No matter what the season, the two most important questions to consider when buying a pair of running leggings are: do they wick the moisture away from your skin and do they allow you to move freely?
On top of that, it really depends on what type of running you plan to undertake in the cooler months. For those beginning their marathon training for spring, you can find leggings which compress muscles to help speed recovery and reduce the risk of injury; for urban jogging there are leggings which have space for your keys and keep you visible on dark winter nights. And for trail runners, there are leggings to keep you dry and warm on long and frosty outdoor routes. While for the gym bunnies, there are leggings to keep you cool. Here’s our round up of this season’s best.
1. Saucony Women’s Omni Reflex Tight: £48.30, Wiggle
You might know Saucony for its shoes, but the brand also makes quality clothing. These are ideal for winter running. The stretch thermal fabric, with its soft brushed interior, allows sweat to be wicked from the body, while keeping you warm. The stripped pattern on the lower legs is fully reflective too. And there’s also a handy zip storage back pocket with waterproof lining.
2. Asics Women’s Stripe Tight: £38, Asics
Asics is a Japanese sportswear brand with a background in sports science – meaning every item has been carefully designed to aid a runner’s movement. The proof came in the range of movement that these leggings allowed. The fabric is breathable and further aided by mesh patches at the back of the knees. We like the metallic design on the calves and the fact these also include a little pocket, which is perfect to store your phone. They are relatively lightweight so probably best for milder autumn days or in the gym.
3. Roxy Safiny Leggings: £45, Roxy
You might know Roxy for its surf and snowboard gear, but the brand also does some stand-out running gear. The soft, swimsuit-like fabric with mesh panels just below the knees, helps with ventilation and breathability while you are building up a sweat. The high waist keeps everything where it should be when you’re running and the colours are bright and bold, so there’s no fear of shrinking into the autumnal background with these bad boys. There’s a handy pocket at the front for your keys and they come in capri or full length, but we think the longer pair with zips at the ankles are a good bet for the winter months.
4. Nike Power Speed: £105, Nike
Nike makes some of the best-performing and best-looking gear in the business. These tights are no exception. They compress key muscles preventing strain and the fabric wicks moisture from the skin, and feature a zip pocket with a vapour barrier to keep items dry. They come in nine colour ways and have discreet reflective patches – ideal for keeping you visible on dark winter nights or mornings.
5. Sweaty Betty Power 7/8 leggings: £75, Sweaty Betty
These hard-working leggings are super flattering. They shape and lift in a way that a lot of other tights don’t, while still being breathable and super-stretchy on, making them ideal for running as well as other classes like spin or bar (and just running around town). The fun print works for those who want to stand out from the all-black running pack too. And they also have a pocket big enough for your phone and keys. The fact that these are slightly shorter than full-length, means they can work well for petite girls who find some running gear too long. Tip: Sweaty Betty also does some of its other styles in a short leg length.
6. Ashmei Tight: £100, Ashmei
Having worked designing sportswear for other brands, owner Stuart Brooke decided to take the lead and set up his own company that has filled a gap at the high-end of the market with its stylish, high-tech garments. Ashmei tights are for the committed winter runner. The design includes Merino wool around the thighs and compressive, water resistant nylon on the calves, as well as a rear pocket and reflective detailing on the ankle zips. Wool might not sound exactly like the type of fabric you want to wear when running, until you discover that the material locks in body heat for warmth, and thermo-regulates to avoid post run chills in winter temperatures.
7. New Balance Precision Run Capri: £65, New Balance
We love the laser cut design on these breathable black leggings that creates a reflective pattern on the legs. They’re moisture-wicking and are more flattering than some we tried. Although they are a little tighter on the legs than others tested, which we say combined with the capri length, makes these ideal for treadmill pounders rather from those doing half marathons or longer.
8. Gymshark Flex Leggings: £32, Gymshark
These leggings are sold on the website as having a ‘form-flattering pattern’; we’re not sure what dark magic British brand Gymshark is casting, but something is working. The moisture-wicking fabric kept us dry on our run and they felt so comfortable that we almost forgot to take them off after our workout. Perfect for someone who lives in their gym gear.
9. ZVD x SP Galactic Leggings: £85.00, Active in Style
London-based sportswear brand Sports Philosophy makes performance gear with added flare. The leggings are breathable, sweat-wicking and UV protective. The limited-edition, high-waisted design with mesh and monochrome print side panels are for the weekend runner, who wants versatility from their sportswear and to look good too. You can wear them in the café, yoga class and for a weekly jog, without feeling out of place.
10. Montane Cordillera Thermal Trail Tights: £75, Montane
These are designed for rugged winter trail running. The clever thermal fabric traps warmth while wicking moisture away from the skin during long runs. There are reinforced areas on the ankles and thighs for increased protection from the elements. The silicone grip around the ankle hem means they won’t ride up and leave skin exposed. There are additional rear phone size pockets and two gel shot pockets and reflective detailing – these are a serious bit of kit but useful if you’re doing long stretches of off-road running in low temperatures.
11. Puma Running Women’s Graphic tights: £35.00, Puma
These high-waisted leggings are perfect for urban jogging, as well as for running on the treadmill. The fabric draws sweat away from the body and the inner zip pocket has laminated waterproof lining. They are super-comfortable and the adjustable drawstring waistband makes you feel extra secure when on the run.
12. 2XU Hyoptik Compression Tights: £75, 2XU
Compression is the name of the game with these tights. Compression base layers are designed to regulate body temperature and reduce the build-up of lactic acid in the abductor, glute, quad, hamstring and calf muscles. It also helps with faster warm-ups and post-running stretching. They’re also antibacterial, so you don’t have to wash them after every run, and provide UPF50+ sun protection for serious outdoor runners.
13. Odlo EBE Running Tights: £55, Odlo
Comfortable, with good stretch and a high-rise waist, these leggings from Odlo are suitable for both high impact exercise and post run stretching. We love the fact they’re reversible so you feel like you’re getting two pairs in one. They’re handy for the shorter gym bunny too, as they can be rolled up at the ankles to the desired length, without losing their style. We wish they had a key pocket, though.
The Verdict: Women's running leggings
Saucony Omni reflex tights will keep you warm, while wicking away sweat and have a pocket big enough for your phone and keys. Crucially, they will keep you visible on the road – and they look stylish too. For serious winter trail runners, we’d recommend Montane’s high-tech tights.
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