Running In The Rain: Should I Wear Tights Or Shorts?

There have been many times that I went on a run with a heavy downpour of rain. I’ve tried using tights and shorts and after multiple runs, I found what works best for me.

As a general rule, it is best to run in shorts made of nylon, polyester, or spandex when running in the rain. Avoid wearing shorts made out of cotton because they absorb more water. Tights provide more warmth but by wearing them, you absorb a little more water than when you run in shorts. 

Ahead, we will look at why running shorts are the best way to go. We will also look at how to choose the right running shorts for the rain and what to wear when it’s cold.

Why Running Shorts?

I’m one of the weird ones who actually love running in the rain. Especially when it’s pouring. Somehow, it cools me down and I am able to run longer.

When there is heavy rain, wearing rain gear and all these things preventing you from getting wet almost doesn’t matter. You’re gonna get soaked and there’s no way around it. So, I wear clothes that don’t absorb water so I can stay as light as possible.

That’s why I like to wear running shorts made of moisture-wicking materials such as nylon, spandex, and polyester. It keeps the water out, dries quickly, and gives me more freedom. Plus, less fabric equals less water absorbed.

I used to think it’s better to wear tights and for you, it could be, but personally, I like shorts because it has less fabric. Any type of fabric, even the synthetic ones, can still absorb a little bit of water.

Skin, on the other hand, repels water more effectively than any type of fabric out there. Plus, I like the way I look when wearing shorts more than how I look wearing tights.

I’m not saying tights are an absolute no-no. They are great and they are better at providing warmth than running shorts. But In my situation, I don’t feel cold when it’s raining, so I stick with shorts to stay light.

Like all things, I guess it all comes down to personal preference.

By the way, if you’re looking for fantastic running shorts, I highly recommend the Under Armour HeatGear Long shorts. I’ve been wearing it for most of my runs and I have never experienced chafing. And when I wear it in the rain, its stays light. You can check the price on Amazon.

In Choosing Running Shorts To Use In The Rain

More important than choosing between tights or running shorts is choosing the right running shorts.

As a general rule, you should avoid running shorts made of cotton. They absorb water which could make it heavy, uncomfortable, and prone to skin irritation. You should always wear running short made with a quick-drying and moisture-wicking material. The most common fabrics are nylon, spandex, and polyester.

Aside from material, there are 4 types of running shorts to choose from. Split, V-notch, compression, and 2-in-1 shorts.

Split shorts offer the widest range of motion, are the most breathable, and are a common choice among professional runners.

V-notch shorts are the most typical. It comes in various lengths and is the most common choice among new runners.

Compression shorts are my favorite. They are the best at preventing chafing and they offer some muscle compression that seems to help with my performance (It could be a placebo).

2-in-1 shorts are V-notch or split shorts with built-in compression shorts. I also find them to be great. I’ve been using the Lixada 2-in-1 shorts before I switched to compression shorts. Like the latter, I never experienced any chafing. Plus, it’s very light, breathable, and affordable.

Any one of these shorts could work, as long as they’re made with synthetic fabrics like nylon, spandex, and polyester. But what I found to be the best for me are compression shorts. I feel comfortable running in them despite the conditions.

If you want to know more about the types of running shorts, I made an article that details their pros and cons in another article. Make sure to check that out.

What If It’s Cold?

There are times when it’s raining and it’s windy and there’s just no way that you can endure running outside in shorts.

In that case, you should wear tights. But make sure that it’s still made with synthetic fibers. Nylon, polyester, or spandex.

Avoid using rain pants because they’re not stretchable enough which could limit your range of motion. Also, avoid using any pants made out of cotton because they will absorb sweat and water making them heavy.

Go for compression pants like this one. It’s moisture-wicking, light, and at the same time, keeps you warm in cold weather.

What Else Should I Wear When Running In The Rain?

You can pretty much wear the same things you wear when it isn’t raining. I generally don’t like having fancy jackets and rain pants unless it’s really cold. All they do is add weight and restrict movement.

Another reason why I avoid rain gear is that when the rain stops and turns humid, I’m trapped in my own sweat and I have nowhere to put the jacket if I remove them. It also makes everything less breathable which is bad for performance.

Generally speaking, you can wear the same clothes you wear when you’re running without the rain. Sure, you may opt for a shirt instead of a tank top, but it should feel similar unless it’s really cold.

If you’re gonna change something, it should be your socks. Most newbie runners still wear cotton socks. The same socks they wear when they work or shop. The problem with that is it absorbs so much sweat. And even more, water when it’s raining. The result? Your footwear becomes heavy and your wet socks can cause chafing.

That said, I recommend using socks made specifically for running like the Smartwool socks. It’s made with a blend of wool, nylon, and elastane that gives it a secure fit and moisture-wicking properties. Plus, it’s got an excess fabric at the back to avoid the friction of your Achilles heel and the heel of the shoe.

Key Takeaways

When running in the rain:

  • Wear shorts made of quick-drying, moisture-wicking fabric
  • Avoid cotton at all cost
  • Wear running-specific socks
  • You can wear tights when it’s cold
  • Don’t wear rain pants, it might limit your motion

Recommended Gear

I understand that looking for the right running gear is difficult. There are hundreds of product reviews out there recommending 10 or more products that do not seem to help narrow down your buying decision.

That is why I created a recommended product page with only 1 to 3 recommendations per running gear. That way, it’ll help narrow down your choices to only a few products that are guaranteed to give you great value for your money.

I have researched and tested these products and I’m constantly updating the page if I see something better. You can visit the page by clicking this link.

Nicho Mauricio

Running wasn't always my favorite sport. I was a CrossFit athlete and I loved every bit of it. But since the pandemic began, I was forced to stay away from the gym and train at home instead. Things got boring. That's when I decided to trail run with my friends. I instantly got hooked. So I started training and researching all things running. As a beginner, I want to buy only the best running gear and do only the best practices. This blog is where I share what I've learned in my journey and my experiences as a runner.

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