Like your favorite running wind jacket, hydration vest, or cold-weather hat, you can find one pair of running tights that will serve you well for years.
Not all running tights are created equal, and there are some drastic differences in protection, coverage, features, and price. For this guide, we tested a wide variety of options, from the most recognizable brands in running to some on the fringes of the sport, and from the most burly tights meant for difficult conditions to budget tights that won’t break the bank.
We’ve tested these in conditions that were slightly warm — around 40 degrees Fahrenheit — to downright frigid — below zero degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill. I’ve taken some painful falls in these tights, which is a pretty efficient way to gauge durability. I’ve layered the tights to find out if and when added protection is needed for sensitive areas.
The running tights in this guide offer a good mix of options, so whether your budget is high or low, and your winters mild or extreme, you can find a single pair of tights that should serve most of your cold-weather running needs.
To skip right to a specific pair of tights, click their links below. To learn more about men’s running tights, check out our how-to-choose section, which offers information on selecting your next pair of tights, our answers to the most frequently asked questions about men’s running tights, and information about how we researched and tested products for this article.
- Best Overall: rabbit Pocket Tightz
- Best for Mountain Running: Arc’teryx Trino SL Tight
- Best Budget: Under Armour Fly Fast HeatGear Tights
- Best for Mild Weather: Patagonia Endless Run Tights
- Best for Cold Weather: Gore Wear R5 Gore-Tex Infinium Tights
- Most Comfortable: Janji Groundwork Tight
- Honorable Mention: Norrøna Trollveggen Warmwool2 Stretch Tights
Best Overall: rabbit Pocket Tightz ($100)
With the rabbit Pocket Tightz, rabbit has found the perfect mix of comfort, warmth, and storage, to earn the title of Best Overall Men’s Running Tight. While other tights in this guide might be warmer, less expensive, or easier to find at REI or on Amazon, for runners who want the one tight to meet most or all of your needs, this is it.
Rabbit’s cheeky marketing information refers to the Pocket Tightz as a “magical combination” of polyester and spandex, and they are not exaggerating: this fabric ratio forms one of the softest and most odor-resistant materials of any running tight in this guide. The tights are super soft against the skin, and they don’t need to be laundered after each use.
For daily training runs when a running pack or vest is overkill, but you still want to bring small items like a wind jacket, phone, or sunglasses, I did all of this and more with the Pocket Tightz’s deep dual hip pockets. I take my Patagonia Houdini Jacket on almost every cold-weather run, usually just for long descents on local peaks, or in case the winter wind kicks up. This jacket stores wonderfully in one of the Pocket Tightz side pockets.
Ankle zippers aren’t ubiquitous in running tights, but they should be. The rabbit Pocket Tightz include this useful feature for better layering options and making adjustments when your run is warmer than planned.
This tight is also offered in a fleece option, called the rabbit Pocket Tightz Fleece, but unless you run in colder-than-average conditions, the standard Pocket Tightz should satisfy nearly every runner and winter condition. I found the coverage to be slightly wind protective, but not muggy, which was especially appreciated in the crotch zone.
- Lighter than average
- Loads of storage with three phone-sized pockets
- Wind protective in sensitive zones
- Ankle zips make de-layering or adding breathability easy
- Not quite enough reflectivity for evening running around traffic
- Fabric might be a little too thick for runners accustomed to classic tights
Best for Mountain Running: Arc’teryx Trino SL Tight ($150)
Arc’teryx makes some incredible albeit pricey products in its “SL” (superlight) line. The Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2 shoes were some of my most used shoes in 2021 — read our Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2 review — so I was excited to test another product with the SL moniker.
The Arc’teryx Trino SL Tight is the most mountain-oriented tight in this guide, able to withstand not just cold, but wind, rain, snow, and abrasion from rocks and trees. While the fabric is not very soft against the skin, it offers a level of protection that standard polyester-based running tights cannot.
Using Gore-Tex Infinium fabric, the Trino SL Tight is completely windproof. By Gore’s standards, a fabric can only be considered truly windproof if its air permeability is 1.0 cubic feet per minute or less. At the same time, the membrane technology in Infinium products have billions of pores that the company says are “900 times larger than water vapor molecules,” so even though wind can’t get in, moisture from sweat vapor can easily get out.
Most of my daily training runs involve some sections of road to connect to or get to the trail, and these tights aren’t very accommodating. The fabric is a bit stiff while not skintight, but the tights are very breathable, especially in the calves where Arc’teryx uses Teslin panels.
I love the dual hip pockets. They are discrete but deep enough to hold an iPhone and other similar-sized items. There is no zippered security pocket. I’m six feet, four inches tall and I tested a size medium. The length and slim profile accommodated my shape quite well. With the higher-than-average price, the Arc’teryx Trino SL Tight could be your singular tight to use for other high-energy winter sports, like cross-country skiing.
- The one running tight to take to the mountains in when it’s really cold
- Two external pockets hold a variety of small items
- Extremely light for the incredible protection offered
- Not likely to be a daily tight for road-to-trail runs
- The slim cut is similar to pants, not skintight like traditional running tights
Best Budget: Under Armour Fly Fast HeatGear Tights ($65)
At less than half the price of some models reviewed in this guide, there are some obvious differences in the Under Armour Fly Fast HeatGear Tights. The first is the fabric. It’s not as soft and smooth against the skin as others, the tolerances are a little worse when you’re wiggling into them, and the pocket options are limited to just a single, center zip.
Now, with all of that said, does this inexpensive tight stand up to the others? If what you’re looking for is a reliable, comfortable, and protective layer for cold-weather running, then absolutely!
Under Armour HeatGear is great technology at a much more affordable price than many other brands. And though HeatGear is meant to work best in warm weather, I found the breathability it offers to be very effective for me, as I have a very high sweat rate, even in cold weather. Plus, the material, made of a blend of polyester and elastane, wicks sweat and dries really fast.
As for fit, the fabric tolerances are tight and don’t offer a lot of stretch, so you will want to size up if you’re typically between sizes. That said, once on, the tights really mold to your body, feeling like a second skin with excellent articulation and movement; four-way stretch fabric enables this freedom of movement.
These tights are the only ones in this guide to have true reflective hits, located at the ankles. Some characteristics of these tights almost make them more fitted for road running, but ultimately, they are plenty warm and comfortable for winter trail running as well.
- Exceptional fit, though on the slim side, so size accordingly
- Longer than average inseam for taller runners
- HeatGear fabric is very breathable and excellent at wicking sweat
- Tights have just one very basic, small, zippered pocket
- Drawstring can be irritating against the skin
Best for Mild Weather: Patagonia Endless Run Tights ($100)
If you’ve been using Patagonia bottoms recently, like the Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts, which topped the list of our men’s running shorts buyer’s guide, you’ll have appreciated this one subtle but genius detail: the drawstring is on the outside! The same much-loved detail applies to the Patagonia Endless Run Tights. Some have remarked that putting the drawstring on the outside of a winter garment is not as practical as in summer items, because the strings might get caught against winter jackets with Velcro or trapped in the zipper of your wind jacket. I didn’t find this to be an issue at all.
The Endless Run Tights are light and thin, and I believe these are the running tights for those of us in milder places; they are particularly adept at extending seasonal running from fall to winter to spring. They offer a slightly roomier fit in the legs and hips than traditional running tights, and they work great when layered with running shorts on warmer days. Overall, the tights are very breathable, but with mesh behind the knees, you get even better heat-shedding.
You have to appreciate running apparel that doesn’t need to be washed after every use, and in the Endless Run Tights, Patagonia uses an exceptional odor-fighting textile from HeiQ. It’s a great value-add that doesn’t contribute to a lot of extra cost, and it’s one that Patagonia employs to decrease the resources used in home washing machines. How does it work? The silver-based antimicrobial fabric kills odors before they have the chance to build up.
These tights are highly breathable, but still warm enough to wear in a wide range of cold temperatures. With excellent styling and color options, and costing $100, the Endless Run Tights are an excellent investment that will serve you well for many seasons of cold-weather running.
I loaded these tights with a packable wind jacket and an iPhone, and found the storage to be above average. And the tights ride very well when the drawstring is cinched. The looser nature of these tights, along with carrying items in both pockets, will force the waist to sag a little, but tightening the drawstring fixes most of this bounce.
- Thin, light, and loose enough to layer with shorts when needed
- Exterior drawstring reduces waist irritation
- HeiQ odor control reduces the need to frequently launder
- Some users in very cold climates might find the fabric to be too thin
- The looser fit may bother runners who prefer skintight running apparel
Best for Cold Weather: Gore Wear R5 Gore-Tex Infinium Tights ($140)
Whether it’s the high price or lack of distribution, Gore Wear running apparel seems conspicuously absent from the brands we regularly reference in trail running. But we no doubt rely on Gore-Tex fabrics in our jackets, particularly as an ingredient in other outdoor pieces, so it was excellent to test the Gore Wear R5 Gore-Tex Infinium Tights to see how they rate against other less-proven fabrics.
As expected, the premium price tag matches the premium performance of the tights. These are not as mountain-specific as the Arc’teryx Trino SL Tight, but they are built to withstand nearly any level of cold and type of weather you will reasonably encounter.
These tights are not fleece-lined or made of thick wool, yet they are the tights I use on the coldest of cold runs. The composition is 92% polyester and 8% elastane, so it’s not super soft against the skin, but the warmth the tights hold is supreme compared to softer tights or thick fleece, for example.
Breathability is very good and moisture management is excellent. The inseam is longer than average at about 32 inches, which I appreciated for my six-foot, four-inch frame; this is balanced well by the tightly fitted form, which isn’t loose in the waist or around the knees.
There are a few less-positive details in these tights compared to some others reviewed in this guide. There are ankle zippers, but pulling the tights on or off over my size 13 shoes was not easy at all. There is a zippered rear center pocket, but only one hip pocket, which is deep enough but not wide enough to fit a plus-sized iPhone.
The drawstring seems like an afterthought; the material is not very soft against the skin and the strings easily slip back into the waistband, making you frustratingly have to dig them out by hand.
- Wonderfully breathable and protective Gore-Tex Infinium fabric
- Special wind protection panels in sensitive areas like the knees and groin
- Water-resistance helps buffer snow and sloppy trail conditions
- Long inseam for tall and slim runners
- Deep hip pocket is just slightly too narrow for a plus-sized iPhone
- Too warm for milder climates
- Below average drawstring
Most Comfortable: Janji Groundwork Tight ($88)
Like rabbit, Janji is a new brand that has gathered a ton of momentum with trail runners thanks to their high-quality apparel and commitment to human rights. The Janji Groundwork Tight uses the highest percentage of nylon in any of the tights here and doesn’t use polyester, which is also rare, in that almost every other tight in this guide does. This fabric composition results in the most comfortable tight I reviewed, and it doesn’t skimp on any of the other factors we enjoy like cold protection, ease of movement, stretch, and storage.
Like many of the other tights in this guide, I stretched the testing conditions over a wide range of conditions from 20 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The Groundwork Tight is rated to as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s the wide range of temperatures that they can handle that is very appreciated.
What’s also appreciated, along with the super-comfortable fabric, is the category-leading depth of the dual hip pockets, which are about an inch longer than the second deepest I tested, and it makes stuffing items on the run simple.
- The most comfortable fabric tested
- Thoughtful and excellent storage options
- Flatlock seams are very durable and strong in areas of potential abrasion
- Odor becomes a problem more quickly than with other tights
Honorable Mention: Norrøna Trollveggen Warmwool2 Stretch Tights ($170)
Norrøna is an unlikely brand to show up on a running website such as iRunFar; the Norwegian company has roots in mountain sports like skiing and trekking. But they have quietly designed one of the better running tights I’ve ever used. There’s a Viking logo on the thigh for goodness sake — these tights must be warm!
The Norrøna Trollveggen Warmwool2 Stretch Tights are perhaps overbuilt for most training runs, but if your conditions are especially brutal and snowy, these are the tights you need. The one caveat with the cold protection is severe wind; in testing the tights in the notoriously windy Rocky Mountain National Park of Colorado, a tailwind sent cold air straight onto my bum and the backs of my legs.
They are very comfortable; perhaps the lack of wind protection is due to the highly stretchable material and the breathability. Norrøna claims that for other sports besides running, it is really a midlayer. The fabric is made of a polyester and wool mix and provides great temperature regulation.
There are two more standout features of these tights that are rarely found in running tights. First, there are full-length zippers on both legs, making them super easy to take on and off, particularly when you’re freezing, and pulling them off of your calves and over your ankles is difficult with cold hands. Second, the tights have a zipper fly. This is an awesome small detail to limit skin exposure to cold air while urinating.
- Very durable and extremely warm
- Running-specific fit makes for excellent mobility
- Unique details set these tights apart from the rest
- Warmwool2 material is very odor resistant
- Purpose-driven tights for very cold weather
- Lack of wind protection is surprising given the quality material and cost
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose Men’s Running Tights
Warmth is a key component of running tights, and the classic running tight is very straightforward in this respect. Many of us have worn basic tights from popular road running brands for years, and they serve us well for keeping us warm in cold weather.
But for brands in the trail running and ultrarunning categories, the features vary wildly from the road. Trail running brands, for example, emphasize warmth just like their road counterparts, but integrate technical fabrics that additionally stand up to abrasion, wind, and snow.
The material in the tights we reviewed varies from fleece-lined to polyester, from spandex to Gore-Tex, and from nylon to wool. Each offers varying levels of warmth and wind protection.
The best way to think about choosing running tights based on warmth is to consider the particulars of your environment and how cold weather affects you. In Boulder, Colorado, where I live, it’s very common to have a snowstorm one day, followed by bright sunshine the next. This has a huge effect on how I choose my cold-weather running clothing, and I prefer tights that can be layered to adjust for these wild temperature swings.
Almost all modern running tights utilize a mix of polyester and another material like nylon, spandex, or elastane. These same materials are used in running shorts, so it’s no surprise that running tights offer terrific breathability like their summer-season counterparts. The only instance where I found breathability comparatively lacking is with Gore-Tex fabrics like Infinium.
Although it’s incredible how well Gore-Tex fabrics breathe given the fact that they are designed to be waterproof, they are just not as breathable as polyester-based tights. Most runners will find polyester tights satisfactory, but runners in particularly wet weather might want to invest in Gore-Tex tights, sacrificing a bit of breathability for weather protection.
For added breathability, look for tights with mesh at the back of the knees and the back of the waistline.
It was surprising to find such a wide variety of fit on these tights we tested. You would think a standard running tight would simply be form-fitting and snug against the body, but the styles we tested ran the gamut from skintight to loose enough to layer a pair of shorts underneath. Each has a drawstring that becomes necessary when the tights are loaded down with accessories.
The inseam on men’s mediums is generally 26 to 28 inches, which is long enough for my six-foot, four-inch frame. The waist size on these tights is usually 30 to 32 inches.
Always refer to the brand’s sizing guide for each model of tights you are considering in order to ensure your correct fit.
If you buy tights from a reputable running brand, they will cost a little more than running shorts. You can find tights on Amazon from $20 on up, but we chose to source samples from the most common and trusted brands in the sport.
The best budget-priced tights we tested and included in this guide cost $65, the Under Armour Fly Fast HeatGear Tights. Though they are made with nontechnical materials, have limited storage options, and include no extras like ankle zips or a phone-sized pocket, these tights remain a great budget option for their basic performance capacity. They will leave you far less protected from harsh winter elements than some of the more expensive options we tested, like the $149 Arc’teryx Trino SL Tight.
Before purchasing, you should also consider how else you might use your tights for other sports, as many of us invest in a single pair that we also use for hiking and cross-country skiing.
Waistband Width and Material
All the tights in this guide include a drawstring waistband, which is particularly useful since so many of them accommodate a rather large amount of storage. With the looser tights in this guide, like Patagonia Endless Run Tights and the Arc’teryx Trino SL Tight, even when empty, I needed to tighten and cinch the drawstring to keep them from sagging.
Waistbands on running tights can be particularly bothersome, because the drawstring can be irritating against the skin. Many of the tights drawstrings in this guide were indeed a little irritating, but with some repositioning or tucking in your shirt, the problem is mostly alleviated. Patagonia gets extra credit for addressing this issue. Their running tights — and shorts as well — have a drawstring on the outside of the waistband, completely eliminating that rubbing effect.
Men’s tights don’t vary much in the size of their waistband and generally have a low-set waist, unlike the common higher waist on women’s apparel. Men’s tights sit middle to low on the hips, very similar to a running short.
Four of the seven tights in this guide have two deep hip pockets, and they’re a much appreciated feature. I don’t normally run with my phone, but for the sake of testing, I tried each of these hip pockets for phone compatibility and they are all excellent, even for a plus-sized iPhone.
What’s more useful to me, was using these pockets for storing a jacket and food. Consider the size of a large iPhone, and extrapolate out the similar-sized accessories that these pockets can accommodate. For example, I would take a Patagonia Houdini Jacket and a sub-16-ounce soft bottle, and want a place to store my gloves, hat, and fuel. Many of the tights, however, lack a secure zipper pocket for your car key.
If managing odor is a concern and you are trying to cut back on washing, many of the tights in this guide have natural or synthetic odor control, and it’s very refreshing to use your running gear day after day without bacteria or smells forming.
Ankle zips are less common on tights from trail running brands, but several companies do include them. This is an especially useful feature when pulling tights off over your shoes if you’re using the tights for warming up and then switching to shorts or capris for the majority of your run, or if you’re headed uphill in shorts and need to don pants in more exposed high-altitude terrain.
Why You Should Trust Us
This buyer’s guide began with extensive research, where we found about 25 pairs of men’s running tights from reputable trail running brands, along with others more common in road running or athleisure categories. To whittle down the list, we looked at the following criteria: price, features, weight, degree of cold protection, style, and comfort.
Testing occurred in Colorado from the 5,500- to 8,000-foot local peaks, and in the Rocky Mountains with elements ranging from sub-zero wind chill to pleasant 40-degree Fahrenheit runs in the sunshine.
When considering cost, we looked at how adaptable the tights were for other active cold-weather sports, where they might be cross utilized. As you might expect from trail running brands, their products are advertised as such: what’s great for trail running is also great for cross-country skiing, hiking, or winter climbing.
In the end, we picked a clear winner that excelled best across our testing criteria. Others were chosen for their singular advantage among the criteria like extreme warmth, best fabric, and so forth.
Frequently Asked Questions About Men’s Running Tights
When is it too cold for shorts?
This preference will vary among us, but in general, exposed knees can be problematic for athletes in the cold. Whether it’s the barometric pressure causing the knee joint to expand, or the synovial fluid to become more viscous, the general rule is that your knees should be covered when it’s 50 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
Running tights, compared to shorts or even capri tights, are more equipped to handle exposure to the cold, especially when combined with wet weather or wind.
Are running tights the same as running pants or joggers?
Running tights will vary a bit on just how tight they are against the skin, usually erring toward being tighter than running pants or joggers. In general, running tights will offer superior warmth and wind protection via specific fabric and features use.
Running pants are generally looser and not as warm, while joggers are generally heavier, less breathable, and better suited to cross training, gym workouts, and lounging.
Do I need winter-specific running tights?
“Winter specific” is not a descriptor you’re likely to see when choosing a pair of tights. Some brands provide guidance on what temperature their tights are best suited for. For instance, the Janji Groundwork Tight is said to accommodate 15 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
In general, you should consider heavier-weight materials like softshell or wool for very cold climates. Many of us can get by with more traditional nylon or polyester blends when our days typically hover around 30 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
What tights should I wear in super-cold wind or rainy weather? What tights do I need for mild winter or fall days?
Water-resistant tights for really wet weather are recommended, and because options exist with very breathable Gore-Tex fabric blends, you won’t be suffering from clammy or soggy legs like you might in, say, a fully waterproof nylon pant.
Sometimes mild winter weather — where it’s cold enough to layer up but mild enough that you generate significant heat and sweat on the run — is the trickiest for which to dress! In these conditions, leaning on a pair of tights that breathes well will make your running most comfortable.
Call for Comments
- What are your favorite men’s running tights?
- How many months out of the year do you end up running in tights?
- Are there any elements in particular that you look for in a good cold-weather tight?