If you’re looking for the best running tights to compliment the rest of your running apparel while protecting you from the elements, here’s our top choices.
Running tights can sometimes make you look like a wannabe superhero. They cling closely to your body and come in crazy, bright colors. But, having the best running tights can help you while you’re training to shave a few seconds off your PR or when you’re attempting to run further than you ever have.
What Are the Benefits of Running Tights?
Running tights serve multiple purposes. Let’s look at some of the best things about them.
They keep you warm: When you’re trying to train in cool or cold weather, tights are your best friend, even if you don’t like the looks of them. They keep you warm while adding little weight. Plus, they help suck sweat away from your body, which keeps you feeling dry on your runs.
They protect you from the sun: Runners need to be vigilant about how much time we spend in the sun and what steps we’re taking to protect ourselves from sun damage and skin cancer. Tights are longer than the traditional running shorts many people wear, so they naturally offer more sun protection.
They compress: If you go for compression tights, you’ll be getting increased support and circulation for your legs. That might make your legs less tired so you can run longer or it might cut down on how sore you feel the next day.
They have less wind resistance: If your go-to winter running outfit is a bulky pair of sweatpants, you should give running tights a trial run. They should have less wind resistance than a fabric that is thicker and not as form-fitting. Maybe it will shave a few seconds off your run, maybe it won’t, but it’s definitely worth the try.
What Should I Look For in Running Tights?
When you’re looking at running tights, you’re going to find a wide variety of products, with varying quality. You could love one pair of tights you try and absolutely hate the next.
But, because tights are so different, you have to put a lot of thought into what you expect out of them. If you hate running while wearing belts, for instance, you’ll need one that has pockets so you’ll have some place to stash your keys.
To help you run happily ever after, you should consider these factors before buying a pair of tights.
How much do coverage you want: Do you want tights that go down to your ankles? Or, do you prefer a capri length instead? Look at the temperature you’ll be doing most of your running in and decide upon the length you’ll want your tights to be based on that.
How much you’re willing to spend: You can find affordable brands of running tights. But, you can also put a serious dent in your disposable income for the month if you buy a more expensive pair. Look at your budget and only spend the amount you’re comfortable with, but just remember -- cheap tights typically don’t hold up very well long term.
How high you want the waist to go: Running in low-rise running tights is an exercise in futility for many runners. While some seem to prefer this height, others hate the feeling that their pants are falling down with every step they take. If you don’t want most of your cardio to come from your efforts to pull up your pants, go for a high-rise waistband.
What the right size is for you: Accidentally buying tights that are, well, too tight can make you feel awful about yourself. If you’re stretching the limits of what spandex can do, you’re going to feel constricted during your run. And, you’ll also feel like people are watching you with every step you take.
If you want a key pocket: Some tights include a small pocket in the waistband for a key, but some don’t. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, look for a pair that has a pocket for your stuff.
Figure out if the world will get a show when you bend over: Some running tights aren’t giving you as much coverage as you think they are. During some races, people will be wearing what appear to be normal-looking tights, but you might notice their underwear when they bend over to tie their shoes. That’s not a good look for anyone, so you may want to make sure your tights aren’t see-through.
What is the seam like: Your tights may be perfect in every way, but if they have a large, uncomfortable seam, you won’t want to run while wearing them. They will hurt you with every step you take by rubbing against you uncomfortably.
How reflective are they: While running, do you want to blend into the scenery or do you want to stand out? Standing out might make you safer. Running can be a dangerous hobby when motorists on the road don’t see you coming and reflective clothing can help you stand out.
Five Best Running Tights
These running tights are made out of 90% polyester and 10% spandex, which gives you a great stretch and a very form-fitting pair of pants.
They’ll keep you looking sleek while you’re on your runs and they’ll keep you warm, whether you’re on a short run or if you’re on a longer one.
- These are breathable, so you’ll feel air circulating to help you cool down when running, which is important, even on cold days.
- The fleece inside the tights makes them warm enough to use on cold days, despite how thin they are.
- They have small areas of reflectivity which will help you with visibility.
- You won’t have to struggle for five minutes to put these on because they have leg zippers which make it easier.
- They are affordable.
- They have a back zip pocket that keeps small belongings secured on your run.
- The flat lock seams shouldn’t irritate your legs.
- The waistband comes with a cord so that way if they are a little too loose, you can make them tighter -- that’s really nice, considering some tights lose their elasticity once you wash them.
- Some people may not like the extra material that gathers in the ankle area and knees.
- The durability of these tights isn’t great.
If you like standing out in a crowd, you may want to check out these tights. They come in three different colors, including a neon orange that will make you highly visible to all onlookers while you’re running.
These tights are also made out of 90% polyester and 10% spandex.
- These can be cleaned in a washing machine, which is wonderful for runners who get tired of having to hand wash their gear.
- The tights will dry faster when your body heat increases.
- They have flat lock seams that will guard you against painful chafing.
- You’ll get a compression fit with these tights, which is nice if you want some added support.
- They have a drawstring, so you’ll find the perfect fit.
- They have a reflective logo, so even if you go with the basic black option, you’ll have a little extra visibility.
- They aren’t see through, which is nice for runners who are concerned about showing off their running form instead of their backside.
- They run a bit on the small side.
- These are so lightweight that they won’t be great to wear on really cold days, but you’ll likely enjoy them in the fall or mild winter days.
Runners who are always struggling for a place to put their gear should love this pair of capri-length running tights. They have large built-in four-inch zipper pockets in the front and back.
If you don’t like having a higher waistband, you can simply flip it down to convert it to a lower-rise waistband.
- Both the pockets are water resistant, so if it starts raining on your run, you won’t have to look for the nearest shelter to protect your phone.
- It uses a four-way stretch fabric for added comfort while giving you compression too.
- These tights are moisture wicking.
- They won’t be see through, even if you stop to tie your shoes.
- These are versatile enough that they can be worn in casual situations, even when you aren’t running.
- It’s easy to get things in and out of these pockets so you can change songs on your phone when you need to.
- These run small -- you may need a bigger size than usual.
- They only run up to size 12, so if you’re a bigger runner, you may be out of luck with this brand.
These compression leggings may help you feel less sore after long runs and could help your blood circulation too. Increased blood circulation can help you warm up quicker.
- These leggings are made with an anti-itch material, which is nice for runners, especially if you frequently feel itchy during your runs when you wear other leggings.
- If you travel to races, these can also help reduce the swelling you can get from traveling on airplanes or from sitting for extended car rides.
- They hold up well after multiple washes, keeping their original shape.
- They use an antibacterial material to keep odor away.
- These are thin enough that you can wear them under other pants to use as a base layer if it’s extremely cold outside or if you just need the extra compression on a day-to-day basis.
- You’ll get your choice of multiple colors.
- Over time, these seem to lose their warmth, which might bother you if you are using these for running in colder temperatures.
- These tights may be a bit too long for some runners -- there seems to be some extra material.
- They seem to be abnormally tight in the waist.
These eye-catching tights are made out of 87% polyester and 13% spandex. They are form fitting without appearing to be so tight that other people will be able to see every pantyline you have.
- These have an inner storage pocket, so you can carry small items with you during your run.
- They have six color choices you can choose from and many of them have a big block of brighter fabric running down the leg, so you will be super visible on your runs.
- They all have a reflective logo on the hip and reflective taping on the side panel.
- These have a zippered ankle, so they are easier to put on.
- The material is so soft that they’ll feel comfortable.
- The tights are thin enough that they will feel lightweight on your runs.
- They also have a drawcord at the waistband, so you can find the proper fit.
- The fabric is quick dry, meaning you won’t have uncomfortable runs in soggy clothes.
- These are a bit see through, so you might want to wear them with a longer running shirt.
- The zippers by the ankles can cause some irritation.
And the Winner Is …
Champion Men’s Vapor running tights are one of the best running tights you can find. While they don’t have a ton of color selections, you can get basic black ones to go with any shirt and you can also opt for bright orange ones that give you superior visibility.
The fact that these can be machine washed and will still hold their shape is one of my favorite things about them. Runners want to be out there on the streets and trails, not stuck in their house hand washing their gear.