Let's Go: 7 Running Pants & Leggings for Cold-Weather Running

You might think pulling on some running pants for a cold-weather run is a long way off.
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But it really isn't.
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🍂In just a few short weeks, the first official day of fall arrives.
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❄️And depending on where you live, colder temps and even a visit from Old Man Winter isn't far away.
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🏃‍♀️Looking for some running pants or leggings to keep running outside when the temperature drops?
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👉Check out these SEVEN runner-tested picks by WeeViews Ambassador Brynn Cunningham.

Brynn Cunningham tested 7 running pants and leggings in cold weather.

✅Rules for testing out running pants in cold weather

When the weather begins to turn, it’s time to retire those beloved running shorts (my favs here!) and pull out the leggings and pants. 

I’ve categorized the seven pairs of bottoms reviewed here as:

  1. Pants with Wind Resistance and Soft Shell Features (four pairs)
  2. Fleece-lined Leggings (one pair)
  3. Track Pants (one pair)
  4. Waterproof Pants (one pair)

 ✅ I’ve tested them for one to eight years on:

  • Days with temperatures ranging from negative 10 degrees Fahrenheit to 40-something degrees
  • Snowy trails
  • Stormy, rainy days
  • Muddy, wet trails
  • Double-digit long runs
  • Dry, cold dirt roads and trails
  • Runs lasting from 30 minutes to three hours

 ✅ For assistance in determining your own size, here are the female wear tester’s measurements:

  • Height: 5’ 3 ¾”
  • Weight: 120-125 pounds
  • Waist: 27.75 inches
  • Chest/bust: 34 inches
  • Hips: 34 inches
  • Thigh circumference: 18.5 inches
  • Inseam: 28 inches
  • Typical shirt size: XS
  • Typical pant size: 2, small and XS

👖Pants with Wind Resistance & Soft Shell Features

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La Sportiva Instant Pant, front view, (Photo/ Eric Harder)
La Sportiva Instant Pant, side view, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

The women’s La Sportiva Instant Pant is the ultimate warm, fitted, winter weather-resistant legging. 
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❄️Lining & outer. They have a thick, cozy fleece lining and fully water resistant outer, which I often wipe down after snowy runs and hang to dry so that they’re ready for the next day. 
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🦵Leg length. The leg length is ample, and on my short 28-inch inseam legs, they bunch up at the bottom and cause the ankle zippers to pucker. This hasn’t caused any issues, and I even like the lengthiness for extra protection from trail debris. 
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😀Zippers & storage. The large back-zip pocket fits my car keys while the ankle zippers unzip to reveal more fabric, expanding the lower leg, not exposing the skin, a nice feature for cooling or removing pants with shoe-clad feet. 
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Best for:

  • Running during snowstorms
  • Single digits to temperatures in the 20-something-degree Fahrenheit range  
  • Below 0 with a waterproof shell on top 
  • Wintry mix days
  • Cold, windy runs
  • Long runs in the mountains and on trails 

Shop men’s:

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Patagonia Wind Shield Pants, (Photo/ author)
Patagonia Wind Shield Pants, with lightweight Mountain Hardwear base layer legging underneath and side pockets stuffed with a handheld bottle and long-sleeve shirt, (Photo/ author)

The women’s Patagonia Wind Shield Pants are lightweight and water and wind resistant, perfect for running during the fall, winter and spring, depending on where you live (I live in the Appalachian Mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania). They work well alone or as an outer layer with a base layer underneath. 

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📈Sizing. I sized up, knowing that Pataoniga runs large for me, and bought a size small to work as loose, relaxed fit track-style pants and to wear with base layers. 

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👖Material. The material is strategically placed, with the front of the leg made of a thicker, more durable material than the inner thighs, butt and back of the legs, which are softer and stretchier, although the front of the pants are stretchy, too. 

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🪢Drawstring. Because the pants run a bit big, the adjustable drawstring is essential, as it allows for tying the pants tight enough so that they don’t slip off the hips when not wearing a base layer. 

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🏃‍♀️Once I wore them during a sunny 50-degree day, and they were way far too warm! 

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Best for: 

  • Temperatures in the 40s (Fahrenheit) and below
  • With a base layer when it hits the 20-degree range 
  • Light rain 
  • Cool, windy days
  • Easy runs because of the relaxed fit (I prefer fitted leggings for long runs and would probably get an XS if I wanted a more snug fit in this pant)

Shop men’s:

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Salomon GORE-TEX Infinium Softshell Pants, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

The women’s Salomon Gore-tex Infinium Softshell Pants fit is perfect - I wouldn’t change anything about it.
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😀Fit. They hug the waist, have a wide waistband with a good amount of stretch, hugging in all the right places with just enough give. I’ve even fit a pair of base layers under them, but usually I wear them alone.
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🦵Length. Notice in the photo that the bottom of the pant legs sit about a half inch above the ankle bones. Keep this in mind if you have long legs. My inseam is on the shorter end at 28 inches, so it doesn’t bother me, especially because I always wear crew-length socks. 

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Best for: 

  • High 20s to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take, depending on humidity levels and cloudiness
  • Light to medium precipitation 
  • Snowy runs
  • Long, short, easy and hard runs

Shop men’s: 

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Smartwool Merino Sport Fleece Wind Legging, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

The women’s Smartwool Merino Sport Fleece Wind Legging is the oldest pair of cold-weather pants that I own.
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🦵Durability. I received them as a gift in 2015 or 2016, and they are still going strong. Besides a rip on one knee from falling on rocks during a trail run, they are holding up well.
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❄️Temp rating. These are super warm and take on trails like a champ. The thighs have a thick resistant material and repel weather and briars equally well.
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Best for: 

  • 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Light to medium precipitation
  • Snowy runs
  • Long, easy, short and hard runs

Shop men’s:

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👖Fleece-Lined Leggings

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Salomon Agile Warm Tight, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

For my birthday in 2019, my husband surprised me with the Women’s Salomon Agile Warm Tight.
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❄️Temp rating. He must have been concerned over my constant complaints of running with freezing legs in temperatures below 40, so he did his research and got me a super soft, cozy pair of tights. They feel OH SO LUXURIOUS on the inside and even on the outside and repel the chill.
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👍Zippers & pockets. They have a zippered pocket on the back for keys plus zippers at the ankles.
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😀Fit & performance. With maximum stretch and moisture wicking, this is a simple, go-to tight when extra warmth is desired.
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Best for: 

  • Cool, cloudy high 40 to low 50-degree days in the tree-covered woods
  • Wearing under a shirt dress or skirt to transition from street to trail in style

Unfortunately, Salomon isn’t currently making this tight. However, you can find them here:

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👖Track Pants

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Janji Mercury Track Pant, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

🌡️Temp rating. For easy, cooler-weather runs, the women’s Janji Mercury Track Pant is just right.
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😀Versatility. A sucker for versatility and multi-functionality in my gear, I can easily wear the Mercury Track Pant while out and about, teaching yoga, or to my kids’ sporting events, and be ready to run at any moment amongst a busy schedule.
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Best for:

  • Easy days
  • Warm-ups on top of running shorts
  • Dirt road running days
  • Runs lasting under an hour
  • High 30s to 50 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Transitioning from life to trails

Shop men’s:

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👖Waterproof Pants

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Outdoor Research Women’s Helium Rain Pants, (Photo/ Eric Harder)

My first attempt at water repellent pants were the Patagonia Houdini, made of the same material as their best-seller the Houdini Jacket (review here).
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While the Houdini pants, which Patagonia no longer makes, do wonders for the very, very light rain days and for resisting wind, they don’t stand a chance against much more than a drizzle, just like the Houdini jacket.
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🌧️So, I sought something truly waterproof and found the Outdoor Research Women's Helium Rain Pants, which I wear in size XS.
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Best for:

  • Fastpacking and backpacking, when you’re camping in the woods in the elements between runs
  • Easy, short runs in wet, wintry mixes
  • Temperatures between 30 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit with rain, sleet, snow
  • Wearing with long base layers or short spandex shorts, depending on temperatures and humidity levels 

Shop men’s:

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👖What are your favorite running pants for cold weather?

👉 Tell us in the comments or create a WeeView about your favorite running pants.
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🏃‍♀️More gear reviews🏃‍♂️

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Brynn Cunningham
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Trail runner, ultrarunner, white water boater, cyclist (mostly MTB), swimmer, triathlete, cross country and backcountry skier...

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