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

The Best Men’s Running Shirts of 2022

When breaking down the best men’s running shirts, our expert tested for optimal fit, breathability, moisture-wicking properties, and comfort to give you a range of options for your next burn.

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 shirt.

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.

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

The Best Men’s Running Shirts of 2022

Best Overall: Janji Helio Tech Tee (Non-Patterned)

Janji Helio Tech Tee (Non-Patterned)

The Janji Helio Tech Tee ($58-64) is something special. What really won me over is the raised waffle/grid design inside. It wicks sweat off your skin while allowing airflow to cool your body and dry the moisture on the shirt.

Drying times, especially in the sun, were among the best I tested. This high-performance running shirt also felt incredibly comfortable against my skin. This design is like no other running shirt I’ve tested.

If you’re familiar with the Patagonia R1 and its grid pattern, this is very similar, but on a smaller scale. Like Patagonia, Janji’s execution of this design is highly functional and super comfortable.

Beyond that, the shirt comes with all the bells and whistles a top-notch running shirt should have. Flatlock seams that are offset from high-abrasion areas prevent chafing, even when wearing a hydration vest. It’s treated with an anti-odor treatment and provides UPF 25 sun protection.

There is a caveat, and it’s a big one, so listen up. I got the opportunity to test both theobsidian solid-color shirt (a personal favorite) and the geo stripe patterned shirt. They are two completely different shirts, despite sharing the Helio name.

It must be something with the patterned fabric, but the patterned option did not exemplify the quality of the solid colors. The material is stiff and doesn’t have the raised inside waffle design that won me over enough to crown it the best overall running shirt.

Specs:
  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Weight: 3 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection: 25
  • Anti-odor: Yes
Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Grid design wicks sweat like no other
  • Anti-odor treatment
Cons:
  • Patterned shirts are not the same quality

Check Price at REI

Runner-Up: Lululemon Fast and Free

Lululemon Fast and Free

This paper-thin running-specific shirt has become my preferred shirt for scorching hot, humid weather. Made with an ultra-lightweight mesh polyester, the Fast and Free shirt ($68) was the lightest-weight shirt I tested.

Coming in at around 2.7 ounces, it’s an excellent option for high-temp and high-humidity runs. Thanks to the thin construction, I honestly felt like I sweated less in this tee than others I tested. The wind resistance generated by my forward movement seemed to cut right through the shirt to cool me off.

It’s cut with a slim, tapered fit and sits with a slightly longer hem than most of the other running shirts I tested, which I loved. Bonded seams sit flat to avoid any hot spots. It’s also treated with Lululemon’s No-Stink Zinc technology, an anti-odor chemical treatment.

As you would expect with Lululemon, you’ll have to dig deep in your wallet to buy the Fast and Free. If this were $20 cheaper, it would undoubtedly be a best overall running shirt contender. Another issue that’s somewhat embarrassing and prevents me from wearing this for any activity other than running is the thin material, which leaves my nipples on full display.

Other than that, it’s one of the best running shirts available today and comes with Lululemon’s signature durability, which helps offset the price.

Specs:
  • Material: 100% recycled polyester
  • Weight: 2.7 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection: Unknown
  • Anti-odor: Yes
Pros:
  • Lightest shirt tested
  • No-Stink Zinc technology
  • Works really well in hot temps
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Limited colors

Check Price at Lululemon

Best Value: REI Co-op Active Pursuits T-Shirt

REI Co-op Active Pursuits T-Shirt

I’ve found that most low-cost moisture-wicking shirts feel a bit scratchy, but not the REI Active Pursuits T-shirt ($24). It has a soft, supple feel — almost like cotton, and the 100% polyester fabric does a great job of wicking moisture away and drying it quickly.

To prevent chafing, REI kept the shoulders seam-free and used a flat seam construction throughout, something common on shirts nearly double the price.

Weighing in at 5 ounces, I’m not sure I would call it a lightweight shirt, as it was one of the heaviest shirts we tested. Once temps started peaking above 70 degrees F, I naturally gravitated toward shirts weighing under 3.5 ounces. Still, I’ve tested a good amount of budget tech tees, and I guarantee you won’t find a higher quality, more comfortable moisture-wicking running shirt at this price point.

If you run frequently but let your laundry pile high, you can have a few of these on deck for the price of a single high-tech running shirt from one of the boutique brands on the list.

Specs:
  • Material: 100% recycled polyester
  • Weight: 5 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection: Unknown
  • Anti-odor: No
Pros:
  • Great value
  • Soft against the skin
  • Seamless shoulders reduce irritation when wearing vests
Cons:
  • Heavy
  • No anti-odor treatment

Check Price at REI

Best High-End: SOAR Hot Weather Tee

SOAR Hot Weather Tee

If you read my best running shorts article, you know SOAR is one of my favorite running apparel companies. Their founder, Tim Soar, treats designing running clothing with the same attention to detail as high-end runway apparel.

The amount of thought put into the Hot Weather Tee is mind-blowing. The shirt uses a zonal design to give the shoulders, arms, and upper back a UPF 50+ enhancement to protect against sunburn where it most frequently occurs.

The main body is an ultra-lightweight, open weave 3D mesh Italian fabric that is incredibly airy. This material is freaking amazing — by far one of the best moisture-wicking fabrics I’ve worn. To prevent irritation, all the seams are bonded.

Before you look at the price, hear me out: SOAR gear isn’t for everyone. You need to appreciate the finer details of function and fashion and be willing to pay for longevity. Even then, some will balk at the price ($92), which is why we’ve compiled a wide range of options.

I can confidently say that SOAR gear is manufactured at a higher quality than anything I’ve tested — and I’ve been testing running gear for 10 years. If performance is worth the money to you, and compliments from fellow runners brighten your day, give it a try — it might be the best running shirt money can buy.

Specs:
  • Material: 100% polyester (main), 93% recycled polyester, 7% recycled Elasten
  • Weight: 2.8 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection: 50 (on shoulders, upper back, and arms)
  • Anti-odor: No
Pros:
  • Extremely lightweight and airy
  • High-quality Italian fabrics
  • UPF 50 where you need it and not where you don’t
Cons:
  • Expensive

Check Price at Soar Running

Best Wool: Ibex Merino Tencel

Ibex Merino Tencel Running Shirt

I’m a huge fan of wool. In my experience, it has the best moisture-wicking and fastest drying time of any fabric. I do find most wool running shirts a tad scratchy. It’s not enough to prevent me from wearing them, but it’s noticeable.

However, the Ibex Merino Tencel ($85) is the exception. Made with Tencel and a nylon core to increase durability (which it does), I also found it to be more comfortable than other wool shirts, somehow achieving a much smoother texture. Ibex advertises it as a regular fit, but I found my typical size to be more fitted than usual.

As expected with pretty much all wool shirts, the Ibex Merino Tencel weighs in on the heavier side at 4.3 ounces — a bit heavy for me. Personally, for a wool running shirt, I find the sweet spot for shirts of this weight to be around 70 degrees.

If you’re a fan of wool, like me, and interested in a slightly more comfortable, less itchy wool shirt, I strongly recommend checking this well-designed running shirt.

Specs:
  • Material: 45% merino wool, 45% Tencel, 10% nylon
  • Weight: 4.3 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection: 50
  • Anti-odor: Yes
Pros:
  • Outrageously soft
  • Not scratchy
  • Natural UPF 50 protection and anti-odor
Cons:
  • Heavy
  • Can get warm in really hot temps

Check Price at Ibex

Most Comfortable: Vuori Strato Tech Tee

Vuori Strato Tech Tee

There’s nothing quite like a well-worn cotton tee. Yet, even the best tech tees just don’t replicate cotton’s comfortable, soft-to-the-skin feeling. Meet the Vuori Strato Tech Tee ($44), a moisture-wicking running shirt with cotton’s cozy, supple feel.

In fact, it’s more comfortable than your softest cotton tee. Even as I sat down to write this review, I had to do a double-take to ensure it wasn’t cotton. Sure enough, it’s 98% polyester and 4% Elastane. It also has anti-odor and a UPF rating of 30.

The tradeoff for all that comfort? In my testing, the Strato Tech Tee took the longest time to dry. It’s certainly better than cotton, but doesn’t compare to the other shirts tested in that category. If you drip sweat like a faucet, I’d suggest you look elsewhere, but if you’re a mild sweater looking for a downright comfortable tee, this functions as one of the best running shirts you can buy.

And if you’re like me and prefer simple, inconspicuous but fashionable shirts, odds are this will quickly become one of your favorite everyday tees.

Specs:
  • Material: 96% polyester, 4% Elastane
  • Weight: 4.1 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection: 30+
  • Anti-odor: Yes
Pros:
  • Crazy soft to the touch
  • Great color options
  • UPF 30 and anti-odor
Cons:
  • Long drying time

Check Price at REI

Best Sleeveless: Rhone Swift Tank

Rhone Swift Tank

Rhone is a high-end activewear apparel company that prides itself on using premium fabrics and cutting-edge designs. The attention to detail is evident with the Swift tank ($58).

For starters, its ability to stay dry even on the warmest of days is second to none. It uses a lightweight striped mesh pattern that breathes exceptionally well.

Often, tank tops with thin shoulder straps can be uncomfortable and cause the tank to excessively slide around your shoulders when you run. The Swift has slightly thicker shoulder straps that stay put when running, making it more comfortable than other tank tops we tested. It’s more like a cross between a tank top and a sleeveless shirt.

The downside of most boutique fitness companies is they tend to be more expensive, and Rhone is no exception. I get it; the price tag is a pretty penny for a running tank top. If it’s any consolation, this is also my go-to tank for rock climbing and cross-training.

Specs:
  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Weight: 3 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection: No
  • Anti-odor: Yes
Pros:
  • Lightweight and airy
  • High-quality fabric
Cons:
  • Expensive

Check Price at AmazonCheck Price at Rhone

Best of the Rest

Rab Sonic Tee

Rab Sonic Tee

Rab is a mountain brand I don’t think gets enough attention in the U.S. Based out of the U.K., Rab makes some of the best technical mountain apparel I’ve tested. The Sonic Tee ($40) is a new lightweight wicking tee designed for mountain running.

Made with 100% polyester, it’s incredibly light and airy. The relatively thin fabric sits nicely against the skin and does a great job of venting and wicking the moisture off your skin to dry. Where it truly shines is in drying time. A soaked Sonic Tee dried up in just a few minutes of direct sunlight. It even comes with an antibacterial treatment to ward off odor between washes.

Rab advertises it as a regular fit, but I’d call it a slim-fitting shirt. I prefer a looser-fitting lightweight shirt, so I opted to size up, and it worked out perfectly. Bottom line — the Sonic Tee is a well-priced, highly functional technical tee perfect for any warm-weather activity. It quickly became my go-to running shirt for scorching days on the trail.

Specs:
  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Weight: 3.4 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection: No
  • Anti-odor: Yes
Pros:
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Airy
  • Good value for money
Cons:
  • Thin

Check Price at AmazonCheck Price at Rab

Black Diamond Rhythm Tee

Black Diamond Rhythm Tee

The Black Diamond Rhythm Tee ($75) is one of the most unique shirts I’ve ever worn. It’s basically weightless. And thanks to Nuyarn wool, a different spinning technology than most wool shirts, sweat seems to evaporate as soon as it hits the shirt. Even when the shirt was soaked, drying time was better than any other shirt tested. It’s really unlike any wool shirt I’ve tested.

One of the benefits of Nuyarn wool is that it’s 35% stretchier than merino wool, so it’s best worn close to the skin. I’m not a huge fan of tight-fitting shirts, so I opted for a size up, which had a more relaxed fit.

Like all wool products, the Rhythm Tee has durability issues. After a few snags on trees and brushes, I ripped a few tiny holes in it. But again, it didn’t surprise me. One issue I found unique to Nuyarn Wool is that after many washes, the shirt started to lose its form and stretch out unevenly.

Despite these common durability issues, the Rhythm Tee is an excellent option for those that want the wicking/drying speed of wool and anti-odor properties, but find most wool shirts too heavy. I can promise you that you won’t find this shirt too heavy or stuffy.

If you run in open spaces in hot weather, this could become your go-to running shirt.

Specs:
  • Material: 100% merino wool
  • Weight: 3.3 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection: Yes
  • Anti-odor: Yes
Pros:
  • One of the lightest wool shirts you can buy
  • Fast drying time
  • Natural UPF protection and anti-odor
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Durability issues

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Black Diamond

The North Face Wander

The North Face Wander

I’ll admit, I’m somewhat obsessed with this shirt ($40). There’s nothing exceptional about it, but it’s just so soft. I love the way it hangs over my body, and the lightweight jersey-knit fabric moves comfortably over my skin.

If UV protection is important to you, don’t buy a heather-colored option. The ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) is 50 for solids and UPF 15 for Heathers — a significant downgrade.

This running shirt could have been a higher pick, but it’s not the best at wicking and drying sweat compared to the others I’ve highlighted above. It’s also almost 2 ounces heavier than any other shirt. But for short runs, gym sessions, or activities where you’re not going to pour out sweat, it’s a tremendous mid-priced option.

Specs:
  • Material: 7% recycled polyester, 47% polyester, 6% Elastane
  • Weight: 6.7 oz.
  • UPF rating/protection: 50 for solids and 15 for heathers
  • Anti-odor: No
Pros:
  • Soft
  • Comfortable
Cons:
  • Heaviest shirt tested

Check Price at REI

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 reviewing running gear since 2014.

Over the past 6 months, Cory has been running road, track, and trails in Southern California and Mammoth Lakes, Calif., to vet and ultimately find the best running shirts on the market today. We evaluated each shirt for comfort, wicking ability, drying times, and bonus features such as UPF and anti-odor properties.

Buyer’s Guide: What to Look For in a 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 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.

Weighting the lightest shirt tested - Lululemon fast and free
Weighing the lightest shirt tested: Lululemon’s Fast and Free; (photo/Cory Smith)

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, I 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.

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 Lululemon Fast and Free and Ibex 24 Hour shirts had the best wicking power, while the Vuori Strato Tech Tee had the worst but offered a far softer feel than both the Lululemon and Ibex options.

The author in Lululemon Fast and Free
The author in the Lululemon Fast and Free; (photo/Nick Presniakov)

Drying Speed

As I 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.

Seams

I’ll spare you the nitty-gritty details of all the types of seams. For simplicity, I’ll break the 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 will use a flat seam construction because the low profile is less irritating and less likely to cause chafing. If you struggle with chafing and it’s centered around the seam, I suggest taking a look 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

The author in TNF Wander
The author in TNF Wander; (photo/Nick Presniakov)

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, I personally favor a tighter shirt over 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.