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)

Like 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)

A 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)

The 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)

Advertised 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.

View Comments (74)

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • The preferred term is not "manpri". It is CAPRO!

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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...

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  • 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.

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    • Embrace it and laugh at them knowing you will live a better longer life

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    • +1 on this. A friend gave me some of these panties and I have worn them but never in daylight hours.

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    • 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

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      • Long live the Alaskan Assassin of 1000 Oaks.

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      • +1. His blog was awesome and always had me laughing.

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  • 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!

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  • I guess its time to find another sport.

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  • 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!

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  • WILL NOT WEAR - Would rather run in a Speedo.

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  • 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...

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    • Good enough for Hal, good enough for me.

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  • 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?

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  • I have fun watching them. It's only embarrassing when I join the crowd at the race.

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