Long sleeve shirts are a staple of fall training. There is a lot of variety within the category, from lightweight fabrics intended for high-intensity work, to thicker layers that protect you on long aerobic outings or in harsh conditions. We’ve tested a range of long sleeve tops so you can choose one for your specific needs.
Tracksmith is rooted in New England heritage, but when it comes to developing high-end materials, they turn to the Italians. The Twilight tee features a lightweight Bravio Blend fabric created by Borgini, one of the most experienced knitting mills in Italy, which specializes in crafting ultra-fine yarns that combine performance features and durability. You’ll barely feel this shirt against your skin, and the micro-mesh fabric breathes extremely well in warm conditions. A frequently overlooked feature that we love is how the sleeves stay in pace and don’t retain excess heat when pushed up on your forearms. When temperatures drop, the Twilight retains body heat well, and its smooth exterior surface makes it easy to layer under a jacket if needed. This shirt comes in solid color options, with distinctive Tracksmith accents like subtle logo placement at the sleeve and front hem, red stripe tag between the shoulder blades, and a slight drop hem in back. Available at www.tracksmith.com.
rabbit re-run ($85)
Material construction: 64% polyester, 36% merino wool
Best for: chilly day cruising
The first wool product developed by rabbit is a remarkably versatile piece that we’ve worn comfortably in temperatures ranging from the high 30s to high 50s. The re-run uses a new rabbitWOOL fabric (made in California, like all rabbit products) that has dual-surface technology, combining the best aspects of wool and synthetics. A Polartec Power Wool surface rests against your skin with a super soft feel while providing insulation and comfort. The interior surface is bonded with a polyester layer on the outer surface that pulls moisture away from the skin for evaporation. We were impressed with how the re-run didn’t retain sweat moisture in warmer conditions, and how the tailored fit gives a sleek profile without being too clingy. This is another piece that stands alone well, but also works effectively as a strong base layer. It also has classic styling that is perfectly suitable for casual social wear before or after your run. Available at www.runinrabbit.com.
Yes, it’s an extremely long name, but this Icebreaker garment has some unique features going for it from both a performance and stylistic standpoint. First, it is made of 100% merino wool, giving you the full benefit of the material’s insulating capability even when saturated. Second, it utilizes dyes made from renewable plant pigments sourced from sustainable crops, which are applied with non-toxic adherent in a process that uses 65% less water than traditional dye methods – it’s the most environmentally-friendly means of dye processing to date. Finally, the pattern on this particular style is a collaboration with American artist Justin Brice Guariglia, whose modernist work explores the relationship between human and the natural world. Think of it as wearing a piece of art that works with you during your long run. This shirt has a slim fit through the torso, sort of like a second skin, but the plush wool and soft seam construction keep it comfortable even with multi-hour outings. Available at www.icebreaker.com.
Odlo is a Norwegian company gaining prominence in the United States thanks largely to an American company called Aktiv, who curate clothing from various manufacturers in Scandinavia that specialize in combining high quality with sustainable sourcing. The Natural + Kinship Warm shirt (another long name) is a similar wool/synthetic hybrid as the Rabbit shirt, blending the best qualities of both fabrics to maximize performance benefit. A difference from the Rabbit shirt is the use of elastane for stretch component, and a slender fit that is contoured and rests against the skin without being restrictive. Another attractive aspect are the diagonal ventilation zones across the front and back torso to help dump heat in warmer conditions, which we found to be very effective at managing moisture and thermoregulation. The ventilation zones also give the shirt a cool geometric look that is a nice contrast from cold-weather solid colors. Available at www.aktivstyle.com.
We’re including one pullover garment in this review, for conditions where a single layer isn’t enough. Voormi specializes in dual-layered, wool-prominent garments, and the Access NXT is cleverly designed to provide substantial comfort and protection from the elements. Soft brushed wool fibers cover the interior surface, and the exterior layer utilizes a lightweight Surface Hardened Wool that combines a nylon-reinforced layer of outward facing fibers, plus a durable water repellent finish for light rain protection. Voormi also creates distinctive color palettes by using several combinations of external yarn hues to result in a camo-style appearance. Four-way stretch woven side panels help shed heat from the torso when necessary, and a storage pocket at the left chest provides light storage capacity, along with an internal headphone port for anyone who isn’t wireless yet. One particular accent we appreciated is the integrated hidden thumbholes at the wrist cuffs. Available at www.voormi.com.