Why Do Shirts and Running Jackets Have Thumb Holes?

You have probably seen running tops, shirts, base layers, and hoodies with thumb holes. But why do these long sleeves have thumb holes?

The primary purpose of thumb holes in running jackets is to help keep your sleeves from rolling up. Thumb holes also provide a little extra cushion for your palms without having to wear gloves. Basically, they help you stay comfortable during outdoor exercises.

Whether you like it or not, thumb holes are here to stay. But are thumb holes functional or merely fashionable? Let’s explore the purpose of thumb holes.

The Purpose of Thumb Holes

There are three important functions for thumb holes on long sleeves. In addition to keeping your sleeves from rolling up, they add warmth without the need for gloves.

Thumb holes also provide better aesthetics to any activewear and athleisure clothing.

Here are the three benefits of thumb holes explained:

1. Keeping your sleeves from rolling up

Thumbholes in both shirts and jackets are primarily used for layering purposes. Basically, the thumb holes are designed to keep long sleeves in place.

As you put other clothing over them, thumb holes prevent the sleeves from rolling up. They also ensure a better seal between the gloves and the base layer.

The potential of exposed skin between a cuff edge and glove is protected by thumb holes because the sleeves do not roll up and are safely in place.

For example, people often wear several layers that they can shed one at a time as it gets warmer during a hike. Thumb holes keep the sleeves in place while you remove other layers.

However, thumb holes aren’t just for the cold only.

In fact, an increasing number of summer-oriented breathable clothing, especially those created with sun protection in mind, utilize the use of thumb holes.

As you walk the dog, go for a run, or use your phone, thumb holes are perfect to keep the sleeves from going anywhere and keep your skin covered while keeping your fingers free.

2. Add cushion and warmth without gloves

Thumb holes are useful during late fall and early spring, when your hands may start out cold but as your body temperature rises, gloves get uncomfortable.

By utilizing thumb holes, your hands can stay warm while still getting enough ventilation to keep them at the right temperature without wearing gloves.

Most running jackets today have thumb holes that help the sleeves stay in place while you run, while also keeping your hands warm in brisk weather.

With less bulk, workout shirts with thumb holes not only keep you warm but also help you stay comfortable during your outdoor exercise too.

3. Better aesthetics

In today’s landscape of athleisure and functional wear, it’s not enough for big brands to provide useful clothing. They are always trying to provide more value to their customers.

As we progress to an increasingly casual aesthetic, it is only natural that brands are looking to combine the comfort and performance functionality of outdoor apparel.

For example, Nike is meticulously studying how it can make its products seem more premium. They believe that thumb holes make a jacket have a higher value.

An interesting one on tops is that we suddenly discovered that if a top has a thumbhole in it, the consumer perceives it as a premium top.

JEANNE JACKSON, President of Distribution and Merchandising

Without us realizing it, thumb holes are quickly becoming a sign of good quality activewear. In fact, some people would not buy anything long-sleeved unless it has thumb holes.

That just goes to show that thumb holes are here to stay. Not only do thumb holes make you feel comfortable, but they also make you feel confident about yourself too.

Bottom Line

And there you go, the answer to the question: why do shirts and running jackets have thumb holes? Thumb holes ensure the cuff stays in place and can offer additional warmth. 

As the weather gets cooler, long sleeves with thumb holes can keep you warm without needing additional gear or layers until it gets colder in the coming months.

Just be sure to choose tops that fit your body, made of stretchy, breathable fabric. The right shirt with thumb holes can not only make you feel good but look good too.

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