Manpris Shootout!

Wait… what’s that you say? You’ve been thinking of purchasing some manpris, but are flummoxed by the myriad options available from the various running apparel companies? Don’t be shy, my gender role-bending friend, you’ve come to the right place. Your love affair with 3/4-length tights, affectionately known as manpris, is about to begin. So, read on and let me gently usher you through some of the top choices for trail running on the market today.

Why Manpris?

Some may question the efficacy of the short, tight, pedal pusher, or culotte as I prefer, but I assure you they have their right place in your veritable arsenal of tights. There are some days where tights simply are too warm, and when you crave that extra ventilation and relief around the calves and ankles. That temperature for me is exactly 30-degrees Fahrenheit, and being that nearly every morning last winter and spring hovered around that temperature in my mountain-west locale, the manpris got a lot of play. I loved the extra warmth around my knees while allowing my calves to feel the breeze.

Sure, I was once a doubter of the hot pants, the chic tight, but only the virility-challenged trail runner will allow petty teasing from one’s peers to keep them away from supreme comfort on the trail on those too-cold-for-shorts mornings. Sure enough, your friends will relent, allowing you to join them for runs in public once again. They may even start to become curious about your manpris and secretly try on a pair. Before you know it, you’ll be the trendsetter you were two years ago when you first showed up with arm panties on. So, let’s review!

*All tights reviewed are a men’s size medium unless otherwise noted. The reviewer is 5’10” and weighs 143 pounds.

Pearl Izumi Men’s Ultra 3/4 Tight ($75)

Pearl Izumi Ultra 3/4 tightLike much of Pearl Izumi’s 2013 line, a lot of thought and engineering specific for trail/ultra running was put into the Ultra 3/4 Tight. A slightly heavier poly/elastane blend made these my go-to tights for days where temperatures were around the high 20s and low 30s, and that warmth is accentuated by the slightly longer length of the Ultra 3/4 Tight. The bottom of the tight features mesh inserts over the calf area which offer some ventilation. The waistband has a built-in brief of sorts which means you go commando in these babies. I have had chaffing issues in Pearl Izumi tights with this built-in brief before, but it looks like Pearl used a slightly different cut this time and I didn’t have any chaffage in the nether regions.

Storage is a huge bonus with these manpris and a nice, wide, envelope pocket in the back provided room for my iPhone, camera, or lots of gels. Additionally, two flask pockets sit at an angle on each hip and do not bounce in the slightest. I was able to fit my small camera in these stretchy pockets when I wanted instant access, and they have not stretched out with frequent use.

Pros

  • Storage! One envelope pocket, two flask pockets.
  • Work well in colder temps. A bit of compression.
  • Built-in brief offers good support without pesky panty lines.

Cons

  • None!

Mountain Hardwear Mighty Power 3/4 Tight ($65)

Mountain Hardwear Mighty Power 3_4 tightA great option for warmer or wetter weather, the Mighty Power Tight offers a thin, breathable fabric, a very soft polyester/elastane blend with mesh inserts running down the sides of each leg. Mesh inserts are also sewn in at the back of the knee which provided some additional cooling, and these tights dried very fast in wet conditions. I could wear the Mighty Power Tight on days pushing 55 degrees F when I knew I’d be running up higher where it might get cold and wet. Storage is modest, but I was able to fit a standard-sized gel flask in the back envelope pocket.

Pros

  • Lighter weight with cooling mesh inserts work well on warmer days.
  • Very soft fabric feel.

Cons

  • No compression whatsoever. These are the loosest fitting tights I own. 

Arc’teryx Incendo 3/4 Tight ($75)

Arc'teryx Incedo 3/4 TightThe unfortunate truth about the Incendo 3/4 Tight is that it looks like Arc’teryx discontinued these for the 2013 season. I was not aware of this until sitting down to write the review as I tested these tights for three months. This seems rather unfortunate as Arc’teryx does not have a replacement manpris for 2013. Anyways, the Incendo 3/4 Tight is a fantastic all-around manpris, with a simple design that felt comfortable for hours on the trail. A small, zippered, envelope pocket is all the storage available here, and the space is occupied completely by three Gu gels.

Pros

  • Very comfortable. Flat waistband, no bunching under knees, crotch doesn’t sag.
  • Durable. I took several hard falls on sandstone and the tights look brand new.
  • A bit of compression.

Cons

  • Apparently discontinued for 2013.
  • Least storage of the bunch.

Salomon Endurance 3/4 Tight ($65)

Salomon Endurance 3/4 TightAdvertised to provide a bit of compression, the Endurance 3/4 Tight provided for testing was a size large. So, while I cannot comment accurately on fit, the Endurance Tight was the thinnest and lightest tight of the bunch while still managing to be a bit warmer, especially on windy days, due to the nylon/elastane combination of fabrics. Storage is ample with a large, zippered, envelope pocket in the back and a small mesh pocket on either side. Unfortunately, the side mesh pockets are so shallow that they cannot hold onto gels or a flask while running. I found these pockets useful only for stuffing empty gel wrappers or a small Ziploc baggy full of salt pills.

Pros

  • The wide waistband Salomon is becoming known for.
  • Very lightweight and slightly windproof.
  • Supposedly provides compression in the correct size.

Cons

  • Side pockets are basically useless as gels/flasks bounce out of them. 

And finally… The Best Manpris!

It is nice that price is not a factor here, as all of the manpris are priced between $65 and $75. You’d think we’d get a discount on short pants! Hands down, the 3/4 tight where $75 worth of engineering was incorporated was the Pearl Izumi Ultra 3/4 Tight. With storage options specifically designed for ultrarunning, it was a joy to load up my camera and enough gels for five or six hours of running and not have to take a pack. Additionally, it is nice to have the versatility to wear these tights in colder temps and feel some compression aiding the muscles.

An honorable mention goes to the Arc’teryx Incendo 3/4 Tight, and it is unfortunate to see that they were discontinued for 2013. This tight is very simple, durable, and comfortable. Like the Pearl Izumi Ultra Tight, the Incendo offered some compression while maintaining comfort. Hopefully Arc’teryx brings back a 3/4 tight into their lineup at some point, possibly incorporating additional storage.

Manpris! So hot right now.

Manpri Giveaway

Bryon Powell here. After reading Tom’s manpri roundup and learning that the Pearl Izumi Ultra 3/4 Tight was his favorite, I approached PI about giving away a pair… and they’ve agreed! Guys, to be eligible please submit your favorite photo of another dude running in manpris by the end of next Wednesday, September 18th. We’ll give a pair out to our favorite response.

Tom Caughlan

is iRunFar's Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

There are 74 comments

  1. Mic Medeska

    And just so it can be clear, I had zero interest in 3/4 tights until I read this article and though I'm a proud tight wearer, would never have even considered weaaring a pair. But now that I know they're called "manpris", and I understand the actual use of them… I kind of want a pair. Good article.

  2. Chris

    Yes!! 3/4 Length tights are awesome! I wear them all winter long both running and biking. Only knee deep snow would cause me to wear full length tights.

  3. Martin from Italy

    Timothy Olson was rocking a pair of 3/4 tights during the UTMB. A posted photo on the Live Race here at Irunfar caused a number of negative comments from the western side of the big pond. Here on the eastern side it's normal. Turn up at any trail race, especially in Spring or Autumn, or that it likely to see lower temperatures due to altitude, and you'll see half of the male runners with these.

  4. Jake

    I had horrible chaffing issues with the Pearl Izumi 3/4 ultra tight. If it's bone dry you'll be OK, but any humidity, rain, etc and it gets miserable. I'm talking ultras here, 5+ hours and it gets rough.

  5. Wolf

    Never heard the term 'manpri' before. I love the 3/4 's – been running in them for years- been laughed at and one time some teenage girls followed me taking pics and laughing on a fall afternoon. But who cares I was stoked for the comfort, warmth yet coolness of the 3/4s.

    Manpri lovers unite!

  6. Charlie M.

    Cool people will use their compression calf sleeves to "link up" the exposed skin between ankle and knee. Then it "looks like" you are wearing full tights. But if need be, you can pull the socks down and get some air. Also, when I rock the manpri style I always put a pair of short shorts over the tights, so you can really get the ballerina look just right…

  7. Hone

    It continually amazes me how we as runners keep finding more new ways to look like even bigger dorks. It is already embarrassing enough for me when people find out I run. Now I am gunna have to hear additional heckling when my co-workers see some dork running in "Manpris". I hope this fad burns out quick. It was bad enough when people started wearing arm sleeves.

    1. Tag 14

      I would love to see Hone as a guest columnist for IRF – we definitely take ourselves too seriously sometimes and if anyone has ever read Evan's now defunct blog you'll know what I'm talking about.

      What do you think BP – "Lighten UP Ultrarunners" could be a great addition to your already outstanding site?

      Cheers,

      T

  8. ProGo

    The Pearl Izumi Ultra 3/4 Ultra Manpri's completely rock. I've run all my fall and winter ultra's over the last 2 years (50-100milers)in them and they've been nothing but badass. I'm an Appalachian east coaster and it's humid and nasty here and these have been kickass for every condition when it's cool or cold out. I also ride in these 3/4 tights with my chamois on over them (one manpri to rule them all). Can't say enough about the quality and performance of those. no surprise they topped the list here!

  9. Kim Neill

    Ok, girl here talking…thanks for the review, Tom. I'm passing the info on to my husband. However, I believe culottes are skirts with shorts built in–a term from the 60s that also describes the much improved running skirts (skorts) of late. I love skorts (culottes) and capris. Not that looks are everything, but the grey colored man-pris in this review look….well…not so great. I say stick with the black. Cheers!

  10. Andy

    You guys totally overlooked The North Face Men's GTD Capri Tight, which in my opinion, is top of the class. Ain't no shame in being comfortable in cool weather…

  11. Simon Edwards

    I got a cheap Nike pair to try, and love them, use them on cooler days, they're in my drop bag for when it's time to change into warmer clothing because it's getting dark etc etc… Going to look at some better quality ones for this Autumn/Winter/Spring.

    If you're that embarassed to be out running in something functional, then perhaps you need to think about why you run? I'm not sure it's meant to be a fashion parade?

  12. kIRK

    The Jackie Knicker from Sugoi is one of the industry's best sellers, so they came out with a mens version, the Jack Knicker. Embrace it fellas, they work.

  13. Tom Caughlan

    Kim,

    Lets just say my wife was laughing her ass off while snapping these photos,and I agree that the grey color appears more..well graphic. I've totally gotten over any embarrassment wearing them, but as you can tell, I enjoy poking fun at myself and how serious we can be as runners sometimes. It helps living in an active area where cyclists are usually taking all the fashion risks and my manpris go totally unnoticed. Except for my wife, who laughs at me unconditionally :)

    Thanks for readin.

  14. bmj

    So…honest question (not trolling) to the folks who don't wear manpris: What do you wear when the temps approach (or dip below) freezing? Do you straight from shorts to loose fitting tights/pants?

    Related: has anyone experimented with embrocation on the legs when it is colder? This is popular among some cyclists.

      1. Watoni

        Agree with Bryon. In the 30s I tend to still wear shorts or, gasp, shorts with cycling knee warmers. That way I can also take them off if it warms up and throw them in a pack. Light running shorts over pants, or heavier windproof pants when doing running snow shoes.

        But hey, this is from a guy who used a cycling vest and arm warmers for the first/last 13 miles of his first hundred miler …. I brought jackets but it never got that cold

        1. bmj

          How do you keep the knee warmers up without cycling shorts?

          I'd prefer transitioning straight from shorts to pants, but I've found that when temps hover between 30 and 45, pants are too warm, but my knees are happier with a bit of insulation.

          Also, I love using my old cycling arm warmers. I can understand that some folks don't appreciate the style of wearing them with tank tops (or just sports bras for the ladies), but with a good short sleeve top, they are great for variable conditions.

  15. Melanie

    I don't get why this is such a big deal, and they are perceived as dorky or unacceptable for men. Because…. (gasp) they are stereotypically feminine? Because having (stereotypically) feminine attire or characteristics is somehow bad, or silly… wait, because… why again?

  16. Steve

    Does that mean PI figured out their sizing problem on the Ultra 3/4? I ordered a men's S and they seriously fit my smaller-than-average 11 year old son. He wouldn't be caught dead in them, but I love their Infinity knickers I exchanged for.

  17. Amanda

    Love this (it's nice to get more than just photos of ladies' butts in tights posted places, lol)! Plus capris/manpris rock. Did you mean "shoutout" instead of "shootout"?

  18. Jammin

    due to severe thunderstorms this afternoon, I literally ran in a speedo…..I didn't feel like dealing with the chafe of dripping running shorts

    My fiance happened to see me, she could not stop laughing

    full disclosure, I'm also a distance swimmer, so speedos in public are not new to me

  19. SCottB

    Well, color me clueless… I bought a pair of these (PI, actually) four years ago on the day before an ultra in, of all places, Salt Lake City, UT. I had no idea that I was buying into another mocked class of manhood. In all the times I've worn them I've never had anyone point out to me my alleged ultra-fashion faux pas. I don't know what testosterone-fouled places y'all run in, but here in Montana we're all about live and let run. Criminy, on one of my first runs with the local running group I actually wore a ratty, old, wool sweater and no one gave me grief about it. Loosen up, manly men, repression turned outward becomes opression and nobody needs that.

  20. MikeC AK

    I don't like to hate on all innovation. I would like to personally thank whoever thought of the windproof merino wool unders. They eliminated the dreaded below zero frost nip and after a long day of skiing chafage 'down there'.

    Manpris add no utility and are strange. I like them on women though, something about the female runner's calfs makes it OK with me.

  21. Adam

    I've been wondering why I'm so slow. Now I realize it's because I don't own a $75 dollar pair of lycra shorts. Glad I got that sorted out.

  22. John Knotts

    As a former cyclist, I definitely fell in love with mine, though we always called them "knickers". I'm not a huge fan of lycra these days, but on cold days I'm not sure there's anything better. Function > form.

  23. Jim

    I guess some guys are just a little unsure of their feelings, and lack the self-confidence to wear clothes like this in public.

    Personally I couldn't care less if someone thinks I'm gay or cross-dressing: it's 2013 not 1913, and I'll wear what I like. Their problem, not mine.

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