La Sportiva Forward T-Shirt
The Forward T-Shirt from La Sportiva is a well-made, comfortable, technical quarter zip tee for trail running and other “high-output aerobic activities.” In my year and a half of use, I’ve found it to fit well, stretch and move with my body, and not cause any chafing (the bane of my running). Its Polygiene anti-bacterial/anti-odor treatment has excelled, with still no whiff of stink, despite many hot, sweaty miles.
The Forward T-Shirt is best for running in warm weather. I find it most comfortable for summer/warm weather running (generally 70°F and up). I appreciate its features and performance most on multi-hour runs when I forgot about it. I recommend it to women who like a more European, slim fit through the chest.
While it has held up well to regular use, including underneath running packs/vests and waistbelts, I avoid rougher use that could pull and pill the smooth fabric finish.
At its $45 retail price, it’s a good option for runners who want a technical, comfortable, performance tee, but don’t want to break the bank on a running T-shirt.
- Comfortable fit
- No chafing
- Excellent odor control from Polygiene
- Well made, has held up to months of use
- Reasonable price
- Fit may be too slim for some
- No UPF rating
- No key pocket (if you want one)
- You could buy a cheaper synthetic tee, though not likely with the same feature set and build quality
The men’s version of this shirt is the Advance T-Shirt.
Conditions and Use
I’ve used the La Sportiva Forward T-Shirt trail and road running since spring of 2017. I most commonly use it in warm weather of 70°F and warmer, though for high temps (90-100°), I often use a cooling shirt.
It has been worn regularly with a running pack and with UV/cooling arm sleeves. In winter I sometimes wear it when I have to use the treadmill, but otherwise it takes a seasonal break. I estimate my Forward T-Shirt has been worn for at least 100-200 miles of running.
Fit and Cut
The Forward Shirt is a slim fit, technical, polyester tee with a quarter zip for venting.
Fit is personal and variable. I’m a women’s medium in most tops (with a few random smalls and larges thrown in). I initially was concerned about sizing this shirt though, as my experience with La Sportiva tops has been inconsistent and La Sportiva call this a “slim” cut.
Thankfully, the women’s medium is the right size for me. The shirt is slim, especially through the chest, but not tight. You could size up if you wanted a looser fit, but I don't want extra material flopping around while I run and am happy with this size. The four-way stretch keeps it comfortable and moving with you.
Body conscious note: With its slim fit, the lightweight, smooth material will accentuate any curves and bumps. However, it is comfortable (not constrictive), stretchy, moves with me, and is not a shirt I pay any attention to once it’s on.
- La Sportiva: 3.77 oz (107g)
- My scale: 3.2 oz (90g)
Wicking and Breathability
The Forward T-Shirt is designed for “high-output aerobic activity” such as running, so you’re going to sweat in it. I’m a heavy sweater, but I’ve always found this shirt comfortable. It wicks easily and dries quickly so you don’t feel like you’re wearing a soggy shirt.
The 100-percent polyester material is lightweight with a soft, silky feel (one wants to say it has a nice hand). It’s a good light (but not fragile) weight for warm weather use.
There is mesh fabric for venting in the underarm area and across the back.
In addition, there is a quarter zip in front for venting. La Sportiva calls this a “1/2 zip front”, but I call it a quarter zip.
Chafing is a hellish punishment after a warm, sweaty run, and thankfully I’ve had no issues with chafing while wearing this shirt. When going on longer, summer runs, I feel confident choosing this shirt.
The fabric is silky smooth. The seams are smooth. My sweat gets wicked away. The slim fit means the sleeves stay in place on my upper arms (a potential chafing spot), but don't rub. And the Nathan running packs I’ve worn with it haven’t caused irritation from the straps.
There is a small collar, which helps eliminate any rubbing and chafing from my pack around my shoulders and neckline.
I also pair the shirt with a pair of UV/cooling arm sleeves on occasion, and they line up well.
Durability and Abrasion
I often wear this shirt with a running pack (Nathan), and there is no sign of wear on the shoulder or seams.
The polyester fabric is lightweight, though not ultralight. I wouldn’t take it off-trail, since it could pull its smooth finish, but it holds up well to daily trail and road runs. I have only a little evidence of wear over my year and a half of use.
I often pair the shirt with my UV arm sleeves. However, while the shirt presumably offers some sun protection, it doesn't have a UPF rating.
There are no pockets on the Forward T-Shirt, not even a small key pocket. Those seem unnecessary to me anyway.
There is some reflective trim on the back neck, which doesn't hurt to have for safety. If I need reflection, I’ll put on a reflective vest or something else though, so this is a small added bonus.
Bluesign approved fabric
The Forward T-Shirt is made with Bluesign approved fabric, which means at least some of its materials meet the Bluesign Standard for sustainable textile production.
This is where the shirt impressed me.
The Forward T-Shirt is treated with Polygiene anti-bacterial and anti-odor treatment. It works. Despite the Forward being a 100-percent synthetic (polyester) garment I have never noticed any stink from it.
I am a heavy sweater and have stunk up my fair share of synthetic garments from running, hiking, and other aerobic activities. I even have had to put some older garments into early retirement when they continued to hang onto stench after being repeatedly laundered. But not this one.
Here was my ultimate test:
After several months of use, I wore this shirt as the first of three tops during the Vermont 100 ultra race last summer. It was in the 80s, with some humidity. I, and the shirt, got sweaty, as one would expect. After wearing it for the first half of the race, I switched out of it (as part of a planned rotation), and my spouse shoved into a stuff sack—a waterproof, unventilated stuff sack—where it was forgotten in our car’s rooftop carrier for more than a week. In July.
A week later, I was putting race gear away, came across this forgotten bag, and opened it up. The smell that emitted was so extraordinarily bad I called my family members over to come smell it (“You won’t believe how bad this smells!” Sorry, family). It was, memorably, one of the worst things I’ve smelled. Sweat + Heat + No Airflow x Time = Super Stink
I washed the shirt normally with regular detergent and...it was fine. Not just passable, but back to normal with no lingering smell. I continue to wear it to this day and there’s still no stink. Thanks to the Polygiene, I’m glad I didn’t permanently ruin an otherwise good shirt.
Color and Style
Feel free to skip ahead, but I think the way La Sportiva embraces color combinations deserves some attention.
Some will like La Sportiva’s bold style, some will not. I tend to be conservative in my color choices, but in this case, I appreciate that the brand makes apparel that stands out and is distinctive. They also move beyond the typical feminine colors and accents for more unique alternatives (red and yellow, green and yellow, etc.).
I wouldn’t have picked the green/yellow color combo of my shirt, but I don’t mind it. If you don’t like their style, there are plenty of other options available.
Also, color choices depends on where you live. While here in North America we have two color choices for this shirt, it has seven in Europe. It would be nice if the U.S. had a few of the brighter options.
I was given this shirt for testing in Trailspace’s Review Corps program, so I did not put up my own money to buy it. However, at $45 retail I think this shirt is a reasonable option for runners. You get a technical, well-made tee with features like a quarter zip and odor control. And it should hold up to years of use, as mine has so far.
For comparison, you can find many short-sleeve tees, with and without zips, in the $30-$60 price range, in Trailspace's ranking of Best Short Sleeve Performance Tops.
I like the Forward T-Shirt and would recommend it to other female trail runners (men can check out the Advance). There are more technical shirts out there, with higher price tags to match, but the Forward is a comfortable, steady, stink-free shirt that fits and is made well. It’s one of the items I take for granted in my running apparel because it works and doesn’t require any adjustments or thought.
If a slim fit doesn’t work for your measurements, I recommend sizing up or looking at another brand.
I trust the Forward T-Shirt to keep me chafe free and comfortable, particularly on longer, summer runs when I’m carrying a pack and am out for a few hours. My ultimate endorsement is that I trusted it enough to wear it last year at my goal race (Vermont 100). That’s my version of highest praise.
I’ve used the La Sportiva Forward T-Shirt while trail and road running since spring of 2017. I most commonly use it in warm weather of 70°F and warmer. It has been worn regularly with a running pack and with UV/cooling arm sleeves. In winter I sometimes wear it when I have to use the treadmill, but otherwise it takes a seasonal break. I estimate my Forward T-Shirt has been worn for at least 100-200 miles of running.
I've been running for three decades, so I've worn plenty of running shirts over thousands of miles.
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Historic Range: $27.00-$45.00
3.77 oz / 107 g
100% Polyester, 4-way stretch