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Winter Running Apparel Review: GORE and Sporthill Windproof Running Pants and Tights

One of the most popular posts I wrote last winter was a piece on whether you should wear shorts or no shorts over running tights. The post currently has 135 comments, quite possibly a record for this site, and it quickly became clear that I had hit on a topic of great significance to runners.

In the post mentioned above I discussed wind protection for the nether regions as an argument for wearing shorts over tights, and I asked for recommendations for wind-proof running tights to try as an alternative (at the time I had never tried them). Several people recommended windproof briefs, and other had recs for tights that incorporate windproof fabric. I initially purchased a few pairs of windproof boxers from my local Eastern Mountain Sports, and they were a big step up from what I had been using previously. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find them for sale anymore, but similar products are available from other brands. If you’re looking for the cheapest option, a pair of windproof briefs is a good place to start.

In addition to the boxers, I also bought a few pairs of windproof tights on clearance at the end of last winter. And this winter I have received a few review samples of windproof running pants that I’ll review here.

I’ll start by saying that windproof fabric does make a big difference. I find that my legs (particularly my thighs) still do get cold since the fabric is tight to the surface of the skin, but they do a very good job preventing wind from piercing the fabric and reaching “critical” areas. And wearing windproof briefs underneath windproof tights makes for an even better combo. With that said, let’s take a look at a couple of pairs of pants designed for winter running.

Sporthill 3SP Callaghan Skinny Pant

Sporthill Callaghan 3SP PantLet me say first that “skinny” is not generally a term associated with anything in my wardrobe. The Sporthill Callaghan pants are the closest thing to a pair of skinny jeans that you’ll ever see me wearing! The Callaghan pants feature Sporthill 3SP fabric, which is advertised as capable of blocking wind up to 35mph. The pants are designed for XC Skiing, but are also marketed to runners.

My first thought when trying on the Callaghan pants was that they fit quite differently than a traditional running tight. I generally wear a 34 inch waist in pants, and they sent me a size medium. The pants were a bit looser than a pair of tights, but not quite as baggy as a wind pant or something like that. After a washing they tightened up a bit and the fit now feels a bit more tight-like. I actually think I should have sized up to a large as I liked the looser fit prior to the first washing.

The 3SP fabric is fairly thick, and does a great job keeping me warm. In fact, these might be the warmest running pants that I have right now. On the down side, after washing the surface of the fabric got a bit roughed up and it now collects hair like crazy. In a house with two dogs and a cat this is a bit of a problem, though thankfully nobody gets a very close look at my pants when I’m out running.

The other downside of the Sporthill Callaghan pants is the price. You’ll generally have to pay a premium for windproof pants/tights, and these are not cheap at an MSRP of $119 (though Sporthill is currently selling them for $99, and LL Bean has them for $79.99).

GORE Mythos 2.0 Soft Shell Tights

Gore Mythos 2.0 Tights 2I’ve always associated GORE apparel with quality – kind of like Salomon in that sense. And as with Salomon, you pay a premium for GORE apparel. As someone who buys most of his running apparel at Target, I generally would not shell out the dollars for their products unless they showed up in a flash sale on The Clymb or another site like that.

GORE sent me a pair of their Mythos 2.0 Windstopper tights to try out and to say that I’m impressed would be an understatement. From fit to fabric they are just a really well-made and extremely comfortable product. They sent me a medium, and they fit perfectly, even after several washings. The fabric has retained its softness, and they feel great on the run. They Mythos tights are a bit thinner than the Sporthill pants, so maybe not quite as warm, but fit and feel make them a superior product in my opinion.

Once again, the big con here is price – is any pair of pants worth the MSRP of $149.99? In this case, if I had to keep only one pair of winter running tights currently in my drawer, these would be the pair. However, I could spend a lot less for a couple pairs of windproof briefs and a decent pair of non-windproof tights and still save a bit of cash. If you have cash to burn, these GORE tights are worth it, but that is a decision each will have to make on their own.

The GORE Mythos Windstopper tights are available for purchase at Running Warehouse and Wiggle (UK).

How about you – do you have any recommendations for winter running pants (particularly cheaper options)?

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. odessaboots says:

    I have had luck the last two winters with the Nike Elements Shield Tight. Usually 99.00, however RW had them on sale recently for about 62.00. They work really well at protecting from the wind, and they fit quite comfortably. The back of the thigh does not have the windproof panelling however, so anything below 20 degrees and your hamstrings might start to get cold. For reference: I live in the NE, and went running in 8 degrees this morning. I want to try the GORE tights now, but I might wait until they go on sale at the end of the season.

  2. I agree these tights are expensive, but for someone like myself who personally avoids running on the treadmill all winter in Minnesota – it’s essential I have gear like this. I don’t have these exact tights, but I do have similar items from these and other companies, so I can speak for their necessity and effectiveness.

    It does pay to shop around. As you found and reported above, now is a good time to purchase running tights as most sellers are marking down their prices to get rid of inventory. I just took advantage of a great deal last week from Running Warehouse where they had an additional 25% off sale and clearance items.

    For me, it’s still cheaper (and far more enjoyable) using winter tights than a gym membership of buying my own treadmill.

  3. Greg Emerson says:

    Like Aaron, I run every day outside in Maine and that can include VERY challenging weather at times over several hours. (I have run 400 miles so far in 2015 with an average of 8 miles per day at about 9:20 pace average.) I find the trick balancing being warm enough without overheating. This can largely be done with head and hands as the thermometer so my legs are not the priority.
    This being said, I find a layering system works the best for me. I wear running tights that are slightly loose (currently hot chili’s and a pair of under armor) and if it is windy or really cold I put wind pants over these (currently Patagonia Houdini wind pants). I use the same strategy on upper body. Technical T shirt, long sleeve technical top (Patagonia or New Balance) then north face quarter zip layer, then wind jacket (Patagonia Houdini).The real trick has been moisture control where sweat turns into ice. If I leave the house and feel comfortable I have too much on. During the first mile my core should feel chilly so I warm into a comfortable warmth without being too hot, sweaty, and wet.
    I find expensive gear can be found on EBay NWT (new with tags) at about 50% retail and I have had great luck there.
    I have been out 470 days (including in 2 blizzards this winter) without a break and these things work well for me.

  4. My recommendation: layering. Good pair of tights, standard tech underwear, then shove a folded bandana down inside your underwear and in front of the boys. Seriously.

    Evidence: Canadian runner, 6 days (70 miles) per week, all outdoors.

  5. Pete – question for you and any readers who can respond. When running with more loose-fitting clothing in cold weather, are there any issues with chaffing? It would seem so, but maybe since many people tend to run for shorter periods in cold weather than when it’s (much) warmer, it may not be as much of a problem. I usually run 5-7 miles at 7:00-7:30 pace even in temps below 0F, and never have issues with chaffing (just somewhat dry skin on the small areas of my face that are exposed to the cold air. I don’t need to treat it all though.)

    Chaffing is one of the problems that I have to deal with when I switch to shorts when the weather warms up here in MN. My inner legs need to reacclimate to having that kind of friction again.

    • I’m the same – no issues with chafing in winter, but once I start to sweat with shorts on in warmer weather problems start to crop up. Inner legs for me as well are a particular problem.


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