Best running tights 2021: keep it tight with the best compression tights and gym leggings for exercising

The best running tights and leggings for exercising can insulate your legs and oxygenate your muscles for better results

Included in this guide:

best running tights
(Image credit: ASICS )

You might be surprised to learn that the best running tights have other functions than just putting your well-sculpted glutes on display. Some of them provide compression – the best compression tights variety – as well increase blood flow in the muscles, keep your legs warm and protect you from the wind. Some of them can even be worn in the gym as workout leggings.

Whatever the weather, it is advised to be extra careful when you exercise outside. In the cold, wearing the best base layer as well running tights can not only improve your comfort levels significantly but also prevent injuries by keeping your muscles warmer and oxygenated during your runs and workouts. And, you know, they will also put your well-sculpted bottoms on display.

If you aren't feeling comfortable enough to go out for a run wearing only running tights and base layers, put the best running shorts and best running tops over them: these will not only cover up the skin-tight base but also provide an extra layer of protection against the elements.

Expand your running gear knowledge with T3's thematic guides, including the best running shoes, best running watch and best running headphones guides, to name a few. For women, we recommend having a look at the Best women's running shoes best women's running shoes guide too.

Best running tights to buy in 2021

best running tights: Inov8 Race Elite running tights

(Image credit: Inov8)

1. Inov8 Race Elite running tights

The best all-rounder

Best for: everything, really
Reasons to buy
+Very comfortable+Great quality
Reasons to avoid
-No side pockets

No need to put sun cream on your legs when you train in the Inov8 Race Elite running tights thanks to its UPF 50+ protection.

The high back waist is lined with a gripper tape so the tights won't roll off you, even if you are busy climbing mountains in your Terraultra G 260.

The Inov8 Race Elite delivers outstanding freedom of movement as well as being supportive and comfortable. It also sports a rear pocket for keys/phone and thanks to the ankle zips it's super easy to peel the tights off you once you finished the training.

best running tights: Asics Women's Lite Show Tight

(Image credit: Asics)

2. Asics Women's Lite Show Tight

As good for running as it is for HIIT workouts

Best for: HIIT training, mild weather runs
Reasons to buy
+Moisture-wicking fabric+Highly breathable
Reasons to avoid
-'Media pocket' is a tad bit small to house larger phones

Asics' Women's Lite Show Tights are all about visibility. Asics recommends these leggings for colder workouts but the Lite Show Tights have a mesh panel at a back for extra ventilation so these tights can be worn indoors too.

As well as housing the mesh panels, on the back of the tights you'll also find a 'media pocket' to put your phone in, although not a big one as the pocket is only moderate-sized. To help cooling down and to increase comfort levels, the Lite Show Tights are made of moisture (a.k.a. sweat)-wicking material and have a rear-leg zip opening to increase air flow around the calves when needed.

best running tights: Under Armour Rush graphic compression leggings

(Image credit: Under Armour)

3. Under Armour Rush Graphic Compression Leggings

Your new best gym buddy

Best for: when you're on the treadmill
Reasons to buy
+Great for gym sessions
Reasons to avoid
-Some gimmicky features

According to Under Armour "as your body emits energy, the mineral-infused fabric absorbs and reflects it back into tissues and muscles, improving endurance and strength". Whether this is actually the case or not, we don't know, but these are some comfortable compression leggings for sure.

Made out of performance fabric Celliant, the UA Rush is tough and lightweight, with all the performance benefits of UA Compression. The bonded seems eliminate irritation and chafing and the mesh panels improve breathability.

Mainly recommended for your gym sessions, the UA Rush will serve you well in your runs too. 

best running tights: Adidas Alphaskin Parley 3/4 tights

(Image credit: Asics)

4. Asics Leg Balance Tight 2

Japanese precision running tights

Best for: everyday running sessions
Reasons to buy
+Reduced chafing+Moisture-wicking
Reasons to avoid
-Not a lot of extra features

Thanks to the updated Core and Leg Balance technologies, the Balance Tight 2 will not only help you go farther without chafing, it also has added calf support. There is even an internal drop in pocket for keys and other small items.

The fabric used is quick-drying and moisture wicking and also sports mesh compression panelling. Be safe and be seen on your runs with the reflective detailing around the calves.

best running tights: Adidas Alphaskin Parley 3/4 tights

(Image credit: Adidas)

5. Adidas Alphaskin Parley 3/4 Tights

Made out of upcycled ocean plastic

Best for: runs on sunny days
Reasons to buy
+Uses plastic collected in the oceans+UV protection
Reasons to avoid
-Looks is not for everyone

This not only means that some of the yarn features Parley Ocean Plastic which is made from recycled waste, intercepted from beaches and coastal communities before it reaches the ocean, but also that the tights were designed to "imitate the fluidity of water", as Adidas puts it.

These compression tights wrap around your legs, oxygenating the muscles and keeping them warm. The Adidas Alphaskin Parley 3/4 tights use fabric that's lightweight and sweat-wicking and even has UV protection. Rest assured that you won't bump into someone wearing the same tights; the dying technique used makes no two pieces exactly the same.

best running tights: Nike Power Tech running tights

(Image credit: Nike)

6. Nike Power Tech Running Tights

The best 'basic' running tights

Material: Body: Dri-FIT 85% polyester/15% elastane; Mesh at interior waistband: Dri-FIT 81% polyester/19% elastane; Mesh panels: Dri-FIT 80% polyester/20% elastane.
Reasons to buy
+Dri-FIT technology+Sweat-vented internal pocket
Reasons to avoid
-Kinda basic

The Nike Power Tech running tights are exactly what you'd expect from the sports equipment giant, delivering spot-on running experience and loaded with tech.

The Dri-Fit technology wicks sweat away from your body to help keep you dry and comfortable. The ankle zip makes the tights easy to take on and off, lets you customise ventilation, and is lined with fabric for smooth comfort.

It even has a zip pocket on the back-right of the hip has a vapour barrier to guard items from sweat. No need to worry about your phone getting all sweaty in your pocket.

best running tights

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What are the best running tights and best compression tights?

The best compression tights are without a doubt the Inov8 Race Elite running tights, which support you in all the right places as well as being super comfortable.

If you are planning on spending a fair amount of time outside during winter and don't mind spending a little extra cash on a pair of compression tights, choose the Gore Wear R7 Windstopper running tights. These tights are windproof and water repellent, as well as having three pockets to store all your keys/gels/lucky charms.

Should you want to spend more time in the gym than outside, choose the Under Armour Rush graphic compression leggings. They were engineered for strength and HIIT training and are made out of Celliant performance fabric.

Why should you wear compression tights?

For one, the best running tights provide a wider range of movement, compared to jeans, obviously. You wouldn't want to feel restrained during running or exercising and thanks to the stretch fabric used in most compression tights, you may even improve your stride and running cadence.

Running compression tights can also reduce muscle soreness, since they keep your muscles warm and tight. This can potentially reduce injuries too, although that said, you should still do your warm up set in the gym and/or stretch before your runs to minimise the risk of injury, regardless of you wearing running tights or not.

Wearing compression garments can also help you get through high-performance training and races easier, reducing what's called a 'perceived load'. Wearing running tights might make you feel more energised during and less exhausted after your sessions.

They also promote blood flow and therefore increase the amount of oxygen your muscles get during workouts, further reducing muscle fatigue. Wearing compression tights can also improve strength recovery.

Matt Kollat
Matt Kollat

Matt is a fitness fanatic (a.k.a. fitness and nutrition writer) who's been rambling on about all things health and fitness for over two years now here at T3. His achievements include a short-lived fitness podcast called Fit Mentality Podcast and being a judge on the Fit&Well Awards 2021. In his free time, he works out at home, runs, cycles and loves a good ol' walk around the city. He writes about general fitness stuff, fitness tech, workouts, workout gear/equipment, nutrition and much, much more.