Professional runners require specifically designed and engineered gear. From head to toe, running can be greatly hindered or helped by the equipment one decides to use. The reason for using specified gear during fitness activities, instead of generally standard equipment, is to enable your best possible performance.
So as to exceed your own personal expectations, you must deeply know that you not only can be better, but you can be the best. To be world class, runners need the best running shirts, pants and overall gear that is available.
Top Running Shirt Picks
After scouring the internet for the greatest of the great, we present it to you, the cream of the crop for the runner with ambition. These are the picks for the gear that will not lead you astray, but fight with you to conquer the streets.
Note: We get commissions for purchases made through links in this article
Nike Dri-FIT Knit Short-Sleeve Running Shirt
Weight– 3.6 ounces
Specific Features– Moisture control with Dri-FIT technology moisture wicking
Best Use– running, fitness
This running shirt is expertly designed and meets various uses. The Nike Dri-Fit offers free and easy airflow thanks to its body-mapped design and rolled forward seams. The seam design minimizes chafing and friction against the skin, making it a good choice for runners and cardio intensive workouts.
This shirt is for the active user who requires first class design and functionality to keep on running or working. It does not come in as many style options as some other products, however, it may be right for someone who desires a simple yet professional look and feel.
Nike is known for craftsmanship and satisfaction. The Nike Dri-Fit also might be a great option for runners who have no desire to break the budget on the correct gear.
Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool Tank
Weight– 3 ounces
Materials– 92% polyester, 8% elastin, Mesh Knit
Specific Features– Cool. Q™ZERO moisture wicking and cooling, active fit, MicroClimate Zoning for ventilation
Best Use– Running, Biking, Cardio
The patented Cool. Q ZERO technology of the Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool Tank allows moisture wicking to occur with more efficiency and speed than standard fabrics and gives a continuous cooling sensation throughout use. Specially engineered MicroClimate Zoning mesh knit moves moisture away from one’s body expediently, while the odor fighting fabric treatment keeps the user smelling fresh and looking good.
For active users who perspire to an excess, the mesh knit construction might be ideal. In addition, the user can cut down on deodorant use, allowing for less congested sweat gland.
Outdoor Research Men’s Torque Short Sleeve T-Shirt
Weight– 3.5 ounces
Materials– Polyester/Polypropylene Fabric
Specific Features– Venting Mesh Panels, Polygene Active Odor Control, lightweight, quick drying.
Best Use– Recreation, Jogging, Gym
For those who have an affinity to perspire, this running tee is for you. It has Polygene Active Odor Control and is made to dry quickly when damp. The Outdoor Research Men’s Torque offers a versatile shirt for those who are active and professional.
The looser fit allows air to move freely and is not restricting for physical activity. The standard, loose fit might get in the way of bikers and climbers, but is ideal for jogging and general gym use. The possible downside might be this shirt’s extra weight.
Because it is not an athletic fit, this shirt might become a hinderance when not exercising in an environment with plenty of air circulation. Moisture might have a tendency to stay within the fabric because the material can sit against itself while in use. Also, no elasticity will likely cause this product to stretch out over time.
Nike Dry-Fit Knit Contrast S/S Men’s Running Shirt
Weight– 3.1 ounces
Materials– Dri-FIT 83 % Nylon/17 % Polyester, Nackenband: 97 % Nylon/3 % Elastane.
Specific Features– Dri-FIT and Mesh fabric, raglan sleeves and underarm panels, cable loop above the back.
Best Use– Aerobic, Running, Endurance
The DF Knit Contrast by Nike combines striking visual aesthetics with world class function. This shirt has been expertly designed specifically for runners, featuring seamless construction. No seams means minimal irritation and less chafing.
Breathability has literally been stitched into the fabric with Knit-in Ventilation, allowing for easy and efficient moisture wicking. The underarms are especially important for body-heat control and moisture control, and this shirt allows the body to stay cool without added materials. Unlike Nike’s other models of the Dri-Fit, the athletic, tight fit will keep its shape due to the elastane materials used in its construction.
New Balance Men’s Accelerate Short Sleeve Shirt
Weight– 3 ounces
Materials– 87% Polyester/13% Spandex
Specific Features– Nab dry technology, plenty of colors to choose from, reflective tape on back for safety, reflective logo
Best Use– Running, Biking, Lifting
The Accelerate by New balance is a slick choice for the gym. The inset panels are made to contrast in color, bringing one’s eye to the bodies features. The Athletic fit will keep one’s muscles compressed and allow for free mobility. Great for high endurance sports and taking on the weight room.
This running tee is both attractive and functional. The Accelerate is possibly the most attractive choice on our list, style wise. More of a hybrid between an athletic fit and standard fit, this shirt will keep its form due to the spandex material in its construction.
The underarm panels are designed with a variety of different color coordination options to fit any style of workout wardrobe requirements. A great use for this product could possibly be biking, seeing as it offers a nice combination of fitness and comfort. It also has the benefit of being one of the most frugal options on our list.
ASICS Men’s Ready-Set Short Sleeve Tee
Weight– 3.4 ounces
Materials– 100% Polyester
Specific Features– Texturized mesh provides moisture wicking, set-in sleeves.
Best Use– Running/ Lifting/ Climbing
The Ready-Set by ASICS, has been designed using a textured mesh construction. This enables the fabric to wick moisture away from the body. This tee shirt is made to fit snug, allowing the most flexibility of motion possible without getting in the way.
The sleeves are tight fitting and longer than some, while still being a short sleeve athletic fit. The benefit to this feature is the compression it offers the arm muscles, which is especially useful when engaged in upper-body intensive activity such as lifting or climbing.
Another frugal option is this shirt, however, be aware that any shirt which is offered at what seems to be a steal, either, was a steal, or, was manufactured in a “creative,” way. I leave the deductions up to the trusted readers.
The specific style and type of top a runner wears is dependent on their climate. In the cold, wear long sleeves. In hot weather, wear sleeveless. If you are the middle eighty percent of runners, you will likely have the best results by procuring a short sleeved tee, made for running.
The active gear one chooses to use is as important to the success and enjoyment of their activity as the choice of activity to engage in. Without the proper gear and equipment, activities can quickly become chores and carry little value or enjoyment in the completing thereof.
Have you ever been outside, playing in the snow with your kids or hiking with your loved one, on a particularly cold and snowy day without snow boots? Now, you’re freezing your toes off, risking frostbite because those boots had a hole in them that you have neglected to get fixed for the past three years.
Your attitude quickly goes from joyful to grouchy, your loved one senses your comfort level is degrading and you can’t help but to turn around. A fun day in the snow, ruined by the wrong equipment. Do not let this happen.
Life is about enjoying the little things and braving the unknown. You can master the elements, as humans have for thousands of years, and turn the harsh winter, blazing heat or pouring rain into your playground arena. Be the one dancing in the rain, not the one watching that person from behind a window pane.
Not All Shirts are Created Equal
Have you ever taken a run in a cotton tee shirt? About a half mile into your run, the shirt is drenched with sweat like a sponge. Not only is this disgusting for those running, walking or working out next to you, but it is bad for your body. Wearing a shirt soaking with sweat is like rubbing Crisco all over your body.
It’s working to expel toxins through sweat glands and you are allowing those toxin-filled, bodily fluids to reabsorb into the skin. We all know what happens then, right? Pimples, acne and loneliness. Not to mention a smell which offends the senses.
Running gear is designed to counteract these problems. In general, high cardio-specific gear is constructed to wick moisture away from the skin. When the moisture is moved away from your body, it evaporates in the outside air. This is the perfect thing for anyone engaged in high physical output activities since the body will naturally perspire to keep you cool, yet, your clothing stays dry due to the constant interaction with the moving air.
Another element that helps the moisture controlling elements of workout gear is an active fit design and construction. In general, the tighter fitting the garment, the more aerodynamic one is as they run. Baggy clothing means wind resistance and physical friction, slowing you down in the process.
Let’s Break it Down
You are the next Bolt, huh? Prove it then and suit up! You are going to need to be armed with the correct knowledge of what elements of your gear matter the most. It’s all well and good to look like a boss of the track but if your gear doesn’t allow for your feet to take flight, what good is it? Here is what you should pay attention to.
Material and Fabric
Your cotton tees you use for night-night are not-not the thing to use for high output, cardio activity. You can pretty much assume your fleece is more comfortable in the closet than it will be at the gym or track. The materials common to running gear are:
- Polyester- Synthetic resin which links the polymer units by ester groups. It is used mostly to make textile fibers. Unlike fibers procured from plants, Polyester can be manufactured to have added water, wind and environmental resistance.
- Polypropylene- a thermoplastic polymer used in many industrial settings and contexts. Poly is stretched from one singular mass, making it a non-woven material. It has the property of being flame resistant, however can melt if introduced to extreme, high temperature environments. Unfortunately, Polypropylene undergarments have a reputation for retaining body odors that will remain even after thoroughly cleaned. An attribute which current generations of polyester do not exhibit. Polypropylene is a very good material for thermal layering and hybrid weaves.
- Nylon- A truly wonderful innovation, Nylon is less expensive and stronger than many of its competitor fabrics. It is now used for many applications from clothing to parachutes. Nylon fabric is naturally durable, tear resistant and heat resistant.
- Elastane- An elastic polyurethane material. The two methods of use with elastane involve wrapping the fibers around a non-elastic material or an elastic material. This will give the material either an elastic quality or the resemblance of the inner material.
- Spandex- Due to its elasticity and strength (stretching up to five times its length), spandex has been incorporated into a range of garments, especially in running gear. A benefit of spandex is its significant strength and elasticity. This, coupled with its ability to return to the original shape after stretching give spandex a much desired quality for active gear. Spandex is also, generally, faster drying than ordinary fabrics.
These materials are specifically constructed into the ultimate tools for running. Often, one or more of these materials are mixed together in a process which adds some sort of moisture control element.
What the runner wants is to expel the moisture from their clothing after the body has cooled itself through perspiration. It might seem to be a natural thing that any shirt would just dry itself through constant, high speed contact with the wind and air.
However, this mindset is a recipe for breeding germs and viruses in the body. For that reason, runners use tops that are created with moisture wicking technology and fast drying constructional elements. This allows for the maximum amount of efficient use of bodily moisture and reduces risk of dehydration and virus contraction.
Classic versus Athletic Fit
Athletic Fit gear is often doubly intended as a moisture-wicking bottom layer, and an aerodynamic design for those engaging in running, jogging and sprinting. Classic or Standard fit tops are baggier, looser and allow more air under the material.
Any shirt which hangs loose is standard. There is nothing wrong with standard fit shirts, but they often will not be advantageous for activities requiring moving at high speed. The excess material will create friction in the wind, slowing down the user and increasing the body’s build up of heat.
Think of trying to sleep in a bed where the blankets are all bunched up around your body. Often, one can become hot, sweaty and restless. The same principle applies for clothing. The tighter the fit to the body, the less drag and heat build up.
Athletic fit gear fabric wicks the moisture from your body and pulls it through the material. This allows sweat to evaporate quickly and keeping your workout gear light, cool and dry.
Furthermore, the body contouring nature of the garments prevents drag and friction while moving at high speeds. Often these shirts are made to be seamless, removing added and repetitive irritation to the body.
The color of your gear can be as advantages or detrimental as the material used.
Dark vs Light
Dark colored clothing is a magnet for heat, but great for cold, sunny weather to retain your body’s natural heat and capture that of the sun. Light colored gear repels heat, which is useful for particularly hot climates and places where the sun is strong.
Overheating carries many serious risks to one’s health. This fact is especially true when engaging the body in strenuous physical activity.
In general, one reason that we work on improving our bodily health is to look and feel good. These are, in some ways, vain wishes, except if you consider that looking and feeling good is just the facade of a deeper desire.
And if you look and feel good, you’ll find more motivation to keep working out. It ends up being a great cycle that you may not what to get out of.
It’s Your Time to Shine
The world is your oyster, and you can run all over it, or eat it up as you see fit. The question is not whether you should take the plunge and get a new credit card to acquire some sort of useless gear for an activity you’ll never engage in. The question is are you ready to stop following?
Are you prepared to grow, change and become greater. Are you going to give one hundred percent of yourself to your world and can you see a hundred percent of the world in yourself? Never doubt it, you are everything you want to be. The sculpture is already chiseled and waits within a block of granite for you to let it out. Have faith, you are ready.
So, you know what to do. Dust off your old headband and tie your hair back. Grab some water, you’re going to need it. What are you waiting for? The world is at your command, you can be the master of your terrain. Please, feel free to leave individual comments and spread the knowledge.
Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.