Shorts Or No Shorts Over Running Tights – A Post on Winter Running

Nike Running TightsWe’re all friends here right? Ok, so I’m going to cover a sensitive topic in this post (pun intended). Hold on tight!

On Tuesday I went for a run in a snowstorm. The flakes were coming down pretty steadily, the roads and sidewalks were completely snow-covered, and the temperature when I left was 13 degrees Fahrenheit (my wife had run early in the morning when it was -11F!). Aside from having an incredibly fun run, I spent some time (as I often do while running) contemplating post topics related to running in winter. This is the first post in what may or not be a series on the topic, we’ll see (and if you have any winter running topics you’d like covered, leave a comment!).

I’m a huge fan of running tights, and I’m not afraid to admit that. I’m also very picky about my tights. I find that some irritate my ankles due to the material use to prevent them from riding up, others don’t fit quite right and tend to ride down from the waist (what’s the running equivalent of a plumbers crack?). A comfortable, good fitting pair of tights is like gold. My favorite is an old pair of Nike tights I bought at Dick’s Sporting Goods a few years ago (don’t even know the model – they look kind of like the one’s in the photo above but have no zipper at the ankle) – the material is soft, they don’t ride up or down, and the fit is perfect.

One issue I have though is that when it’s cold and windy, none of the tights I own do a good job of, how do I say this, shielding the man parts. Guys, you know what I’m talking about if you live in the northern part of the world.

An ongoing debate when it comes to running tights is whether or not to wear shorts over the tights. Probably the most common reason for wanting to do this is modesty. Let’s face it, tights can be a bit revealing, and I’ll admit that there are times when I have opted for the shorts on top route for this reason (like when I used to run on the college campus in winter). But, I’m also not averse to going sans shorts in other situations.

Putting the modesty rationale aside, I will point out a situation when I feel shorts over tights is warranted, and that has to do with the problem mentioned above. Wearing only tights when it’s really cold and windy can lead to some major discomfort down there. The post-run bladder empty is much like pouring hot tea through a popsicle. Not fun.

Putting on a pair of running shorts with the liner removed over my tights usually does enough to block the wind and keep things nice and toasty. Problem solved! This is only really necessary when it’s about 20F or below, but it seems to work pretty well.

I’d love to try a pair of tights where the fabric over the peecicle is reinforced with GORE Windstopper fabric (I’d like to emphasize that this post is not sponsored by GORE or any other company). I’m wondering if this would solve the shorts or no shorts over tights dilemma in the cold. I didn’t realize such things existed until I was about to hit publish on the post and I thought it might be worth doing a quick Google search. Anybody tried something like this, are they worth the price?

Stay warm men! (and women, do you have this problem? I honestly don’t know!)

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. I am a sans short free runner over my tights. Over the years I have become less concerned with modesty. On the very cold days I wear some REI Windblock underwear under the tights. They are windproof in the ‘key’ area. It seems to make a big difference. I ran in a half marathon in New Hampshire on Saturday and it was 8 at the start of the race. It made a huge difference.

    • I agree with Larry, although I use Sugoi wind blocking underwear. These are much warmer than any running shorts that I own.

      • Based on all of the comments, seems I really need to get some windblock tights or underwear!

        • I use an UnderArmour boxerjock that is also windproof under my 2XU running tights.It works for me.I have run in 2XU and CWX tights and have found that you need to wear underwear or suffer from the seams.
          (Not sure if all running tights have seams that are irritating without underwear)

        • I’m a shorts over tights guy for modesty and warmth. I was out on Tuesday afternoon in the same storm on the trails, and last Saturday morning for the single digit temps. I own a pair of Sugoi briefs that come in very handy. Picked them up at Runner’s Alley a while back –very helpful protecting the sensitive areas. We’re gonna need all the protection we can get this winter.

          • Why don’nt you wear’warm compression’ shorts under your running tight? To get the layers closer to your body like a built in furnace.

            I am a bcycle rider and I have non-thermal cycling tights and a pair of cold weather r cold weather

        • I was hooked on my Sugoi wind blocking briefs years ago when I went for a run in ten degree weather. They have been my favorite article of winter running apparel as they have micro fleece on the inside. The New Balance pair of wind block briefs are a rather pale comparison.

    • No shorts;no shame in my game. I’m usually going commando as well. I wear a pair of insulated tights by Reebok that was a test product. I dunno if they ever produced it. They’re lined so I haven’t had an issue with ball-freeze; which can be excruciatingly painful. I always push for a sub 7 m/m pace;so I can pretty much cook in my crouch.
      I think you just need thicker tights.
      I hate the tweener weather where you start out in shorts and toward the end the temp starts to cool; the cold air has a way of attacking your boys. Makes em small; makes u humble.

  2. I go the opposite route. Under Armour Base 2.0 Boxerjocks work perfect for cold weather runs. Minimal bunching and provide a barrier from the wind and cold.

  3. Peter,

    Off topic — is your wife still running in Hokas? If so, when can we expect her long term running report?

    Brad

    • She’s actually running a lot in the Altra Torin, it’s her favorite shoe, but she also runs in the Hoka Kailua. She had two pairs of Bondis blow out the upper near the inner forefoot.

      • James @reddirtrunner says:

        On the coldest of days the hands are key for me. Frozen digits will certainly get your attention in a hurry on the post run pee. For the manbits I use my favorite pair of compression shorts under my tights.
        On the Hokas, two friends experienced the same issue as your wife with the upper failing. I spoke with the Hoka rep at my local shop. Hoka replaced both pair at no cost.

        • They replaced my wife’s pair as well, but the second pair blew out at roughly the same mileage. Their PR people sent me a pair of Kailuas for her instead so I called it even :)

  4. I’ve done both. It’s never a matter of comfort. I haven’t noticed a difference in how it feels either way. Let’s face it, if you see a guy with shorts over his tights, he doesn’t want you checking out his junk while he’s running. Some people want their parts on display. And some people are gonna check it out. Everyone’s at least a little pervy sometimes. Hmmm, have I said too much?

    • I guess there are some people for whom the modesty thing is never an issue. Like the obviously clueless fat people who run in skintight spandex shorts in the spring and summer. I mean, it’s not a choice I would make if I looked like that, but more power to them or something. No, they need to stop.

  5. Jay Parker says:

    I have some runderwear with wind proof panels in the front that do the same thing under tights!

  6. I have 3 pairs of tights. One pair of Nike’s like you describe above that don’t block much, but are super comfy! I have another pair of Nike’s that have the same sort of wind-blocking fabric as GORE employs, and they are definitely not as flexible and seem to fit a tad tighter because of the lack of stretch in the wind-blocking material. That said I really like them when the temps dip really low, and I never wear shorts with them. My third pair of tights is the GORE Windstopper 3/4 tight, and they definitely rock. The windstopper fabric does its job, and the fit IMO is better than the Nike’s with the windstopper fabric. The one thing that really sold me on the GORE tights was not the windstopper fabric, but the pockets on the thighs of the pants. The pockets are perfect for a cell phone (which I take with me on every run).

  7. I’ve gone both ways. As I get *ahem* older and deeper into my personal running I care less and less about modesty issues. Living in Florida I only really need tights when I travel for work, but yes, I’ve noticed an occasional need for additional protection in strategic places. I hadn’t put a lot of thought into it (did I mention I live in FL?) but I might be willing to try those windstopper tights.

  8. Nope, I have never had a problem with that. I love my running tights dearly and only considered wearing shorts with them in high school.

    As a serious runner, I honestly don’t think its strange for guys to wear tights without shorts. I think shorts look weird, but I never stopped to think about the benefits of shorts.

    Anyway… good luck, men.

  9. Rebecca Joyce says:

    interesting topic. I was just wondering about this this morning.
    I seem to have a hard time keeping all my belongings on me, so my favourite shorts are these Asics that have 3 pockets in the back. like cycling jersey pockets. So when it’s chilly or rainy and I want to wear tights, I’m inclined to wear the shorts over them so I can have pockets. Will the running fashion police cite me for this?

    I’m in Los Angeles, so I don’t run in very cold conditions, but I don’t think the cold is a problem for my lady parts any more than for the rest of my body.

  10. GoBlueRunner says:

    I have a pair of windproof briefs from Brooks (very similar to the GORE boxers in the link) and they definitely help. Usually those plus thicker tights is enough.

    I’ll only rock the tights sans shorts if I’m solo. Otherwise modesty always prevails.

  11. Modesty was never an issue, but I guess that’s a cultural background thing. ;) I do most of my very cold runs in Pearl Izumi Ultra Tights these days. They have an internal liner and are made of somewhat thicker material (no windstopper though) which seems to be enough to solve any cold problems in sensitive areas.

  12. Brad Patterson says:

    I have actually been wearing my normal running shorts (with linner) UNDER my tights this winter. I was having trouble with my old briefs underwear being stretched out and uncomfortable under my tights, so I am just using the shorts instead. As a bonus, they do a great job of keeping the man parts warmer with the extra layer under the tights. (I learned this trick from a friend of mine who still runs in a pair of tights that are 10+ years old and super stretched out)

  13. I love running in snow storms too. Windblock briefs are must – whether or not you decide to wear shorts over the tights.

    I’m generally a New Balance guy – partly because they pay to plow the bike/running paths in Boston – but I have these brooks boxer briefs

    link to brooksrunning.com

  14. Two views: One, I’m a guy and I’m skinny and I just flat out look goofy in tights. Most male runners look the same. Goofy. I’m as liberal/open minded as can be, but when other dudes wear tights with no shorts, it just looks strange. Yes I know I’m approaching a touchy subject. No I don’t feel bad for saying that. Yes runners care about how they look.

    Second thing: I like wearing shorts over tights because it blocks a bit of wind, but I also enjoy having the running-specific pocket in my shorts. Almost all running shorts I own have a small pocket in the back that is perfect for a gu, some chews, etc.., and maybe a key. I don’t like putting that stuff in a running jacket pocket because it flops around, and tights are too tight to easily access a gel.

    I hope I don’t get ripped apart for saying this. Just my opinion.

    • No ripping, we all have our reasons for what we do! As I said I used to always wear shorts over tights when running on campus. Something about being a prof/teacher I guess and wanting to be a bit more modest around students…

  15. I have always run with shorts over tights.

    This is because of the layering factor, and it only takes one expirience of “… much like pouring hot tea through a popsicle.” (AWESOME description, by the way) to prompt me to add an extra layer.

  16. I wear compression shorts underneath tights when temps fall below 25F or so. As with upper body wear, layers work better for me than thick garments that usually don’t breath as well.

    But earlier this week is did the shorts over tights thing only because I didn’t have any clean compression shorts left. My son said, “Nice skirt, dad”, commenting on the shorts over tights look. Yeah, he thinks I’m a dork regardless, but the shorts do look especially stupid, and they’re only a last resort.

  17. Hey Pete,

    I’m of the same mind as you. Modesty in certain situaions, but moreso a wind barrier. This extends to the upper thighs as well as the fun-bits, infact I’ve even worn basketball-length shorts over my tights when the wind is particularly nasty.

    I’ve been given grief by some for my fashion “faux pas” but overall I’ve never been much of a fahionista so it really doesn’t matter ;)

    I do own a pair of Ruez performance underwear that work pretty well for blocking wind, but they aren’t designed to be wind proof either.

    51FU

  18. I do it for modesty, but it depends on the tights. Some hide nothing and others seem to. Anyhow, I have to ask: no one else suffers major shrinkage when they run, esp. in cold weather?

    Besides the modesty aspect, I would rather keep warm and go with a tighter pair of shorts over the rather thin tights I wear (no wind block in them). I’d have to wear something under them.

  19. While I do not live where it is extremely cold. To combat this issue I usually wear thigh length spandex under 7″ in-seem or longer running shorts but I am ok with my legs getting cold.

    if it is REALLY cold I add in long compression socks or calf sleeves and I am usually good to go.

  20. I have several pairs of tights I run in. These are nearly all purchased from Aldi/Lidl here in the UK and are designed to be compression base layers more than tights. These are cheap at less than £10 ($16) a pair and some of the later ones match Skins for quality which are 6 times the price.

    I always wear shorts over the top as without them people can tell how cold it is….

  21. I never have been able to understand people who wear shorts over their tights. Why not wear something less fitted?

    Anyway, I have a pair of Salomon windstopper tights that I love. I found them on sale through an online camping retailer. One of my best purchases. My wife has had both Nike Shield tights and Pearl Izumi Fly Evo tights. She liked the Nikes and LOVES the PI tights.

  22. Most of the guys in the run group I belong to run sans shorts over the tights. I guess it’s more just a level of comfort you have with those you run with. I own about 3 sets of tights and they get worn for various reasons. I love my CWX tights (2 pair – one insulated for temps 25 and below and the other between 25 and 33 degrees – shorts all other temps). They’re great because they hold everything just right and I don’t need to wear my calf sleeves with them. I would just as soon throw on a pair of running pants before I wear shorts over tights. I’ve never tried the Gore tights you mentioned but perhaps after reading some reviews I may be tempted to pick up a pair :)
    And I certainly wouldn’t buy a pair of tights just for the pockets – my jacket or hydration belt would suffice for holding small items if needed.

  23. Also a modest runner, I think you can’t go wrong with below the knee or three quarter length pants – over the tights. Does the job and doesn’t look weird.

  24. Personally, I always wear shorts over my running tights, not just because it’s way warmer during the winter—the only time of the year that I run with tights—but also because it offers more pocket options.

    I actually remember Runner’s World posting an article on their site a few months ago stating that shorts-over-tights is a big athletic fashion faux pas, but I’d take their opinion on fashion with a heaping of salt. I wear somewhat longer, black cross-training type shorts over my tights and I think the combo looks “baller,” as the kids these days say.

  25. I used to wear shorts over tights and realized it just creates more laundry. If I’m wearing tights, I’m also wearing UA underwear. If it’s cold enough to be wearing tights, there aren’t many people close enough to check me out, and if they, do, it certainly doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I think it’s weird when runners DO wear shorts over tights. We’re probably way overthinking this!

  26. anton krupicka posted a picture of him with some other runners the other day and you can see his entire “outline”. not cool, anton. i wear shorts over my tights because there are children in my neighborhood and it’d be creepy if i didnt.

    • I say we all should dress Amish style to avoid revealing any unsightly curves or bulges! Perhaps men and women alike should wear burkas at all times to avoid offending anyone.

      BTW, almost 100 comments on this post – who would have thought it was such a hot button topic?

      Gotta hop. It’s time for my weekly nudist runners group run.

  27. It seems bizarre to me, but I guess there are people who never consider modesty, or whether displaying their parts is creepy. They’re called sociopaths, or “European.”

  28. Used to just wear the tights, until my girlfriend stopped me one day and questioned if I was really going out just wearing tights.

    Now I slip shorts over but I don’t notice much of a difference.

  29. Sometimes I wear shorts over my tights if it’s cold enough. I don’t really care what most people think of me running around in tights. My rural neighbors all think I’m nuts anyways.

    • Simply running as much as we all do makes our neighbors think we’re nuts :) I like to walk barefoot down my street holding my shoes at the end of runs in summer, I often get asked if everything is ok :)

  30. Peesicle is my new favorite word. When I needed to run in tights, I did it without shorts overtop. I have a couple pair now that have the brushed interior that seems to work fine. But, I’m not running in freezing temps anymore.

  31. Since I live in Louisiana, I don’t have to wear tights a lot, but I do have 2 pair that I wear when it gets down in the 30′s F or lower. They’re probably a lot closer to tapered running pants than they are skintight tights. I do wear compression underwear underneath, and I don’t wear shorts on the top. I just think that it looks goofy.

    • Any temp above freezing is pretty much shorts weather up here right now :)

      • Yeah, it took me awhile to get a system worked out, but I have personal “guidelines” as to when to put what layers on. Again, being from Louisiana, we don’t get a lot of cold weather, and I don’t even consider tights/pants until it gets to the 30′s. But frankly, I also find that there’s not that much difference between 32 and anywhere in the 20′s for me when it comes to pants and tops. Once I start running I warm up quick. Now gloves…that’s a different story. There are days when I wish that I had a better pair of light gloves to run with, but I’m too cheap to go buy something that I’ll only use 2-3 times per year!

  32. Ok, let me start by saying that what follows is not meant as sarcasm or insult to anybody, I am just curious: as one of the aforementioned sociopaths (aka Europeans) I am starting to wonder about this modesty thing: it seems like large parts of the comments indicate that people in the US would want runners to wear shorts over the tights. How does this relate to the typical type of swimwear worn by males at the swimming pool or the beach? Nearly exclusively shorts I assume?

    • tee hee… sorry, no offense.

      So I’m guessing you like wearing those grape-smuggling Speedos, right?

    • Nobody in the US wears Speedo type swimwear unless they are on a swim team. Mostly board shorts or things like that. I just use running shorts for swimming. Have never owned a speedo. Yeah, Americans are weird about modesty, first time I went to a beach in Sweden as a college student I was rather perplexed.

    • I am a Canadian who has lived many years in the USA. Americans are very open and accepting of some things, but have real hang-ups about the human body, at least in certain contexts. It still baffles me.

      • We can be pretty weird about it. I’ve got my theories about why, but I can say for sure my major objection to tights is that I can’t stand the feeling of constriction. I wore tights exactly once for about 4 minutes. I turned around a half mile into the run, took them off, and kept my shorts. I haven’t worn tights since…that was almost 20 years ago.

        • And in the US the tights thing is more an issue for men. Compression gear without covering up is commonplace for women, nobody would think it weird. I think for a certain segment of our population tights are not considered manly.

      • It is strange, weird how two countries right next to each other can be different about something like this.

  33. What’s good enough for James Bond is good enough for me. ;)

  34. No shorts over tights I reckon!

  35. To the guy whose GF asked “are you really going out with just tights” it’s really more about her discomfort than yours or whether or not it’s appropriate. Eyes are up here, lady.

    As far as replying to the actual content of the post: I’ll use generic, linerless athletic shorts

    I’ve used wind blocking pants (even some light hiking pants from e.g. mountain hardware in a pinch) when it’s really cold and windty, say below freezing.

    Having said that, I do have a pair of Nike tights that are styled like underwear with their color scheme. I don’t feel as comfortable with those and no over shorts. Down to about 34ºF though, it’s just the tights.

    I’m interested in the wind blocking underwear. I just now found out about that!

    (fwiw cw-x and nike hyperwarm tights. Big fan of the cw-x actually, same pair got me through my first half and a full marathons, this year)

  36. Ah, the modesty question. Normally it’s about girls wearing low-cut tops, now it’s about men wearing tights. It seems that winter tights, being thicker, offer less of a “view,” whereas compression shorts make me feel like I’m your urologist. That being said, often those shorty-track shorts will make me just as afraid I’ll accidentally know way too much about the stranger (or recent acquaintance) running up the hill in front of me.
    Wear what makes you comfortable, and I will do my best to respectfully keep eye-contact when we’re speaking. :-)

  37. Dave Ciszek says:

    I do wear shorts over tights I don’t worry about people judging me while I look running so I don’t worry what they think of what I wear.

  38. This discussion boggles my mind. Serious endurance athletes wear skin tight clothing all the time and don’t think twice about it. Cyclists. Nordic skiiers. Speed skaters. Swimmers. Sprinters. Even the manliest of all men — football players — are prancing around the field in skin tight capris. Yet runners are the only group I have seen that goes to such absurd lengths in discussing this or trying to get around it. Would a serious swimmer wear board shorts in a meet? Would a football player wear a cover up? Of course not. Tights (shorts, capris, long) are far superior to virtually all other garments, save perhaps the shortest of split shorts. Period.

    • Yeah, but most of us aren’t serious endurance athletes. We’re just normal people who think it might not be the best idea to flaunt our package around the neighborhood.

      This discussion is almost as ridiculous as the minimalist vs. cushion debate. In reality, nobody really cares what anyone is wearing.

      • Yeah, for me wearing shorts over tights is really more about being considerate for others than it is about me being modest. I don’t know how people around me feel about seeing the outline of my junk when I run so I prefer to err on the side of caution.

        And as I mentioned earlier, I and other people I know who run actually do like the kneelength-athletic-shorts-over-tights look, although I suppose it’s really only a thing with guys who play basketball, where wearing shorts over tights/compression gear is a common practice.

        • I agree on both points, Zed — it’s about being considerate more so than being modest. I don’t personally care how much or little people see of me, but I realize that THEY might care. So the shorts go on top (although lately I’ve been running in UA Imminent Run pants, which make it a non-issue).

          I see shorts on tights with football, too — from the sandlot to NFL practices, it’s fairly common.

  39. Back to the issue if wind protection… there are many models of Nordic ski tights that feature an entire front panel of wind-stopping material.

  40. Some of the Pearl Izumi tights have a “support brief” in the front to help with the bouncing and with protection from the cold. Not much modesty protection though…

  41. Walt Miller says:

    Definitely think this is a topic worthy of extensive gear review. Sure there are options to wear under and over but really, my favorite part of running is the freedom and layering up takes that away for me mentally. Of course, the hot tea through the popsicle as Peter correctly describes is reason to consider layers. Brrrr.

  42. I wear icebreaker’s tracer tights with shorts (wife wanted me to be modest). The tights fit really well and have kept me warm in -40 degF (with windchill).

  43. I refuse to run in tights. I’d rather have a pair of wind pants that are a little more loose (for modesty) with shorts under.

    Then again, I’ll run in just shorts in 30deg weather (though I really need to buy some wind briefs!)

  44. Swix, Craft, Bjorn Daehlie, Odlo, One Way and other brands of nordic ski wear all have excellent choices of tights with different grades of wind-protection and insulation. This is the obvious choice for running in temps below 20

  45. LOL I’m from northern Europe and my guess is that 85% of the male (and female thank God) runners runs in tights.

    I can’t recall that I have ever seen a runner with shorts over tights here.
    In the winter we use winter tights which should keep you warm. Gore makes some very good and expensive quality tights but I can also recommend Nike’s winter tights and Salomon.

    Maybe its you’r “inner- Swede” who want’s you to run in tights like the rest of us from Scandinavia ;-)

    • Northern Aspect says:

      I agree. I’m from Finland and find the topic a bit amusing. However, the discussion reveals something about cultural differences. I remember a thread on a Finnish running forum about whether one wears tights with or without underwear. Modesty was one issue there alongside with comfort. ;)

    • Can’t escape my heritage I guess! I think my daughter has polar bear blood, she never gets cold.

  46. What you need is an 16th century codpiece! ;-)

    • Aren’t those made of metal? Could pose some issues :)

      • Excuses, excuses. Metal has it’s uses:

        1) It’s bullet proof

        2) It’s wind proof

        3) It’ll mean that the rescue services will be able to use a metal detector to find you in snow drift.

        Your wife just needs to inform the emergencies services of your attire. Although if you do run regularly with a steel codpiece I’d guess the neighbour including emergency services might “know” about you so passing on this information might not be necessary :-)

        Oh.. wear it over your tights if you are worried about frostbite.

  47. Going to echo a few comments here, from the perspective of the Frozen North (in my case, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada).
    For cold weather running, I have always used “wind briefs” for cold runs which have the wind proof panel in sensitive areas. They work brilliantly and are a must up here (running in -30 Celsius (about -20 Fahrenheit) does happen, although not a smart thing to do). The brand I use is Running Room.
    Regarding shorts, I also find simple tights very strange, but to each their own. I have 3 pair of winter running pants (Running Room again)- one actually has shorts sewn on over the tights, which works for me in mild cool runs. The other two are thicker or have wind panelling for really cold runs, and aren’t tight enough to show any sensitive bits, so no shorts overtop required.

    Great post, Pete! Very relevant topic for 2/3 of my running year. :)

  48. No shorts over tights. If someone stares, let them stare. At least you are the one out there on the harsh days running. (Note: I do all of my running before 5 a.m. :)

    I will run with a pair of compression shorts underneath my tights. This both protects the man parts and provides a little more support. Read into that what you will.

  49. I tweeted at you and Steve Magness yesterday that people in Wisconsin make fun of people who wear shorts over tights. I haven’t worn shorts over tights since probably about my sophomore year of high school.

    As for me, I found a great pair of Craft running pants a few years ago. Windproof material in the front from knees up, more breathable everywhere else. These are great for any time the temp drops below that 15-20 degree range when tights just don’t do enough and have done me fine down to slightly sub-zero. Below that, I just wear a pair of tights under them.

    As for modesty, I have a pair of “relaxed fit” Nike running tights. Got 4 pairs about 12 years ago and I’m hanging on to the last pair for dear life until I can find more. I’ll wear tights but I do like the slightly more modest look of those Nike pants. Trying hard to find a replacement that isn’t baggy but not having much luck so far.

    • I bought a pair of the relaxed fit type tights at Target (C9 stuff) several years ago. I love them, but can’t find them any more. Wish I had stocked up!

    • I should find out where the local university gets their pants, because I keep seeing them on the athletes. They’re not quite tights, but not quite classic “warmup” style pants, but I never see them for sale anywhere…

  50. Have you tried any of the merino tights like the Icebreaker Sprint or something similar?

    • I wear the tracer tights and I love them. I wrote a review and an update on it on icebreaker (Calgary, AB). link to goo.gl

      • Nice, I bought the tracer pants already. I just picked up some sprints to double as a base layer for playing in the snow. I may need to check out the tights.

        I’ve always been a running pants guy but picked up some ASICS tights in Amsterdam early this year and have enjoyed the few runs I’ve used them on.

  51. For those of you who want a more relaxed fit, what about something like this:

    link to onemoremile.net
    This one is fleece and is pretty warm.

    link to onemoremile.net
    This one is more like a knit basketball type of material.

    I’ve used One More Mile in the past and still use a lot of their shorts and shirts. I don’t need winter gear right now, but I’d probably go with the second one above. (I’ve had the first one and it’s almost too warm for where I live.)

  52. Oh no, shorts over tights is the worst!

    I feel like some company has to have solved this problem and made reinforced tights?

  53. I wear ronhill tracksters with just regular jocks underneath when weather is cold. Tracksters have a loose fit and loops that go under your feet to keep legs pulled down. They have a drawcord waist to help keep the waist up, wouldn’t swap them for anything ,used them in weather down to -5.5C without any issues

  54. Try the Nike element thermal tights that have a thin, fleece lining on the thighs and a wind stopping panel on the front. I’ve been good in those bad boys all the way down to zero.

  55. A few winters back I had no choice but to head out with tights only – no underwear. Biggest mistake ever, I managed, mainly through grit and determination, to complete my run, however, it took about 30 mins in a warm bath after to revive the poor fellow, who remained red raw and extremely tender for the following days. So my advice is to always wear underwear, under the tights. If its mega cold I’ll wear long johns too, If I’m going up a mountain I’ll wear some windproof over trousers… Anyway I’m not a modest chap so I don’t feel the need to wear shorts on top, TBH I think it looks a bit geeky.

  56. I always wear shorts. I like the pockets for keys, knife, pepper spray, gloves, hats, sunglasses, sometimes a shirt, even a phone if I’m out somewhere people don’t much go. If it’s cold, I may wear tights under them. Or sweats over them. Or both if it’s really cold, like -20F or lower. And I really don’t give a rat’s furry behind whether I’m stylish or not. But then I’m a trail runner and we’re always getting mistaken for the homeless anyway. I’m way past being over it.

  57. I have run through all kinds of winter weather, and I have never found tights all that effective. I like wearing a racing/running short with a running pant (like a European running pant). The advantage is that the pant traps some warm air near the body and things stay warm. The running shorts has a wicking liner and a nylon wind shield. I never wear tights anymore.

  58. No offense, but it seems a bit crazy to go with ”normal” tights below 20F. GORE tights work ok, but they tend to ride down from the waist. I think this is pretty much the case with all Windstopper tights with a high waist. You might want to check these out:
    link to salomon.com
    But the best below freezing so far is (with a thin fleece kind of layer inside):
    link to loeffler.at

  59. I live in the great white north and run in shorts only year round…never had a problem even in sub zero temps.. Except I have very nearly frost bit the nether regions once. I cured this by lining the inside of my shorts(outside the underwear) with toe warmers in a strategic place. They have adhesive on one side that stays put. Works like a charm. What I mean by toe warmers is the kind that get warm when exposed to oxygen.

  60. Hmmmm… Well I’ve not yet run at those temperatures or even in tights to be honest. So far just jogging trousers. If i was feeling the windchill like that id definitely be looking for some extra warmth. So thanks for the post as the comments have revealed some nice items to go and investigate

  61. Jim Mullahy says:

    I’m still in shorts, hate tights or pants. And I’m in Boston!

  62. Don’t think I’ve seen anyone raise this, but why not just use an athletic supporter/jock strap? Keeps everything in place, adds protection from the wind. Yes, there are some bulge issues, but that’s a part of being human. Women have related issues, and they cope. No sarcasm intended.

  63. I have a pair of the windstopper tights from New Balance. They accomplish the job of keeping you warm, but aren’t that great of a tight. The material has no stretch and restricts my stride. Also has too many seams and which has caused chaffing on the inside of the knee before. I’m thinking investing in the windblock underwear would be a much better investment.

  64. Runner Paul says:

    In my part of Canada, we run at -22F and colder, otherwise we’d never get any running in. A wind-blocking tight is essential, along with a base layer, and windproof briefs, of course. Plus upper body layers, and really good mitts and headgear. A strip of duct tape over the toes of my running shoes helps keep the feet warm, as do my Smartwool socks. Stowing the water bottle under the jacket keeps it from freezing, for a while anyway.

  65. This struck a chord with me. i have run in lycra for as many years as I can remember. This year I have started to wear shorts over the top. I am not sure why. It may be modesty or it may be that my underwear is changing. I have started to wear lycra running boxers which have been a great addition to the wardrobe. It is easy to slip a pair of shorts on over the top and not worry about chafing. I pointed our readers towards it by making it our post of the day at link to barefootbeginner.com

  66. I’m late to this topic due to Christmas festivities. Here are a few of my own thoughts and observations.

    * Here in MN, I routinely have to run in single digit or sub zero F temps. I have NEVER run with shorts over my tights. Reasons for doing so are…
    1. All my shorts have liners, which bunch/pinch if I wore them over tights.
    2. My personal opinion is that wearing shorts looks more feminine than just tights (looks like I’m wearing a mini skirt and covering my ‘manhood’)
    3. I also wear underwear with a wind-blocking panel beneath my tights. It seems that the underwear and tights both do a good job a managing my bits and not make them too noticeable.
    4. My cold weather running tops have some coverage that goes below the waist. So it provides some modesty and also helps prevent cold air from getting to my core.

  67. Hi,

    As a woman I just want to say I don’t feel the need to use any other bottom clothes aside from my regular winter tights.

    Buying warm tights was the issue so I bought some with warming inside, bur not specific for any area.

    And like Aaron said my cold weather running tops have some coverage that goes below the waist, so I’m always warm and happy running in winter cold days! :)

  68. I thought it was funny that so much attention placed on how a man looks in tights and yet woman can reveal quite a bit in their tights and we don’t seem to have a problem with it.

    Even the shapely, tight, revealing curves shown by those tights can be a distraction!

    For equality’s sake I say no shorts.

  69. Go to any nordic ski related store or website. They all have wind briefs specifically for under tights. I don’t think they are made anymore but The Hand was a funny option.

  70. I wear CW-X shorts at the gym when I am on the treadmill or doing a leg workout. I also have Nike running tights that I’ve worn on colder days, neither of which that I wear with a loose short over them. It’s all about function. If someone really wants to stare at my junk, then they are either too close, envious, or just a perv. Any of those reasons, I couldn’t care less about unless of course someone is REALLY that close. Enjoy the view ladies and gentlemen, I’m just here to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. That goes for speedos as well. Don’t knock ‘em until you try ‘em. I never go commando though unless I am cycling.

  71. I’m a tights-only guy. Brooks Runderwear solves the peecicle problem unless it’s just ludicrously cold and below about 10F, I’m likely to be wearing double-tights anyway.

  72. Found this post and corresponding comments thoroughly entertaining! I live in the South and have never had a need for tights…until the recent “polar vortex”. So I bought a pair..and thought, “Shorts, or no shorts?” I have ran in running pants in the past..not tight, not an issue. All but one of the guys in my run group do not wear shorts over their tights…not sure why, but I’m going to ask him next week!

    Peter – I think you should repost…or, add a poll to this post and let people vote. I ran in DC this morning..here for work..and was thinking, “Damn, my %^&* is cold!” but I think shorts look goofy. I like the suggestion of underwear that block that wind…the built in brief that my tights has doesn’t block the wing.

  73. Thank you for writing about this! This dilemma cannot be overlooked.

  74. It might be a bit late to post…but the topic is intriguing. I’m in my final semester at FIT focusing in technical design with an interest in activewear for men. I have been researching products that could be developed more fully and the issue of men finding the right winter running gear came to my attention from a friend. – This post was perfect source for ideas.

    I have a question – modesty issues aside – What would you think about a men’s running tight with compression around thighs, ventilation behind the knee, ventilation front and back two inches below the waistband, (similar to compression shorts) half liner both windproof and thermoregulation?

    Combined with flat seeming (used in most activewear) with proper thread to basically not feel the seam.

    are ankle zips necessary or would you guys prefer a closer fit at the ankle?

  75. Here’s what I don’t get. You tights-wearers don’t wear tight spandex shorts in the summer, so why do you wear spandex tights in the winter? If you wear loose shorts in the summer, then why don’t you wear looser running pants (narrow at the ankle, so they don’t get in the way) in the winter?

    • Speaking for myself, I do have a couple pairs of spandex shorts that I use for duathlons in warmer weather. The primary benefit to me is that tights greatly minimize chafing.

      But there are also compelling reasons to wear “loose” shorts in warmer weather, which is what I do most of the time. The main reason for tights is that in cold weather you want to keep your “manhood” close to the body to stay warm. In warmer weather, you want your “manhood” away from your body to lower/regulate the temperature – and thus wear more loose-fitting clothing.

  76. The North Face Isotherm line has windstopper panels in the front with mesh wicking panels at the sides and back. They had a jacket and pant set and while the pants were not tights they did have a very nice fit. No need for shorts. Don’t think they make them any more. my wife got me these as a gift and have become my go to choice for cold windy rainy days in the PNW. (Read most days between nov and June) I did a run in wash dc along the river on a 20 day with wind. Jacket and pants were fantastic.

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