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11 wardrobe essentials for runners

"There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing." For runners there's truth in this cliché. Preventing the elements messing with your training plan means having the right kit to run all year round. The evolved range of On Performance Running Gear features our 11 essential items for ensuring you can get out there whatever the weather.

1. The Long-T

Warm but light, protective but breathable, casual in look but high in performance. A good long-sleeved top can be one of the most versatile pieces in a runner’s arsenal of apparel.

When to wear: When you want to face a drop in temperature without reducing performance. A long-sleeved top offers greater warmth than a short-sleeved equivalent but should still allow you to push the pace without overheating. It’s a must-have when temperature can vary, like on long runs that start on cool mornings, trail training that takes you up to cooler climates or stop-start interval training, as you can see in the video below. It’s also a great under layer for wet or winter training, with a weather-resistant vest or jacket as an outer shield.

What to look for: Lightweight, breathable material is a must. That’s why a high-tech Japanese knitted fabric was chosen for the new On Long-T. Plus, long sleeves mean a smarter look, so for added adaptability choose a piece you can pair with casual wear for comfort before, during and after your run.

2. The Weather Vest

When the conditions can’t be trusted, a high-quality reflective running vest offers predictable protection. It’s a lightweight shield that means you don’t have to head back if the weather turns.

When to wear: Changeable conditions. A weather-resistant vest is perfect in the transition phase between seasons when the elements are anything but elementary. A vest is also great when starting your run on a chilly morning before the world warms up or for evening training when the temperature drops as the sun goes down. Can be worn over a long-sleeved top for added warmth, or with short sleeves for a lighter look and feel.

What to look for: Protection, not restriction. A running vest should be heavy in features but light in weight, so you can forget it’s on when conditions are good, but are happy it’s there if dark clouds appear. The new On Weather Vest is made using featherweight Japanese stretch fabrics that perfectly combine function with form. Its water-repellant coating on the front means you’re ready if you run into rain, while waterproof-zippered pockets help keep your valuables safe and dry. Reflective elements help you stay seen if you’re training before dawn or after dark. 

3. The Weather Jacket

Unless you’re happy to stay a fair-weather runner, a protective running jacket is a must. It’s the absolute essential for training in winter, and for making sure you never need to take a rain-check on a run.

When to wear: This is for when things get wild. A high-protection, water-repellant jacket is your suit of armor in the battle against adverse weather. It allows you to face down the wind and train in the rain. In winter time, layer up against the cold with a long-sleeved top underneath. A light jacket can also be good choice even when the sun is shining, supporting gradual changes to body temperature in warm-up or cool-down sessions, for example.

What to look for: Your jacket should offer premium protection in all conditions without weighing you down. Water-repellant properties are key. A windproof running jacket with full ventilation might sound like a paradox, but the ultralight On Weather Jacket proves it’s possible. What’s more, its uniquely engineered hood adjusts for perfect fit and field of vision, allowing you to stay focused on your run even in the wet. 

4. The Weather Shirt

A true essential in a trail-runner’s kit collection, a high-performance weather shirt is like year-round climate control for runners.

When to wear: For lightweight warmth in cooler climates. The Weather-Shirt is a firm favorite in the trail-running community. If you’re setting out early on a fresh summer morning or tackling the changing body temperatures that come with uphill training efforts followed by a downhill chill, a Weather-Shirt is exactly what you need.

What to look for: Soft-touch technical fabrics and excellent breathability. Ventilation is crucial for comfort, especially if you’re getting warm tackling tough slopes but in cool conditions. The On Weather-Shirt is made with engineered yarns. Combine this with the micro-ventilation and moisture-transport system and you have a running shirt that offers just the right amount of warmth. In addition, laser-cut ventilation in the back and an adjustable V-neck collar make Weather-Shirt into a year-round midlayer, able to instantly adapt to whatever your run needs.

5. The Performance-T

As the name suggests, a Performance-T is the choice when your goal is to be at your best. An absolute must-have if you’re serious about speed. 

When to wear: Whenever you’re pushing yourself. Whether short, fast sessions on the track or delivering over long-distances, top performance demands a performance top. The Performance-T is the essential item for when you want to look and feel unstoppable.

What to look for: In a Performance-T, the formula for success is low weight, high breathability. For additional comfort, you should also demand a tee that’s quick to dry after a fast run. The On Performance-T ticks all the boxes. Its tear-proof front has been engineered with fast-dry, high-tech fabrics that shield, dry and protect, so you can focus on pushing yourself to new limits.

 

6. The Comfort-T

Nothing in a runner’s wardrobe is more adaptable that a comfort tee. Choose the right style and it’s sure to become an everyday essential. Great for a relaxed look but still serious about performance.

When to wear: Any time. A casual running tee is ideal if you’ve got to run errands before you run miles or want to grab a hard-earned drink with friends after training. It’s just as at home trackside as it is on the track. Though made for spring and summer, the comfort tee can still be a go-to in cooler weather – just pair it with a Weather Shirt or a Weather Jacket.

What to look for: If your comfort tee is going to become a favorite it’s got to mix style and substance. Lightweight, fast-drying-fabric is vital. That’s why the On Comfort-T is made from stretchable, soft-touch fabrics that blend comfort and moisture control. The result? You look great and feel fresh before, during and after your run. 

7. The Tank-T

A running tank-t is the choice whenever the tempo, or temperature is high. Commonly associated with racing, it’s a minimalist option for maximum speed.

When to wear: Race days and summer days. Less is more with a tank-t. It’s a streamlined sleeveless top made to make you feel free. To get maximum use out of your running tank it’s good to go for a design that can work over a sports top, creating a combo that offers a lightweight feel with a little more warmth.

What to look for: The essential tank is featherlight with a close fit. If you’re looking for speed and style, On’s Tank-T is the one for you. It combines fast-drying high-tech fabrics with in a sleek design that still allows another thin layer underneath if needed. Weighing next to nothing, function meets fast in this kitbag essential. 

8. The Lightweight Running Shorts 

Shorts have been a running staple since the beginnings of the sport. A comfortable pair of lightweight shorts belongs in the wardrobe of any runner looking to take on high speeds and/or high temperatures with ease.

When to wear: Summer or speed training and on race day. The ideal partner to your Tank-T, ultralight running shorts are reduced to the max for an effortless running sensation. 

What to look for: Low in weight, high in tech and fast to dry. When the competition is tough your racing shorts should help make your run feel easier. That was exactly the motivation behind the On Lightweight Running Shorts. An inner brief delivers comfort while a bounce-minimizing pocket keeps good care of anything you can’t afford to leave behind on your run. In short(s?), they’re true essentials. 

9. The Hybrid Shorts

Hybrid shorts, as the name suggests, are two shorts in one. An inner short and an outer short combine for added support and adaptability.

When to wear: When comfort is your goal, reach for your hybrid shorts. The inner shorts offer support and warmth, while the lighter outer shorts add another layer of protection (and style). 

What to look for: Maximum versatility. With the On Hybrid-Shorts, the outer shorts and short tights within can be worn together or separately. This means you can combine them for long runs or sprints to the beach. Take a plunge in the short tights, then jog home in dry shorts. Result. 

10. The Running Tights

Running tights are all about the perfect fit. Snug, yet flexible, they should feel like a second skin, for unparalleled comfort on your run.

When to wear: Running tights should be flexible in all senses of the word. Warm enough to wear in winter with the right upper-body layers, but light enough to take the heat even in summer. In a word, essential.

What to look for: Feeling and flexibility. Despite the name, tights shouldn’t be too tight. They should deliver a close fit that doesn’t stop you stretching out. On’s Running Tights for women are a ⅞-length essential cut to match natural running movements. More elasticity and L-shape stitching around the knees complement your legs in motion. Reflective elements shine at night and, with the sleek design, you’ll want to be seen.

11. The Running Pants

If your legs feel good, chances are you’ll run well. The right running pants keep your lower limbs at the right temperature, for comfort and performance.

When to wear: If it’s cool out then it’s good to cover up. Colder leg muscles may be more susceptible to injury, so the essential nature of the perfect pair of running pants should not be underestimated. Great as part of a warm-up suit too, or, with the right design, just as casual wear.

What to look for: Warmth plus ventilation equals comfort, but it’s not easy to achieve the right balance. On Running Pants are the result of engineering know-how with a critical eye on design. Flexibility is what sets them apart from other options. Secondary ankle-zippers and uniquely designed knee-mesh means you adjust the pants to match the season or run. Versatile pockets and zips keep the elements out and important things in, while DWR (durable water repellant) offers added resistance from the rain.

With the On Performance Running Gear Essentials in your wardrobe you’re covered for all conditions and ready to run any time. All you need to complete your kit bag is to find the right shoe for you. Get some help there with our Shoe Finder tool. And get out there.