Layer Up: 10 Cool-Weather-Tested Long-Sleeve Running Shirts

When temperatures begin to drop, before pulling on one of my favorite pairs of running pants or leggings, I grab a long sleeve running shirt to layer on top of:

Eventually, when deep winter sets in, I’m wearing it all, and the right long sleeve running shirt goes a long way in the layering game.

Looking for a long-sleeve running shirt to log some cool-weather miles?

Here are my top 10 picks...

🙋‍♀️How the long sleeve running shirts were tested…

  • During a Fastest Known Time record (the Smartwool top during the Big Savage Mountain FKT
  • During the 2018 Frozen Sasquatch 25K (first female) when it was negative four degree Fahrenheit (the Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Zip Neck under a windbreaker) 
  • On days with temperatures ranging from negative 10 degrees Fahrenheit to the 50s 
  • On snowy, muddy and wet trails
  • On dry, cold dirt roads and trails
  • On double-digit long runs and lots of single digit runs
  • During runs lasting from 30 minutes to four+ hours
  • And, as an added bonus, while skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing and backpacking 

For assistance in determining your own size, here are the female wear tester’s measurements:

  • Height: 5’ 3 ¾”
  • Weight: 120-125 pounds
  • Waist: 27.75 inches
  • Chest/bust: 34 inches
  • Hips: 34 inches
  • Typical shirt size: XS
  • Typical pant size: 2, small and extra small 

🙋‍♀️10 Long Sleeve Running Shirts for Women🏃‍♀️

Women’s Arc’teryx Lana Merino Wool Crew Neck Shirt Long Sleeve, (Photo/Eric Harder)

Pros:

  • Thin
  • Lightweight
  • Merino wool (87% Wool, 13% Nylon)
  • Odor resistance
  • Extra long sleeves that cover the heels of my hands
  • Super soft
  • Comfortable
  • Stretchy
  • Wicks moisture well
  • Versatile - feels like cotton and wears nicely off the trails 

👍Best for: 

  • Packing (rolls into a small, tight ball)
  • Three-season running, a wide range of temperatures 

Shop Arc'teryx

Women’s Mountain Hardwear AirMesh Hoodie, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

Pros:

  • Ventilates air well with the AirMesh design
  • Fitted hood
  • High neck that covers and protects the throat
  • Thumb holes
  • Very, very warm and equally lightweight 
  • Relaxed fit
  • Comfortable
  • Excellent breathability
  • Packs down well for easy transport in a running vest
  • Affordability - I scored this top for $41 during an online sale
  • Bright orange color, good for safety on trails during hunting season (check out more hunter orange running apparel recommendations)

👍Best for: 

  • Dry, cold days
  • Wearing as an outer layer
  • Packing in a running vest as an emergency outer layer
  • Sleeping in while camping in a tent on cold nights 

Shop Mountain Hardwear

Women’s Oiselle Birds of a Feather Long Sleeve, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

Pros: 

  • Thumb holes on sleeves
  • Long torso
  • Long sleeves
  • Fitted, slim waist
  • Affordability - Oiselle offers lots of sales throughout the year

Cons: 

  • Tight wrists that are difficult to adjust - I put my watch on top of the shirt or stash it in my pack

👍Best for:

  • Layering because of the long length, thumbs holes and fitted arms and torso
  • Racing

Shop Oiselle

Women’s Patagonia Long-Sleeved Capilene Cool Daily Shirt, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

Pros: 

  • Lightweight
  • Pretty color choices
  • Smooth and silky
  • Comfortable
  • Stretchy
  • Short waist, hits exactly where I like (personal preference) 
  • Garment hook

Cons: 

  • Short sleeves
  • Stinky

👍Best for:

  • Cloudy, rainy, wet, windy days in the high 40s to 50s
  • Layering on top of a t-shirt during warm-ups and warm-downs on cool summer mornings 
  • Sun protection 

👉For a more thorough review:  Base Layer for Running: 14 WeeViews Picks for Cold Weather 

Women’s Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

Pros:

  • Silky smooth exterior makes it easy to layer
  • Crew neck (my personal favorite style of shirt)
  • Thumb holes
  • Garment hook
  • Basic base layer 

Cons: 

  • Not super stretchy and a little stiff, unlike the other Capilene Crew shirts
  • I own this in size small, too, and it is very boxy and wide

👍Best for:

  • Mid-30s to low-40-degree Fahrenheit days, a common temperature range where I live, especially if running in the early mornings or late evenings
  • I can wear it alone on a sunny, mid-40s day, but mostly wear it as a base layer on colder days. 

👉For a more thorough review:  Base Layer for Running: 14 WeeViews Picks for Cold Weather

Women’s Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Crew, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

Pros: 

  • Super stretchy
  • Comfortable
  • Versatile - great for all winter sports
  • Very soft interior that feels good on the skin
  • Smooth exterior
  • Very warm
  • Excellent breathability
  • Thumb holes 
  • Garment hook

👍Best for: 

  • I wear this one when it’s below freezing and underneath my sweaters during the day, so that I’m half-way dressed when it comes time for a run.

👉For a more thorough review:  Base Layer for Running: 14 WeeViews Picks for Cold Weather 

Women’s Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Zip Neck, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

Pros: 

  • Very warm
  • Zip neck helps regulate temperature
  • No thumb holes - sometimes you just don’t need them
  • Durable - this is more than a decade old with zero holes or worn spots
  • Tall collar
  • Half zip for custom venting 

 ❌Cons: 

  • When zipped all the way, the neck is too tight, but I bought this in 2011, so maybe the newer versions are better. I usually zip it half way, and the collar stands straight up, which works well. 

👍Best for: 

  • Regulating temperatures on very cold days

Shop Patagonia

Women’s ridge Merino Aspect Merino Wool High Neck Top, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

Pros:

  • Quick-drying
  • Super soft
  • Stretchy
  • Thermoregulation
  • Odor resistance (I hang this up to dry and use many days in a row - it NEVER smells bad)
  • Merino wool
  • Thin
  • Comfortable
  • The high neck covers my entire face, all the way to the hairline if I wanted, not that I wear it that high. It can even sit and stay above my nose without slipping off while running.
  • High neck eliminates the need for a buff when it’s extra cold and windy -  Ilike my throat to be protected when it’s very cold
  • The sleeves cover half my hands, with thumb holes that are the same material as the shirt itself and essentially an extension of the shirt, as opposed to an elastic loop like the Patagonia Midweight and Thermal base layers
  • Sits below my hip bones, making it easy to tuck into pants to keep a draft from sneaking in

👍Best for:

  • Wearing as a stand-alone shirt during a run when it’s 30-something degrees Fahrenheit (keep in mind that temperature tolerance is relative and different from one runner to the next) and as the first layer when it’s below freezing. 
  • Going from home to street to office to trail to errands with ease
  • Layering underneath a sweater, dress, or jumpsuit, easing the transition from life to running

👉For a more thorough review: Base Layer for Running: 14 WeeViews Picks for Cold Weather

Shop ridge Merino

Women’s Salomon Discovery HZ (Half Zip) Top, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

Pros: 

  • Cozy fleece interior 
  • Smooth exterior repels light snow and wintry mixes
  • Zip neck allows for temperature regulation 
  • Tall collar
  • Half zip for custom venting 

Cons: 

  • Super short sleeves that come an inch or two above the wrists

👉Best for: 

  • 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Wearing solo
  • Wearing in misty rain or light, dry snow for short durations 

Shop Salomon

Women’s Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer Crew, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

A hand-me-down that’s nearly 10 years old, I’m not sure if the shirt pictured here holds the exact same description as the current version listed on the website, but it’s pretty darn close.

Regardless, I had to include it, because, despite its age, it’s a classic, 100 percent merino wool shirt, and aside from some staining and slightly saggy armpits from years of wear, it’s in good condition.

Pros: 

  • Fitted 
  • Stretchy
  • Durable - this was a hand-me-down from a friend. I’ve had it for about five years, and she had it for a few before me, and I hope to hold onto it for another 10 years.
  • A classic, 100 percent merino wool shirt
  • Light yet thermal, like all merino wool
  • Comfortable

👍Best for: 

  • 30 degrees or less, which I’ve learned by mistakenly wearing it on 40-degree days, which made me too hot

👉For a more thorough review:  Base Layer for Running: 14 WeeViews Picks for Cold Weather

Shop Smartwool

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Brynn Cunningham
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Trail runner, ultrarunner, white water boater, cyclist (mostly MTB), swimmer, triathlete, cross country and backcountry skier...

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