If you’re a fair-weather runner it’s likely that you’ll have never considered investing in a pair of running tights.
But unlike running jackets, which only really come into their own on the coldest days, a good pair of running tights will come in handy from the milder mornings of autumn to the first signs of spring.
How you wear a pair of running tights is down to personal preference. The majority of pairs are designed to be worn on their own, but if you find the idea of going out in skin-tight leggings somewhat revealing, then you can always wear a pair of running shorts on top – although this will have an impact on breathability.
The aim of running tights is to keep your lower half warm, but not all are made equal. Cheaper pairs are likely to sacrifice breathability for warmth, which can leave you hot and sweaty even if it’s freezing outside.
The best running tights manage to balance sweat-wicking properties while providing protection against the elements, leaving you comfortable throughout. Features to look out for include pockets, reflective detailing and ankle zips (which makes pulling on and taking off that bit easier). Some pairs even offer up water and wind-resistance too.
How we tested
For this article, we tested a variety of men’s winter running tights to find the best you can currently buy. We put the tights through a range of conditions – from mild end-of-summer starts to frosty and wet sessions – and got to see how any marketing claims stacked up. To be considered, the tights had to remain comfortable, breathable and not restrict movement throughout.
The best men’s winter running tights for 2021 are:
Adidas terrex agravic trail running tights
Best: For trail running
Adidas’ Terrex trail running and mountaineering range has quickly become a go-to for all-terrain exploring. Its agravic trail running tights do exactly as they say on the tin, and are the ideal accompaniment for a few hours spent weaving your way around narrow footpaths (or even going off-piste).
The tights are made from a stretchy and breathable blend of polyester and elastane, but it’s the nylon front blocks that make these truly stand out. Not only does the hard-wearing fabric keep your thighs warm from any gusts of wind, but they offer added protection from any brambles or overhanging foliage that might be blocking your path. Their only downfall is the single zipped rear security pocket, but if it’s truly Arctic, you’ll most likely pair your tights with a running jacket anyway.
On tights long
Best: For premium feel
Swiss brand On Running has quickly become the premium brand to buy if you’re in the market for functional-yet-fashionable running kit. When it comes to construction and design its tights are no different to the rest of its range, leaving you with a high-end finish that is fitted without being restrictive, and they are at home in any setting.
Although one of the thinner pairs we tested, they provided a surprising amount of warmth on all but sub-zero days, and here, their compatibility with On’s hybrid or waterproof shorts enabled additional layering if required. The tights are completed with three rear waist pockets – the middle one being big enough for a smartphone. We found the lack of a zipped pocket the only real snag.
Montane men’s thermal trail tights
Best: For wet runs
Winter not only brings with it cold weather, but the rain as well. It can therefore be handy to have a pair of running tights that can handle cooler temperatures and the odd shower. These thermal tights from Montane withstood some light rain during testing and are ideal if you get caught in an unforecasted downpour.
It’s worth pointing out that they’re water resistant rather than fully waterproof, but if you’re going out in torrential rain during the winter months, you’re a lot more hardy than us. A zipped rear security pocket is flanked by two small drop pockets, and, like the Adidas terrex offering (£70, Adidas.co.uk), they feature additional protection against wind on the thighs.
New Balance reflective impact run heat tight
Best: For sub-zero conditions
Running in the depths of winter need not be for the hardiest around. The reflective impact run heat tight can leave your training sessions as enjoyable as a summer one – even if the temperature is below freezing. The tights feature NB heat technology (essentially a micro-fleece lining) that not only kept us warm but comfortable too, thanks to great moisture-wicking abilities. Two drop pockets (one zipped) and a small key compartment make these a great addition to any winter running wardrobe. The tights even include a reflective print from the ankle to the mid-shin to help you stay seen after dark.
Proviz REFLECT360 men’s running leggings
Best: For reflectivity
Proviz is renowned for its reflective capabilities, so it’s no surprise that its leggings were the most eye-catching running tights that we tested after dark. Although a subtle black in the daytime, come nightfall, reflective detailing on both calves and a logo on the hip made us turn heads for all the right reasons. Their only downside was breathability, which was slightly lacking on longer or higher intensity runs. But for a relaxed commute or evening run the multi-purpose leggings were spot on and helped keep the chill at bay while keeping us seen.
Columbia men’s bajada II ankle tight
Best: For milder sessions
We generally find that running shorts are fine for all sessions where the temperature is in double digits. That was until we tried the bajada ankle tights from Columbia. The lightweight trail-running-focused tights were great on those autumnal days when it looks colder outside than it actually is, and you find that you’ve overdressed for what are actually quite mild conditions.
Extremely breathable and with a cut that sits above the ankle, they soon became the tights we gravitated towards in the running kit drawer. It’s worth noting that they came up small, so it might be worth ordering a size larger than you usually do.
The verdict: Men’s winter running tights and trousers
The Adidas terrex agravic trail running tights’ ability to do it all meant that they have become the pair we reach for – whether we’re heading off road or simply pounding the streets. The offering from Columbia was great for the milder conditions of autumn, while the New Balance reflective impact run heat tights are going to get us through any below zero runs over the coming months.
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You’ve got the leggings in the bag – now check out our review of the best running belts for carrying phones, water bottles and keys
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