Running vest tops and tanks are essential for hitting the trails in hotter climates, or when you're in need of a bit more airflow than your standard running t-shirt. They can also come in handy for layering when the weather starts to turn.
In this article, we've tested our favourite nine running vest tops based on comfort, performance, value and sustainability. Here are recommendations and the best places to find them online...
Best running vests and tanks at a glance:
Best running tank: OMM Nitro Tank – View on Sportsshoes.com
Best for hot weather: The North Face Summit High Trail Run Tank Top – View on TheNorthFace.co.uk
Best everyday training tank: Hoka Tank – View on Hoka.com
Best sustainable vest: Smartwool Active Ultralite Tank – View on Smartwool.co.uk
Best running vests and tanks in detail:
1. OMM Nitro
The OMM Nitro Tank stands out as an exceptionally soft and lightweight running vest-top. Weighing
- Incredibly lightweight and breathable
- Soft and comfortable
- UPF 15 protection
- Woman-specific fit
- Not made from sustainable materials
This Lightweight Tank from Decathlon is a great budget option for a running vest top that won't
- Great airflow
- Cooling open-back design
- Baggy style not for everyone
- Not anti-odour treated
For optimal breathability, a tank top is your top choice, and when it comes to running, The North
- Super breathable
- Great for hot weather
- 100% recycled
- Available in a t-shirt too
- No anti-odour treatment
4. Hoka Tank
The women’s Hoka Tank is made entirely from a light, single-layer waffled mesh designed into two
- Relaxed, flowing fit
- Women-specific cut
- Lack of info on materials used
- Not anti-odour treated
Popular opinion dictates merino wool is only for wearing when it’s cold. In fact, merino wool is
- Very comfortable against the skin
- Natural anti-odour
- Versatile base layer
- Temperature regulating
- Merino isn’t the most durable clothing material
- Some may prefer a slimmer fit
Since the breathability and performance of The North Face's Summit High men's running tank was
- Breathable and ventilated
- Flattering and aerodynamic cut
- Attention to detail
- On the pricier end
This lightweight trail running vest is from Wiggle’s own technical outdoor clothing brand, Föhn.
- Good coverage
- True to size
- Nice colourways
- Long in the body
Icebreaker’s tank top takes a similar approach to the Smartwool one, in that they both use
- Highly breathable
- Naturally anti-odour
- Temperature regulating
- Smartwool tank is similar specs but better value
The ZoneKnit Merino Tank from Icebreaker is a great running vest top option for those after a
- Soft and comfy Merino blend
- Sustainability creds
- Versatile for other activities
- Not as breathable as others
This slim-fitting running tank top from Unleash Your Nature (UYN) is designed with body-mapping
- Tailored race fit
- Bodymapped compression
- Super stretchy and soft
- Ventilation panels
- Skin-tight style not for everyone
- On the pricier siend
What to look for in a running vest top
Material: Various materials offer distinct advantages. Polyester is highly breathable, whereas technical nylon boasts greater strength and stretch capabilities, albeit with slightly less breathability. Merino stands out for its smart temperature-regulating properties, making it a year-round suitable choice.
Fit: Consider your preference for a snug, tailored, regular, or loose fit. Women-specific tops may feature a more tailored silhouette, while others allow flexibility in sizing to cater to your specific preferences.
Sustainability: Many runners favour Merino due to its natural properties and sustainability. Synthetic materials are also popular, but it's important to pay attention to the use of recycled materials. Numerous options in this selection utilise recycled polyester, while some incorporate Tencel or fibres derives from more sustainable sources.
Features: Running tank tops come with a range of features intended to keep temperatures down and boost breathability. Other features will improve fit and comfort. Assess which features are most relevant to your running conditions and needs.
Ventilation: It's important that a running tank top is highly ventilated and breathable so that you don't overheat when you run. This could come in the form of mesh panels, side slits, or a roomy and open-back design for increased airflow.
How we test
The trail running vest and tank tops we test undergo thorough, real-world testing. As soon as they arrive with us, they get allocated to one of our experienced gear testers who take them through their paces over a range of trail runs in different temperatures.
We consider myriad factors when testing and reviewing trail running clothing, from the obvious, such as comfort and performance, to the less obvious and intricate, such as sustainability.
Kate Milsom is Digital Content Writer for Live For The Outdoors, within which she specialises in trail running content. Kate is an ultra runner and triathlete, having previously worked on cycling and triathlon publications. Kate has been working for Live For The Outdoors since 2022.