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For some, running tights can be a hassle. What to wear underneath? Why so, well, tight?
If that sounds like you, you might prefer one of these five running pants. The loose legs allow for complete range of motion and are incredibly comfortable.
Some, such as the Houdini and Essentials pants, are tighter in the hips and looser at the ankles, while the other three are tighter at the ankles and looser at the hips. Some are thin and light while others are double-layered and warm, or offer weather protection.
The North Face Torpedo Stretch Capri $60
A staple of European climbers’ wardrobes, loose capris turn out to be great for running, too. The Torpedo Stretch Capri feels like a pair of cozy sweats but performs like a tight.
The draw: The capri is light, airy and flattering thanks to its loose fit, mesh vents, wide waistband and thin but sturdy polyester-blend fabric. There’s a lot of room to maneuver fit-wise due to a drawstring waist and leg, though the capri does run small.
The drawback: The sole pocket, a rear zip pocket, isn’t big enough to hold more than a couple gels. Also, loose capris can be something of an acquired taste.
lululemon Track To Reality Pant III $118
These pants are the most expensive of the bunch, but they deliver with don’t-want-to-take-them-off comfort and an attractive look. Made with two layers, the Track To Reality Pant runs warmer than the others in this review, making them heavier and more suitable for colder days.
The draw: These pants can do everything. They’ve got ample storage with two large zip pockets, a wide and adjustable waistband and an aesthetic that transitions easily from the run to daily life. Plus, with stretchy fabric, this pant can handle any cross training, from yoga to rock climbing to cycling.
The drawback: Personal preferences will determine whether this is a good or a bad quality, but the waist is a good deal higher than is typical. Note that lululemon sizing is different from other brands, and this pant runs a little small.
Brooks Run-Thru Pant $95
Brooks’s mesh Run-Thru Pant is a sweatpant with a performance twist. It has a silky but light inner layer and a breathable mesh outer layer to maximize comfort. One tester wore the pant to bed as pajamas, then went right into a long run in the morning.
The draw: The mesh is much more breathable than other fabrics and contributes to the soft stretchiness of the wide waistband. The pant has great storage capacity, with two hand pockets and one sweat-resistant rear zip pocket.
The drawback: A slim cut and non-adjustable waistband means getting the right size is crucial. Also, mesh is less durable and more prone to tearing than other fabrics; take note if your typical trail run involves brambles, branches or scrambling.
Patagonia Houdini Pant $99
Patagonia’s Houdini series is about lightweight weather protection. The Houdini Pant is a versatile windstop that can be worn as an outer shell or a stand-alone layer.
The draw: The Houdini Pant functions well on anything from a jog around the neighborhood to long adventure runs. The DWR-coated nylon ripstop fabric is incredibly light and thin; the pant packs down to the size of an apple. Snap buttons on the pant legs make it easy to get on and off quickly, key for runs in ever-changing mountain weather.
The drawback: The fabric isn’t very stretchy, giving the pant a less forgiving waistband and fit. Similar to the lululemon pant, the Houdini has a high waist. There is only one small zip pocket on the thigh.
Asics Essentials Pant $50
At $50, the Essentials Pant is the best bargain in this review. The fit is more like that of a yoga pant than a traditional jogger—tight in the hips and thighs, loose in the lower legs.
The draw: The fabric, similar to that of normal running tights, feels familiar and stretchy. Two large zip pockets offer enough storage for a phone and nutrition.
The drawback: Because the pant is loose at the bottom, the extra fabric swishes around with each step. The high waistband is thin, unforgiving and not adjustable.