There are two types of human being on this planet. There are the people who look outside at wintry weather, brew a hot beverage and decide to stay indoors. And then there are runners.
Runners run. Come rain, come shine, come winds that strip the flesh off the bone and the will to live out of the heart. The difference (pending psychological evaluations) is that runners know how to prepare for the weather. It’s really not rocket science.
Brr, cold – reach for the running tights, and much else besides. Job done, warm-up, stretch what stretches rather than snapping, and off you go for your run.
Running tights are key elements to the whole ‘winter running’ vibe across the sex and gender spectrum. Nobody cares what you’re packing or what you do with it.
Tights are about wearing less (for running efficiency) and staying warmer, so your muscles don’t seize up and leave you weeping in pain on the snow-covered sidewalk. If you’re gonna pull a macho, you should probably make yourself a second beverage and we’ll see you when we get home.
So – running tights for men? We’re in. But if you’re going to wear them, you’re going to want to wear the best available running tights for men within your price range, right?
We – and we’ve probably never meant this more literally – have got you covered.
Just in case you’re new to running, tights, being a man, or any combination of the three, we’re going to take you through the basics of why you should wear tights, when you should wear tights, how to wear tights, and – oh, Mama – just how properly tight they should be, before we lay out the 12 best running tight options for men.
If you already know all that and are just hot for the reviews, you should feel free to Skip To The Best Part.
The rest of us are going to do a few lunges and have ourselves a little tights warmup session.
When To Be Men In Tights
Obvious Statement #1 – You can wear running tights… any time you run. What changes is the type of running tights you wear. If you go outside in shorts and go “Brr!” – break out the heavier, fleecier, thermo-tights, their day has come.
If you’re running in Florida and it’s 90 in the shade with higher humidity than Hell’s steam room, time to break out the mega-sweat-wicking tights with the UPF 50+ protection.
Some people actually ponder whether it’s ever cold enough to wear muscle-warming, thermo-tights.
Yes. Yes, it is.
Frankly, you can start getting into your thermally comforting tights at anything under 39 degrees F. 30s. If you’re pushing it down into 20 degrees territory, you’re going to want to add to your tights with an ensemble – shorts to start with.
Shorts won’t really add a great deal to the heating potential of your tights though, so as the temperature plummets into the frankly Canadian, you’re going to want to add a looser leg-layer (create a lasagne feature, with air pockets insulating your legs from the wind-chill) on top of your tight…erm…tights.
Don’t go too crazy – you still want to be able to run effectively and without feeling weighed down, and you also don’t want to create sweat-traps behind the knee, because both “Eww” and “Aaaargh!”
The Chafing is strong in this combo. But between 39F and “Oh, look – polar bears!” you should sensibly add to the layers you wear, so that you can still run and stay healthy.
In terms of what kind of exercise to do in your tights, you have a free hand and relatively toasty buns. If it’s not that cold out there that the neighbors are twitching their drapes and muttering “He’s not really going to do this, is he?”, you can just use them to do your warmup session, and then change out of them for your main run.
What the heck good is that?
Well, the point of a warmup is to get everything flowing that should be flowing, and stretching that should be stretching.
Wearing your tights for the warmup session will improve your circulation and get the blood flowing much faster in chilly conditions than shorts alone will do.
That means that by the time your warmup is over, you’re productively warmed up, and it will help prevent everything from pulled muscles to hypothermia.
If, on the other hand, you want to wear your tights for the whole of your run, you can certainly do you and keep your muscles warmed up and supple throughout the run, as long as the tights stay comfortable and don’t overheat you under harder, faster running conditions.
How To Wear Running Tights
On your legs and waist.
No, really, that’s about the only rule. If you want them to warm up your leg and butt muscles, don’t wear them on your head. Beyond that, whether you wear them on their own, under shorts, or even, as some people do, over shorts, everything’s OK in the best of all possible running worlds.
They’re your shorts, your tights, and your leg muscles. Bottom line, as long as you wear the tights on your legs, you’re pretty much good to go.
Is there an optimum way to wear running tights? Arguably not – the optimum way for you is whatever makes you feel most comfortable, most warm in cold weather, and helps you with your running.
Traditional ways are either just on their own, or with shorts over the tights, but if you get a really good pair of tights, the shorts are mostly for convenience, arguable modesty, and pockets. They’re not going to add substantially to the degree of warmth supplied to your muscles.
If you’re running in hot weather tights, you’re probably going to want to add shorts too, because hot weather tights are designed more like underwear first and foremost than anything you’re going to want to display.
How Tight Should Your Running Tights Be?
Sausage links. How tight do you want the casing on your sausage? Well, you want it tight enough that nothing moves inside that shouldn’t be moving. But you don’t want it so tight that if things start getting hot, it bursts.
Weird metaphor, sure, but it more or less holds true for running tights. You want them tight enough for hold, but not tight enough to strangulate, restrict or cramp. Bottom line, can you use your natural running gait? If you can’t do that, that’s Clue #1 that your tights are too tight.
If you go running in new tights and start to get muscle cramps where previously, you would have been cramp-free and loving life, that’s Clue #2.
Tight but comfortable is the balance you’re looking for.
The Twelve Best Men’s Running Tights
So now you know the whens, the whats, and the wherefores, let’s check out the top twelve best men’s running tights on the market right now.
OUR TOP PICK
Under Armour HeatGear 2.0 Leggings
- Tough, lightweight HeatGear fabric with UA compression
- The material wicks away sweat and dries fast
- 4-way stretch construction lets you move in unrestricted ways, for effective running
Under Armour’s lightweight HeatGear 2.0 fabric gives you good compression while it keeps your muscles warm and your temperature cool.
Sweat is wicked away and dries quickly, because clammy and steamy’s a bad look on any runner, and also leads to chafing issues. You want no part of that drama, so wick away, wick away, wick away, running man.
Add to that sweat-wicking game a construction that gives you strategic ventilation and keeps the abrasion hot-spots free of seams, and you have yourself a durable, highly effective pair of running tights.
One word of warning – unlike some running tights, the construction of the Under Armour Heatgear 2.0 classes them as underwear, so it’s definitely best to top these off with a pair of running shorts. Your neighbors will thank you.
DEVOPS 2 Pack
- All season use
- Sweat is wicked away quickly
We’ve focused on running tights as an aid to warming up the muscles on colder training days, but in a big country with lots of different climates round the year, DEVOPS brings you running tights you can use around the country, around the calendar.
Sweat and moisture are quickly and easily wicked away, to help you keep running in maximum comfort, and for sunshine runners, the DEVOPS tights also bring UPF 50+ protection, so you won’t get sunburn through your leggings.
Add a construction that includes anti-abrasion Spandex for flexibility and ease of movement and you have running tights that help you push through barriers of inconvenience and keep on running.
And for the ultimate convenience option, you can choose either a non-pocket version if you’re chiefly going to use them under shorts, or a version with pockets for your wallet, phone, keys, etc if you’re going mostly tights-only.
- Exceptional elasticity
- High-performance compression
- Rapid sweat-wicking
Roadbox compression tights deliver excellent support throughout the muscle groups most exercised on a run.
From the hips to the quads, to the hamstring and the calf, good compression means support, fluidity of movement, and more instinctive running.
In turn, that means the Roadbox tights help you reduce muscle fatigue, tightness, and soreness, even after long running sessions.
As with many of the best men’s running tights, the seam design in the Roadbox tights protects against rubbing and chafing.
Combining lightweight fabric with sweat-wicking properties, they give you the best of both worlds, reinforcing their all-year-round effectiveness.
- Muscle compression guards against cramps and seizures
- Clever use of inseam options
The Under Armour ColdGear compression leggings give you more options than many running tights on the market. Most will come in a range of sizes, depending entirely on your waist measurement.
Granted, there’s a sense in that – you need to be able to wear them comfortably and without slippage. But by offering a range of inseam options in addition to the waist sizes, the ColdGear compression leggings cater to runners with longer legs too. That means you don’t have to make do with tights that ride up at the ankle.
The ColdGear variant of the HeatGear tights that topped our list is more definitively for cold weather use, while still delivering effective sweat-wicking to keep you comfortable from step #1 to the end of your run.
- High compression
- Effective moisture-wicking
- Pocket option
Runhit’s leading offering in the running tights market delivers high compression through elastic bands at both the waist and thigh.
They can be easily folded back to fit and work comfortably. Effective moisture-wicking means the tights don’t stick to you on warmer runs and don’t feel clammy on colder ones. That gives you a more comfortable experience whatever the temperature.
Unlike many of even the leading running tight designs, the Runhit comes with a substantial pocket for even today’s larger smartphones, along with credit cards, phones, or whatever else you might need to make your run more enjoyable.
A great all-purpose pair of running tights that never pull focus from the exercise, but also help it feel like a more human, involving experience, the Runhit tights are budget-friendly but punch above their weight.
- Fleece lining makes for hardcore cold weather performance
- Leg zippers for easy on and off tights
- Reflective accents for night and twilight safety
BALEAF thermal running tights give you their chief benefit right there in the name. These are hardcore cold-weather running tights, that even include a fleecy lining to protect against the lower temperatures that can seize or stiffen your muscles.
As such, the BALEAF thermal leggings are among the best cold-weather options you have when you’re looking to run in colder temperatures.
The BALEAF options are also easy to get on and take off, thanks to leg zippers that take most of the hard work out of running tights.
Using a 90/10 polyester/Spandex mix, the BALEAF tights mean you still have a lot of elastic flexibility, with a boosted durability factor to keep you running winter after winter.
Meanwhile, flatlock seams reduce the risk of chafing during running. You’ll never say “It looks cold out there, I can’t go running” again.
- Powerful compression
- Rapid moisture-wicking
- Help with recuperation after injury
The CW-X Performx tights deliver the best of both worlds.
First, they give outstanding compression and support to your muscles while you’re running. But they also help protect your vulnerable joints – hips, knees, etc – during higher impact running.
If you’re a runner who needs to buy shares in Kinesio tape, the CW-X Performx tights might well be the answer to your join-aching prayers. Targeted compression gives you relief in the knees, quads, and hips.
Additional compression running down the length of the tights makes these some of the most supportive tights you can buy. That makes them especially useful if you have previous running injuries and are looking to not get hurt again.
- Budget-friendly price-point
- Available in tall options
Sometimes, you don’t need hypersensitive rights with heart rate monitors linked to global data through a phone app.
Sometimes, you just need a pair of reliable, stretchy tights that will give you some muscle compression but basically just keep you warm and running.
On those days, grab a pair of ASICS essentials. Basic tights that do a basic job…basically. And indeed, ASICally…
One notable benefit of the ASICS essentials is that they’re available in a variety of length fittings, which again is useful to the longer-legged runners in the field.
And by keeping its offering basic and effective, ASICS has been able to maintain a budget-friendly pricing-point for its Essentials tights.
- Great running tights for newcomers to the sport
- Breathable material means good moisture control
Salomon has a longstanding reputation in trail running gear. That means it knows a thing or two about keeping runners comfortable on longer, more challenging runs.
A lot of that experience has gone into the company’s Agile running tights. In particular, the breathable fabrics in the Agile’s construction allow for hot air to pass away from the skin without forming so much moisture, and so the tights keep you comfortable and chafing-free, however long you run.
- Windproofing panels
- Warm air venting through breathable fabric
You rarely find products like running tights for especially windy conditions. Hot sun, yes. Cold environments, yes.
But the Gore R3 windstopper tights have your name on them if you like to run in…well, not to descend to stereotypes, but places like Chicago. Run the Windy City, buy yourself some R3s, so the random gusts of bone-stripping wind don’t hamper your running session.
The R3s have specially designed protective panels at front and back, so whether you’re running into the wind or pushed along by it, it won’t chill you to the point of shuddering and muscle-cramp.
That doesn’t mean you get moisture-trapping tights, though the fabric of the tights is still breathable, letting warm air out before moisture droplets have the chance to form.
Your best friend around the country on chillier fall and spring days which are too cold for shorts but too warm to go full-on thermal tights, the R3s are a relatively lightweight, protective option that can keep you running.
- “Climacool” technology helps wick away sweat rapidly and get you comfortable
- Minimal chafing, thanks to soft, elastic fabric
Adidas Response tights do exactly what they say they’ll do – they’ll help you on your longer running sessions, when some others might start to chafe or become uncomfortable.
Specifically designed to help you run longer, the Response tights use Climacool technology to wick away sweat. They’ll keep you cool if you’re running in hotter climates, and warm if you’re running in the cold.
Chafing is always the runner’s nightmare, but the Adidas Response tights use soft fabrics with a high degree of stretch in their construction.
That means not only do the tights move with you, rather than against you, but the softness helps avoid abrasions that can become chafing over the course of longer running sessions.
- Breathable fabric for long-term running comfort
- Zipped pocket means you can take life’s essentials on your run
Nike has great brand recognition in the sportswear sector, so when it makes a pair of running tights, you can be fairly sure it’s not going to make a bad one.
Combining breathable fabrics to minimize sweat retention, and so give you the maximum comfort you’d expect on longer runs, with Nike design means that while they’re unlikely ever to be the most high-tech running tights on the market, the Nike running tights deliver on comfort, deliver on soft fabrics to minimize chafing, and also remember that while you’re a runner, you’re also a human being who might just possible crave an espresso and a Danish at the end of your run.
That’s why there’s a pocket in the tights, so you can keep all the things you might need in there – including the plastic that will get you your post-run treat.
Bottom line, the Nike running tights will keep you warm, dry, safe from muscle cramping and spasms while you run, and able to drop out of your running discipline and become a person again at the unzipping of a pocket.
Frequently Asked Questions
Men in tights – or even men who are tights-curious – usually have questions. We have answers for you.
What are men’s running tights for?
Running tights are great for keeping the muscles and joints protected from the elements when you run.
In cold weather, the right pair of tights can keep you warm, while wicking away any excess sweat so your knees don’t drown.
You can also use lighter, heat-handling tights as an underlayer in warmer climates, to get and keep the blood flowing, give you muscle compression or support, while also keeping you safe from sun effects and excess sweat.
Should you wear shorts over running tights?
Yes. And no. Honestly, it depends on the construction of the tights. Some hot weather tights are thinner and classed as underwear, so you’re going to want to wear shorts with them as an arrest-preventative.
Others, especially those for use in colder climates, can be worn standalone, or with shorts or other layers.
If you feel you’ve got it, you can flaunt the leg-definition in these tights, superhero-style. Generally though, shorts are good.
Can men wear tights?
Ask Superman. Or Spiderman, if you’re of a Marvel turn of mind. Lots of superheroes in popular culture wear tights. Lots of elite athletes wear tights too without miraculously becoming women. You can too. Really.
Whether you use them mostly on warmups, or whether you embrace the benefits of tight-wearing all the way round your run, they’re a great look on you.
They get your blood moving, they keep your muscles supple, they wick away sweat before it has a chance to chafe the living daylights out of you, and in colder or windier climates, they can give you hardcore protection from the elements while you run.
Men – now with tights! Come join the team.
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