Spring temperatures are often warm enough to ditch the jacket, but still too cold for short sleeves. That’s where long sleeve shirts come to the rescue. Having a variety of thicknesses to choose from allows you to customize the degree of insulation or ventilation you might need depending what temperature awaits outside.
Nathan Versa Long Sleeve ($65)
Weight*: 295g *all weights listed are for men’s size XL
This spring, Nathan expanded its product line to offer a full range of men’s and women’s running apparel. We’re currently using the Versa long sleeve, and we’ll test their tees and shorts for our apparel review in the summer. Nathan’s target audience is everyday runners, with a design approach of building enough quality for elites and all-day comfort for lifestyle use. The Versa is a good representation of this approach, as it has moisture-wicking capacity at a high intensity, but with a midweight thickness that provides strong insulation against the cold. We wore this shirt (with gloves) in temps that range in the low 30s without a need for additional layers.
The cut is quite generous, to the extent that you can size down if you’re in between sizes, or you can go with your regular size and wear this top as a lightweight warm-up or cool-down piece over a form-fitting tee. One great aspect from a sizing standpoint is that a full size range is available for men from XS through 2XL (women’s sizes go up to XL) to accommodate most body shapes.
As a sturdy garment, the Versa rides a little heavier than thinner tops, but the feel against the skin is soft and was not cumbersome during our testing. Flatlock stitching creates smooth seams to prevent chafing, a drop tail in back adds a bit of extra coverage, and small reflective accents on each sleeve and the back panel are an added safety feature in low light conditions. The Versa and other apparel items are available at www.nathansports.com.
The rabbit snap to it Long Sleeve ($60)
The most fashionable item in this trio of tops comes from rabbit, who seem to have a magic elixir for creating plush fabrics that provide a strong performance. The snap to it features a lofted knit fabric that creates a waffled appearance on the exterior surface, while the inner layer rides softly against the skin and effectively wicks away moisture. Of the shirts in this review, the snap to it has the most gentle exterior surface when wiping sweat off your face. Overall fabric thickness is adequate enough to keep the chills away, but light enough to breathe and stay cool if the day heats up. We found it especially useful for tempo runs on windy days. The torso of this shirt is semi-tailored for a streamlined look that still provides plenty of space for generous movement.
The most distinctive feature of the snap to it is all in the name: the Henley-style jersey has three snaps that can be opened for max ventilation or closed to a traditional crew neckline. These snaps are fairly minimal and do not add significant bulk to the chest area when closed, or sag excessively when open. The women’s version of the snap to it has thumbhole openings at the sleeves, while the men’s is a regular straight cuff. They are available at www.runinrabbit.com.
Tracksmith Van Cortlandt Long Sleeve ($75)
The lightest weight and best built-for-speed model in our trio is this classic Tracksmith top, which is sold seasonally in long and short sleeve versions. The Van Cortlandt name is a tribute to the century-old cross-country course in New York, and the shirt has a distinctive style that’s reminiscent of old-school track clubs, utilizing a diagonal sash inspired by Cornell University’s track and field program in the late 1800s. By contrast, fabric construction is very modern, featuring a 2:09 Mesh (the name evokes a mesh tee worn by Bill Rodgers when he ran 2:09 at the Boston Marathon) that is super smooth and moves moisture off your skin and through the garment extremely quickly. The 2:09 Mesh also has an antimicrobial finish for repeated use without odor retention.
Tracksmith describes the Van Cortlandt as a relaxed fit torso, but we found the cut to be relatively streamlined, and there’s certainly no excess fabric or extraneous bulk to get in the way of running fast. The sleeves taper nicely toward the wrist and hold their position well when pushed up on the forearms. This shirt has been our favorite for speed days on the track or long tempo runs as the sun goes down, and it layers easily under a windbreaker for warming up on a cold race day. You can find the Van Cortlandt at www.tracksmith.com.