Some warm running tights will help you run through the coldest of cold snaps. Hibernot and all that. Damian Hall takes a look at six different pairs on the market at the moment…
Salomon Endurance Tight – £60
Like the Ronhills, reviewed below, Salomon’s Endurance Tights are made with a combination of materials, but they do manage to hit the comfort and technicality sweet spot. The panels of material combine a rugged feel and compression; stretchy bits around joints and meshy bits near sweaty bits. They’re just the right balance between breathability and robustness and don’t stay wet for long either. Features include ankle zips, a drawcord, a sizeable zipped pocket and gel pockets. Designed for autumn and spring rather than coldest winter, these are leggings that, once on, simply make you want to get out of the door and hit the hills, even on those dark, dank mornings.
Verdict: Comfortable, breathable and robust, they simply make you want to go running.
OMM Flash Tight 1.0 – £40
OMM products are made with mountain marathons primarily in mind and the Flash Tight 1.0 offers really effective breathability, thanks to strategically placed mesh panels. Flatlock seams reduce the chance of friction, while ankle grip strips prevent the legs from riding up and the four-way stretch makes them super-comfy all round. A zipped key pocket and drawcord waist also feature. These have been worn on two Spine Races and while there are warmer and more wind-resistant options around, these tights are highly comfortable, breathable and last well. Despite their lightweight feel they were fine atop the Pennines on milder winter days.
Verdict: Less warmth than some, but perfect for racing hard and excellent value.
Ronhill Trail Cyclone Tight – £60
These tight by Ronhill, are the mullet of running tights: business at the front, party at the back. Windproof lamination on the front feels like softshell – and rustles like it – but offers the best weather resistance on test. At the back, in contrast, they’re very stretchy and breathable. Silicon grippers on the thighs for hand placements on long climbs are a nice touch. Three pockets include a zipped one large enough for a smartphone and buff, and four gel loops. There are also ankle zips and a drawcord (though the waist is heavily elasticated anyway). Oddly though, they never felt quite comfy, with a slight sense of restricted movement, perhaps due to the more weatherproof fabric.
Verdict: A good idea and some good features, but better in theory than practice.
X-Bionic Effektor Running Power Pants – £109
These pricey sci-fi Power Pants by X-Bionic claim more “technology” than Apple, apparently prompting a 7% reduction of lactate and even 10% improved performance overall. These bold claims are verified by the State University of Verona and difficult to disprove. Compression is light and has the pleasing novelty of making you feel aware of different leg muscles. They’re decently warm while a “cooling system” effectively prevents overheating. They are very comfortable – we didn’t want to take them off. They could do with a drawcord and don’t leave much to the viewers’ imagination at the front.
Verdict: Superb for comfort, temperature control & claimed performance improvements.
The North Face Winter Warm Tights – £75
Like the SmartWool tights, these tights by The North Face are designed for the deepest UK winter and are instantly warm and comfortable. They feel like oldschool longjohns, fleecy next to the skin with a more weather resistant outer surface, but with light compression support too. Features include a welcome “internal modesty panel”, zipped pocket, calf zips and reflective trim. Despite the breathable panels, with our increasingly mild winters they could be too warm for running for much of the year. Like the PHD Tights, these are a versatile option, ideal perhaps for bivvying or bothying.
Verdict: Great warmth, comfort and support, but possibly too warm for some.
Smartwool PhD Run Tights – £74.99
These were also tested on the Spine Race, they were the perfect replacement when uberstrong winds started getting through the OMM pair. Like The North Face tights, SmartWool’s PhD Run has a soft material (in this case merino) against the skin with a more robust option (nylon/elastane) rebuffing gusts on the outside. But they’re not quite as thick, making them a more versatile option. The SmartWool’s merino content offers good warmth but doesn’t wick or dry out after a shower as quickly as others, though they do stay warm when wet. Features include a drawcord, flat-lock seams (as with all pairs on test) and good reflectivity, but no pocket.
Verdict: Fuss-free warm, comfortable and stylish tights, if lacking in features for the price.