Not all leggings are created equal. But if it’s warm legs you want, this is what you need to know.
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Killer Cotton. We’re going to try to be nice here, but honestly, if you’re wearing cotton to keep your legs warm, you’ve basically chosen the worst possible option other than actually wearing an ice pack. There’s a reason Search & Rescue teams around the world call it ‘Killer Cotton’, because it won’t just fail to keep you warm, it can actually make you colder. And under extreme conditions, dangerously cold. If you really want to wear cotton casually, go for it. But please, please do not wear it to keep yourself warm. Especially if there’s a chance you may get even slightly damp – from the environment or perspiration. Cotton leggings are not suitable to keep you warm when you’re out in the elements. (Without overloading you with the science, when cotton gets wet, the air pockets fill up with water and if the air is colder than your body temperature, you’re in big trouble.)
Stinky Synthetics. Depending on how fancy you like to look, and how much of a statement you want to make with your legs, regular synthetic ‘tights’ or ‘leggings’ may or may not be a bit of a fashion statement. To express your personality. But that’s about it. Not that looks aren’t important, of course, but they won’t really keep you warm. Even if they look hot. We’ve heard people say wearing them is like they’re “Wrapped in plastic wrap”. Which is hardly surprising because that’s essentially true. And Polyester, like plastic, can not absorb moisture or perspiration.
To be fair, some synthetics are better than others at keeping you warm, but then there’s the smell. “My husband wore polyester undershirts on his tours to Iraq, and years later, they still smelled bad no matter how many times I washed them.” Stinky synthetics. Enough said.
Compression tights. There’s some pretty awesome brands out there making compression garments. And those garments are great for, not surprisingly, providing compression if that’s what you’re looking for. What regular compression tights are not great at, is keeping your legs warm. There’s a very good reason trail races like Ultra Trail Australia do not allow these as their mandatory thermal leggings. Because they’re not thermal leggings. Most of them will not keep you warm. Plain and simple. (You can check out our Ultra Trail Australia mandatory gear compliant leggings here: Men’s and Women’s and use code WARMLEGS to get $10/€10 off*.)
Merino. OK, now we’re talking. You may say we’re bias because that’s what we do, but no, it’s just a fact, If you want warm legs when it’s cold, you want actual thermal leggings. Ask around, and even the experts will tell you there’s still no man made fiber that performs like Merino. There are, of course, a few different types of thermal leggings going around – from stinky synthetic ones to awesome natural merino ones – like ours. But the extra benefits that come with choosing a natural fiber like Merino, and our extra soft and comfortable MicroMerino® thermal leggings in particular, make them almost impossible to beat. Natural. Moisture wicking. Thermo regulating. Breathable. Odor-resistant. And warm. Now that’s what a good pair of thermal leggings should be.