Best Running Shirts for Women of 2024

The iRunFar team shares the best women’s running shirts of 2023 from brands like Patagonia, Ultimate Direction, Oiselle, Montbell, and more.

By , and on April 1, 2024 | Comments
Best Running Shirts for Women - different styles of running shirts - feature photo

There are countless types of running shirts, each with features that set them apart from the rest. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

When it comes to picking out running gear, the lowly t-shirt often gets overlooked, and many people don’t want to bother looking for the best running shirts. And look, we get it. You can get away with running in any old cotton tee with far fewer consequences than hitting the trails in a pair of Crocs. But here’s the thing. Like ditching Crocs for actual shoes, once you try a technical running tee, you won’t be able to go back to that ratty freebie from 2002. With that in mind, our testers have compiled the ultimate guide to the best running shirts for women.

A good running shirt acts like a small security blanket, keeping you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. It helps prevent you from burning under the sun and is a key base layer on snowy mountain summits. And for long outings, a good running shirt provides a protective layer between your skin and that abrasive hydration pack weighing down on your shoulders. Small details like flatlock seams, body-mapped mesh paneling, raglan sleeves, and underarm gussets conform the shirt to your body without irritating your skin. A good running shirt feels so light, breathable, and comfortable that you forget you’re even wearing it.

After a full year of testing the spectrum of running shirts up the windy 14ers in Colorado, down through the hot, humid bogs of the U.S. East Coast, and everywhere in between, we’ve rounded up the best women’s running shirts for trail running, ultrarunning, and everyday use. Our testers have various body types, running goals and styles, and material preferences, and we judged shirts on their fit, breathability, comfort, moisture-wicking abilities, durability, and style. We know that there are seemingly endless shirts to choose from, and our goal with this guide is to help you explore some options for the best running shirts for women available. We chose the Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt as our favorite overall shirt, and the wool lovers on our team turned to the Smartwool Merino Short Sleeve Tee. When we wanted extra sun protection, we went to the lightweight Outdoor Vitals Altitude Sun Hoodie.

You can also read more about our buying advice for running shirts for women, our testing and reviewing methodology, as well as our answers to some frequently asked questions many have about women’s running shirts.

P.S. If you’re looking for men’s running shirts, see our guide to the best running shirts for men.

Best Running Shirts for Women

Best running shirts for women - trailrunning on ridge in the mountains

Running shirts can be both comfortable and stylish. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Best Overall Running Shirt for Women: Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt ($49)

Best Running Shirt for Women - Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt - product photo


  • Ultralight
  • Extremely breathable and quick-drying
  • Soft and stretchy
  • Anti-odor


  • Seams on the shoulders
  • Delicate
  • Not great for cold weather

Ultralight, extremely breathable, and quick-drying, the Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt is what we turn to on the hottest days. Double-knit polyester fabric feels oh-so-soft on the skin and moves with you on the trail, making this modestly priced shirt an excellent option for everything from a weekday run to a 100-mile race.

Hands down, this high-performance women’s running shirt is the one we frequently wore during our testing for this guide. It kept our primary tester as cool as possible during a steamy ultra through the bogs of New Hampshire and withstood the wear and tear of many days in the Colorado Rockies with a fully loaded pack. Once you have worn this shirt on a roasting summer’s day, you won’t go back to that freebie cotton-polyester blend tee again.

The Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt feels simple, but the thoughtful design lies in the details. It fits comfortably, not too tight and not too loose. And the length sits just where we also like it, right below the hip bone. You can tuck it into your shorts or let it hang loose. The sleeves are long enough to cover your shoulders and an ample section of the upper arm, and gussets under the sleeves give an enhanced range of motion without tugging. Flatlock seams across the shoulders may be irritating with a pack, although our testers didn’t have an issue. A slightly wider neck enhances the breathability and freedom of movement, though the design doesn’t provide as much protection from the sun or hydration-pack chafing as other options.

This shirt is so light, it’s possible to forget you’re even wearing it. It’s quick-drying, but if you want to get it wet to cool off, it does a fine job of letting cold water pull heat from your body. When wet, the stretchy material does cling a bit, but it also seems to cool you off. A Polygiene treatment prevents bacteria from growing, hence reducing odor. After multiple sweaty sessions without washing, we can attest that it passes the stink test.

Coming in at less than two ounces, the shirt is featherlight and packs down efficiently, making it a great option if you like to strip down mid-run and throw your shirt in a pack or the back straps of your sports bra. The tradeoff to this super fine, light fabric is that it’s nearly sheer in some colors and may not provide the most sun protection. The durability also isn’t the greatest, but if you’re careful not to snag it on trees and rocks, it should last for a long time. Also, Patagonia’s generous lifetime free repair policy means you can get most wear and tear fixed for free. Sounds like a pretty good deal for such a fairly-priced piece of apparel.

Material: 100% polyester | Seams: Flatlock | Actual weight: 1.7 ounces (48 grams)

Shop the Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt

Best Running Shirt for Women – Runner-Up: Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee ($70)

Best Running Shirts for Women - Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee - product photo


  • Breathable and quick-drying
  • Does excellent at moderating temperature
  • Light


  • Short sleeves and a wide scoop neck provide less sun protection and more chafing opportunity
  • Pricey

Cool and wicking on hot days and warm and insulating on cool days, the Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee exemplifies how high-tech materials can elevate a humble piece of apparel. While this tee looks and feels nothing like any other shirt we’ve seen, it excels in all the ways we want a shirt to function.

Ultimate Direction uses advanced wicking, cooling, and odor-control technologies with this shirt, and it shows in its performance. While traditional wicking treatments wash off over time, Polartec Delta technology is incorporated into the fibers for a non-chemical wicking and cooling solution. A specialized knit weave of hydrophobic and hydrophilic yarns in a radiating structure expertly wicks away moisture, sucks away heat, and increases airflow. Flatlock seams around the shoulders help prevent chafing, and Polygiene antimicrobial odor control technology successfully keeps odor at bay, even after we wore this shirt multiple runs in a row.

Rather than feeling over-engineered, the Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee is highly breathable, light, and quite thermoregulating. As one tester noted, “It’s so nice. Breathable and wicking on hot days. Warm on cool days. Shirt love.”

Raglan sleeves mean you don’t have to worry about seams on top of your shoulders, which can cause irritation with a hydration pack. But the shortcut on the sleeves may not provide as much sun or chafe protection as you want. This shirt is a bit short, especially for runners with a longer torso, and the wide scoop neck doesn’t protect from the sun very well.

Material: 52% polyester, 44% lyocell, and 4% spandex | Seams: Flatlock | Actual weight: 3.1 ounces (88 grams)

Shop the Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee
Best Running Shirts for Women - Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee front view

The Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee. Photo: iRunFar/Abby Levene

Best Wool Running Shirt for Women: Smartwool Merino Short Sleeve Tee ($80)

Best Running Shirt for Women - Smartwool Merino Short Sleeve Tee - product photo


  • Odor-resistant
  • Breathable


  • Somewhat less durable than other options

The Smartwool Merino Short Sleeve Tee is a classic that seems to end up in nearly every runner’s wardrobe, and those who tend towards choosing wool shirts for running seem to end up with multiple colors of it in their closets. What can only be described as an ordinary wool shirt, it’s the simplicity of it is what makes it so great. It does everything you ask of a shirt, and it does so without a bunch of bells and whistles and styling. Merino wool is a far cry from wool garments of the past, and the fine fibers, grown on sheep adapted to live in cold climates in New Zealand and Australia, have exceptional wicking qualities. Smartwool uses a wool-blend material for this shirt for better performance and durability. By wrapping responsibly sourced wool fibers around a 100% recycled nylon core, they create a material that is sturdier than pure wool but maintains all its wicking and odor-resistant properties. The wool stays in contact with your skin to effectively transfer moisture outwards to the air. The material is thin enough to make this shirt a good option on warmer days, and it still insulates when things get chillier.

The shirt is described as a slim fit, but it doesn’t contour the body like some other shirts in this guide. There’s plenty of range of motion around the arms, and the sleeves provide good coverage on the upper arms. Merrow stretch stitching keeps the seams flat, and our testers have never had any issues with chafing when wearing this shirt, even though the shoulder seam sits directly on top of the shoulder.

The odor resistance really sets this shirt apart from the rest. One of our testers goes to this shirt for all her fastpacking trips since she can count on it to stay odor-free for over a week. The material also dries quickly, so it’s easy to dunk this shirt into a stream for a rinse mid-trip if needed. While the durability of wool products tends to be slightly lower than synthetic materials, this shirt lasts longer than many other wool options. As the go-to shirt of one of our testers, it’s received plenty of durability testing, and our tester finds that she can get about two summer seasons of heavy use out of this shirt before holes start to develop.

Material: 88% merino wool, 12% nylon | Seams: Merrow | Actual weight: 3.3 ounces (93 grams)

Shop the Smartwool Merino Short Sleeve Tee

Best Long-Sleeve Running Shirt for Women: Outdoor Vitals Altitude Sun Hoodie ($50)

Best Running Shirt for Women - Outdoor Vitals Altitude Sun Hoodie - product photoPros:

  • Incredibly light
  • Comfortable fit


  • Snags
  • Potential durability issues

Whether you’re looking for extra sun protection when you head out for a run, the Outdoor Vitals Altitude Sun Hoodie is light enough for all but the very hottest days. This shirt is made of thin, breathable, and moisture-wicking material. In comparison to many other sunshirts, this one felt the lightest, both in hand and while wearing. We were surprised how warm of temperatures we were able to wear it in and still stay cool and comfortable. The shirt is made of 100% polyester and weighs in at 3.4 ounces for a women’s small. It fits loosely and has a nice level of stretch to it so that it doesn’t compromise range of motion. The flatlock sleeves reduce the chance of any chafing, and the raglan sleeves keep the seams off of areas that could be irritated by wearing a hydration vest.

The material doesn’t have a UPF rating, which the brand claims is due to it being too thin to test accurately. In our extensive testing in the high UV environments of Colorado and New Zealand, our testers never noticed any sign of sun penetration on their skin. If you’re extra concerned about sun protection, you might want to consider a slightly thicker shirt for increased protection.

The hood on the Altitude fits nicely and easily goes over a hat. Without any type of drawstring or way to tighten it down, it does fall off in windy conditions but stays put at normal running speeds and conditions. Having the hood up protects your neck, ears, and some of your face from the sun. The cut of the shirt offers a relatively high collar, so even if you don’t have the hood up, a good portion of your neck stays shaded from the sun.

The thinness of the material is what sets this shirt apart from the rest. While many sunshirts are great in theory, they can be too hot for anything but cooler-weather runs. This one really felt light enough to wear even when it was hot out. The main downside of the lightness was a potential compromise on durability. This shirt does have a tendency to snag on things, and while we haven’t managed to rip it yet, each tree branch we caught it on made us worry.

Material: 100% polyester | Seams: Flatlock | Actual weight: 3.4 ounces (96 grams)

Shop the Outdoor Vitals Altitude Sun Hoodie

Best Budget Running Shirt for Women: Decathlon Quechua Mountain Walking Short-Sleeved T-Shirt MH100 ($13)

Best running shirts for women - Quechua Mountain Walking Short-Sleeved T-Shirt MH100 - Product Photo


  • Quick-drying
  • Light and soft feeling


  • Plain seams
  • Retains some smell

Need we say more about the super-soft, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying Decathlon Quechua Mountain Walking Short-Sleeved T-Shirt MH100 than it costs just $13?

It seems almost too good to be true that you can purchase an acceptable performance run tee for one-third of the price of the next decent budget piece. Decathlon claims that state-of-the-art production processes and direct-to-consumer retailing allow them to keep their costs low. And apparently, they’re not cutting costs on materials: The shirt is made from 100% recycled polyester originating from plastic bottles. Cost and eco-friendly fabric aside, this shirt holds its own against its much pricier counterparts.

We love the soft feel of this shirt and its fast drying rate. After sweating profusely up a mountain, one tester’s shirt was dry on the breezy summit within minutes. Stretch mesh and underarm gussets provide full freedom of movement. And this shirt was one of the lightest we tested.

While the shirt has polyamide underarm panels to help minimize odor, it does retain some odor after a sweaty session. Our primary concern with this shirt is the plain seams, which could cause some irritation for some people on very long outings, especially if wearing a pack. However, the seams are in front and behind the shoulder instead of directly on top, which helps to mitigate potential seam irritation. Overall, if you’re looking for a basic performance tee at a price that absolutely breaks no bank, this shirt is it.

Material: 100% recycled polyester | Seams: Plain | Actual weight: 2.8 ounces (79 grams)

Shop the Decathlon Quechua Mountain Walking Short-Sleeved T-Shirt MH100
Best Running Shirts for Women - Decathalon Quechua Mountain Walking Short-Sleeved T-Shirt MH100 Side view

A side view of the Decathalon Quechua Mountain Walking Short-Sleeved T-Shirt MH100 Photo: iRunFar/Abby Levene

Best of the Rest Running Shirt for Women: Tracksmith Twilight Tee ($70)Best Running Shirts for Women -Tracksmith Twilight Tee - product photo


  • Soft and smooth feeling
  • Breathable and dries quickly


  • Runs very small
  • Slightly heavier weight than other shirts in this guide

The simple and lightweight Tracksmith Twilight Tee is made of a silky-smooth mesh that feels soft and cool against the skin.

Made from an Italian micro-polyester and elastane blend called Bravio, this shirt is simply luxurious. Of all the shirts tested, it is potentially the softest while still being highly breathable and quick-drying. A bonus is this perforated fabric is naturally antimicrobial and doesn’t smell after multiple sessions between washes. The high-gauge knit contains small Pointelle holes that maximize airflow, help the shirt dry very quickly, and give it plenty of stretch.

We love the cut of this sporty tee. Tracksmith apparel runs notoriously small, and this shirt is no exception, so consider sizing up. Raglan sleeves keep the flatlock seams away from your shoulders to minimize the opportunity for chafing. While it’s slightly heavier than other options, it also feels more durable. Our primary tester found that this was the tee she turned to most often on cooler mornings, although she was able to stay cool on the hottest days as well.

Material: 85% polyester and 15% elastane | Seams: Flatlock | Actual weight: 3.1 ounces (88 grams)

Shop the Tracksmith Twilight Tee

Comparing the Best Women’s Running Shirts

Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt $49 Polyester 1.7 ounces
Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee $70 Polyester, lyocell, spandex 3.1 ounces
Smartwool Merino Short Sleeve Tee $80 Merino wool, nylon 3.3 ounces
Outdoor Vitals Altitude Sun Hoodie $50 Polyester 3.4 ounces
Decathlon Quechua Mountain Walking Short-Sleeved T-Shirt MH100 $13 Recycled polyester 2.8 ounces
Tracksmith Twilight Tee $68 Polyester, elastane 3.1 ounces

Buying Advice: How to Choose Running Shirts for Women

Finding the best running shirts for women is admittedly a lot easier — and with lower stakes — than finding a lot of other running-related gear such as shoes. But the options are endless, with vastly different performance, cost, and functionality that can easily lead to choice paralysis.

As with most other gear choices, there is no one shirt for every runner on every type of run. Some of us like synthetic materials, others prefer wool, and some choose long-sleeve options over short sleeves for sun protection. Use this guide to get a sense of some of the best options and learn about the subtle differences and features among shirts. We’re here to help steer you in the right direction and help you hone your choices. To do so, there are some characteristics to which you should pay attention.


When selecting a running shirt, ask yourself what you will use it for. Do you want a shirt for long days in the mountains or something to keep you warm for a five-minute warm-up before you ditch a shirt entirely during a speed workout? Will you wear it during a hot, muggy summer or as a base layer during the winter? Do you need a shirt you can wear for days without washing? Do you need it to protect you from the sun? Some shirts, like the Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt, can excel across an array of conditions, which is why we named it our best running shirt for women.


You have to look good to feel good. The rationale behind this motto extends beyond pure vanity, and we know it’s important that your gear reflects your individual style. Some people may find a form-fitting hourglass shirt looks and feels more comfortable than a boxy one, and vice versa. The same goes with capped or boxy sleeves, a crew neck or scoop neck, and a short or long hemline. We absolutely loved the style of the Tracksmith Twilight Tee.


As with any garment, comfort is probably the biggest thing to consider when choosing between some of the best running shirts for women. Our team loved the light and airy feel of the Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee during hot runs and appreciated that it also worked well in cooler weather. Comfort largely comes down to three elements for a tee: fabric, fit, and seams. Stretch also comes into play since stretchy fabrics tend to move with you. If you plan on running with a hydration vest, consider how the shirt feels with a loaded pack on your shoulders as well. Does the material rub against your back, slip under the pack’s shoulder straps, or ride up your torso?


The material and weave of a shirt largely influence comfort. Most high-performance tees are made from polyester blended with spandex. Polyester, a synthetic fabric, tends to feel smooth and doesn’t absorb water. It’s durable and retains its shape. Adding in spandex helps make polyester-based fabrics stretchy and soft. Some running shirts are made from merino wool blends, including the Smartwool Merino Short Sleeve Tee. Merino wool is often less durable than synthetic fabrics but is a great option if odor control over multiple uses is important to you. A good merino-blend wool shirt will repel odor and have excellent insulating capabilities.

Best Running Shirts for Women - running in a tee shirt

A good running shirt will keep you cool in the heat and provide insulation during cooler runs. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi


Shirts are composed of multiple pieces of fabric stitched together with seams. When you make the same motion over and over for hours on end, as we do when we run, even the slightest irregularity in a fabric, such as a seam, can cause serious irritation over time. This means that both seam design and placement are crucial in keeping you comfortable and chafe-free on the trails. Most running shirts swap out classic overlock seams for flatlock seams, where two pieces of fabric are sewn together flat and without overlap. Some manufacturers ditch stitching entirely, opting for taped seams. Flatlock and taped seams tend to rub against your skin far less than overlock seams. However, taped seams are also more delicate. In addition to seam type, the style of stitching and the thread used also affect comfort.

Many running shirts move seams off the top of the shoulder by using raglan sleeves or paneling. These styles introduce more seams, leading to more potential places to rub, but they eliminate the possibility of a shoulder-top seam rubbing against a hydration pack.

If you’re unsure how seams affect you, we recommend choosing a running shirt with flatlock seams, like the Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt or the Tracksmith Twilight Tee.


Breathability and drying speed set the best women’s running shirts apart from the rest. Breathability tells you how well the shirt moves sweat away from your skin, allowing it to evaporate rather than soaking the shirt or leaving you sweaty. The best running shirts for women are made of mesh and lightweight materials to optimize their breathability in hot weather. Our team found that the Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt was incredibly breathable.

Best Running Shirts for Women - raglan sleeves on tee shirt

Raglan sleeves keep seams off of the tops of the shoulders and can prevent chafing if you’re wearing a pack. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Drying Speed

A shirt’s drying speed comes down to its wicking and water retention properties. Wicking is how well the fabric pulls moisture from the shirt’s interior to the outside, where it can evaporate. Merino wool and some other materials are naturally good at wicking, while other fabrics gain wicking power from the weave of the fibers or differences between the interior and exterior of the fabric. Many materials are treated with a chemical-wicking compound to increase their ability to move moisture. This treatment can become less effective the more you use and wash a shirt. Materials that absorb a lot of water, like cotton, will take longer to dry. Garments with a fast drying speed keep you cool on hot days and also help keep you warm on cold days by keeping your skin dry. We found the Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee to be incredibly breathable and light, and it dries quickly. The Outdoor Vitals Altitude Hoodie also dries quite quickly.

Odor Reduction

Sweat is an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, leading to that well-known and universally hated odor that a lot of running clothes pick up over time. Some materials, such as wool, counteract bacteria build-up with their natural antimicrobial properties. Other materials receive an odor-control treatment or have odor-reducing elements woven into the fabric itself. Wool tends to be the best fabric at preventing stink, but many treatments work well, too. If odor is one of your chief concerns, try the wool-blend Smartwool Merino Short Sleeve Tee.

Ultraviolet Protection Factor Rating

You can think of ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) ratings for apparel like sunscreen ratings for our skin. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a UPF rating of 50 means that only about 1/50th (or two percent) of the sunlight that hits the material goes through and reaches your skin. All shirts provide some sun protection, with most clothing having about an eight to 15 UPF rating. Fabrics with certain dyes or weaves can have additional UPF protection, and darker colors provide more protection than light ones. Manufacturers are only allowed to advertise the UPF rating if it exceeds 15.

Extra Features

It’s the extra features set the best running shirts for women apart from the rest. Elements like a half zip, collar, and reflective bits differentiate short-sleeved tees. Ultimately, your choice of shirt boils down to personal preference, especially since something like a zipper or a collar will add a little bit of weight. A half zip and a collar can provide ventilation and chafing protection if you wear a pack. Reflective elements add visibility when running on the streets at night.

The environmental impact of clothing is increasing in importance for many. Several shirts in this guide are made of recycled materials to reduce their impact. If you’re looking for clothing made in an eco-friendly manner, consider the responsibly sourced wool and recycled nylon materials of the Smartwool Merino Short Sleeve Tee.

Best Running Shirts for Women - Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Tee in the Snowy Mountains

The author, Abby Levene, wears the Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt under a pack and jacket on a climb up snowy mountains. Photo: iRunFar/Abby Levene

Why You Should Trust Us

We began this guide by researching shirts from the most trusted brands in running, premier outdoor brands, and major companies in the women’s run category. Next, we polled the large iRunFar team and trusted running friends to find out which women’s running shirts they love and don’t care for as much. We narrowed our search to 20-plus shirts that we tested in the field.

When this guide was first created, two iRunFar testers spent four months subjecting these running shirts for women to the rigors of mountainous Colorado and hot, humid New Hampshire summers. They ran in them for 50-mile outings, 50k races, and multi-day backpacking trips, and they wore them several times in a row without washing them (yuck, but you’re welcome). Since then, we’ve continued to test both the original shirts in the guide to assess their long-term durability, and we’ve also taken new ones out. Shirts are used in as many weather and running conditions as possible so that we can provide the most accurate assessments possible. We rate the shirts on comfort, fit, breathability, moisture-wicking, and drying time, and we aim to get as many different opinions on various shirts as possible.

Best running shirts for women - climbing ridge with poles

A properly fitting shirt can prevent chafing, even when using poles. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Frequently Asked Questions About Running Shirts for Women

Can I run in a cotton tee?

You can … if you don’t mind marinating in a wet, heavy shirt once you sweat. Cotton drinks up water and hangs onto it as if its life depended on it. Your basic cotton and cotton-polyester blend shirts also tend to have abrasive seams, which may lead to chafing and lack the other performance benefits of technical running shirts that keep you dry, regulate your temperature, and allow for total freedom of movement. Even upgrading to our best budget running shirt for women, the Decathlon Quechua Mountain Walking Short-Sleeved T-Shirt MH100, can significantly increase your comfort during a run.

How can wool be a good choice for warm weather?

The high-performance wool fabric looks nothing like that wool sweater your grandma knit for you in the 1990s. Performance merino yarn comes from ultra-fine wool fiber that feels soft and possesses natural antimicrobial properties, helping to prevent stink. These fabrics tend to be highly breathable and thermoregulating. Shirts like the Smartwool Merino Short Sleeve Tee use a wool blend to take advantage of the benefits of wool while still making a light and comfortable shirt.

Is there any difference between men’s and women’s running shirts?

Yes. Running shirts for women tend to be tailored quite differently from men’s, mostly to accommodate differences in body form. Women’s shirts tend to have narrower shoulders, shorter sleeves, a narrower waist, and a wider hem at the hips. Women’s shirts also give more space in the chest. These design differences allow for full freedom of movement while keeping the fabric from bunching around the waist and shoulders. Of course, these discrepancies also lend to differences in style, with many women’s shirts providing a more form-fitting hourglass shape than unisex or men’s shirts.

Best Running Shirts for Women - running in a technical shirt

The color of a shirt can contribute to its UPF rating and improve your visibility on the road. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Should I run in a short-sleeved tee, a tank top, or no shirt at all?

The answer to this question largely boils down to personal preference. Many runners, especially trail runners and ultrarunners, prefer to wear a shirt for sun protection, to prevent chafing with a hydration pack, and to add a small buffer if they take a tumble. Some shirts are made with sun protection in mind and have a high UPF rating.

While a sleeveless tank top may keep you a little cooler than a shirt like the Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt, which is a very lightweight shirt, it also provides no sun protection for the shoulders and arms, nor does it protect against underarm chafing. Once you’ve experienced chafing under your arms, you will go to any length to prevent it from happening again. It’s exhausting running like a chicken with your elbows out.

Call for Comments

  • Ladies, what are your favorite running shirts? Or do you opt for tank tops or just sports bras?
  • What element matters most to you in a good running shirt: material, cost, durability, style, or something else?
Back to Our Top Running Shirts for Women Picks
Best Running Shirts for Women - running on a ridge

Maggie Guterl tests shirts on a ridge above Durango. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Abby Levene
Abby Levene is a writer, editor, and podcast producer for Gaia GPS. In her free time you can find her sweating in the mountains by foot, bike, and skis, or hiding at home painting or curled up with a book.
Abby Levene

Sarah Brady is Managing Editor at iRunFar. She’s been working in an editorial capacity for ten years and has been a trail runner for almost as long. Aside from iRunFar, she’s worked as an editor for various educational publishers and written race previews for Apex Running, UK, and RAW Ultra, Ireland. Based in Belfast, Ireland, Sarah is an avid mountain runner and ultrarunner and competes at distances from under 10k to over 100k. When not running, she enjoys reading, socializing, and hanging out with her dog, Angie, and cat, Judy.

Abby Levene

Eszter Horanyi identifies as a Runner Under Duress, in that she’ll run if it gets her deep into the mountains or canyons faster than walking would, but she’ll most likely complain about it. A retired long-distance bike racer, she gave ultra foot racing a go and finished the Ouray 100 in 2017, but ultimately decided that she prefers a slower pace of life of taking photos during long days in the mountains and smelling the flowers while being outside for as many hours of the day as possible. Eszter will take any opportunity to go adventuring in the mountains or desert by foot, bike, or boat, and has lived the digital nomad lifestyle throughout the west for the past seven years.