You may be averse to wearing tights, but we can promise you’ll notice the difference in your performance and recovery wearing compression tights.
While most of us are happy running in our plain running pants, the argument for compression tights is a compelling one! And even better – you don’t need to give your running pants up totally. It’s easy to just wear your tights underneath (and nobody will even notice).
We’ve found you the best compression tights and pants for men to wear on the road. Our top choice is the CW-X Men’s Stabilyx Joint Support Compression Tights, but whatever the weather, your budget, or your running style, there should be something on this list for you to add to your compression socks and sleeves.
Let’s get into it!
Top 3 Best and Favorites
CW-X Stabilyx Joint Support Compression Tight
TSLA Compression Pants
Zensah Recovery Tights
1. CW-X Men’s Stabilyx Joint Support Compression Tights
These tights have powerful compression, so they’ll get your muscles warm quickly. As well as increasing your circulation, they offer extra support to potential weak points, similar to kinesio tape – the hips and knees first, and the quads and lower back/core second.
Made from 80% polyester and 20% Lycra/Spandex, they’re easy to move in and aerodynamic, so you should be comfortable and free on the road. The Coolmax polyester is also moisture-wicking, keeping you drier for longer, which is great for both long runs or short intense ones.
Some features we think are awesome include the interior key pocket, although it most likely won’t fit a phone. It’s machine washable and hang dry, which is convenient and easy. The material also provides an SPF factor of 50+, so you’ll be protected from the sun while out in summer, and has a reflective logo to make you extra visible on night runs.
- We love the interior key pocket feature for extra convenience
- Machine washable
- Reflective flash logo for added visibility
- Extra support around hips and knees
- Some wearers may find the crotch seam uncomfortable
2. TSLA Compression Pants
Compression tights can get pricey, but this is our Best Value choice. You’ll get a great quality pair of compression leggings for a price that suits everybody’s budget. Don’t let the price put you off – if you’re planning on using these while you run or to aid recovery afterwards, they do the job just as they should.
They’re made from Spandex and polyester, and are non-abrasive and non-chafing so you’ll be able to run in comfort. The waistband is soft and not irritating at all when moving.
One of the things that contributes to the comfort of these pants is their breathability – they’re created to have two-way airflow, wick moisture away, and dry as quickly as possible.
They may be slightly less durable than more expensive options, but they hold their shape well after washing. As long as you don’t stick them in the dryer, slide along the tar with them, or dive into a bush, they should last you a long time.
- High quality for an affordable price
- UPF 50+ for extra protection while in the sun
- Two-way air circulation for quick drying and cooling
- Not as durable as others
Best For Cold Weather
3. CW-X Expert 2.0 Insulator Joint Support Compression Baselayer Tights
Here we have the best compression tights for men who live and run in cold places. The Expert 2.0 Insulator is made from temperature-regulation fabric, which means you could take a run in a snowstorm and your legs would likely remain toasty. They retain a constant and comfortable surface temperature so the cold won’t get to you.
The breathable, wicking material should keep the sweat from dampening your clothing and freezing! These compression tights also feature a two-way airflow, so you could use them in slightly warmer weather too.
Not only is the compression great for athlete’s performance and recovery, but CW-X’s EXO-WEB joint support holds the knees in place very well. This stabilizes the joint and lessens damaging vibrations as your feet hit the tar.
As well as keeping you warm and dry, these tights will also make sure you stay smelling as sweet as you did before your run, with anti-odor technology incorporated too.
- Temperature-regulation fabric, perfect for cold temperatures
- Makes use of anti-odor technology
- Offers extra knee, hip, quad, and calf support
- Enhances circulation for improved performance
- The horizontal-fly design may be uncomfortable for some
Best Full-Length Tights
4. 2XU MCS Run Compression Tights
Whether you prefer full-length or three-quarter is up to you, but the 2XU MCS compression tights win top spot for the best full-length tights. They’re lightweight and streamlined, so you’ll feel like a speedster on the road. Their MCS (Muscle Containment Stamping) tech means that you’ll get more compression for less bulk, which is super because nobody wants to feel weighed down by their own pants.
2XU’s graduated compression system is uniquely designed and aims to take the load off the quads and calves, as well as glutes and hamstrings. This is different to other “flex-tape” designs, but it does a good job of taking pressure off the knee joint.
The flatlock seams make for less chafing, allowing for longer and more enjoyable runs. There’s a back zip pocket so you carry your keys or phone without worrying. Moisture-wicking and antimicrobial properties mean you’ll still smell fresh once your run is done.
- Machine washable for convenience
- Reduces glute, hamstring, quad, and calf strain
- Reflective logo for night safety
- Multi-directional stretch for comfort
- The seams may be weak, so take care
Best Three-Quarter Length Tights
5. 2XU Compression 3/4 Tights
If you’re more comfortable with three-quarter compression tights, these ones work well. They’re made of PWX FLEX material (72% nylon, 28% elastane), which wraps around the muscles, compressing and supporting them from all directions.
There’s not much difference between full-length and three-quarter in terms of benefits or features. This pair of compression tights does everything a full-length one does, except possibly support calf muscles. But they’re lightweight and comfortable, with a soft 3.5 cm flat waistband and flat seams for extreme comfort.
Another feature that makes them easy to use is the inner drawstring closure, which also means a more secure fit. Nobody wants their pants falling down while running down the main road.
The 50+ SPF sun protection factor and large reflective logos are added benefits that give this pair of compression tights a thumbs-up.
- The drawstring closure is comfortable
- Flatlock seams are durable and non-chafing
- Helps improve muscle alignment
- Sizing may run small
Best Tights With Drawcord
6. Nike Power Tech Power-Mobility Tights
Nike is a well-known sporting brand, and their compression tights come in as the best compression tights with a drawcord. You may be wondering why this is important, but drawcords have some advantages over a simple elasticated waistband. These include a more snug fit and increased durability.
One of the reasons these come in top over others is that the drawstring is on the outside of the pants, improving ease of use but staying inconspicuous and out of the way. These compression pants also feature zippered ankles, which helps quite a bit with getting them on and off. Some may find the zippers to be uncomfortable on the ankles, though.
You’ll get some good support from these tights, but still enjoy a free range of motion. When you’re done, chuck them in the washing machine and, unlike many, they’re tumble dryer-friendly!
You can have a look at the Nike sizing guide here to make sure you get the right fit.
- Outer drawstring for usability
- High compression but still flexible
- Machine washable and tumble dry
- Rear waist pocket for small items
- Zippered ankle closure may be uncomfortable for some
Best Recovery Tights
7. Zensah Recovery Tights
Compression tights are great for every part of the exercise process – warm-up, workout, and recovery. Some have an extra level of comfort that makes them super for recovery, and that’s why these take top spot for recovery compression tights.
Zensah’s seamless tights design makes them extremely comfortable, as there’s nothing to cause chafing. They’re made from a nylon blend, soft and easy on the skin. Their “pinpoint compression” targets quads, glutes and hamstrings. The graduated compression sweeps from ankle to hip to provide all-round increased circulation.
You’re more than welcome to use these compression tights while running – they’ll still serve you and your muscles well. But they really shine as recovery tights, due to their lower body-wide graduated compression which stimulates blood flow to prevent the formation of lactic acid (thereby reducing muscle aches and stiffness).
Whether you’re wearing them during or after your run, the Zensah fabric makes use of silver ion technology to keep bad smells away. Their name is based on the Italian word “Senza” – “without” – as they believe athletes should be without limits. The best compression tights for recovery will help you do just that!
- Seamless design offers an extra layer of comfort
- Pinpoint compression on quads, hamstrings, glutes, and knees
- Material contains silver ions to reduce odor
- Keeps shape after washing
- Some may find them too thick and warm to run comfortably
Worth a Mention
8. CEP Recovery Pro Tights
Recovery is incredibly important, so here’s another option for recovery tights. They’re geared towards all-day wear, so they’re flexible and as light as a second skin. Unlike the rest of the tights on this list, these ones are full-leg, ending just before the toes for maximum compression coverage.
They’re super easy to wear under work clothes or pajamas, being skin-tight, seam-free, and odor-resistant. You should be able to feel the scientifically-proven 40% increase in circulation, keeping your legs fresh and free from the usual daily aches.
You could take a jog in these, but their aim is to provide post-exercise stimulation to get your body back to peak condition as soon as possible. The compression (20-30 mmHg) is closer to medical wear than exercise wear.
- The wide waistband is comfortable
- 20-30 mmHg graduated compression, knee to thigh
- Increases circulation by up to 40%
- Over-foot design for maximum coverage
- Some have reported that the waistband is too loose while the tights fit well
Worth a Mention
9. Under Armour UA Qualifier Tights
These are another worthwhile compression tights product. Almost entirely seamless, they’re sleek, light, and tough while being very movable. A built-in brief gives some extra support where you need it most.
Under Armour is known to be great sporting apparel, so they’ve definitely got the tech down with their UA Compression. Added tech includes antimicrobial material to prevent odors, sweat-wicking and quick-drying fabric, and reflective details for enhanced safety and visibility.
The legs feature 9-inch zips for easy on/off, which makes dressing up or down much faster. The secure center back pocket is a nice touch and will give you peace of mind knowing your belongings are safe while you jog.
- Two waterproof, bounce-free pockets
- Features a built-in brief for added support
- The legs zip open for easy removal
- Slightly pricey option
How do compression tights work?
It’s not to make your muscles pop out or accentuate every line – it’s all about oxygen. O2 does more than just keep us breathing. It’s directly involved in fueling muscles when they exercise.
Here’s a quick run-down of the process:
- We breathe oxygen into our lungs.
- It gets transferred into the bloodstream.
- The heart pumps the oxygen-rich blood to our muscles.
- The muscles use the O2 to power themselves.
- Lactic acid leaves the muscles with the blood, which eventually gets excreted.
- And repeat!
Compression tights (and other bits of kit) are designed to be tighter at extremities to push blood back towards the heart. The faster the deoxygenated blood gets back, the sooner it can return again full of O2.
How do I choose the best compression tights?
You should aim to hit a couple of important points when shopping for the best compression tights:
Compression pants are meant to fit snugly, but they should not be painfully tight. There’s a big difference between pants that are form-fitting and pants that are simply too small! Don’t make the mistake of going smaller than you need to – choose the right waist size for you and the compression should do the rest.
Tights come in varying degrees of compression. What you choose should depend on how you intend to wear your pants.
If you’re likely to be wearing them under normal pants while at work or out and about, a lower number would work best. This would provide nice blood flow stimulation and keep your muscles loose and comfortable.
Choose a higher number (20-30) with a firmer fit if your aim is to prevent deep vein thrombosis. In most cases, unless you have a medical condition that requires a higher compression, this won’t be necessary just for your daily run.
For runners, a lower number should be all good to get your blood flowing and your muscles oxygenated.
If you’re planning on wearing your compression tights under your shorts, then it doesn’t matter much what they look like. But if you’re going to be wearing them on their own, you may want to choose something that catches your eye in terms of style and snazziness.
Most brands come in a variety of colors, so you can pick one to match each of your favorite running shirts.
When should you wear compression tights?
When you wear your tighties depends on you. They’re great to jump into before a workout or a run, to increase blood flow and get your muscles ready for action. During the exercise they’ll keep your endurance up by ensuring your body is well-oxygenated and your circulation is pumping.
Don’t just whip them off after your run, though. Wearing your compression tights after exercise keeps the blood flowing and helps your body to remove waste and prevent lactic acid build-ups, leading to quicker recovery.
What’s the difference between compression tights and leggings?
Leggings (or non-compression tights) are made from heavier, sheer material. While the range of movement and comfort levels are usually on-par with compression tights, they don’t offer quite the same benefit.
Compression tights or compression leggings are made of Lycra, polyester, or similar blends, and are made to be aerodynamic and form-fitting. The point behind them is either to be a medical device to improve circulation and prevent thromboses, or to be used as a performance-enhancing device in athletes.