The best summer running kit for women

Shorts and T-shirts

For warm-weather running, you need shorts. For the best running shorts, go to Pearl Izumi. They are brilliantly designed, with secure zips where you need them, incredibly comfortable fit and even, in the case of these ultra shorts (left, £59.99, from special pockets designed for gel-carrying. They have two layers: underneath they are like cycling shorts, with a looser layer on top. This makes them both very comfortable and flattering – highly recommended, especially if you put in a lot of miles.

For a more straightforward summer pair, try these Salomon shorts (£30, from They are lightweight for warmer weather, breathable and have a zipped pocket. Designed for trail running, but perfect for anywhere-wear.

Pearl Izumi also come up trumps with this simple running T-shirt (left, £24.99, from No fussy features, just a really good, breathable fabric that wicks away sweat and washes brilliantly. A summer running staple.

This Patagonia top (centre, £32, from is something of a revelation if the early morning chill gives you a fright on setting off, but five minutes in you're chronically overheating. I've been known to cut the sleeves off perfectly good T-shirts because I get too warm in them, but this is so thin you barely know it's there, and there is certainly no danger of chafing on longer runs. Even better, the company has admirable sustainability policies.

Part of Howies' new running range (see the merino leggings, below) this T-shirt (right, £39, from is gorgeous. A bit too warm for hot days as it's merino, but for 95% of the English weather it's a fantastic buy. It also has the benefit of being simple, stylish and flattering enough to be worn when you aren't running, too.

Worthy of their own little section is this kit from new brand Iffley Road. Combining a heritage look and feel (hence the name – the Iffley Road track in Oxford being, of course, the place where Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile) with modern technical fabrics and design, these T-shirts and shorts are top notch. The T-shirt (£60, from is made of a breathable material that feels like a super-lightweight merino. It has a great cut with slightly longer sleeves than normal, and a clever little zipped pocket sort of tucked into the seam – virtually invisible but handy for a key, a tissue or a small MP3 player. The shorts (£60, from have two little front pockets – deep enough for secure storage of a key again, though they don't have zips – and are a pleasingly low-key design. What's particularly nice about the brand is the muted, retro colours. One to watch as more gear is released in the future.

The orange vest from Princess TamTam's new sporty range (left, £21, from is ideal for those who like lightweight material but prefer it not to be too tight – it's a pretty loose style. It's also very simple and, again, a top that doesn't scream: "I've just been to the gym!". Good price, too.

For more sports-specific vests, this tank top from Asics (centre, £28.80, from is the opposite – a very tight fit – though as it's made from soft, breathable fabric it shouldn't make you any hotter. It's a good one for night running too, as it has reflective fabric. The tiny pocket on the back might be useful for a single key, though you wouldn't fit much else in.

Finally, if you want something of a bargain, this Odlo top (right, £70, stockists from is two for the price of one. Or, more accurately, two tops in one – the long sleeves come off in the form of a sort of bolero, leaving you with a tank top with integrated bra. I found it more comfortable without the sleeves than with, but it's an ingenious idea more usually found in jackets (see the Asics one, below) than tops.

If you are brave, hot (temperature-wise, that is) or very toned, this Adidas bra top (£28, from is totally supportive and offers enough coverage to run in on hot days with nowt on top – otherwise it's also a great buy for underneath your vest or T-shirt. It comes in some great colours, too, which makes a nice change from the usual black or white options. It's fantastically comfortable too.

But if you want something super-lightweight to put on top on even very hot days, this New Balance T-shirt (£27.99, from cannot be beaten. It's light as a feather, and has a flattering but not-too-tight fit so you barely notice it's there.

Jackets and waterproofs

This convertible jacket from Asics (left, £58.58 from is a fantastic piece of kit. The sleeves easily unzip (with a touch of velcro to keep them secure) and it becomes a sleeveless shell, with the sleeves themselves so light that you can then stuff them in a pocket or even carry them. Perfect for wet days when you start off cold but quickly need a bit more ventilation. It's a great fit, too: not tight but well fitted to the body so it doesn't flap about at all.

The waterproof jacket from Berghaus (centre, £230, from looks deceptively simple. The design is pleasing, yes, but more to the point it's the world's first waterproof venting jacket. For venting, read holes, though these are covered in a sort of laminated fabric, or it wouldn't be very waterproof. They allow cool air in and hot air out, even in the wettest and most miserable of conditions. It's made from lightweight Gore-Tex and designed to cope in seriously tough conditions, making it ideal for trail running, fell running or, hey, an ultra run up an Alp or two. It's also extremely comfortable and, unusually, the hood is really well designed and, unlike most hoods I've ever worn, stayed up the whole run.

This waterproof from Patagonia (right, £210, from is also designed for trail running. It's even more lightweight (229g to Berghaus's 301g) and your tester can confirm that the waterproof zippered pocket is extremely waterproof: I accidentally took a phone running through a thunderstorm and it was dry as a bone after 10 miles. The jacket has some great features, such as the built-in mittens that fold down from the cuffs if your hands get cold. It's also a great purchase if you run and cycle, as it could definitely double as a fantastic commuting or mountain biking cycle jacket.

In the more affordable price bracket, well-priced waterproofs don't come much better than this aerated design by Dounlimited (left, £70, from The fit is light and comfy with elasticated cuffs that can be easily rolled up. There are zippable pockets to keep your keys in, and the silver shade is reflective, so all in all it's a perfect night run coat.

Keela's multi-activity Liberty Softshell jacket (centre, £74.95, from is brilliantly designed, with Velcro cuffs, lots of pockets and seams that can be unzipped to aid cooling. The finish is excellent – it will last for years. For all its breathability, it is a bit too warm for running at this time of year, so it would be ideal for more extreme or off-road conditions, or even for cycling or walking.

The adidas windbreaker (right, £45, from is a suitably summery shade with a retro feel. It's a shame it doesn't have a hood, as it's a good weight for a waterproof and provides a decent level of warmth too. The pockets aren't secure, unfortunately: you do tend to get what you pay for with added features when buying jackets.


Warmer weather notwithstanding, some people still prefer to run in full-length leggings – for coverage or for their compression effect. These high-fashion leggings from Hey Jo (left, £90, from come in a rainbow shade of bright, appealing colours. Crucially, unlike many other 'fashion' brands, they are also very comfortable and great to run in – the fit is excellent. They give good compression (25% elastene helps there) without chafing at all, even on the seams, which are flat-locked. The little key pocket at the back is also both handy and secure, having a good, sturdy zip. They really do look more like fashion leggings than sports ones, which means you could genuinely wear these out and about, especially in some of the brighter shades.

A more affordable option, if you prefer capri length, are these Sub Zero tights (centre, £32, from The fit is rather nice – slightly looser than some, and slightly flared at the bottom (which means, unlike some capris I've tried, you don't end up with weird marks on your skin where they grip your legs). They are very soft and comfy, and have a zip pocket and reflective piping. A very good basic buy.

Finally, these leggings from Howies (right, £39, from are probably the most comfortable leggings I've ever run in. They are quite warm – too warm for London summer runs, but definitely worth considering if you run off-road or need a bit more warmth. They are extremely soft but also hold their shape brilliantly. These will be getting a LOT of wear come autumn and winter. An absolute bargain for the price – highly recommended.

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