Characteristics of the Best Winter Running Tights and Pants
You could argue that it’s what you’re wearing on your top half that is going play more of a role in keeping you warm when running.
After all, a huge amount of heat is lost from the head alone.
So, the warmest winter leggings aren’t necessarily what we’re going for here. But, some insulation on the legs is really important.
Keeping your legs warm, and if possible dry can help to keep you feeling comfortable and your muscles safely warm and supple.
Tights vs Pants
This is a personal preference more than anything. But both do come with their own set of pros and cons.
Tights can provide a little a compression which can be helpful for your muscles. If you’d like to read more on this, check out our article on the best compression tights. Tights can also be a little warmer if they are thick and wind resistant, as they won’t allow drafts the way loose pants might.
Pants won’t provide any compression. But they can be warmer if they are windproof, with elasticated cuffs to prevent drafts. They also have the added bonus of allowing you to wear an extra base layer underneath in really cold conditions.
Some people are more comfortable in looser fitting clothes while others prefer form-fitting clothing.
I fluctuate throughout the month depending on how I’m feeling!
Insulation is important for leggings. Non-insulated leggings really won’t help to keep you much warmer than bare skin if they’re not trapping any warm air.
It’s best if the leggings have a windproof outer and a brushed, insulating inner layer.
Where pants are concerned, insulation is slightly less important if they are windproof, as they should trap a layer of air between your skin and the pants (provided they’re not letting in any drafts).
However, in extra cold weather, a layer of fleecy insulation will not go amiss in pants as well as tights!
Legs sweat, yes they do.
Not as much as your pits, but still enough to make you feel uncomfortably damp if your tights aren’t breathable.
This makes it really important that the material used in winter tights and pants is breathable to let moisture escape.
Water and Wind Resistance
Water resistance, oddly enough, isn’t a deal breaker.
Most tights are designed so that they will still help keep you warm even when they’re wet. But if you live in a really wet climate, water resistance is definitely a plus.
Wind resistance, on the other hand, is a must if you want your tights or pants to do anything significant in the warming department.
Non-windproof tights or pants will be warmer than wearing shorts, but not by much when the weather gets really bad.
The cold wind will blow right through the material and take your body heat with it.
Wind resistance is arguably even more important than insulation, as wind resistance can be enough by itself, but insulation isn’t much good without wind resistance.
Comfort and Ease of Movement
The best winter running pants and leggings should be, above all, comfortable and easy to move in!
The material should be soft, stretchy and not restrict your stride in any way.
If you’re wearing pants, they should have some extra material around the knees so that you’re not fighting against them when you bend your knees.
Tights should also be cut in a way that allows easy stretching over the knee so that you’re not using up energy each time you contract those hammys.
Zips, Draw Strings and Pockets
These things are also personal preference, but they can be deal breakers for some people.
So, to make sure you don’t realize that you’d really love a pocket for your phone once you’re half way down the road in your new tights, have a think about whether these features are important to you or not.
A small zippered pocket can be super useful to carry keys and other small items. Zippered lower legs can also make taking tights on and off a lot easier, especially if they have tight ankles.
Some tights come with drawstring waists as well as the elastic waistband which can be really useful if you’re prone to tights sliding down when you run.
To summarize, the best cold weather running tights will consist of a wind resistant outer and a cozy insulating inner.
They will also be breathable, comfortable, easy to move in, and have the right combination of zips, draw strings and pockets to suit your requirements.
Now that you’ve got the know-how, here is a selection of the best winter tights and pants on the market right now:
Review: The simple and non-fussy design of these pants is refreshing. They do what they’re designed to, encasing your legs from hips to ankle in cozy, warm, insulating fabric to protect you from the cold.
Climawarm fabric is insulating, wind resistant and breathable.
Zip side pocket.
Zippered lower legs.
Elasticated drawstring waistband.
Not water resistant.
These are some of the best cold weather running tights, being insulated, breathable and wind resistant.