Running is always a good way to stay in shape. Unlike most other sports, however, running is mostly done outdoors. When the weather gets colder and the day becomes shorter, you suddenly stop seeing that many runners around parks. But why is that? Well, mostly because it takes a bit of preparation to face the harsh climate face on. Having the best winter running tights will surely help but without in-depth information on layering, their thermal effect won’t really be felt throughout your run.
In this guide, I will introduce you to some of the winter tights for this year and then we will discuss how to choose the right model for you based on their features and your needs.
Winter Running Tights Comparison Chart
TSLA Men’s Thermal Compression Base Layer Pants
The TSLA Men’s Thermal tights are one of the best-selling models out there for a couple of good reasons. First, there is a style and fit for practically anyone that is out shopping for a new pair of running tights. They come in the unmatched 46 types of designs and colors making them super diverse. They are also quite true to their fit and have 7 size options ranging from extra small to 3XL.
In terms of the materials used here, the tights are made primarily with polyester and spandex which gives you a combination of cold-weather insulation combined with the needed elasticity for running. The TSLA tights are also fleece-lined, meaning they will provide some extra comfort and warmth even during the harshest days. There is a good amount of wind resistance here which is always a welcome feature, especially if you are living in a windy area. They are quick-drying and provide the necessary air circulation for your legs to not be wet throughout your whole workout session.
The only negative here is that some people experience them being untrue to their fit and sometimes slip down if you haven’t nailed down the size. My advice would be always going for one size bigger than yours if you are somewhere in the middle or aren’t sure if you fit well into the lower size. Another thing that I dislike about these tights is that they have no pockets for you to put your keys in.
- Excellent price
- 46 color options
- Very comfortable and warm
- Fast drying times
- Perfect for winter running
- Polyester and spandex combination
- Non-abrasion design
- They can easily slip if you haven’t chosen your exact size
- No side pockets
Yogipace Water Resistant Fleece-Lined Thermal Tights
The Yogipace Fleece lined thermal pants are an excellent pair of tights for women that is warm, well-built and super convenient thanks to its pockets. In terms of sizing, these tights are unmatched in their diversity. They come in in 24 size options ranging from Petit XS to Tall XXL. These sizes are primarily determined by the waist circumference and height of the person. The leggings are water-resistant meaning they deflect water away from your legs but aren’t fully waterproof so if you get into a puddle too deep, you’re on your own.
One of the features that I like a lot here is that there are a ton of pockets. Pockets often get overlooked by tights manufacturers but if you often run outsides you know how frustrating it is to not have anywhere to put your keys in. The zippered waistband pocket here is well-hidden and doesn’t interfere with the tights’ design. It is perfectly sized for a smart device or even something slightly bigger.
The downsides here are that they are a bit harder to clean, requiring you to go through multiple steps. They are also a bit expensive, compared to some other models in the category.
- Perfect for running, stretching, and yoga
- Very warm
- 24 size options
- Thick fleece lined design
- Zippered pockets
- A bit expensive
- Hard to wash
Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Leggings
Under Armour has been a brand that specializes in training gear for decades. They have pretty much narrowed down their craft to an exact science at this point and are producing some of the best workout clothes. Their ColdGear equipment is among the best for cold-weather training with the sole disadvantage of being quite more expensive than their competition.
The Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Leggings are a solid choice for a base layer if you like to run in the winter. They are made of polyester/elastane hybrid fabric making them both comfortable and elastic enough to fit your training needs. There are two layers of fabric here adding to the warmth of these tights. The inner layer is brushed making them feel warmer, while the outside layer is fast-drying for better moisture control. The seams are perfectly designed for activity here making the tights easy to stretch during your run. There is little to no resistance on the knees and between your thighs where it is most common for other cheaper models to feel far too tight.
In terms of sizing, there are plenty of options ranging from Small all the way up to 4X-Large (Tall). The fit is as expected in most cases but if you feel like you are between two sizes, opt for the bigger one. The only downside to their compression design is that they are a bit hard to put on.
- Two-layers for added functionality
- Super warm
- Moisture-wicking outer layer
- Fit as expected
- Comfortable waist lining
- Strategically placed stitching and seams
- No running resistance
- Very expensive
- There is no fly unlike previous Under Armour models
- Hard to put on
BALEAF Men’s Thermal Running Pants
The Beleaf Thermal Running Tights are yet another men’s model worth your consideration. They are made of a combination of polyester and spandex and are also fleece-lined, making them ideal for cold-weather jogs. While the fabric keeps you warm, they are also quite breathable which is the ideal combination for long-distance runners. The fleece lining on the inside really allows your legs to warm up fast and keeps the warm along the way.
There are some additional features here like the reflective elements spread across the tights. Those are essential for runners that train in the early morning or the evening. There are also zippers on the legs making the Baleaf tights easier to put on than some other models like the Under Armour ColdGear tights. On top of all that, there are also elastic drawstrings on the waist and non-chafing seams. Lastly, there is a zippered back pocket which is big enough to house your phone.
- Well priced
- Zippered back pocket
- Zippered ankles
- Waist wide elastic drawstring
- Non-chafing seams
- Easy to put on
- They do not handle excess moisture very well
- No fly
CompressionZ Men’s Base Layer Compression Pants
The CompressionZ Men’s Tights are one of the most competitive budget models out there. While they are low-cost, they are highly functional and are an ideal piece of training gear for colder climates. They are made of a nylon/spandex compound fabric which does an excellent job at compressing and keeping your legs dry. Still, these aren’t exactly suitable for a standalone running tight. They are performing best when used as a base layer beneath your normal running pants. They are very stretchable, though, providing no resistance on top of your knees or your inner tighs.
Some other features here are the anti-odor properties the material has. That is mainly thanks to the high nylon concentration in the fabric. They are also quick-drying and 4-way stretchable.
- Very cheap
- Excellent base layer
- Good amount of compression and stretching
- Ati-odor materials
- Not suitable for standalone cold-weather running
- No pockets
- No fly
CompressionZ High Waisted Women’s Leggings
it wouldn’t be fair to not mention that the CompressionZ Men’s tights also have a female version. These high-waisted women’s leggings are perfect for running, yoga, and everyday gym use. They have the same compression, anti-odor, and moisture-wicking features the Men’s model have and are at the same bargain price. Just like the Men’s version, there is a good variety of color options here.
The only few downsides to both these models are that they have no pockets in them and are easy to slide down if you haven’t matched your size well.
- A good variety of color options
- Good compression
- Excellent for yoga and running
- Not ideal for standalone use
- No pockets
- Sizing doesn’t always fit as expected
Winter Running Tights Buyer’s Guide
Depending on where you live and run there will be a need for different types of clothes and layers. Colder climates will demand thicker thermal tights that can keep the body heat around your body, while places with mild weather can benefit from running tights that have more loose fabric allowing for more heat and moisture passing. Wind is also an important factor that requires special attention when picking your model. As a whole, even though tights seem simple at first, they are the product of years of research and modern-day fabric innovations.
Running Tights Features
With every model, there will be differences that can play a major role in its performance during your runs in the cold. Here are some of the main things that you need to look for in a good pair of running tights:
- Water and Wind Resistance
- Ease Of Movement
- Additional features
Each of those features is important when it comes to the value of the model you’ve chosen, and essentially, decide whether it will be a good choice for you or not. Now, let’s dive a little deeper into each one of them…
The insulation and warmth a pair of tights brings you are two of the most vital factors, especially if the weather outside is really working against you. The temperature range a runner needs, however, mainly depends on the region. Most men’s and women’s running tights can keep you warm at temperatures below 20 degrees. Those typically have thicker fabrics and don’t allow for a lot of moisture and heat movement in and out.
Lighter tights with a more porous fabric design are fit to keep you warm but can also let your body breathe through them, making them good for colder temperatures, just not as cold as 20 degrees or less. These types of tights typically require layering which will keep your warm and will also give you the option to remove certain layers if you get too hot while exercising.
Another major factor when it comes to insulation is the waterproofing of the model. If the tights aren’t waterproof (or windproof for that matter) you can choose to get a pair of running pants as well to go on top. That will provide extra temperature control and will eliminate the risk of getting your legs wet from the snow.
Your legs sweat – there is no way around it. They aren’t the most sweat-intensive part of your body but they very well do that, so ensuring that your tights can evacuate the excess moisture in time is essential. There is a fine line that you have to walk on if you want to combine the best of both worlds.
As I previously mentioned, the more breathable a fabric is, the less it will insulate against cold. Still, a wet pair of running tights in a 15-degrees afternoon will feel like running in a frozen pool. That is why you have to vaguely estimate your region’s average temperature and see what you need more – breathability or high-levels of insulation. Some high-end models offer the best of both worlds but they are typically far more expensive than the average price.
The type of materials used in your tights will primarily depend on your preference and budget. The most common type of fabric in running tights is a synthetic blend such as Spandex or Rayon. While these are fairly budget and easy to maintain, there are others like cotton that feel far better on your skin. Cotton, however, isn’t the best when it comes to its moisture-wicking properties. That makes it less than ideal for winter running since it can make your legs feel colder due to the excess of moisture that has nowhere to go.
Ideally, you want a blend of polyester and nylon with some addition of spandex, elastane, or lycra. The main reason for that is because polyester and nylon are waterproof. They should compose roughly 80-90% of the tights while elastane or other elastic bounding fabrics should form the remaining 10-20%.
Water and Wind Resistance
This may come as a shocker to you but water resistance isn’t the most vital feature of a pair of winter running tights. While waterproofing is nice for very moist environments, most tights are designed to keep you warm even when slightly wet, be it from sweat or outside sources. Wind resistance, however, is an absolute must, especially if you’re running with only your tights on without any pants on top. Tights that aren’t waterproof will definitely be an improvement from normal running shorts but that effect will quickly disappear when it gets windy outside. The wind will penetrate them easily and take your body heat away from them. This is why wind resistance is oftentimes better than insulation. A well-insulated pair of tights will be good on its own but without wind resistance, it can easily be rendered useless in adverse weather.
Even if you aren’t running every day, you know how essential comfort is when it comes to your running gear. From the shoes you pick to the things you are wearing, everything makes a difference when you are exercising outside.
The comfort of your tights will determine how easy it is to run with them. Look for soft, stretchy non-restrictive materials that won’t slide down every time you get down to warm up and stretch your legs. Always make sure to have a bit of extra materials around the knee area to avoid fighting against the tights with your knees when running.
All of the above-mentioned factors also play a major role in the overall comfort. The type of materials used, moisture-wicking properties, wind resistance, waterproofing, and breathability are all essential to your comfort and should be taken into account here.
Ease Of Movement
This is a bit hard to determine if you are shopping online but ideally, a pair of running tights should be cut in such a way that it allows your hamstrings and knees to stretch and move freely. This should be one of your first tests after you receive your tights. Move around the room and try stretching your legs to see if there are any areas where the tight is compressing your legs far too much than you’d feel comfortable with. There shouldn’t be any resistance on your knees and between your tights. Also, the waist-line of the tights shouldn’t drop-down when you bend or bring your knees up.
There aren’t many additional features when it comes to running tights but you should look for the few out there nonetheless. Some of the ones I would recommend getting on your model are zips, pockets, and proper draw-strings. Zips on your ankles and waist pockets always make things easier when tucking your socks underneath the tights and if you need to carry something like keys in your pockets. Speaking of pockets, having two of them will always be handy. Trust me, if you think there won’t be anything that you need to put in a pocket, you will most likely be wrong.
Lastly, there are some models out there that come with elastic waistbands as well as drawstrings. That combination works perfectly for layering since you can easily tuck some clothes in it and tight the drawstring when you need to.
Even though tights probably won’t be the most expensive part of your running gear, you should keep the price in mind, as some models can easily get over a hundred dollars thanks to their premium materials and technology used in them. While those models will be great in harsh climates, you wouldn’t generally need them in places that just get mildly cold or have little to no wind.
Now that we’ve gone through some of the most important features that define a good pair of running tights, let’s talk about some of the benefits these bring to your workout…
Benefits Of Running Tights
There are numerous benefits of using running tights no matter the type of weather outside. If you are running in a cold environment, however, you would greatly benefit from a pair of tights that has thermal properties and fits snugly beneath your running pants. Still, here is a list of some of the major benefits you get from a good pair of tights:
- They are a nice addition to your layering gear, keeping your legs warm and moisture-free during your workout
- They provide a comfortable feel
- Tights allow your legs to warm up faster, preventing injuries in the long run
- Running tights typically remove the need for shorts or pants making you feel more flexible and free when running
- They are generally cheaper than pants or shorts
If you want to learn more about clothing and layering during your runs, click here to read my article on what to wear when running in different climates.
Knowing how to choose the best winter running tights is important especially if the cold season is nearing. Make sure you pay special attention to the materials used in them, as well as water and soundproofing. Some additional features like waist drawstrings, pockets, or zippers can also be useful for practicality. As a whole, a good pair of tights would be windproof and warm enough to let you run comfortably without worrying too much about excess sweat.