you get too hot the half zip helps you to cool off.


Runderwear Running Base Layer

(Image credit: Runderwear)
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Runderwear Running Base Layer

Base layer to help regulate your temperature

Specifications

RRP: £55

Reasons to buy

+
Good temperature control

Reasons to avoid

-
Clingy 
-
Expensive

Runderwear is best known for its comfy underwear for runners. This soft and stretchy long-sleeved base layer has all the moisture-wicking qualities you’d expect, but there are also targeted breathable panels where you most need to let off steam. The sleeves have built-in fold-over mitts to keep your hands warm on cold days.


Lululemon Swiftly Tech

(Image credit: Lululemon)
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Lululemon Swiftly Tech

Soft, stretchy long-sleeved top in a generous length

Specifications

RRP: £68

Reasons to buy

+
Soft, stretchy fabric
+
Generous length 
+
Good temperature regulation

Reasons to avoid

-
A little clingy 
-
Expensive

Extra soft and form-fitting without being skin-tight, this long-sleeved number is expensive but we reckon it’s worth it for the excellent quality and feel. The longer length should ensure it won’t ride up above your waistband, and your hands and wrists will stay warmer thanks to longer cuffs with thumb holes. Subtle perforated sections allow for extra breathability in high-sweat areas: the back, armpits and even the oft-overlooked underboob zone.


More Women’s Running Gear Recommendations

  • It’s the most important bit of kit to get right after shoes. Use our buyer’s guide to work out which running bra is best for you.
  • Whether you prefer form-fitting or loose, you’re sure to find a great pair in our run-down of the best women’s running shorts.
  • Make sure the workhorses of your running wardrobe are thoroughbreds with our picks of the best running leggings.
  • Go for a run whatever the weather. You just need one of these running jackets.
Camilla Artault
Camilla Artault

Camilla Artault is a writer and keen runner. She has covered women’s running gear – testing leggings, jackets, bras, tops and shorts – for Coach since 2018, as well as interviewing experts and writing about a range of health and lifestyle topics.