When it comes to the age-old battle of running shorts versus running leggings, the latter always wins in my mind. Unlike shorts which basically just sit there doing nothing on your thighs, leggings encourage better circulation, increase your aerodynamics, and regulate your body temperature (warming you in the cold and cooling you in the heat). When you’re shopping for the best running leggings, keep the following factors in mind:
- Temperature: Some leggings will be thermal, cold-weather tights, while others will be lightweight cooling tights, so think about the climate, the season, and your own running patterns.
- Fabric technology: You don’t want plain old cotton when it comes to running leggings. When you’re working up a sweat, you’ll want synthetic fabrics that wick moisture, regulate odor, and dry quickly. This will typically mean some combination of nylon, spandex, polyester, elastane, or other hybrid blends.
- Comfort and fit: Running requires a lot of motion, and you want leggings that will stay put — not slide down or bunch up. The material should be soft and flexible with plenty of stretch for maximum performance compatibility.
With all of these elements in mind, I've compiled a list of the best running tights in each category, so you can find the perfect pair for your needs.
1All-Around Great Mid-Weight Leggings In A Wide Range Of Sizes
Constructed with a mix of polyamide and elastane, these fantastically comfortable running leggings are stretchy and quick-drying. They have a high waist and feature four-way stretch material that maximizes your mobility while remaining in place. There's a handy pocket in the back of the waist where you can stash a phone or credit card, and the fabric is 100 percent machine-washable. Best of all, these leggings are available in a broad range of sizes and four different colors.
- Available sizes: X-Small - XXX-Large
2The Best Running Leggings For Cold Weather
For runners who live in chillier climates, these cold weather running leggings offer exceptional insulation without sacrificing breathability. Constructed with a cozy thermal-fleece liner, the soft fabric keeps you feeling warm and toasty. Super stretchy, the polyester-spandex blend wicks moisture and protects you from the elements. There are leg zippers for easy on-and-off, as well as reflective material to help you stay visible at night. On top of being excellent running tights, they also make great cycling pants or even a base layer for skiing. These leggings come in six subtle color variations.
- Available sizes: X-Small - X-Large
3The Best Running Leggings For Warm Weather
Whether you live in a hot climate or you're just someone who tends to overheat when you work out, these cooling leggings for running will prevent you from feeling like you're jogging inside a toaster. They're exceptionally lightweight and feel like a second skin on your legs. The special HeatGear fabric is designed to pull heat from your body to keep you cool while you work out. Not only that, it's moisture-wicking, too, so when you start sweating it will transport the perspiration to the outer layer of material where it can evaporate quickly. The fabric also features anti-odor technology that blocks microbes, so your tights won't smell up your hamper. Designed with a classic cropped style, these leggings come in four colors.
- Available sizes: X-Small - XX-Large
4The Best Capri Leggings
If you prefer capris to full-length pants, these three-quarter running leggings make a fantastic spring training option. They feature Adidas's high-tech performance fabric that's made from breathable, highly moisture-wicking polyester, which keeps you dry while offering plenty of ventilation. The mid-calf tights feel soft against your skin and are unbelievably stretchy. On top of that, they're fully opaque, so the person behind you on the running trail won’t be able to see your underwear.
- Available sizes: X-Small - X-Large
5The Best Compression Leggings
These compression tights for running offer a way to increase circulation and bolster blood flow at an incredibly affordable price. For less than 20 bucks, these leggings boast all-season poly-spandex that feels soft and silky, yet they're still snug enough to stay up without slipping. Both UV-blocking and moisture-sensing, the fabric is notably lightweight. These compression tights are available in almost 40 different colors and come in a wide range of sizes. The only drawback is that some reviewers say they're a bit see-through. "I love these tights," wrote one Amazon reviewer. "The lightweight, comfortable fabric is great for warmer weather, and most importantly the crotch doesn't slip down (unlike a lot of my more expensive tights). Also the price is great."
- Available sizes: X-Small - XXXXX-Large
6Also Great: These Popular High-Waist Leggings With A Side Pocket
With over 4,400 reviews, these super popular running tights feature a high waist that looks stylish and stays in place. They're great for running, and they also work superbly for yoga due to the flexible fabric, which is a blend of polyester, spandex, and nylon. The four-way stretch material is completely opaque and wicks moisture as you sweat. These leggings contour to your body with precision and provide a chic aesthetic while you train. Available in more than 30 different colors and styles, these leggings even have a snug but generous pocket where you can stash valuables — one Amazon reviewer was amused to find that it was able to hold an entire bottle of champagne.
- Available sizes: Small - XX-Large
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