Best long-sleeved running tops for the colder months

Offering comfort and added warmth, a long-sleeved running top is an underated addition to the off-season wardrobe. The 220 Triathlon review team tests 10

Collection of long-sleeve running tops

Finding the weather a little too chilly to go out running in just a t-shirt but don’t want to wear a jacket? A long-sleeve running top sounds like just what you need…

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Here, we run the rule over 10 different options across a range of price points.

How we tested

We tested these long-sleeved running tops over a winter period that included mild weather and a cold snap, where temperatures dropped to around freezing.

During that time, we embarked on multiple runs over our usual gear testing routes and judged the tops on a range of criteria. This included:

  • Fit: Was it true to size?
  • Thermal properties: How much warmth was on offer?
  • Breathability and moisture wicking: How well did it deal with sweat?
  • Ventilation: Was it easy to regulate our body temperature via zips, vents or by pulling up sleeves?
  • Comfort: How did the material feel against the skin and were there any irritations from seams or labels?
  • Features: Were there any useful extra features like thumb loops, a high neck, reflective detailing or a pocket?

Best long-sleeved running tops for men

Montane Dragon Pull-On Fleece

  • £60

This is a versatile piece of running kit as it can be used as a mid or base layer. The fit is true to size and the garment sits close to the body. There’s plenty of length both in the body and the arms, too.

The brushed inner feels soft and comfortable against the skin, while flatlock seams ensure zero irritation. Reflective detailing lights well at night, the high collar is cosy and keeps the wind out well, while the zip neck proves effective when you need to dump heat.

There’s even thumb loops and ‘emergency windproof mitts’ built in. The only thing missing is a small zip pocket.

It’s ideal as a base layer when the temperature drops below 10°C, but it’s also an ideal mid layer in colder conditions.

The fabric also does a decent job of wicking moisture away, while an anti-odour treatment stops it ponging.

Verdict: Versatile and great value; hard to fault.

Score: 92%

Soar WoolTech Top

  • £170

It’s not cheap, but this thermal top carries a lot of tech. For a start, it’s constructed out of a blend of synthetic and natural fibres, which combine anti-bacterial properties, good moisture management and fantastic warmth to weight.

For a relatively lightweight garment it packs some heat, well suited to temps under 10°C. The deep 1/4-length zip allows you to ventilate.

The fit is close, while elastic hems on the wrists and waist help keep the cold out, though we did find the latter would rise up a little mid-run.

Comfort is great, with a soft inner and bonded seams working well. The only blot on its record is that the rear zip pocket which, while useful, sometimes feels like a minor irritation.

Meanwhile, reflective detailing helps boost visibility.

Verdict: Not cheap, but well made, warm and lightweight.

Score: 85%

CEP Cold Weather Shirt

  • £69.95

Let’s start with the positives. CEP’s Cold Weather Shirt offers decent visibility and it fits well. It’s true to size, sits close to the body and is long in the sleeves.

It’s warm, too, and for most would stand up to temperatures teetering around freezing without the need for extra layers.

When it’s a little milder, the garment deals with sweat well, wicking it away effectively without feeling particularly damp.

Having said that, if the temperature goes above 10°C you may start to overheat a little. There’s a fiddly zip on the side of the neck, but its small size means it’s not that effective. In fact, alongside the noticeable seams, it negatively impacted comfort.

A rear zip pocket is a faff, too, with the same small zip, and while the latter is useful for stashing items, anything heavy will bounce around.

Verdict: Warm and good moisture control, but some negatives, too.

Score: 75%

Odlo Seamless Element

  • £35

Barring their continually peeling logos, top Scandis Odlo have one of the best review score averages in recent times on these pages, from running jerseys to bike jackets and base layers.

Yet the Seamless Element is something of an oddity, feeling like a base and single layer hybrid but remaining a jack of all trades but master of none.

The sleek athletic fit feels too tight for standalone use (and we’re unconvinced of the aesthetics for an outer layer), while it sits just too loose on the skin to be truly effective as a sweat-wicking base layer and lacks any posture-enhancing benefits.

The 29% nylon means it isn’t the quickest to dry, but it’s soft on the skin, a sensation helped by the titular seamless construction.

Verdict: A single and base layer hybrid that doesn’t quite convince as either.

Score: 69%

Proviz Reflect360 Long Sleeve

  • £39.99

Proviz has long impressed our review team with their reflective but often affordable cycling garments, so how does this running top do?

The performance of the Reflect360 is adequate enough, with the 100% polyester construction lacking some of the impressive venting and breathability of the Huub, and also some of the form fitting (due to the lack of elastane) and sweat disguising.

The price is the lowest here, but where the top outdoes the competition is with its reflective trim and logos, which genuinely illuminate when faced with car headlights on night runs.

Although we’ve probably forever numbed its brightness by wearing this at the 10-miler Sodbury Slog mud run (much recommended).

Verdict: Adequate enough running top but worth considering for the visibility.

Score: 82%

Huub DS Training Long Sleeve

  • £49

Huub tout this as a base or training layer, and while we think it’s too loose to be effective as the former, for the latter it’s a brilliant option for off-season running.

The 88% polyester/12% elastane mix feels smooth on the skin, as do the irritation-free flatlock seams, and the cut is unrestrictive.

The big sell for us (apart from the signature of Ironman legend Dave Scott on the sleeve, of course) are the mesh panels under the arms and down the spine, which neatly add ventilation to the already breathable fabric.

Having used it for a couple of off-seasons, we can vouch for its durability as well.

We like the understated visuals, which don’t illuminate sweat patches, and the top also offers some (admittedly limited compared to the Proviz) reflective details.

Verdict: A top pick for winter running and with venting for uptempo sessions.

Score: 90%

Best long-sleeved running tops for women

Dhb Aeron Micro Grid Long Sleeve Crew Top

  • £65

The recycled Polartec Power Grid fleece material used here is soft to the touch and felt really comfortable against the skin. It also proved really breathable and lightweight in testing. Plus it’s fitted, so it wicked sweat really well, helping keep us warm but dry.

There are good thumb holes and long sleeves to help keep your hands warm on the colder runs and, while the top is all black, there is some reflective detailing on the back and front.

There’s also a handy security zip pocket on the side for small essentials like keys, cards or maybe a small snack or gel. The sizing is good and the fit is snug, but our only minor grievance is that the fit around the collar was slightly baggy which allowed cold air to sneak in.

While we tested it on its own in October, it could easily be layered for colder winter weather.

Verdict: A good all-round top that’s warm and breathable.

Score: 83%

2XU Ignition Quarter Zip

  • £65

This is the warmest top on test with its double-knit three-dimensional waffle material. It’s soft on the skin and is well-suited for colder winter runs.

The soft wicking material is thicker than the others on test but still feels lightweight, while it’s fitted close to the skin to retain warmth. It fits true to size with a small perfect for this UK8 tester, while its long sleeves offer great coverage.

Thumb holes help keep your hands warm but there are also cuffs that can be flipped to create mittens if the chill gets to you.

Elsewhere, a tall collar offers extra warmth around the neck, there’s reflective detailing for extra visibility and a little zip pocket for card/keys. It also comes in white for extra visibility.

Finally, £65 is a great price for an essential item of clothing that will keep you running through the winter.

Verdict: Lots of great features and will keep you warm on cold runs.

Score: 90%

Columbia Bliss Ascent Long Sleeve Technical T-Shirt

  • £70

We loved the look and feel of this top in the ‘marionberry’ colourway, but it also comes in dark sapphire or black if you prefer.

It’s made using the brand’s Omni-Heat Helix material, which has little insulating cells on the inside to maximise warmth. In testing, they felt really comfortable against the skin with decent thermal properties.

It isn’t as fitted as some, which can affect performance, but it did still keep us warm and wicked sweat away during exercise.

Thumb loops are included on the inside of the sleeves, but they aren’t as effective as others in this test as the sleeves didn’t cover as much of the hands.

The sizing and general fit around the body was good and it was comfortable to run in, but it does miss some key features like reflective detailing on the back and sadly there are no pockets.

Verdict: Warm and comfortable, but misses some features.

Score: 80%

Presca Egret

  • £60

Presca, which claims to be the world’s first climate-positive sportswear brand, has constructed this top from recycled materials and, interestingly, say it’s also fully recyclable at the end of its life. But this top is not only sustainable, it’s also super soft and comfortable.

The sizing is true and it fits like a glove, but we could still move freely with a full range of motion. It feels lightweight and is comfortable, too, with flatlock seams and long raglan sleeves.

A handy pocket on the back is easy to access, too. Visibility is good thanks to its neutral colour, while the fabric boasts SPF50+ protection.

Admittedly, it wasn’t the warmest top on test but it dries quickly, performs well and would be a brilliant winter base option when used as part of a layering system.

Verdict: Versatile and comfortable; great eco credentials.

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Score: 85%