Best running vests: top 10 running tanks and singlets

We test our favourite men's and women's running vests for hot weather and layering

best running vests and tank tops

by Kate Milsom |
Updated on

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

running vet top ice breaker mens testing
When choosing the right running tank, it's key to consider fabrics and materials used ©LFTO

Best running vests and tanks in detail:

Best running tank

OMM Nitro tankLFTO

The OMM Nitro Tank stands out as an exceptionally soft and lightweight running vest-top. Weighing a mere 35g, this tank is crafted from a four-way stretch nylon material that offers a gentle feel against the skin.

The generous arm openings and thin, moisture-wicking fabric, mean that airflow remains unimpeded, while there's also built-in UPF 15 sun protection – a thoughtful addition. When it comes to sizing, the small size fits UK8 perfectly.

We appreciate the tailored design for women, resulting in slightly curved hems, a shorter body length compared to men's tops, and a relatively high neckline. Additionally, the flatlock seams are strategically positioned away from potential chafing areas, ensuring comfort during your runs. Our only niggle would be the soft material can snag easily, so keep those nails short!

In terms of sustainability, there is no explicit mention of eco-friendly materials or practices. However, it's worth noting that OMM has initiated a refurbishment and recycling project aimed at extending the lifespan of their products and reducing their environmental footprint.

Check out the men's version here

Pros

  • Incredibly lightweight and breathable
  • Soft and comfortable
  • UPF 15 protection
  • Woman-specific fit

Cons

  • Not made from sustainable materials

Best Value

Decathlon Women’s Running Lightweight Tank TopLFTO

This Lightweight Tank from Decathlon is a great budget option for a running vest top that won't break the bank. It has a very relaxed cut, with a flattering scoop neck and a large T-back which leaves most of the upper back exposed. This paired with the roomy cut, leaves movement and airflow uninhibited while running. We found it great for hot runs, just make you suncream up!

Being slightly longer than your average running top, it provides a touch of extra coverage. Meanwhile, the top has some minimal detailing in the thin mesh panels along the back and sides, still in-keeping with its classic style. Quick-drying and with some flex, it's made from a mix of polyester and elastane which don't seem to be from recycled sources.

Check out the men's version here

Pros

  • Great airflow
  • Cooling open-back design
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Baggy style not for everyone
  • Not anti-odour treated

Best for hot weather

TNF Summit High Trail Run Tank TopLFTO

For optimal breathability, a tank top is your top choice, and when it comes to running, The North Face's Summit High Trail Run Tank stands out as the best option available.  

Crafted with a sleek and remarkably lightweight design, this tank is constructed from recycled polyester mesh, making it an ideal choice for both rigorous training sessions and competitive races. 

Beyond its exceptional breathability and comfort, this tank boasts a few additional features that set it apart as a champion. Notably, it features a split hem at the bottom to enhance freedom of movement, and it also sports reflective logos on the chest and shoulder for added visibility. 

Check out the women's version here (review below)

Pros

  • Super breathable
  • Great for hot weather
  • 100% recycled
  • Available in a t-shirt too

Cons

  • No anti-odour treatment

Best training tank

hoka women's tankLFTO

The women’s Hoka Tank is made entirely from a light, single-layer waffled mesh designed into two panels. The front panel has a tighter weave to offer full coverage, while the back panel is a more open knit to allow for greater airflow.

The simple tank sits longer on the front than the back, and will look different over different sized chests. At the back, the tank has an open, racerback shape which really helps keep the temperature down during warm runs and would also fit those with broader shoulders.

It’s a relaxed fit, which allows for plenty of unrestricted movement, aided by the inch-long side slits and gentle scoop neckline. The size S fits our UK8 tester with plenty of room for movement. Overall, this running tank top from Hoka ticks all the boxes when it comes to quality, comfort, temperature-regulation and fit.

Check out the men's version here

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Relaxed, flowing fit
  • Women-specific cut

Cons

  • Lack of info on materials used
  • Not anti-odour treated

Best sustainable vest

Smartwool Active Ultralite Tank LFTO

Popular opinion dictates merino wool is only for wearing when it’s cold. In fact, merino wool is temperature regulating rather than purely insulating. This means it’ll help keep your body at a comfortable temperature. Don’t believe it? You underestimate the power of evolution. 

Smartwool has employed this clever natural fibre and paired it with breathable Lyocell (a semi-synthetic fibre produced from wood pulp) to create this excellent running tank top. 

During our testing, it was much softer to wear than polyester tank tops, while also benefitting from a natural anti-odour treatment possessed by merino. 

Not only is the Smartwool Active Ultralite Tank good for running, we also found it serves as a brilliant base layer for your hiking layering system too.

Check out the women's version here

Pros

  • Very comfortable against the skin
  • Natural anti-odour 
  • Versatile base layer 
  • Temperature regulating

Cons

  • Merino isn’t the most durable clothing material
  • Some may prefer a slimmer fit

Recommended

the north face summit series tank topLFTO

Since the breathability and performance of The North Face's Summit High men's running tank was such a hit with our male tester, we were excited to get our hands on the women's version, which as you'd expect, looks decidedly different.

While running, the purplish slate colour top feels light yet well fitted, with no flapping hem or unnecessary extra material. We like the race look, and how the Summit still manages to be breathable and ventilated despite sitting flusher to the skin. That's down to TNF's 'FlashDry-Pro' moisture-wicking technology of the 100% recycled mesh polyester.

It's the little details though that really sold this tank for us. The subtle side slits which aid movement, the slightly longer rear panel for coverage, the reflective detailing, and the bonded hems for longevity. The one change we'd do is let a little material out in the upper back, which has been cinched along the middle and is loosened only at the lower back.

Check out the men's version here (review above)

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Breathable and ventilated
  • Flattering and aerodynamic cut
  • Attention to detail

Cons

  • On the pricier end

Recommended

Föhn Trail Women’s Lightweight Tech VestLFTO

This lightweight trail running vest is from Wiggle’s own technical outdoor clothing brand, Föhn. The brand has only recently expanded into the trail running world, also producing various outdoor gear such as outdoor jackets and watersports gear. 

This umber-coloured vest top (also available in denim colour) is a gorgeous rusty amber hue, nicely lightweight, and breathable. Made mainly from 90% Polyester and 10% Elastane (read, Spandex), this vest feels stretchy, durable, and ventilated, though unlike other options here these fabrics are not eco-friendly, being derived from non-renewable materials. 

The top is divided into two large panels at the front and back. The front panel provides an opaque, full coverage layer with a high neckline and wide arm openings, while the back is made from a more stretchy waffle mesh which is excellent for uninhibited airflow. 

When it comes to fit, the tank is true to size though we did find it quite long in the body. This style will suit some people, but we just prefer a shorter body more in-line with the female form. We love the shape of the rounded hem with modest side slits, both being flattering and giving an extra boost to freedom of movement while on the go. 

Check out the men’s version here

Pros

  • Good coverage
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • True to size
  • Nice colourways

Cons

  • Long in the body

Recommended

Smartwool Active Ultralite TankLFTO

Icebreaker’s tank top takes a similar approach to the Smartwool one, in that they both use superfine merino blended with a semi-synthetic fibre. 

We liked the men’s fit of this tank top better than the Smartwool one because Icebreaker’s has wider shoulders and a more tailored shape. It’s also even more breathable, thanks to the fine meshing on the back. 

So, this is the merino option to go for if you want the best performance. However, it is a lot more expensive than Smartwool’s option. And although we liked the fit and style of this tank top, some of you may not. Check out the women's review below.

Pros

  • Highly breathable
  • Naturally anti-odour
  • Temperature regulating

Cons

  • Smartwool tank is similar specs but better value

Recommended

Icebreaker Women’s Zoneknit Merino Tank TopLFTO

The ZoneKnit Merino Tank from Icebreaker is a great running vest top option for those after a super soft and comfortable layer to wear against the skin. Made from over 50% Merino wool, the top is naturally odour-resistant and temperature-regulating.

Blended with Icebreaker's Tencel fabric, the material is designed to wick away moisture and remain breathable. The top is a pleasure to wear and run in if you're after that softness, and it does keep help to avoid overheating, though of course that is at the expense of weight. At 78g, it does hang heavier than more synthetic blends, which are feature-light and faster-drying.

The panelled design not only looks cool (especially in the more colourful options), but allows for greater airflow through the eyelet mesh at the rear. We like how the cropped cut makes the top more female-specific, sitting shorter in the body. An XS fit our size UK8 tester well.

Check out the men's review of the ZoneKnit tank above.

Pros

  • Soft and comfy Merino blend
  • Sustainability creds
  • Versatile for other activities

Cons

  • Not as breathable as others

Recommended

UYN Women workhard sleevelessLFTO

This slim-fitting running tank top from Unleash Your Nature (UYN) is designed with body-mapping technology to align the zonal compression to the body's muscles. Though it does provide a pretty skin-tight fit, it's not restrictive and remains breathable thanks to UYN's Coolvent technology, which directs sweat away from the body.

The tank is made from 88% polyamide, which UYN call Natex. Though nylon is usually derived from fossil fuels, UYN extract their own bio nylon from castor oil in a drive to make their production process more sustainable. This bio-fibre makes up the layer of the top that sits against the skin and is also said to be lighter, dry faster, and be naturally anti-odour as opposed to synthetic nylon.

The figure-hugging top is designed with UYN's Freelease technology, allows them to create garments with only one seam, leading to less chance of friction and chafing as you run. This also leaves the compressive effect of the tank completely unrestricted.

Check out the men's version here

Pros

  • Tailored race fit
  • Bodymapped compression
  • Super stretchy and soft
  • Ventilation panels

Cons

  • Skin-tight style not for everyone
  • On the pricier siend

What to look for in a running vest top

the north face summit mens' vest top testing
Consider run climate and conditions when picking a running vest top ©LFTO

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.

Author bio

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.

For all the latest news, tips and gear reviews, sign up to the Trail Running Newsletter.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us