After extensive research, we found the Nike Men’s Dri-FIT Running Tight to be the best overall legging for male runners, but the competition was tight (pun definitely intended).
Twenty years ago, who would have thought we would be having this conversation?
The best running tights for men?!?
However, with the explosion in popularity of women’s leggings and people getting more confident and comfortable in their own skin over the years, here we are.
So if you thought that tights are only reserved for the eccentric, think again.
Tights offer runners–both men and women alike–multiple benefits: outstanding UV protection, exceptional moisture wicking for body temperature control, and compression to keep the muscles warm and the blood flowing during activity.
As mentioned, although there are dozens of men’s running tights on the market today, we found the Nike Dri-FIT the best overall for its comprehensive selection of features. However, we found a handful of other tights that stand out if your buying factors are a bit more specific.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about running tights for men!
The Best Running Tights for Men Reviewed
A breakdown of the top men’s running tights on the market today.
Best Overall – Nike Men’s Dri-FIT Running Tight
Our top choice for men’s running tights comes from one of the most trusted names in athletic apparel–Nike. High tech Nike Power fabric, composed of 89% polyester and 11% elastane, helps you power through any type of run without restrictions.
As the name implies, the Dri-FIT technology found in these tights provides top-of-the-line water resistance and sweat wicking, keeping you dry and comfortable throughout your session. Combine all of this with reflective elements, sufficient pockets, and a reasonable price point, and you have a do-it-all running tight to meet the needs of any runner.
- Perforated Flyvent waistband for additional ventilation
- Drawstring for optimal fit
- Built-in liner for additional comfort and support
- While extremely solid overall, doesn’t have one distinct calling card
- Some runners feel like they don’t perform well in extreme temperatures
Most Water Resistant – The North Face Winter Warm Tight
Staying dry is an essential characteristic of running tights, as it ensures performance and optimal body temperature. To this effect, no tight can keep you as dry as The North Face Winter Warm Tight. Equipped with water-repelling and moisture-wicking FlashDry technology throughout, these tights keep rain out and quickly dry you as you sweat. They also have innovative WindWall technology that helps keep moisture out even in the face of heavy wind.
- Best moisture resistance on the market
- Minimal waistband with a standard drawcord
- Side pocket and zip back pocket
- Reflective detailing
- 27.5-inch inseam on all sizes, so not an ideal fit for all runners
- Less elasticity than most running tights
Best Budget Tight – Under Armour Speed Pocket Tights
With many running tights checking in at well over $100, price can be a barrier for those just exploring the product. However, the Under Armour Speed Pocket Tight offers an extremely competitive price point while still offering many of the same features of more premium-priced products.
With ample moisture wicking and a four-way stretch construction, the Speed Pocket gives runners of all intensity levels a chance to achieve optimal performance and comfort for well under $100.
- Above average moisture wicking helps runners regulate body temperature
- Run true to size
- Thick enough material to ensure modesty when running
- No drawstring
- Waistband reported as uncomfortable by some runners
Best for Warm Weather – New Balance Accelerate Tight
The 87/13 blend of polyester and spandex makes this an extremely lightweight, comfortable tight for running in warm weather. In addition, the tight is equipped with New Balance Dry-Fast moisture wicking technology to move sweat away from the body and keep runners feeling cool and comfortable throughout their runs.
- Fitted silhouette design to feel snug at the hip and thigh without extra fabric
- Uses recycled polyester
- Waistband pocket for storage
- Some runners feel they are too compressive
- Not the best choice for modesty
Design Features of Good Running Tights for Men
We realize that for many people, this may be your first foray into the world of tights. So we have taken some time to break down some of the essential design features you should look out for prior to making your purchase.
Most tights will use a merino wool or polyester product as the base material and spandex or elastane to ensure stretchiness. This blend usually falls between a 70/30 to 90/10 blend, depending on how stretchy you prefer your tights.
Merino wool and polyester help provide warmth and moisture wicking in the tight. Some products will use a recycled polyester product, which will appeal to environmentally conscious runners. This base product is usually fabricated in a single layer, but there are some products that utilize dual layer fabric for extra warmth and support.
Everybody likes a durable product, and running tights are no exception. Some features to look for when assessing the durability of running tights include:
- Reinforced seams with extra stitching
- Dual layer fabric, especially in the high-wear inner-thigh area
- Knee panels to allow for greater articulation and less stretch on the fabric
Although increased durability usually means a higher price point, there are numerous reasons to pay for these durability features. While the initial price might be higher, you will cycle through tights less often, which can actually make the lifetime cost of ownership lower than for cheaper, less durable tights. In addition, you will not be distracted by tights that fail in the middle of the run, allowing you to focus and enjoy the running experience more thoroughly.
Waistband style is one of the most important design features of running tights. Some people prefer minimal waistbands without a drawstring. However, it is critical to get your sizing right with this style of waistband. If the waistband is too tight, it will roll up and can cut into your skin. If it is too loose, you get into a super awkward situation in which the compressive nature of the tights makes it feel like they fit, but you get a sagging sensation around the waist that will undoubtedly be distracting throughout your run.
Therefore, if you are looking into running tights for the first time, it is a good idea to choose a product that has an elastic waistband supported with a drawstring. This can help ensure that you get an optimal fit. As you get more experienced wearing tights, drawstrings become optional, and you can tell by the comfort level when pulling them on if the drawstring will be necessary.
Shorts can give runners that fresh, airy feeling when running, but tights are preferable to shorts when running on sunny days because they protect the runner from UV exposure. Nonetheless, in order for tights to be an option on these warm, sunny days, they must have the proper ventilation and breathability to keep the runner cool. This is where you will want to make sure that the tights score high for moisture wicking so that they don’t absorb the moisture and become heavy and hot–the general plague of sweatpants.
However, ventilation is actually just as important for keeping the runner warm on cold days as it is for keeping them cool on hot days. When moisture gets trapped inside a garment, it can have a significant cooling effect. Therefore, it is essential that your leggings move moisture away from the body to prevent this convective cooling from occurring.
At a minimum, you will likely need to bring your phone, keys, and ID along with you during your run, so look for tights designed with pockets in the right places.
While typical front pockets as seen on jeans or shorts aren’t ideal for tights (the running motion pushes items up your leg and may cause them to slide out), the best leggings will have pockets strategically placed for you to stow your essentials.
The best pockets for running tights are located on the hip at the side of the leg. They are oversized, vertical, and rely on compression to secure your belongings. Some tights also have a convenient zipper pocket inside the waistband that is ideal for storing an ID, credit card, cash, keys, or other small valuables.
At first glance, zippers seem to add convenience and security to your running tights. For example, many tights use zippers to secure pockets, while some have zippers along the upper thigh, ankle, and other tight areas of the leg to make it easier to get the tights on and off.
While these features can be helpful, understand that zippers have a tendency to fail before the rest of the tight, potentially creating an unnecessary point of weakness. Zippers can also create discomfort or abrasion when layering. Therefore, we recommend avoiding tights with zippers unless you have a specific reason for wanting them.
If you are a frequent road runner, it is a great idea to choose tights designed with some sort of reflective detailing. This will allow vehicles to see you when running in the dark.
Buying Guide – Things to Consider When Buying Running Tights for Men
The previous section broke down some important design features that everyone should think about before purchasing running tights. However, each runner is unique, so the following looks at a few specific purchase considerations that you should weigh before choosing your tights.
Know Your Body Type
It goes without saying that everyone is built differently. If you’re like me, I know that I have a shorter inseam than most people my height, so standard leggings run a bit long on me, and I notice some bunching at the ankles. While standard inseams on leggings are generally a bit shorter than for regular pants, it’s still not enough in my case. I also have thicker thighs than most people my weight, so I need tights with flat seams to avoid chafing.
Other things to consider are that people with comparatively small waists should always give priority to leggings with drawstrings, while people with larger calves and ankles may benefit from zippers at the lower extremity of the leggings.
Plan for the Conditions
In addition to knowing weather factors, such as temperature and moisture forecasts, it is worthwhile to choose your tights based on what type of run you have planned. For example, if you are going on a high-tempo run in a warm, humid climate, look at leggings that have mesh openings, as well as panels behind the knee to improve ventilation and give heat an escape. If you are going on plodding runs in snowy conditions, look at double layer leggings and those that have built-in lining for increased warmth.
Think About How Much Stuff You Need to Carry
Generally, more pockets correlate to decreased comfort and performance. However, if you are afraid of low temperatures, you may want to bring along a hat and gloves just in case things turn chilly, necessitating more pockets.
Some leggings can find room for up to six pockets, with two sets of hip pockets running along the outside of each leg, a large pass-through pocket in the back, and a small pocket inside the waistband. While the extra stowage can be nice, understand that you can usually feel the extra stuff pretty acutely in tights, and it may contribute to an overall sagging feeling during your run.
A selection of some of the most common questions about men’s running tights.
How Tight Is Too Tight?
You want to feel minimal compression when wearing your tights. You want them stretched snugly over your entire lower extremity without being constantly cognizant that they are there. If you are acutely aware that you are wearing tights at all times and feel constricted, then you run the risk of cutting off circulation, so it is time to size up.
On the other hand, you don’t want your tights to be baggy. If you stand up and notice that your tights aren’t snug at any point, then you need to size down. Baggy tights can prevent moisture wicking properties from functioning correctly.
Do Pockets Actually Work On Running Tights?
Yes, pockets on tights do work. It seems logical to assume that since tights fit snug to your body, there is no room for personal effects. However, the pockets in tights use an additional compressive layer to create small pouches for stowage. Just make sure that your belongings can fit all the way inside the pocket and that any zippers and flaps can close to ensure that your items are safe.
Are Running Tights Too Revealing for Men?
This is the question that nearly every novice tight-wearer has but is too afraid to ask. Despite all of the functional benefits of tights, some men are afraid that running in leggings will put certain parts of the male anatomy on greater display than they care to flaunt.
Honestly, when worn with the proper undergarment, preferably a compression brief or trunk, the look is just as modest for most men as it is for women. However, if you are still uncomfortable being seen running in tights, there is nothing wrong with sliding a pair of shorts over the top. You will get the same benefits as wearing tights sans shorts–just be aware that if your shorts don’t have a strong elastic waistband, they are more prone to slide down than when worn without tights.
In Conclusion: The Best Running Tights for Men
After thorough research, we found the Nike Dri-FIT Men’s Running Tight to be the best overall product for male runners. It has everything you want to see in a running tight: flexibility, water resistance, moisture wicking, drawstring waistband, and layered pockets.
However, the New Balance Accelerate Tight may be the best choice if you are running in warm weather, while The North Face Winter Warm Tight offers you the best protection during those cold winter runs.
So if you have been a bit too modest to rock the tights on your runs, lose your inhibitions and take advantage of the great features offered by running tights and hit the trail!