The Best Women’s Running Tops

Best Women's Running Tops 2024: Jump Menu

Tried-and-tested running tops for women

(Image credit: Camilla Artault / Future)

1. The Quick List ↴
2. Best Short-Sleeve: Rockay Tech Tee
3. Best Value Short-sleeve: New Balance Impact Run
4. Best For Hot Weather: Soar Hot Weather T
5. Best Long-Sleeve: On Performance T Long
6. Most Versatile: New Balance Q Speed Jacquard Long Sleeve
7. Best Bamboo Top: BAM Novea Crew Neck Base Layer
8. Best Vest: Sweaty Betty Breathe Easy Running Vest
9. Best Value Vest: Sundried Piz Fora
10. Best Cropped Tank: Lululemon Sculpt Cropped

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 I’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, I’d recommend also investing in a mesh washing bag (like Guppy Friend, £25 from Ethical Superstore) 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.

How I Test Running Tops

You can trust Coach We give honest reviews and recommendations based on in-depth knowledge and real-world experience. Find out more about how we review and recommend products.

I am continually testing new running T-shirts, long-sleeved tops and tanks in my search for the best running tops for women. You’ll find contributions from other Coach writers who are keen runners too. Most of our recommendations are based on our personal experiences testing the products, although we do include some options we haven’t tried. If you see the writer’s byline or initials after the text you’ll know it’s been tested.

The Quick List

Want the lowdown at a glance? These are the women’s running tops—short-sleeved, long-sleeved and vest tops—that I recommend most highly. Click on the links to go to the more detailed reviews and specs.

The Best Short-Sleeved Running Tops For Women

Best Short-Sleeved Top

Rockay Tech Tee

(Image credit: Rockay)

1. Rockay Tech Tee

Lightweight, comfortable running top

Specifications

RRP: $79 / £60
Sizing: XS-XL

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.—Camilla Artault

Best Value Short-sleeve

New Balance Impact Run Short Sleeve top worn by model, front and back views

(Image credit: New Balance)

2. New Balance Impact Run Short Sleeve

A well-cut, lightweight tee

Specifications

RRP : $45 / £33-£40
Sizing: XS-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Well cut
+
Lightweight, breathable

Reasons to avoid

-
Light colors can be see-through

I’ve tested previous versions of the Impact Run and much like before this T-shirt is lightweight, well-cut (with raglan sleeves) and pleasant to wear. It dries quickly and feels soft, breathable and cool against the skin. This version has strategically placed mesh sections on the shoulder blades to help with ventilation. I found the shape flattering, although it’s cut slightly closer to the body than the previous version, reducing any excess movement and friction. In my experience, these T-shirts last well and there’s a range of colors to choose from—though beware the lighter colors, which can be on the transparent side, if that bothers you.—CA

Best For Hot Weather

Soar Hot Weather T Shirt in pink

(Image credit: Soar)

3. Soar Hot Weather T

Lightweight mesh T-shirt with UV protection

Specifications

RRP: $110 / £82
Sizing: XS-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight, breathable and sweat-wicking
+
UPF protection
+
Non see-through

Reasons to avoid

-
Narrow cut
-
Expensive

This incredibly lightweight running top is the one to reach for on hot, sunny days. It’s made with a barely-there mesh—which somehow isn’t too see-through—and panels of UPF fabric that protect the shoulders, upper chest and back from the sun (PSA: you can get sunburn when wearing clothes). Bonded seams and no labels reduce the risk of chafing to the absolute minimum. 

It’s a top-quality technical garment, to the point that when I first tested it, I felt like I should be running an ultramarathon through the desert rather than an easy 10K around my local park. Like other Soar tops, it’s cut quite narrow in the body—if you’re between sizes, I’d recommend you size up.—CA

The Best Long-Sleeved Running Tops For Women

Best Long-Sleeved Top

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.

On performance long sleeve T-shirt in "creek" worn by model

(Image credit: On)

1. On Performance T Long

Versatile technical running top

Specifications

RRP: £70
Sizing: XS-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight, quick-drying fabric
+
Antibacterial
+
Bonded seams

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the cheapest

This seriously lightweight long-sleeved T-shirt has all the technical features I’ve come to expect from On. It’s made with a high-quality lightweight mesh fabric that’s highly breathable and quick-drying—it kept me cool when running yet warm when standing around. Bonded seams ensure minimal irritation, and the pleat between the shoulder blades allows the top to drape away from your sweaty back, maximizing airflow. The fabric has been given the antibacterial treatment so you can get more wear out of it between washes. Not just a boring base layer to hide under a jacket, this is a top that comes into its own when worn by itself.—CA

Most Versatile

New Balance Q Speed Jacquard Long Sleeve in black worn by model

(Image credit: New Balance)

2. New Balance Q Speed Jacquard Long Sleeve

Comfortable, breathable base layer

Specifications

RRP: $54.99 / £47.50
Sizing: XS-2XL

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile
+
Breathable
+
Comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Can’t check watch easily

This long-sleeved top can be worn on its own or under another layer in cold, wet or windy conditions. It’s form-fitting but not clingy, and the open-weave jacquard fabric is breathable and comfortable against the skin, wicking sweat away efficiently. I used it as a base layer under a running jacket in chilly spring weather and it kept me cool and comfortable. I liked the high neckline and long cuffs with thumb holes—they kept my hands warm, although they made it difficult to check my running watch.—CA

Best Bamboo Top

Bam Novea Long Sleeved top in nimbus blue

(Image credit: BAM)

3. BAM Novea Crew Neck Base Layer

A quick-drying nature-based alternative to synthetics

Specifications

RRP : $64 / £44
Sizing: UK 8-16 (US 4-12)

Reasons to buy

+
Alternative to synthetics
+
Soft, breathable fabric
+
Naturally anti-odour

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the warmest

Bamboo fibre is known for its softness and natural feel against the skin, but normally it’s not nearly as lightweight or as effective at wicking away sweat as polyester. This new fabric from BAM combines bamboo viscose with a fibre made from wood pulp, which BAM says is responsibly sourced and made with a low-impact process – a great alternative to synthetic fibres. I loved the silky softness of the Novea base layer, which is lightweight and breathable, quick-drying, and less prone to whiffiness than untreated polyester. This long-sleeved base layer has generous sleeves with thumb holes.—CA

Best Lightweight Long Sleeve

Soar Long Sleeve Tech T in blue

(Image credit: Soar)

4. Soar Long Sleeve Tech T

Lightweight base layer for daily use

Specifications

RRP: $115 / £85
Sizing: XS-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Antibacterial treatment
+
Made with recycled fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Narrow in the body

This Soar top is thoughtfully designed and highly technical. The fabric is an extremely lightweight mesh that’s somehow not at all transparent and has bonded seams where it matters, to avoid chafing. I find Soar’s women’s tops are cut narrow in the body to suit skinny runners, so sizing up makes for a more comfortable fit. I love the silky-smooth feel of the material and found this top a joy to run in, whether worn as a top by itself or under a jacket. It’s also had an antibacterial treatment so it won’t get stinky too quickly.—CA

The Best Running Vests For Women

Best Vest

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

(Image credit: Sweaty Betty)

1. Sweaty Betty Breathe Easy Running Vest

Flattering vest in a range of colours

Specifications

RRP: $68 / £45
Sizing: XXS-XXL

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 colours.

Best Value Vest

Sundried Piz Fora

(Image credit: Sundried)

2. Sundried Piz Fora

Great-value eco-friendly vest top

Specifications

RRP: $20 / £16
Sizing: XS-XXL

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

I'm a big fan of 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.

Best Cropped Tank

Lululemon Sculpt Cropped Tank in pale green worn by model

(Image credit: Lululemon)

3. Lululemon Sculpt Cropped Tank Top

A loose-fitting crop top perfect for hot, sweaty runs

Specifications

RRP: $39 / £38
Sizing: 0-20

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable, flowy fit
+
Quick-drying
+
Reflective dots

Reasons to avoid

-
Cropped style not for everyone

A floaty and comfortable running top, Lululemon’s Sculpt Cropped Tank has a loose and breathable fit that’s perfect for intense cardio workouts. The baggy fit keeps you cool on hot days, with a mesh panel on the upper back and pleats that make the fabric hang away from your lower back. 

Having tested this top in heavy rain, I can attest to the fabric’s quick-drying capabilities. I tested this in white and the fabric did not become transparent, even when soaked through. The top is cropped and the hem sits around the hips, making it ideal to pair with high-waisted leggings or shorts, but if you prefer more coverage this top won’t be for you.—Lois Mackenzie

Best Lightweight Vest

Arc’Teryx Norvan Tank worn by model, front and back views

(Image credit: Arc’Teryx)

4. Arc’Teryx Norvan Tank

A comfortable, featherlight vest

Specifications

RRP : $80 / £70
Sizing: XXS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Light fabric
+
Hangs well
+
Excellent at wicking sweat

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited color selection
-
Expensive

The best thing about this vest top is the featherlight fabric. On a hot day, some polyester tops can feel suffocating—not this one. The airy fabric feels smooth and pleasant against the skin and does an excellent job of wicking away sweat and keeping you as dry as possible.

The Norvan Tank is a joy to wear for warm weather training and racing. With bonded hems and a flatteringly draped cut, this vest hangs beautifully. The back section is made with an even lighter mesh which allows for more airflow, keeping the fabric hanging away from your sweaty back. Arc’Teryx says the tank has a laminated finish in specific areas to avoid chafing. I didn’t experience any.

The choice of colors is limited at the moment, and the one I tested was an odd combination of khaki and highlighter yellow. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more wearable colorways.—CA

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.