(The Gear Loop) - When the temperature rises, running can become considerably less enjoyable, especially if you’re wearing the same T-shirt that’s carried you through the colder months of the year. That’s when you need to shed some material and opt for one of the best running vests.
Heat has a big part to play in how we can train effectively and tackling the summer rays can make your sessions noticeably harder. You can expect elevated heart rate, an increase in loss of fluids and salts, and discomfort from rubbing, especially over longer distances.
A good running vest is more than just a stripped-down T-shirt, with many options incorporating additional design features that make them perfect for dealing with the heat. There’s a reason that so many people are wearing them at the start line of races, and it’s not just to conform to club kit rules.
If you’re minimising the effects of heat, you’re improving your ability to run better, whether that’s a training run or a PB attempt.
Here we list our top picks for high performance running vests to tackle the heat, so you can keep training, even when the mercury tops out.
The best running vests for men
New Balance Impact Run Singlet
- Loose, comfortable fit
- Soft fabric
- Excellent mesh design for airflow
- Limited design options
- Wide back section can get sweaty
The New Balance Impact range has some of our favourite running kit from any brand out there, offering a great balance between comfort and performance. The New Balance Impact Run Singlet is the perfect example of that thanks to the combination of NB DRYx and NB ICEx technology used within the fabric.
NB DRYx is used to wick moisture away from the body quickly, while NB ICEx dries the fabric to ensure that your skin stays cool when you’re out in the heat. There’s also a pindot mesh design, where small holes in the fabric ensure a good level of airflow across the whole vest, making it a great choice for sunny days.
One of the most popular aspects of New Balance kit is the fit, with the cut designed to be athletic without being restrictive, meaning you can have a relaxed feel that isn’t annoyingly baggy.
SAYSKY Classic Combat Singlet
- Fashionable Design
- Comfortable fit
- Impressive sweat-wicking
- Designs may be too eccentric for some
The line between fashion and performance has become increasingly blurred in recent years, with many lifestyle brands producing running kit that lacks the features needed for training. SAYSKY is a brand that’s managed to tick both boxes with an increasingly eclectic range of products that can handle everything from rest days to flat-out marathon efforts.
The SAYSKY Classic Combat Singlet is a unisex race vest that can do it all - a lightweight fabric that wicks away sweat, big arm holes to improve airflow and improve range of motion, and a clever waffle-design fabric that stops it from clinging to your skin and helps moisture to evaporate.
And, if you’re a fashion aficionado – or just want to be noticed on race day – you can expect some of the most eye-catching colourways this side of Mardi Gras, with SAYSKY dropping new lines throughout the year to match seasonal trends.
Kalenji Running Breathable Tank Top
- Very affordable
- Comfortable fit
- Lacks sweat-wicking properties
- Limited design options
If you’re looking for a cost-effective vest for the warmer months, or you want to dabble in the world of arm-free running kit before investing in some of the pricier options on the list, you can’t go wrong with this no-frills pick from Decathlon.
It may lack some of the technical features of premium options out there, but for the price, it punches well above its weight, offering a comfortable fit and a lightweight feel that’s better than wearing a T-shirt on hot days.
Although it does boast sweat-wicking properties, don’t expect ground-breaking performance benefits. It’s more than enough for recreational runs when the temperatures rise, but it is limited when it comes to long efforts in the sun and we would avoid summer race days in it.
Adidas Adizero Engineered Singlet
- Lightweight design is great for race day
- Nice range of designs
- Impressive airflow
- Might be too tight for general runners
If you’ve stood at the start line on race day, it’s likely that you’ve spotted a few Adidas Adizero Engineered Singlets popping up. It’s a vest designed specifically for speed thanks to the lightweight design, as well as Adidas’ impressive AeroReady technology that’s built to regulate body temperature and absorb moisture.
The lean cut shaves the overall weight down and it features large arm and neck gaps that improve airflow and allow for a high range of motion when you’re swinging your arms back and forth to cross the finish line first.
It’s also made with a yarn that contains 50 per cent Parley Ocean Plastic – Adidas’ sustainable design that uses reimagined plastic waste from remote islands, beaches, coastal communities and shorelines.
Soar Race Vest
- Incredibly lightweight
- Very breathable
- Nice designs
- Tight fit isn’t for everyone
Like the popular beer brand, Soar makes reassuringly expensive kit, to the point where it works with many running clubs to produce custom designs for their members. For recreational running, the price tag may seem a bit steep, but on race day, it’s an investment that pays off, offering the lightest, most breathable option you’ll find anywhere.
Everything about the Soar Race Vest is designed for optimum performance, delivering a minimal feel that’s so thin, it’s almost unnoticeable when you’re wearing it. The wide cut around the back and shoulders allows for unparalleled freedom of movement when running, with the Italian-made mesh construction wicking away moisture when you start to sweat.
With a focus on elite runners, the fit may not be to everyone’s taste, as it can be quite tight for general wear. But that design is built for purpose and when you pull it on for race day, it’s almost as important as lacing up your favourite speed shoes.
£66 | Buy now from Soar
Nike Breathe Running Vest
- Comfortable fit
- Great sweat-wicking
- Not as light as some options
- Limited styles
A good running vest doesn’t have to be expensive and the Nike Breathe makes that point exceptionally well. The lightweight fabric balances a comfortable feel with excellent performance features to keep the heat at bay when you’re clocking up the miles.
The sweat-wicking fabric does an impressive job at keeping you dry for as long as possible while the open-hole mesh back panel improves ventilation to your back – an area that normally gets hit worst when you’re wearing a lack-lustre running top.
The other benefit of the Nike Breathe Running Vest is the relaxed fit design, something that is often a rarity with performance vests. The looser feel makes it a great option if you don’t like the experience of restrictive kit and means it delivers just as well for slow runs as it does for crossing the finish line.
£12.95 | Buy now from Sportsshoes.com
What to look out for when buying a running vest
Make sure you get the right cut for your running
Vests come in a variety of shapes and fits, ranging from thin straps to styles more like a traditional tank top. If you’re planning on running at speed, you should look for options that offer wider neck and arm holes. This will not only ensure the greatest amount of airflow, but it allows a better range of motion for unrestricted arm swinging.
The fit can make or break a vest
Many vests are predominantly designed for runners that want the optimum performance for race day. That can often mean that they tend to be on the tight side to limit unnecessary weight and avoid material flapping around in the wind. For general running, when you want comfort, it’s worth looking for options that have a more relaxed fit – it also means you can use them to do the gardening.
Material makes a difference
You may think that due to the lack of material when compared to T-shirts that vests are all relatively similar when it comes to running in the heat. Trust us, if you get a vest that isn’t manufactured using performance materials, you’re likely to end up struggling through a very sweaty run. Look for materials that offer sweat-wicking properties, as well as ventilated fabrics that improve airflow.
Don’t forget your sun cream
If you don’t often wear a vest in the sun, the skin around your neck and shoulders is likely to be more susceptible to UV rays. Vests and sun cream go hand in hand, especially if you’re planning on heading out for a long run. Make sure that the cream you buy has high UV protection and try to find one that won’t wash off as you sweat out the miles.