Running Tank Tops: 5 Wear-Tested Picks to Keep You Cool

Got a running tank top to help keep you cool during the warmer-weather months? 

Maybe it's time to get one or retire the one's you've been using. Yes?

In this article, runner Brynn Cunningham wear-tests 5 running tank tops and gives you her take on what works best.

When it comes to summertime running, we have a few things to manage:

  • High temperatures 
  • Sweat
  • Glaring sun
  • Humidity
  • Thunderstorms, in some regions of the world
  • And the reaction of our running apparel to all the heat, sweat, sun and rain 

It can be enough for some runners to quit running altogether in the summer.

Yet, gear that manages summertime elements can elevate our comfort levels during a run and keep us going, all year round, no matter what the weather brings. 

The best summertime running tank tops, according to one trail ultra runner (Photo/ Eric Harder)

The more comfortable we are, the:

  • Longer our runs may last
  • More motivated we may be to run when it’s 90 degrees with 100 percent humidity
  • Less likely we are to skip out if an unexpected thunderstorm erupts during our sacred, scheduled run time 

The ideal running tank top may be one solution to summertime running resilience and longevity.

Some might ask, if it’s that hot, why wear a tank top at all? Isn’t a sports bra enough?

Yea, well, maybe, if that’s your thing.

  • Yet, many trail runners wear running packs more often than not, and, if you’re like me, you prefer something between your skin and your pack. 
  • Furthermore, many road runners aren’t comfortable running shirtless by dozens or hundreds of people in their cars.
  • Finally, lots of us like to be covered from neck to hips. 

Hence, the perfect running tank top.

Before we dive into the list, let’s talk about a few things...

Tanks I’ve tried that just don’t cut it in the heat:

  • Various Oiselle models purchased so long ago I forgot what they were (too heavy, too long, too baggy). I’ve since given them away, cut off the long bottoms or resigned them to daily wear.
  • The North Face Flight Weightless Tank - I really wanted to love this tank, but it had practically zero stretch, was far too big in the waist, too tight in the chest, too long and VERY expensive.
  • Various cheap department store brands that end up falling apart after half a year and getting tossed in the trash.
A display of the author’s favorite tank tops for summertime running, by Salomon, Patagonia, Oiselle and Rabbit. (Photo/ Eric Harder)

A note about running tank top sizing

To give you an idea of what size would work for you, here are the author’s measurements. 

  • Height: 5’ 3 ¾”
  • Weight: 122-125 pounds
  • Waist: 27 inches
  • Chest/bust: 35 inches
  • Size worn in all the tank tops reviewed: XS

How the running tank tops were tested

In truth, if I were a runner who ran 20 to 45 minutes a few times a week, I’d probably subscribe to the sports-bra only, cotton T-shirt or three-pack of Hanes ribbed tank tops for my runs.

Yet, I run trails and ultramarathons, and most of my runs last for one hour or longer. 

The tank tops in this story have lived through: 

  • 30-45 mile weeks
  • Five-mile to 50k trail runs and races
  • Fastest Known Time records ranging in distance from 10k to 25 miles

Ready for my wear-tested list of running tank tops? 

Here's my top 5 picks for running in hot summer weather...

1. Rabbit EZ Tank Perf Trail Tank Top, size XS (Photo/ Eric Harder)

Pros

  • Super stretchy
  • Ultra soft
  • Fits like a glove 
  • Feels like a second skin
  • Weightless
  • Excellent air flow thanks to the perforated fabric
  • Sits just above the hip bones (no pointless, extra fabric covering the butt) 

Cons

  • Racer back - this is fine, except for when I’m wearing a hydration vest, as I prefer a wider back
  • High price tag
2. Oiselle Flyout Trail Tank, size two (Photo/ Eric Harder)

Pros

  • Flow Hoverfit fabric (a Oiselle specialty and a must in every runner’s wardrobe) 
  • Stretchy
  • Ultra Soft 
  • Crew neck
  • High armpits, so the underarm is not rubbing against sweaty skin when running
  • Hovers over the skin allowing airflow to the body
  • Weightless
  • Not clingy when sweat-drenched
  • Sits just below the hip bones (no pointless, extra fabric covering the butt)
  • Garment hook
  • Quick drying
  • Often on sale
  • Full coverage back
  • Wider straps 

Cons

  • Waist flares out just a bit - sometimes I’m not in the mood for a flared waist, but sometimes I am, so this really isn’t a true “con”
3. Oiselle Flow Tank, size two (Photo/ Eric Harder)

Pros

  • Flow Hoverfit fabric 
  • Stretchy
  • Soft (silkier finish than the Flow Trail Tank - not necessarily a pro, just a difference)
  • Crew neck (slightly tighter than the Flow Trail Tank) 
  • High armpits, so the underarm is not rubbing against sweaty skin when running
  • Weightless
  • Not clingy when sweat-drenched
  • Sits just below the hip bones (no pointless, extra fabric covering the butt)
  • Garment hook
  • Quick drying
  • Often on sale
  • More fitted at the hips and waist than the Flow Trail Tank, which I like  

Cons

  • Crew neck comes to the bottom of the throat, a bit higher than the Flyout Trail Tank 
4. Salomon Agile Tank Top, size XS (Photo/ Eric Harder)

Pros

  • Lightweight 
  • Open mesh construction
  • Soft
  • Racerback - great for short runs without hydration, but have worn plenty of times for up to 50k races 
  • Quick drying (but not as quick as the Oiselle Flyout Trail or Flow tanks)
  • Affordable ($29 often marked down to $12)  

Cons

  • Sits slightly lower below the hip bones than the other tanks (this is a personal preference – I prefer a shorter tank)
5. Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Tank Top, size XS (Photo/ Eric Harder)

Pros

  • Crew neck
  • Full coverage back
  • Stretchy
  • Nice color choices 
  • Garment hook
  • Excellent for daily wear, short runs or moderate activity in 60 to 70-degree weather, but not my favorite for long runs above 75 degrees or high-intensity, heavy-sweat activities  

Cons

  • Not perforated 
  • Heavy when sweat-drenched 
  • Holds moisture 
  • Loose, drapey waist and hips (this might be on the “pro” list for some) 
  • Thicker fabric than the other tanks tops listed 
  • Sizing runs big (I find this to be true for most Patagonia clothing) 

More gear reviews

Have you run in any of these tank tops? If so, let us know what you think.

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Brynn Cunningham
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Trail runner, ultrarunner, white water boater, cyclist (mostly MTB), swimmer, backcountry skier, yogi, mom and writer. www.inhaleexhalerun.com

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