The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024

The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024

At some point winter running has us out in the dark, unpredictable weather, or facing arctic air. We all fare better with tights that are built to survive those conditions. The season includes many moods you’ll need to prepare for including sudden snowstorms, sleet, and wind. Being equipped with the proper winter running tight for your typical weather forecast can help keep you logging outdoor miles.

We’ve created this guide to help you find the best option for those worst weather days, the stunning bluebird days, and everything in-between. Most of these winter tights are versatile and can be worn for winter hikes, nordic skiing, as a base layer under snow pants, or for school drop-offs. They also work well for the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. All to say, the investment goes a long way.

If you’d like to learn more about the details of winter running tights, jump down to our buyer’s guide, FAQ, and comparison chart lower on the page. Otherwise, scroll through our top picks below.

Editor’s Note: We updated our women’s winter running tights buyer’s guide on March 5, 2024, with freshly tested products and new awards designations.

The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024


Best Overall Women’s Winter Running Tights

  • Number of pockets
    5
  • Pant rise
    High rise
  • Fleece lining
    Yes, there’s a back panel
  • Gusset
    Yes
  • Inseam
    27.625″

Product Badge
The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024


  • Ready for an array of weather

  • Front leg panel is tough — no pilling or snags

  • Waistband doesn’t slide down


  • Shorter inseam (ends above ankle)

  • We’d like to see more reflective material

Best Budget Women’s Winter Running Tights

  • Number of pockets
    5
  • Pant rise
    High rise
  • Fleece lining
    No
  • Gusset
    Yes
  • Inseam
    26”

The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024


  • Gusset and triangle-shaped interior leg seams prevent chafing

  • Contains Bluesign-approved materials

  • Flat seam construction helps prevent friction


  • Waistband pockets have no closure

  • Unsightly seam bulge on thigh pockets

  • The inseam is a bit short, ending a few inches above the ankle

  • Additional reflective accents would be better

Best Runner-Up Women’s Winter Running Tights

  • Number of pockets
    1 (does not fit phone)
  • Pant rise
    Mid rise
  • Fleece lining
    Yes
  • Gusset
    No
  • Inseam
    30”

The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024


  • Longer inseam

  • Durable fabric, no pilling

  • Bluesign-certified fabrics

  • Flatlock seam technology


  • Only one small pocket

  • No drawstring

  • Tight to get over hips

Most Pant-like Women’s Winter Running Tights

  • Number of pockets
    2 zippered hand pockets (9” x 6.5”)
  • Pant rise
    Mid rise
  • Fleece lining
    Yes
  • Gusset
    No
  • Inseam
    28”

The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024


  • Super soft and comfortable

  • Can be used as a layering system over other tights

  • Long-lasting fabric sans signs of pilling


  • No reflective seams or logos

  • Lacks tall sizing option

  • Only comes in one color

Best Women’s Winter Insulated Running Tights

  • Number of pockets
    5
  • Pant rise
    Mid rise
  • Fleece lining
    Yes
  • Gusset
    Yes
  • Inseam
    25.5”

The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024


  • Grippy drawstring that stays tied

  • Eco-friendly PFC-free water-resistant finish on face fabric

  • Reflective seams

  • Very soft


  • Shorter inseam

  • Fabric does lightly pill

  • Comes only in one gray color

Best for Windy Climates

  • Number of pockets
    2
  • Pant rise
    Mid rise
  • Fleece lining
    Yes
  • Gusset
    Yes
  • Inseam
    29.25”

The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024


  • Water- and wind-resistant front panels

  • Sustainably sourced merino wool

  • Flatlock seam construction helps prevent chafing

  • Exterior ankle zippers for ease of pulling tapered, fitted tights on and off


  • Pocket is not big enough for a large phone

  • Had to retie drawstring mid-activities to keep the tights from sliding down

  • Textile on the backside is thin if stretched, like when bending over to tie a shoe

Best of the Rest

  • Number of pockets
    5
  • Pant rise
    Mid rise
  • Fleece lining
    Yes (lightly)
  • Gusset
    Yes
  • Inseam
    27”

The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024


  • Lightweight but warm

  • Backed by a 5-year guarantee

  • Water-conscious tightly knit design aims to prevent micro-shedding waste

  • Full-length reflective side seams


  • Drawstring is short and hard to tie

  • Legging is barely brushed with fleece

  • Slight pilling occurred toward the hips where the jacket rubbed during runs

  • Number of pockets
    3
  • Pant rise
    Mid-rise
  • Fleece lining
    Yes
  • Gusset
    Yes
  • Inseam
    27″

The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024


  • Soft interior microterry liner

  • Reflective details

  • Comfortable gusset

  • Sustainable with Bluesign-approved 68% recycled nylon

  • Number of pockets
    3
  • Pant rise
    High rise
  • Fleece lining
    No
  • Gusset
    Yes
  • Inseam
    28”

The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024


  • Durable, premium material

  • Fun color-blocking and aesthetic

  • Comfortable waistband

  • Ankle zippers for smoother process pulling on and off


  • Legs tend to slip down

  • Short internal drawstring

  • Small envelope flap leaves pockets unsecure

  • Number of pockets
    4
  • Pant rise
    High rise
  • Fleece lining
    Yes
  • Gusset
    Yes
  • Inseam
    28”

The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024


  • Under $100

  • Fabric is composed of 88% recycled polyester

  • Long internal drawstring

  • Slide-through pocket at lower back to thread your shirt on hot days


  • Not ideal for high moisture

  • Unflattering front seam construction

  • Number of pockets
    2
  • Pant rise
    High rise
  • Fleece lining
    Yes
  • Gusset
    Yes
  • Inseam
    28”

The Best Women’s Winter Running Tights of 2024


  • Comfy and snug

  • Broad size run goes from XS to 2XL

  • Recycled polyester (74%)

  • Low-profile internal drawstring


  • Not windproof

  • Seams started popping right away

  • Tight waistband

GearJunkie testers run with mittens on at -10 degrees in Crested Butte, Colo.; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Women’s Winter Running Tights Comparison Chart

Winter running requires gear that protects against the cold and if snowy, a brighter environment; (photo/Eric Phillips)

How We Tested Women’s Winter Running Tights

Known as one of the coldest places in the Lower 48, Colorado’s Gunnison Valley is an ideal testing location for winter apparel. Harsh storms coupled with below-freezing temps provide our testers with extreme elements. Situated in high-altitude peaks between 9,000 and 11,000 feet, there’s ample precipitation: Snow with high water content has been prevalent, as well as dry snow. As an arid climate, humidity is one factor that’s left out.

At the helm of the snowsports buyer’s guides, Senior Editor Morgan Tilton has more than three decades of experience wearing down snow apparel in mountainous winter climates and more than a decade of outdoor industry and product reporting under her belt.

Leading our women’s winter running tights test, Constance Mahoney is an experienced runner competing in a range of distances from local 5ks to trail ultramarathons with a preference for vertical. She founded the Trail Sisters Crested Butte, Colo., chapter, in 2021, which she still organizes. Constance has been a GearJunkie contributor since 2019, after she reviewed outdoor gear for FitnessTravelGear.com for 2 years. Her specialties range from running and camping to hiking, angling, hunting, and photography — her landscape and wildlife images are viewable in RedLine Gallery in Crested Butte.

To put these women’s winter tights to the test, we ran in a range of conditions from absolutely freezing (-10 below) to cold (5 to 30 degrees) and mild temperatures (30 to 40 degrees). We ran for short and long distances, while the snow was lightly or fiercely falling, under sunshine, and while being blasted by wind.

Miles included uphill sprints, workouts, and slow slogs. We jaunted with a variety of supplies in the pockets including fuel, gloves, key, IDs and credit cards, and large devices. We washed, dried, and put each pair through the rounds including a deep inspection about how and why each pair was made.

To help narrow down the best choices for testing, we also researched the most acclaimed, award-winning, popular, innovative, legacy, and new offerings out there today in addition to our team’s insight as runners.

Winter-specific run tights help runners stay cozy before, during, and after a jaunt; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Buyers Guide: How to Choose Women’s Winter Running Tights

In our perspective, the best women’s winter running tights can be used for a variety of activities — not just running. When looking at what to purchase, keep that in mind: For what other activities might you want to use this cold-weather pant?

Alternatively, the tights can be solely dedicated to runs. If you spend the majority of your time shuffling your feet mile over mile, you might be excited to treat yourself to a pair of cold-season leggings for the sport.

Most importantly, you’ll need to consider what kind of winter weather you will be running in. From there, you’ll be able to determine what design elements are key to help you stay warm, dry, and happy.

The biggest differentiators of women’s winter tights include how much insulation, water resistance, and windproofness you need in addition to overall fit, pocket design, and price.

Our crowned choice, The North Face Women’s Winter Warm Pro Tights has three major reinforcements to help keep you warm and dry on your winter adventures: a quick-wicking fabric, called FlashDry, plus wind-resistant front panels, dubbed WindWall, and the surface is finished with a DWR (durable water repellent).

Study the fabric blend of a winter run tight to find a pair that will shield the winter elements where you most run; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Fabric

Many different types of textiles and fabric blends are used to make the best women’s winter running tights.

The most popular mixes are polyester or nylon paired with a synthetic elastic fiber — like elastane, lycra, or spandex — to hold the cloth together and help maintain tightness, rebound, and shape.

Some tights incorporate natural wool, which is typically combined with human-made fibers for performance-oriented apparel, and merino wool is the most popular variety.

One major consideration when examining fabric is the environmental footprint: Are there any recycled or renewable materials in the design? We are starting to see more brands offer earth-friendlier fabrics and manufacturing practices, though we would like to see more. Consumers can be involved with that trend through what they buy and the direct feedback that they provide brands.

Many women’s winter running tights feature a variety of pockets for carrying small items; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Recycled Synthetic Materials

Polyester and nylon (a type of artificial polyamide) are popular synthetic fabrics for activewear but shed microfibers: very small pieces of petroleum-based plastic, less than 100 mm in length, that take decades to decompose. Both materials feel silky, almost slippery. They are very elastic, strong enough to retain their shape after multiple uses, wrinkle resistant, and quickly dry.

These days, polyester, nylon, and other polyamide fabrics are available in a recycled form, and many brands are shifting to that route to alleviate their carbon footprint.

Among our buyer’s guide picks, these products feature recycled polyester:

These tights use recycled polyamide:

Patagonia leads the charge with recycled nylon while they aim to transition completely away from virgin material: 89% of the nylon used in the company’s apparel is recycled, as of spring 2023. To achieve that goal, the brand uses ECONYL fiber, which is a nylon yarn that combines 50% postconsumer nylon — like thoroughly cleaned then melted fishing nets and discarded carpet — with 50% pre-consumer nylon waste, i.e., industrial plastic that would’ve otherwise been downcycled or thrown out. The Patagonia Peak Mission Tights 27” ($129) are 68% recycled nylon, 15% polyester, and 17% spandex jersey.

With the inclusion and increase of recycled materials, we have not noticed a drop in quality or performance in the products we’ve tested and will note if we do.

Running in a pair of the appropriate winter-specific tights for your climate can help prevent reddish, windburned skin; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Synthetics vs. Wool

Wool is a natural, renewable fiber grown from sheep that’s known for providing excellent warmth, thanks to the crimpy fibers that trap air, insulating the skin, yet the fibers are breathable.

Wool has a protein structure that allows the fiber to absorb moisture, holding up to 30% of its weight before feeling damp, according to the University of Waikato and CSIRO, an Australian Government science organization. Additionally, the sebaceous glands of sheepskin secrete a grease, aka wax, which can be refined into lanolin, that protects the raw fibers and makes them water repellent. Though the wax coating is removed in the manufacturing process, the wool fibers remain stubbornly resistant to water.

The natural material is also antimicrobrial with an ability to absorb excessive odor-causing bacteria, thus preventing smelly apparel, according to a 2022 study published in the peer-reviewed Molecules journal of chemistry.

With the layers that are built for the weather, our GearJunkie runners still cover miles at -10 degrees F below; (photo/Eric Phillips)

With so many great qualities, typically wool has a higher price tag. The Smartwool Merino Sport Fleece Wind Tights is one option that utilizes merino wool, and the cost for quality is premium at $140.

Drawbacks? While wool does retain warmth, it doesn’t dry as fast as synthetic materials. Without special reinforcement, wool blends are not much of a wind-blocker. Compared to synthetics, wool tends to be less durable and get saggy throughout use, which is why wool is often woven with other human-made threads, especially for high-cardio activity like running.

Synthetic materials are an excellent tool for elasticity, form-fitting structure, long-term durability, wicking moisture, and drying fast. For warmth, these factory-made materials are often lined with fleece or wool. Overall, synthetics aren’t necessarily soft, they tend to retain B.O., and not all are very breathable — it depends on how tight the weave is and the yarn circumference.

If you run outside in the winter, aim to invest in a couple of pairs of cold-weather tights that you can rotate through each week; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Sustainability

You can’t see the bits of waste flying off your running tights, but microplastics and microfibers shed from synthetic fabrics — which are woven into all of the winter tights on our list — and contaminate waterways and oceans, according to a study published in the Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

Researchers found that polyester fleece sheds the most, exceeding polyester, as do loose constructions, so high-twist yarn can help reduce fabric shed. To that end, the Janji Winter Groundwork Tight uses a tightly woven filament in the knit nylon fabric that is specially designed to help reduce fabric micro-shedding.

Some brands also work with Bluesign Technologies, based in Switzerland, for third-party verification regarding the sustainability of their manufacturing process. The criteria examines chemical use, water and energy consumption, carbon emissions, and worker health and safety. If a product carries a Bluesign label, that means the sourced materials or overall product meet the outdoor industry’s global benchmark of environmental standards. In this guide, Bluesign-certified products include the following winter running tights:

If you only want to own one pair of winter running tights, consider hand-washing and line drying between runs to save water; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Other brands create an in-house label to help consumers recognize their environmentally conscious manufacturing efforts like New Balance’s Green Leaf Standard. A product meets the guideline if 50% or more materials are sourced as “environmentally preferred,” meaning the fabric could contain recycled fibers or the sourcing is sustainable. For instance, the New Balance Impact Run Heat Tight contains 88% recycled polyester, meeting the Green Leaf Standard.

For some apparel, the face fabric is coated with a water-resistant treatment to repel precipitation called DWR (durable water repellent). Traditionally, the chemicals in DWR have been full of toxins that are unhealthy for humans, the planet and don’t biodegrade. Called fluorocarbons (aka perfluorocarbons or PFCs), those chemicals are extremely resilient and extend a product’s durability and life. When a product includes a PFC-free DWR, like the Rabbit Defroster Speed Tights, that’s a worthwhile note, and we haven’t noticed a price hike or a drop in performance due to the eco-upgrade.

Warming up at the tailgate is key in the winter to help prevent injury; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Insulation and Warmth

Picking out the ideal level of insulation in your women’s winter running tights will depend on what conditions you are climatized to, your personal health and needs, and the typical winter environment where you will run.

Are you traveling to a colder climate than you are used to? You might want to pack a fleece or wool-lined tight. If the temps are rarely below 30 degrees Fahrenheit and there’s no biting wind chill, you’ll most likely be fine with a tight that has no brushed fleece or wool. However, if there’s humidity or a breeze or gust that brings the temperature down, that extra layer of protection will be beneficial.

If you live in a place that consistently receives teeth-chattering wind, look for a tight that’s specifically reinforced to block chilly gales, like the Smartwool Women’s Merino Sport Fleece Wind Tight or The North Face Women’s Winter Warm Pro Tights, which have windproof front panels. Also, find a pair with a length that reaches all the way down to cover the ankle.

Types of Insulation

The primary types of insulation in winter running tights include:

A brushed fleece or merino wool lining feels super cozy next-to-skin while the fabric blends are more smooth.

A thicker knit or density can help buffer against the cold like the polyamide/elastane blend in the above-knee inserts that are integrated into the On Running Tights Long.

Additional patches of technical fabric on winter run tights can help shield the body from wind, cold, or precipitation; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Thermal Insulation of Clothes (CLO) Rating

One label that helps runners identify warm apparel is a Thermal Insulation of Clothes (CLO) rating. CLO is used to measure warmth levels across different materials. For example, boxer briefs have a CLO of 0.04, sweatpants have a CLO of 0.28, and a winter coat would reach around 0.70 CLO. Nakedness is zero.

CLO has the potential to be a helpful marker for buyers but not every brand shares a CLO rating or per product, making it difficult to compare values.

Furthermore, some variables can’t be accounted for within the unit of measure: Beyond fabric, sustaining adequate body warmth also depends on the user, their specific biometrics, workout intensity, and the weather.

Stretchy, large side pockets on the side of the quad are popular and available on many pairs of winter run tights but not all; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Moisture-Wicking and Quick-Drying

In addition to adequate insulation, you’ll need a fabric that wicks sweat and quickly dries, to help prevent you from getting clammy, cold, or experiencing a drop in body temperature, potentially leading to hypothermia. The other factor to manage is layering appropriately so that you don’t get chilled but don’t oversweat, either.

One benefit of wool, which is in the Smartwool Women’s Merino Sport Fleece Wind Tight, is that the natural fiber has a large capacity to wick perspiration away from your body so you are left less moist after a workout.

Other brands have their own proprietary synthetic fabrics that are designed to quickly wick moisture and dry fast: The NB Heat cold-weather fabric in the New Balance Impact Run Heat Tight, FlashDry in The North Face Women’s Winter Warm Pro Tights, the DriLayer Threshold fabric in the Brooks Momentum Thermal Pant, and the AdvancedSkin ActiveDry fabric in the Salomon Cross Warm 28”.

We’ve found that both wool or synthetic blends work well to absorb moisture on a run. However, synthetic materials tend to dry a bit faster than wool. Though, wool retains warmth better when damp.

You’ll ultimately want to stay away from any fabrics with cotton, which absorbs sweat but stays wet.

If you live in a windy place, find a pair of winter run tights that offer wind protection; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Windproofness

Again, depending on your climate, windproofness might not be necessary. Or, for light wind, a fleece-lined or thicker tight might be enough of a shield. But for those who live in climates where winter also brings a much colder wind, windproof panels make a big difference.

Wind is an element that will let you know how fast (or not) your layers are wicking sweat, drying, and can quickly create a potentially dangerous situation. The more active you are, the more sweat you create. Windproof panels help cut the cold, ultimately keeping you warmer, while your tights are wicking away moisture.

This was a main factor for why The North Face Women’s Winter Warm Pro Tights was our top pick for the best women’s winter running tights: The design has wind-resistant front panels, called WindWall.

If possible, try on a pair of winter run tights at a storefront, so that you can check the seams for any rub points; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Smartwool Women’s Merino Sport Fleece Wind Tight is not far behind with a DWR finish and windproof panels that are rated super strongly at 1 CFM (cubic feet per minute), a metric for windproofness based on the ability of 30-mile-per-hour wind to pass through one-square-foot of material. A lower digit means that the fabric more effectively blocks wind:

  • 1 CFM or less is considered windproof
  • 10 CFM signifies extreme wind-resistance
  • 20 CFM is baseline wind-resistance like a windbreaker jacket
  • 60 CFM means the wind moves through like a woven shirt or fleece jacket

The potential tradeoff? Windproof panels are not as breathable. If you invest in a pair of winter tights with protective panels and it’s not windy, the tights will be overbuilt and might not be as breathable, and comfortable, as you’d like, especially if you’re running fast or uphill and need to dump heat.

Some women’s winter run tights reach past the ankle while others are truncated well above the ankle and rest toward the calf; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Waterproofness and Water-Resistance

For the days when you won’t be running in a storm, waterproofness or water-resistance is a second thought. However, depending on your climate, the dependability of the weather forecast, and your running goals, you might find yourself pacing through a wet winter storm — planned or not. That’s when the urgency of blocking precipitation becomes apparent.

Water-resistant and windproof tights differ but are similar in the fact that they both can help protect you from getting too cold, a dangerous aspect of winter running.

Waterproof means water cannot penetrate the fabric. Think fishing waders: No water is getting in unless you fall into the river — allowing water to enter through the top — or poke a hole in the material. Waterproofness is achieved through the material and how the piece of apparel is constructed such as taped seams. Generally waterproof material is not very breathable and a completely waterproof tight would not be comfortable to run in. However, perhaps a pair of winter running tights with strategically placed waterproof panels could be a happy medium.

Water-resistant run tights can help protect the backside of a runner’s legs while kicking up snow; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Water-resistant fabric has a water-protective treatment applied to the garment, so that water beads up on the face of the material. Called DWR (durable water repellent), the coating is traditionally toxic so look for PFC-free DWR, which is void of perfluorocarbons or PFCs, also known as fluorocarbons.

Having a water-resistant tight will make your runs far more comfortable while zipping beneath snow flakes, sleet, or drizzling rain. When an untreated or non-enforced tight gets wet, the material won’t wick as well, which can leave sweat on your skin and cool you off.

The best women’s winter running tights that have water-resistance include the Rabbit Defroster Speed Tights, which has a PFC-free DWR. Then, DWR finishes are on the Smartwool Women’s Merino Sport Fleece Wind Tight and The North Face Women’s Winter Warm Pro Tights.

winter running tights for women - seams
Many winter tights are available in black and others are offered in bright colors, which is fun and increases visibility during the day; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Seams

Seam placement and construction can make a run go smooth or terribly wrong.

Chafing is the main concern when it comes to seams. When you try on a tight, make sure to move in various positions (stretch a bit and walk around) noting how the seams feel.

If you notice a seam rubbing the wrong way, double-check and make sure the tag, fabric and any underlayers are not twisted or wonky. If a cause isn’t determined, know that the discomfort will only get worse. Chafing is not to be messed with.

Basically, chafing can occur anywhere a seam is located including along the side of the leg, groin, or around the ankles.

Well-made athletic apparel including the La Sportiva Instant Pant often use a flatlock seam: Two pieces of fabric are placed side-by-side then stitched together rather than having the two pieces of fabric overlap, which leads to a bulge.

Typically, you’ll notice two seams on athletic tights, on the exterior and interior. But the Salomon Cross Warm 28” tights avoid an interior seam altogether, which helps negate chafing along the inner thigh.

The Janji Full-Length Groundwork Tight has laser-cut hems, which minimizes chafing with overlapped socks or on super long runs.

women's winter running tights - ankle zipper
Many winter run tights have ankle zippers for ease of entry and layering with socks; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Ankle Zippers

When you consider chafing, take a close look at tights with zippered ankles. The benefit of zippered ankles is that you can more easily pull on and off a well-fitted tight, and you can more easily layer the tight with long socks.

When you pull ‘er up, you can secure the ankle zip to help keep the winter elements off your skin. Below the zipper, you’ll often see an underlay, a soft piece of fabric that lines the inside, preventing the metal teeth from touching skin.

An underlay discourages chafing and blocks the wind from getting through the zipper choppers. Be sure to try on the tights, fully test out the ankle zips, and make sure there are no odd friction points in that zone.

winter running tights for women - ankle zipper
You might see a fabric underlay beneath some ankle zippers on winter run tights; (photo/Eric Phillips)

(Groin) Gusset

A gusset is a triangle- or diamond-shaped piece of material sewn into high-friction areas, in order to redistribute the stress placed on the seams. Here, gusset refers to the fabric patch in the groin area of winter running tights. We call out whether or not a pair of tights has a gusset in the bulleted specs of each product in the guide.

Durability goes up with a gusset, which replaces what would otherwise be a meeting point for all four seams, creating a potential weak spot. A single seam can also lead to a friction point and cause chafing in your netherlands, especially on long-distance runs. Ouch!

Whether you are team undies or not, a gusset is usually more comfortable, prevents chafing, and can help eliminate any potential visible display of the pubis bone.

womens winter tights - groin
In the shape of a triangle, an interior gusset sits in the groin area when being worn; (photo/Eric Phillips)

If you want to make a quick comparison of which of these tights have gussets or not, scroll back up to the comparison chart.

To test the gusset (or non-gusset) in a pair of tights, do some high knees, leg swings, and squats to see if you feel restricted in any of those motions. Look in the mirror to make sure you are happy with how the seam placement appears.

Friendly reminder: Always use proper testing etiquette by wearing undergarments when trying on clothing until they are yours to keep.

winter running tights for women - waistband
Inside the waistband, you might see an elastic loop that can be pulled out and tied for a snugger fit; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Waistband

Waistbands are another component that can easily make or break a run. Is the high waist too high and suffocating you? Did the drawstring come untied … again?

When trying on tights, move around to check the feel and fit of the waistband. Bend down and tie your shoe: Does the band tighten, pinch, flip or roll down, or is there a gap in the back? Does the waistband have an internal drawstring that pulls out easily and enough to tie? When you tighten down the drawstring, does the waistband feel secure enough?

Some runners with shorter torsos may struggle with a high-rise pant. For others, a mid-rise or low-rise might fit just right. Our bodies are wonderfully different, making it impossible for brands to get the fit perfect for everyone. The likeability of a waistband will ultimately be a personal preference.

Check each company’s return policy as you hunt for the right fit.

winter running tights for women - pockets
Side pockets can be a good place for run snacks; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Pockets

Determining if pockets are needed on your runs will help you find the best women’s winter running tight for the colder season.

The pocket designs on women’s winter running tights come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and placements.

Usable pockets are an asset. But poorly designed pockets can be a recipe for frustration with lost items such as fuel, keys, and cards.

To that end, we go into thorough detail for each product review about how the pockets performed on our selected winter running tights.

winter running tights for women - type of pockets
Many side pockets do not have a zip closure; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Types of Pockets

Winter running tights usually have a combination of these types of pockets and rarely have no pockets at all:

  • Side compression pockets on thigh or hip
  • Zippered pockets on thigh or lower back
  • Internal waistband pockets
  • External waistband pockets
winter running tights for women - type of pockets -2
We prefer to place key fobs or IDs in pockets that zip shut; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Pocket Closures

Zippered pockets are often smaller and located on the thigh or waistband. They keep your items safe without the fear of things bouncing out.

Pay close attention to non-enclosed, slip-in pockets or envelope pockets, which have a flap of fabric that fold over the top seam. You don’t want your things to pop out when they jostle around.

winter running tights for women - pockets closure
Envelope pockets have stretchy fabric that folds over the opening like a burrito; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Pocket Materials

Pockets can be crafted from the same material as the tight, a mesh, or a different fabric altogether.

We’ve found that thicker fabric can also help prevent condensation build-up on a device during physical activity. For instance, The North Face Women’s Winter Warm Pro Tights has a large mesh thigh pocket that can secure a large phone, and we never saw a sweaty phone screen or camera lens.

Mesh pockets are not ideal for winter tights as they offer no warmth for your devices or snacks and will not protect items from the elements.

winter running tights for women - pockets closure - 2
Certain pockets are made with mesh fabric that’s transparent; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Pocket Sizes

Hip or thigh pockets are usually large enough for phones and purposely don’t have a zipper for easy slide-in access. Larger pockets are also a nice place for glove liners.

Smaller pockets located around the hips, lower abs, or lower back are typically a good spot for small- or medium-sized snacks, credit cards, IDs, keys, a headband, SPF 15 chapstick, or travel size sunscreen.

winter running tights for women - pockets size
Running with a phone, especially a large one, in your side pocket comes down to the pocket’s elasticity and size in addition to personal preference and comfort; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Number of Pockets

The number of pockets varies across designs. Our top choices for women’s winter running tights range anywhere from one to five pockets though the majority offer five pouches.

How many pockets you need will depend on what you want to bring and if you are wearing other apparel or accessories that offer storage like a jacket, handheld bottle with a stash pocket, or a running pack, vest, or belt.

winter running tights for women - pockets sizes & closure
A handful of winter run tights are designed with pockets situated around the waistband; (photo/Eric Phillips)

How to Choose the Best Pockets

Think about what items you want to stash in your pockets. Then make sure the pockets are correctly sized and secure enough to keep those articles from flying out. Do you prefer a zippered pocket for security? Does your phone fit into the drop-in pocket on the thigh or hip?

If you usually run with additional storage, the La Sportiva Instant Pant offers only one pocket and the design might be a good fit: a zippered pouch on the back of the waistband. Comparatively, the Rabbit Defroster Speed Tights has ample capacity with five pockets including a zippered waistband chamber.

Additionally, consider the pocket placement. Are the receptacles placed in comfortable spots for your body? Are the pockets accessible while wearing a running jacket, vest, or hip pack?

Check out the comparison chart above to learn which tights have pockets and how many. Refer to each product review to see if those specific pocket designs suit your needs.

testing - women's winter running tights
A well-constructed pair of women’s winter run tights can help prevent chafing issues; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Price

The lowest prices for women’s winter running tights include the REI Co-op Swiftland 7/8 Running Tights Women’s ($75) for cooler year-round conditions and the La Sportiva Instant Pant ($89), which repels moisture. We haven’t found quality products that drop below those price tags with the exception of seasonal sales. To protect your limbs from the cold, you’ll need at least as much protection as these two pairs even in mild to moderate climates.

Stepping toward the midprice rung, you’ll find The North Face Women’s Winter Warm Pro Tights ($100), Brooks Momentum Thermal Pant ($95), Salomon Cross Warm 28” ($90), and New Balance Impact Run Heat Tight ($90). As the dollars go up, you’ll find greater durability and construction. In these running pants, there are usually additional features like wind-protective panels plus more and unique pockets.

Reaching above $100, you’ll find the Janji Full-Length Groundwork Tight ($108) with brushed fleece. You’re paying more for a bump up in insulation.

Premium choices include the On Running Tights Long ($120), Rabbit Defroster Speed Tights ($135), and Smartwool Women’s Merino Sport Fleece Wind Tight ($140). Overall, these top-tier designs are more complicated from a technical standpoint and aesthetically — hello, insulation panels on the On Running Tights Long, which is also made with recycled fabric.

For instance, the Rabbit Defroster Speed Tights are fleece-lined, PFC-free water-resistant, reflective, super warm, and boast five pockets. Wool typically costs more, which you’ll find in Smartwool’s tights.

different type of winter running tights for women
GearJunkie testers wore a huge variety of women’s winter run tights to find the best picks; (photo/Eric Phillips)

FAQ

The type of winter tight you need is based on the location and weather conditions of where you will be running. Defining your running climate will help you determine which tight is best. You’ll want to consider if the conditions are windy, wet, or cold and to what degree.

If you’re running where it is often windy, check out tights with wind-specific panels.

Tights with waterproofness or water resistance such as a DWR-treated textile are helpful in zones with high precipitation, be it snow or rain.
For running in temps that dip below what your standard tight can keep you warm at, consider designs that are full length with thicker material like a denser knit nylon/polyester or fibers that insulate such as fleece or merino wool.

testing - women's winter running tights - 2
Even when the sun is out, the air can be cold in winter but winter run tights help keep us comfortable; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Yes, though some thermal winter running tights focus more on warmth retention than others.

Examine the makeup of the material. Any pant that is fully or partially lined with fleece will be warmer. Wool also increases coziness.

Though, a tight’s ability to wick and release sweat — typically a synthetic blend or wool blend — or block wind can also help you maintain your body warmth, especially after you break a sweat.

Water-resistance and windproofness does not always mean there will be insulation. And just because something is labeled “winter” does not mean it is insulated!

testing - women's winter running tights - groin
For some runners, a gusset is nonnegotiable for fit and comfort; (photo/Eric Phillips)

A gusset is a fabric panel that’s sewn into a garment where seams would typically meet at high-friction areas such as the armpits or groin. The panel is often in the shape of a triangle or diamond.

Adding a patch, versus a straight seam, reduces bulk while adding greater breadth and thus range. The wide fabric also enhances breathability in that zone.

The aim? Hopefully an avoidance of chafing, uncomfortable rubbing, or rawness around the upper thighs (a better overall fit can help prevent sag) and between the legs.

testing women's winter tights - running
Despite that some winter tights feel relatively thin, their technical fabrics can provide ample warmth; (photo/Eric Phillips)

After considering the climate where you run, double-check and make sure the tight covers the checklist of what else you need, including storage, if pockets are essential to you.

Reflect on what you plan on taking with you. Make sure there are enough pockets of the style you prefer, i.e., zipped, enveloped, or compression style.

The placement of pockets is just as important. Ensure you can easily access pockets under your jacket or running pack and that you can store heavier items where they are not weighing down the tights, creating sag.

If you plan on running at night, consider prioritizing tights with integrated reflectors, which supplement other brighter running lights that can be worn on your shoes, hip belt, pack, or hat.

The Best Women’s Winter Jackets of 2024

Our winter-loving experts found the best women’s winter jackets of 2024, including picks for every style, climate, and budget.

The Best Winter Boots for Women of 2024

We tested the best winter boots for women of 2024, from winter hiking boots to extra-warm snow boots. Our top picks include Sorel, Timberland, and more!

Comments

No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *