We runners are a committed (read: compulsive) breed, for no matter how cold it gets outside, no matter what the conditions look like on any given day, staying consistent in our training is typically one of our top priorities. It’s an obsession that can make for some pretty gnarly runs, be it because of torrential rain, oppressive humidity, or even the occasional all-out snowstorm. In most cases, a good dose of grit and a stiff upper lip can be enough to power through all but the worst of what the weather has to offer. However, on those occasions when Mother Nature really decides to make herself known, throwing on some shorts and a t-shirt will have you feeling noticeably underprepared.
As such, it’s in your best interest to round out your running wardrobe with some winter-ready workout apparel. And while long-sleeved tops and jackets are often amongst the first items to buy, you can’t neglect the importance of a quality pair of pants. Sure, your legs are constantly on the move (and thus warm, usually), but on those really cold days, you’ll want the added protection that some extra material provides. It’ll keep you feeling relaxed and comfortable regardless of pace, and it’ll even reduce your risk of injury from running with tight or cold muscles. Moreover, you’ll be far more inclined to hit up a cafe for a post-run reward in a pair of pants than you would freezing your butt off in some shorts. In any case, we’ve looked high and low to bring you the best running pants the market has to offer. From affordable adidas track pants to stylish Satisfy joggers, our list is sure to have something for everyone.
Pants Versus Tights
Cut From A Different Cloth
When the weather starts to worsen and the temperature takes a dive, there will inevitably come a morning when a skimpy pair of shorts just won’t cut it. This means you’ll have to decide how you want to go about keeping your legs warm, either by shimmying into some tights or pulling on a pair of pants. Below, we break down each option to give you an idea of what to expect.
Pants: Above all else, running pants are ideal for those wanting to maximize the versatility of their active attire. Because of their extra material and baggier fit, pants offer a far more modest look than a pair of form-fitting tights. In practice, this means that they can be used for everything from workout apparel to loungewear to athleisure, equally as comfortable on the move as they are on the couch. And that’s not all; running pants also tend to be far superior to tights when it comes to their pocket provisions. Of course, you can always opt to layer your leggings with a pair of shorts, but when you’re looking for a true turnkey running wardrobe, pants are definitely the way to go.
Tights: However, if you’re the type to tire of the swishing sounds your pants make as you run, a pair of tights could very well be the better call. Their highly compressive cut means that they not only stay out of the way while on the move but also that they trap body heat better than their looser-cut counterparts. In other words, it’s best to buy tights if you want to add some warmth while maintaining the most natural running experience possible. Modern purpose-built running pants have closed the gap pretty significantly, but they still pair in comparison to a pair of elasticated leggings.
Adidas Track Pants
When all else fails, you can’t beat a pair of classic adidas track pants. As street-ready as they are performance-inspired, these bottoms combine a stylish aesthetic with tons of run-ready details. So, in addition to a tapered fit and some water-absorbent AEROREADY fabric, they also feature 360-degree reflectivity, zippered front pockets, and even a pair of adjustable ankle cuffs. And at only $65 per pair, you can buy a few whilst still coming out well under some of our more expensive alternatives.
Brooks Spartan Pant
One of the main benefits of running pants lies in their quick removal capabilities once you’re properly warmed up and moving. Because let’s face it. While you may set out on a run feeling a bit chilly, chances are good that those extra layers won’t be needed down the road. We’d recommend Brooks’ Spartan Pants for just that reason, because their offset ankle zippers make wardrobe changes quick and easy — even whilst wearing shoes. Oh, and as with all of Brooks’ bottoms, the waistband is as comfortable as they come.
Vuori Ponto Performance Pant
San Diego-based Vuori is an outfit that prides itself on making apparel that’s lasting, comfortable, and, most importantly, sustainable. These Ponto Performance Pants are no exception because they’re spun using the brand’s signature DreamKnit fabric, a blend of recycled polyester and elastane that’s lightweight and also incredibly stretchy. What’s more, they’re cut with a roomy relaxed fit and a slightly tapered leg, giving you plenty of freedom to move without being so baggy that they become a sail on a windy day.
Nike Phenom Elite Running Pants
While Nike has no shortage of running pants that we’d feel confident recommending, we liked the Phenom Elites because they come in at a more approachable price point. That being said, just because they’re on the affordable end of the Big Swoosh’s offerings doesn’t mean that they’re just another budget buy. Rather, when you consider that they’re made using recycled Nike Power fabric, that they’re designed with running-optimized heat mapping, and that they come with an assortment of different pockets, the result is a pair of pants that punches well above its weight.
Fourlaps Relay Track Pant
Back in 2016, Daniel Shapiro founded Fourlaps in an effort to provide active enthusiasts with thoughtfully designed apparel that wore as well as it performed. In the case of the Relay Track Pant, this means that you get an understated single-color aesthetic, an athletic fit, and a hidden interior sleeve to keep your smartphone secure when on the move. But the best part is that because they’re made from 100% recycled materials, these pants will have you looking the part and supporting the planet at the same time.
Ten Thousand Interval Pant
New York-based Ten Thousand prides itself on having an extensive trial phase in which both fitness professionals and everyday consumers test its products to make sure they’re ready for market. For instance, their Interval Pant was put through its paces by a team of three athletes specializing in both Crossfit and functional fitness. As such, it’s been honed to become a prime piece of workout apparel, offering four-way stretch for uninhibited mobility, strategically-placed panels for breathability, as well as an ‘Every Session Carry’ pocket for secure storage.
lululemon Surge Jogger
A little while back, we had the opportunity to take an assortment of pieces from lululemon’s Surge line out for a spin. Suffice to say — we were nothing but impressed with the collection’s overall fit and feel, as each piece included some pretty top-notch performance materials like the sweat-wicking fabric featured on the joggers pictured here. Cut with a classic tapered fit, they’re warm, quick-drying, and incredibly comfortable — essentially one of the best choices you could make when it comes time to upgrade your winter workout wardrobe.
Olivers Bradbury Jogger
While most athleisure is little more than workout apparel worn out of context, Olivers’ Bradbury Jogger is one pair of running pants that actually embodies the concept. Understated enough to rock out in public yet performance-focused enough to hang with you while on the move, they come crafted from the brand’s All Over Stretch Weave. In practice, this means that in addition to being water-repellent and moisture-wicking, they’re also soft, stretchy, and ever-so lightweight.
Tracksmith Turnover Pants
Tracksmith is a Boston-based brand that’s rocking the running industry with its old-school New England aesthetic. That being said, each piece is much more than a trendy fashion statement; they’re purpose-built athletic apparel that combines high-quality materials with a run-focused fit. With the Turnover pants you’re getting some premium Italian Inverno Blend fabric, a trio of pockets, and a roomy cut through the thigh that gives your legs plenty of freedom to move.
On Running Pants
You know those convertible pants that dads and hikers seem to love, but just about everyone else despises? In concept, these On Running Pants are pretty similar. However, they look like something that you’d actually want to wear in public. Zipping at the knee to expose some built-in mesh ventilation, they use a melting pot of materials — including Japanese ripstop, Taiwanese four-way stretch fabric, and Italian waistbands — to deliver an unbeatable combination of durability and comfort. Oh, and because they’ve been treated with DWR, they’re both wind and waterproof too.
Iffley Road Royston Slim-Fit Joggers
When a brand names itself after the track where Sir Roger Bannister ran the world’s first sub-four-minute mile, they better be prepared to deliver. Thankfully, Iffley Road has done much more than that with its Royston Slim-Fit Joggers, because they’re not just a solid pair of running pants; they’re a true cut above the rest. Intended to offer a natural running sensation comparable to compression tights, they’re crafted from water-repellent fleece fabric with elasticated stirrups to keep them from shifting when you’re pushing the pace.
Satisfy Running Justice Merino Running Pants
Okay, at over $300, Satisfy’s Justice Merino Running Pants are definitely a premium pick, even a luxury good. Nevertheless, the style and the quality are very much commensurate with the price, for they look every part the street-ready jogger whilst hiding innovations like a double waistband, a mini carabiner clip, and some high-visibility drawstrings to go along with the fabric’s reflective print. In other words, it’s best to think of them as an investment rather than an apparel item.
The 12 Best Winter Running Tights
If you’re still not convinced that pants are what you need for your runs, don’t worry — it takes a bit of trial and error to find what works best. But rather than throwing in the towel, head on over to our guide to the best winter running tights to see what some added compression can do for your cold weather warmth.
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