It’s a fact: If you work out, you’re gonna sweat. Yes, the thermometer’s been popping records all across the country this season, but some of us are just sweaty athletes. And your laundry bag has noticed. So has your wife, who wonders why that pile of soaking wet workout clothes smells like an animal curled up and died inside.
Here’s the thing: You don’t need to struggle the way you do, dripping with sweat, feeling like your shirt gained 10 pounds of water weight mid-run, or dealing with your wet top clinging awkwardly to your nipples at the gym. There’s a shirt for that — eight, actually. And we’ve got them below.
What you need is a sweat-wicking, breathable, antimicrobial T-shirt that does some work for you while you’re doing some work on your body. In fact, it’s those three terms you want to look for on the tags when you’re shopping. Let’s break it down:
Sweat-wicking: This means just what it sounds like. The fabric uses capillary action to pull moisture away from your skin and dissipate it into the air. No more twisting your shirt hem to wring out the juice at mile 10.
Breathable: Also called “air-ventilating,” this means the shirt has been produced with mesh, slits, or micro-holes that allow air to pass through the fabric to your skin while you exercise. Granted, on a 90-degree day, that air will still be hair-dryer hot, but think of it as running in a warm breeze as opposed to stifling stillness.
Antimicrobial: When you sweat, gazillions of tiny bacteria that live on your skin surface go into a feeding frenzy, noshing on the nutrients found in your perspiration. (Yum.) The bacteria break down your sweat, resulting in a pungent odor. That causes not only your body to smell, but also the shirt you’re wearing (and subsequently the laundry bin you toss it in). Antimicrobial fabrics have been coated or woven with a covering that can stop the smell.
So that’s what to look for. The rest depends on your activity, physical size, and personal preference. Take a look at our favorite picks for summer 2022.
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Best For Working Out In The Park
The company’s proprietary Iso-Chill fabric is designed to disperse heat and keep the shirt cool to the touch, even on hot days. It scores for breathability, too, with mesh-paneled sleeves and lower back. A fuller cut makes it easy to move without feeling restricted.
Best For Lifting
This shirt has a streamlined, tailored fit and seamless construction, so it won’t chafe against your skin as you lift, curl, pull, and push. The fabric is lightweight, moisture-wicking, and made with anti-odor properties. Strategically placed micro-holes across the torso allow for breathability.
Best For Outdoor Adventures
If you’re looking for a durable, streamlined, and sun-protective shirt (that’s also lightweight, soft, and good-looking), stop here. Created by Californian outdoor enthusiasts, this shirt provides UPF 30+ sun protection and four-way stretch fabric designed for breathability. True to their outdoors mission, the company has tested this fabric for durability in the elements, making it a great choice for rock climbing, fishing, or just walking in the woods.
Best For Long Runs
When you’re putting in the miles, you want a shirt that you barely notice is there. This is that. Crafted from fabric featuring innovative micro-ventilation technology, this minimalist shirt has been put through the company’s three stress tests: strength (1 square inch of fabric can withstand 100 pounds of pressure); abrasion resistance (the fabric endured 10,000 cycles of abrasion to make sure it held up); and shrinkage protection (the prototype is put through a year’s worth of washing — twice the industry standard — to be sure it keeps its shape).
Best For HIIT Workouts
The shirt boasts strategically placed heat-mapping zones across the torso, underarm, and down the back. The fabric in these zones uses pinpoint ventilation holes to keep you cool on the hottest days. The slim fit, four-way stretch, and seamless construction mean this shirt will stay put, without chafing, during your high-intensity workouts.
Best For Cardio Day
There will be no nipplegate or beer belly exposé with this lightweight training shirt designed specifically to avoid clinging to sweaty skin. The roomier fit across your chest and waist, and an underarm gusset for maximum mobility, make this T-shirt ideal for cardio moves that have you twisting and turning.
Best For Lunchtime Sweat Sessions
When you’re banging out a no-frills, 30-minute workout on your lunch break, this shirt matches your focused mood. Cut from a lightweight, breathable modal blend and featuring a streamlined but relaxed fit, this is the fly-under-the-radar functional tee you’ll wear again and again.
Best For Going Straight From The Gym To Brunch
Created with ultra-soft, seamless pin dot mesh, this fabric defines breathability. It’s finished with the company’s proprietary HeiQ anti-odor treatment. As proof of the shirt’s ability to soak up sweat and keep on going, pro-athlete testers took it for a run — then straight to lunch — with nary a wayward sniff.