What are the Different Types of Running Pants?

Dee Saale
Dee Saale

As the health benefits of running become more widely known, the retail industry has expanded the types of running pants that are available to consumers. Running pants come in various lengths, such as long pants, Capri or knicker length pants, and shorts. They also come in various thicknesses and materials. Some are streamlined and others have a loose leg. Although black running pants with reflective patches are quite popular, they do come in a variety of colors as well.

Runners will often wear shorts during the summer months.
Runners will often wear shorts during the summer months.

Depending on the season and the location, different lengths of running pants are useful. In areas where the weather is cold, long pants will keep the entire leg warm. During warmer conditions, many runners may prefer to wear Capri or knicker length pants. These pants typically cover the leg, but stop a few inches below the knees. During the hot summer months, many runners opt for shorts or running skirts so they can feel the breeze.

Runners often wear pants made from material that has moisture-wicking properties.
Runners often wear pants made from material that has moisture-wicking properties.

Running pants can be quite thick for cold temperatures and very thin for warmer weather. Some brands are reinforced with panels that are both windproof and waterproof. Other brands have thin, yet durable fabric that works to compress the muscles and transfer moisture away from the body. Some pants are designed specifically to be worn during a run, while others are made to wear during warm-up and cool-down.

For runners who are worried about speed, every article of clothing must be streamlined to the body. Pants for this type of runner are commonly called running tights. Other runners are content to run in pants with a loose leg. For people running longer distances, a loose legged pant may prove to alter one’s gait. Consequently, many competitive runners avoid wearing them.

Some common features in many pants for running include internal pockets for keys or snacks. The pockets in many pants have zippers to keep the contents contained. Other features include ankle zips, so the pants can be easily taken off, without removing one’s shoes. For people who run at night or in the early morning, it is important to wear pants that have reflective stripes. The stripes will light up when lights from a car shine on them, for example.

Regardless of type, running pants can be found in nearly every color. Black is generally the most popular color choice, yet some people prefer a brighter running wardrobe. As a result, pink, blue, green, red, orange, and white pants are available from various retailers. In addition, many running skirts have running pants or tights that can be worn underneath them. The skirts give the runner a feminine quality, while the pants work to compress leg muscles and keep the body warm during a cool weather run.

Dee Saale
Dee Saale

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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Discussion Comments


@Laotionne - People wear black running pants and shorts for the same reason they wear other black clothing. Black makes us look slimmer, sleeker and in some cases sexier. When you are working to get in shape looking at yourself in a pair of black running pants may be exactly what you need to keep you motivated to continue working out.


@Laotionne - Some people think that wearing black running pants and black shirts when they are working out helps burn more calories. The thinking behind this is that the black will absorb more light and create more heat, so more calories will be burned.

This is one of the reasons you see some people working out and wearing black plastic trash bags. I don't think the trash bag shirt is as popular as it once was, but that's why the trend got started. People wanted to burn more calories.

Regardless of how this started, wearing black does not help you burn more calories. This may make you sweat more, so you will lose more water weight, but that is short term, and all the sweating can also lead to dehydration, which can create some serious problems.


This article mentions that black is the most popular color for running pants. I have noticed this too. It seems that almost all of the runners I see at the track are wearing some type of black pants. What is the reason for this? Why isn't the most popular color white or orange or any other color than black?

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