This comfortable, stylish top keeps you cool on the trail and offers decent moisture-wicking capacity at a low price
Great cooling technology
Cooling technology only activates when you sweat
Made using non-recycled materials
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Columbia Women's Zero Rules t-shirt: first impressions
On the rack, this lightweight running top promises advanced cooling technology for hot days on the trail wrapped up in a soft, stylish tee. It’s crafted from Columbia’s own Omni-Freeze fabric designed to react with your sweat to lower the material’s temperature when you work out.
This short-sleeve top is designed to be slim-fitting and stylish, made from super soft, stretchy fabric. It also provides moisture-wicking and odor-controlling technologies.
• RRP: $40 (US) / £30 (UK)
• Sizes available: XS–XXL
• Materials: Polyester ZERO Interlock
• Colors: Grey, salmon, orange, white, harbor blue, spring blue, poppy
• Best use: trail running, hiking, backpacking
Columbia Women's Zero Rules T-shirt: on the trails
I wore this top on a couple of reasonably warm late summer trail runs and definitely noticed the cooling capacity. I was working hard enough to be sweating but remained nice and cool the entire 10km.
It looks really good on with a slim-fitting but not skin-tight style, and you’ll love it if you like your running clothes to feel slinky on your skin. Despite the slim fit, you can move pretty easily in it – in fact I could do a few yoga stretches after my run while wearing it no problem.
I thought the moisture wicking capacity was good. I was not drenched, and remained a little damp during the half hour drive back to town, but after trip to the grocery store it was dry.
The odor-control was also not as good as some I’ve experienced with shirts made from natural fabrics, but it was still good. I definitely got two 10km runs out of it in warmer weather before it became offensive, which is always a plus for me.
Here’s how it performed:
I wore the small which is my usual size and it was a perfect fit on me. If you like your running tops tight you can probably stay with your regular size, but if you like a little room, size up.
The modern classic fit of this top is very stylish, snug around the chest and shoulders with just enough breathing room around the waist and hips to be comfortable and unrestrictive. The sleeves are short but enough to protect your shoulders from pack rub. Some might find it too tight across the chest and shoulders, depending on your build.
If you like that slinky feel, you’ll love this shirt. There’s simply no scratchy sensation like you can get with wool, and I didn’t notice any chafing or rubbing from the seams. Even though it’s snug across my chest and shoulders, the fabric is stretchy enough that it doesn't inhibit my mobility, even doing yoga.
This is the big selling point of this top, and I think it works well. The fabric is designed to be activated by your sweat to stay cool, and it certainly did for me on the trail. In fact, it worked so well that I got a bit chilly on the drive home. That said, if you’re just wearing it on a warm day and not sweating, it won’t necessarily provide extra cooling.
I’d say the breathability of this shirt was good, I was dry an hour after finishing my run.
This shirt boasts antimicrobial treatment to help with odor and while it wasn’t the best I’ve experienced, it’s certainly miles better than some of my older synthetic running tops. I’d say I’d get two runs out of this before feeling like it needs a wash.
So far, it’s holding up well and there’s no fraying from my hydration pack. The fabric doesn’t seem to stretch out easily and the seams are intact.
Here’s where we tested the Columbia Women's Zero Rules t-shirt:
We tested this running top out on a local 10km hill run that skirts the base of Dumgoyne to Glengoyne Distillery before hooking up with the West Highland Way for the return journey.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.