Dumb Runner Review: My Ratty-Ass, 14-Year-Old Cotton T-Shirt

Photo by Michael Heald,  Perfect Day Publishing

Photo by Michael Heald, Perfect Day Publishing

Careful readers of Dumb Runner will not be surprised to learn that we have no qualms about running in cotton shirts, under most circumstances. From our Gear for Runners: FAQ page:

Are cotton shirts really that bad to run in?
Cotton shirts are perfectly fine. At least for shorter, easier runs. I'm not sure when, exactly, everyone got hysterical about running in cotton shirts. Or, for that matter, when everyone took as gospel that non-cotton shirts "wick" moisture away from the skin. Which, overwhelmingly, they do not. 

Really? you might be asking yourself. I dunno... I've always heard that cotton is awful, that tech shirts are the way to go. Because they wick moisture. Wick! 

Yes, really. You can run in cotton shirts. Also:

To underscore our faith in this belief, we thought we would run in a cotton T-shirt and then write a review. 

We had this thought last week, as we were preparing to meet a friend for a run. We peeled off our pants, put on running shorts. (We do believe in wearing real running shorts while running.) Began removing the T-shirt we'd slept in the previous night, then stopped.

"Wait," we told ourselves. "Why are we removing a perfectly good T-shirt just to put on a clean 'running shirt,' which will do nothing but create more dirty laundry?"

Here is a photo of the shirt in question. 

Mark Remy

So, OK, perhaps "perfectly good" was a bit of an overstatement. A shirt like this is like a dog that you adopted a long time ago—it's ragged and falling apart, but you've been through so much together and you love it. Also you can never remember exactly how old it is.

I want to say it's about 14. (Which, in T-shirt years, is about... 14.)

Anyway, we kept the T-shirt on and went to meet our friend for a few easy miles.


Date: Friday, February 26, 2016
Time of day: 10:30 a.m.
Location: Mt. Tabor Park, Portland, Oregon
Weather: T-shirt weather

Here's the shirt right before the run. Note the 100% cotton construction, comprehensive torso coverage, and DualMetrical Armhole® technology.

Photo by Michael Heald, Perfect Day Publishing

Also note the Enhanced Airflow Vents® on the back. The placement almost looks random, doesn't it?

Photo by Michael Heald, Perfect Day Publishing

We started off at a moderate-to-easy pace.

Mile 1: Everything was fine. Shirt was fine.

Mile 2: Everything was fine. Shirt started getting damp, but was fine.

Mile 3:  Everything was fine. Shirt definitely damp, but fine.

Mile 4: Fine.

Mile 5: Still fine.

In sum: Everything was fine.  

Here is the "after" photo. The only major difference is the appearance of perspiration on the chest—in exactly the same place and pattern I would have seen had I been wearing a "tech" shirt.

Note that the subject is still standing. Also note the sky, and the fact that is has not fallen.

Photo by Michael Heald,  Perfect Day Publishing

Photo by Michael Heald, Perfect Day Publishing


I ran 5 miles in my ratty-ass, 14-year-old cotton T-shirt and it performed like a champ. I give this shirt two thumbs way up. If you have an old cotton T-shirt that you love, I highly recommend running in it. Especially if doing so will result in less dirty laundry.


Yes, that is a Shins shirt. It's a freebie from my time as entertainment editor for a men's mag. Yes, I was, like, totally into the Shins before they were "cool." And yes, they are fantastic to see live.