Choosing Your Best Running Tights this Winter

Fall is in the air, and winter’s chill is right around the corner. Running in shorts all summer is a treat, but as the wind picks up and the temperature drops, keep your legs warm this winter with running tights.


For fashion and function, look no further for choosing your best tights and consider these points while in the dressing room trying on running tights:


How long do you need your tights? Keeping your muscles covered is important for helping to prevent injury. Cold weather forces your body to conserve heat, usually by shunting warmth toward your core. This can, however, leave your extremities exposed to the elements. Layering your arms and, particularly your moving legs, can reduce the risk of injury by protecting susceptible cold muscles from tears. Be sure to choose tights that are long enough to keep the entire length of your leg warm if you are exercising in cold climate. Nike offers a wide range of various lengths, from the Tight Track and Field Capri to the Element Windless Running Tights. Their Dri-FIT line is popular for wicking sweat and keeping you drier, which typically means warmer. 


How thick you need your tights depends on dropping temperatures, as well. Runners in the winter temperatures of Florida don’t usually require wool lined tights as do those who run in Vermont’s punishing temperatures. Many manufacturers will give you recommended temperature guidelines, based on the thickness of the tights. Mizuno’s thermal Breath Thermo Layered Tight offers protection from the cold with insulation that helps generate heat 


Seam is important, regardless of the temperature or pace at which you exercise. An uncomfortable seam makes for a miserable workout. Try on several different types to be sure there isn’t an irritating one running the length of your leg, bothering you with every step. Do a few squats or high-steps in the dressing room when trying on tights (no one will see you), or run in place to simulate the motion. This is definitely a worthy case of “try before you buy” to prevent discomfort later. New Balance claims the “Flatlock” stitching in their women’s Go 2 Tights that boast flat seams. 


There are many specialized tights on the market in a variety of designs. If you run in the dark hours of morning or evening, consider a pair that has reflective material to increase your visibility. Compression tights can improve performance by increasing running efficiency. CW-X Women’s Insulator Performx Tights have additional support panels with nylon and Lycra reinforcement to protect your legs by reducing the work load to your lower extremities.


The fit of your tights can determine (increase or limit) your range of motion. Form-fitting tights tend to promote more streamline running, while loose or ill-fitting tights can often chafe areas of your legs or groin, compromising your stride. Bootleg tights can be flattering, but they can also let in more cold air in at the ankles, compared to their fitted counterpart. Consider trying on several pairs, from ultra-tight to relaxed, just as you would a pair of jeans. We tested and liked Under Armour’s ColdGear Frosty Tights for chilly morning runs 


When choosing the best tights for outdoor activity this season, consider your exercise personality and geographic location. If you run longer distances, you may want tights that are more form-fitting and breathe easily. Conversely, if you walk or run shorter distances in the bitter cold, warmth will likely trump design when it comes to comfort.