Best Compression Pants Reviewed & Rated for Comfort
Criteria Used for Evaluation
This one should be obvious. If it’s a piece of clothing, then the last thing you want from it is to spend all that money, put it on, and suddenly hate yourself from the waist down. Yes, those pants are meant to, well, compress (note many of the entries on this list are alternatively referred to as tights) but tights don’t have to be uncomfortable. They just have to be tight. As long as the fabric is tight without being restrictive, and allows you to move around without riding up, then they achieve their goal while still being comfortable.
Another reason to want comfort is that people will wear those pants after a workout. The reason is that it helps them reduce the pain and aches that often come after long workout sessions. Long workout sessions cause your muscles to lose tissue from the stress, which causes severe pain or at least discomfort. Good sports pants reduce that pain after a workout and help you recover faster.
One advantage that every good sports pants brand touts is the ability to keep you running longer. The way this is done with the brands that actually practice what they preach is that, rather than the pants just being tight all around, they are tight in a way that supports the leg muscles, keeping them in place. The leading cause of pain and fatigue in the muscles is muscle vibration, which is caused by moving for long periods of time. This causes muscle tissue to become damaged, causing the pain that comes after a long workout.
By keeping the muscles from vibrating, it takes longer and considerably more effort for the muscles to damage and fatigue/pain to set in. Which means that you can run for longer periods of time, and generally work harder before feeling the need for a break. The best athlete pants on the market right now can keep you going for up to 2 hours longer than your usual time. So yes, endurance is a huge factor in what makes it onto this list.
Recovery refers to the time it takes you while wearing those pants to get back out there after a long, grueling run. Because the pants also help revitalize your leg muscles, as well as (if you wore them during your run) keep them from getting as worn out as they would’ve gotten if you hadn’t worn them. How well the pants help you recover is a major factor in how high ranked these pants were, or if they even got onto the list at all.
Now, this is not to claim that some pants have some secret chemical in their fabric that affects your leg muscles. That would not only be a lawsuit waiting to happen, it would also just be dumb. Instead, those pants tighten around your leg in a way that supports the leg muscles. Improving blood flow and helping you get back on your feet, both proverbially and literally.
All athlete pants have two materials as a constant: polyester and spandex. They’re good, sturdy materials that can stretch for a good bit of distance before losing their elasticity. But the quality of the material is dependent on the ratio of polyester to spandex.
Spandex isn’t needed in abundance, just a little bit will do just fine, so the spandex is always in the minority compared to the polyester. Most go for an 85% polyester count vs a 15% spandex count. However, higher-quality fabrics go for a 91% Polyester and an 8% spandex count. However, the difference is not noticeable to the average man, so it shouldn’t really matter to you if you aren’t trained to spot stuff like that.
Obviously, you want a pair of those pants that can stand up to physical scrutiny. This includes a number of things, but mostly involves simple wear and tear over time. The question of what makes a good pair of sports pants or not is “how long does it take before these pants inevitably tear? And what causes them to tear in the first place?” The pants are going to tear eventually, but the focus is on how long it takes, as that is the true measure of quality.
It isn’t just about running, obviously. People use those pants for a lot of things. From football to weight lifting, to all kinds of sports activities. Those pants also tend to find themselves in different climates and weather patterns, from snow to intense heat, to water, etc.
As such, the pants need to be made to handle all these different types of environments and activities without breaking or tearing. True, people tend to use the pressure pants more often for running, but they have uses beyond that, and thus any designer needs to take that into account. The best pants are the ones you can take to any sport and have them serve you as well as any other.
Those pants generally don’t cost all that much, usually averaging at about $50, or at least near that area. And if a pair of sports pants is over that, they’d best have many features and unique concepts about them that make up the difference and justify the price. Make sure to look at the list of features a pair of pants over $50 are offering you. If what you see doesn’t immediately impress you, then you’re being swindled. Some of the entries on this list are expensive, yes, but they have defining features about them that makes them worth the high price tag.
10 Best Compression Pants
1. Under Armour HeatGear
One of the classics of the tight pants business, Under Armour. Though not considered necessary as high quality as other brands like SKINS, Under Armour has nonetheless made a good name for themselves. Which brings up to the HeatGear line, and its tight leggings. While not as good as the others on this list, you can most assuredly do worse.
Not only are the HeatGear leggings as warm and comfortable as should be expected from this type of pants, but they also breathe a lot better than even some of the leading brands. These pants are perfect for yoga or Pilates because of this, keeping you warm while still providing plenty of air to you.
For ladies, and very self-conscious men, fabric that breathes can often mean “don’t bend over too far or people will see right through them”. Fortunately, that is not the case with the HeatGear, as the fabric is just thick enough to not become transparent no matter how far you bend, but just thin enough that it still breathes naturally.
Cost and Value
The cost can be steep for some, but considering the higher price tag of its contemporaries, it may actually not be a problem at all. Compare and contrast and pick for yourself.
2. SKINS A400 Long
For how relatively recently they entered the game, beginning in only 1996, SKINS has quickly become one of the top tiers sports clothing brands, used by athletes, amateur and Olympian alike, the world over. Their high-quality pressure tights, the A400 line specifically, of course, have garnered praise from almost everyone who’s used them. And there are two secret weapons among their impressive line of features, which serve as the basis of what makes them the best.
When running, your worst enemy isn’t the road, other people, or even your own attrition. It’s the sun. The heat coming off that sun is going to drain you faster than running ever will. Luckily, the A400 pants provide a 50+ protection from UV rays, drastically lowering your risk of overheating.
Muscle focus, not muscle restraint
The main problem many people have with those pants is the lesser models can feel like they’re trying to suffocate your legs. Not with the A400 though, as the pants are designed around wrapping and supporting the muscles, not restricting them in place. This has the same effect without potentially damaging the muscles.
Cost and Value
The A400 used to cost a lot more than it does now. But then, there wasn’t as much competition 3 years ago as there is now. Nowadays, the A400 is the cheapest it’s been since its inception.
3. Tesla Thermal
If you’re the type of person who tries to stay as active as possible all throughout the day, then sweat buildup is probably a major concern for you. Especially in fall or winter, when the cold air combined with the moisture on your skin can make you even colder. Which is why the Tesla Thermal Winter Gear Pants are such a boon to the all-day exercise junkie.
The Tesla Thermal Winter Gear line consists of 13% spandex and 87% polyester. The reason most clothes like this have a majority ratio of polyester is that polyester is very good at keeping you dry by absorbing excess moisture. While there are pants with a higher ratio of polyester, the difference is not large enough to be noticeable.
Perfect for Winter
You wouldn’t think pants that are specially designed to be as tight and form-fitting as possible would actually be any good at keeping you warm, but shockingly, the Tesla Winter Gear does just that. While it is considered a base layer (i.e. you’re expected to wear something on top of it like shorts or jeans) the pants still go a long way to keeping you warm during those nippy winter morning runs
Cost and Value
Because of the slightly lower polyester ratio, you’ll find this brand of tight pants to be much cheaper than competing brands. Even other sports pants with just a 5% higher polyester ratio can be 4X more expensive at least.
4. Virus Energy
One of the top players in this pants business is Virus. This company focuses on sports clothing, but their sports clothing is where many athletes likely know them for the most. The Virus Bioceramic V2, in that case, is one of the company’s magnum opus’. Whether in tights form or even in the shorter tech shorts variant, these tight pants have proven popular the world over.
Whether it’s the sun’s heat, fatigue from exercising from long periods of time, or something else, exhaustion can set in quickly and without warning when exercising. But the Bioceramic V2’s added support and stabilization helps your body recover from exhaustion faster and keep you going longer. While it won’t be immediate, consistent training using these pants will show that improvement.
Most would hear the term Bioceramic and justifiably think it’s a marketing ploy. The sports pants equivalent to “blast processing”. However, bioceramics actually are a real thing, referring to the fabric’s ability to emit far-infrared into the skin, improving blood circulation and, in some cases, helps treat conditions like arthritis.
Cost and Value
The average cost for these pants can be rather steep compared to other pants on the market. However, when you consider the good these pants do for your body, the value begins to outweigh the cost.
One problem many athletes will run into early on is that the gear that helps them enjoy the athletic lifestyle is expensive, especially pressure pants. This is the problem that the Sydney, Australia based company CompressionZ, sought to fix. Not only are CompressionZ pants affordable, but they’re also highly effective.
Low price, high comfort
Often the trade-off with a lower price tag is the product isn’t as effective. In the case of those pants, this typically means the materials, particularly the polyester, won’t be as up to snuff as the leading brands. But with CompressionZ pants, that is not a concern, sporting an 85% polyester ratio that provides intense comfort to the wearer wherever they go.
You don’t even have to wear these pants during a workout to get the desired effect. If you’ve had a long workout, and your legs feel sore, putting on a pair of CompressionZ pants will help to almost immediately bring down the pain. And after a bit of wearing them, you may just feel like getting back out there.
Cost and Value
As was stated earlier, what makes these pants so valuable is how affordable they are considering their high quality. The cost of a CompressionZ pair of pants should only be a fraction of what you’d pay for the leading brands of pressure pants.
6. CW-X Stabilyx
In the sports pants and tights business, CW-X can be considered the more technically minded of the leading brands, as their products focus more on cutting edge technology than most others. And nowhere is that more apparent than with the Stabilyx High-Performance Pants. The Stabilyx represents the apex of what CW-X sets out to do, provide advanced tech, high-performance gear, which still lets you do the legwork to not rob you of that satisfaction.
You likely won’t notice this if you just go running for 30 or so minutes before giving up. But if you keep it up past the hour mark, you definitely will notice that the tights are helping you run for longer periods of time. This is due to the tights keeping a firm, but not suffocating, grip on your muscles. Reducing muscle vibration, which is a major cause of fatigue.
But that heightened endurance while running doesn’t mean much if you’re stopping to rehydrate every couple of minutes, but thankfully the Stabilyx has you covered there as well. The pants excellent wicking technology makes sure you never feel too hot or too cold.
Cost and Value
These pants can be really expensive if you don’t look in the right place. But if you're more of an endurance runner, the higher price tag might be worthwhile for you.
7. 2XU Elite
Sometimes it’s not about doing something new. Sometimes it’s all about doing what you’re expected to do so well that you simply outshine everyone else through sheer force of power. That’s the story with the 2XU Elite Tights. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the 2XU polishes the wheel to a mirror shine.
Power and Support like no other
It’s always good to know that the pants you paid money for actually do the job you paid for them to do, but again, the 2XU does it so well, provides such a feeling of power and support for your legs, that you’ll be running for an hour and a half at least before you even begin feeling tired.
It’s shockingly rare that a pair of those tights come along that you legitimately want to wear around the house since tights aren’t exactly known for being the most comfortable things on the planet. But the 2XU fits so well, and so snug, that you’ll barely even notice it half the time.
Cost and Value
The only real problem with the 2XU, though it is a pretty big one depending on how you feel on the subject, is the steep price tag. Make no mistake, the 2XU is an investment, not a purchase.
8. 2XU Hypotik Reflective Thermal
Coming up behind the Elite tights, we have the 2XU Hypotik Reflective Thermal Tights. To answer your question, no, that is not a typo, they’re actually called Hypotik. Despite the utterly silly name, these are very high-quality pants that any runner, especially those in constantly changing climates, should give a try.
Whether you’re running through the Alaskan snow or jogging alongside the beach, or whatever other climate you’re exercising in, the Hypotik will keep your legs temperature regulated through all of it.
Pressure pants will keep your legs free of sweat and any outside moisture off of you, but the Hypotik goes a step further than even that, wicking any water off that splashes onto it from the outside. Meaning you can run through the snow and even step in puddles, and by the end, both your legs and the pants they’re wearing will be high and dry.
Cost and Value
Like the Elites, the Hypotik demands a lot of your money for its services. However, considering all that it does differently than other pants, it’s easy to see why some people see it as more than worth the price of admission.
9. Sub Sports
When people look for sports pants, what they want, first and foremost, is support. Support for their legs, their muscles, all to help them keep moving for longer periods of time, to train up their legs faster and more efficiently. The sub sports line foregoes the fancy technology in favor of making their pants as supportive as possible.
There isn’t much to a Sub Sports pair of tight pants, but what is there is of excellent quality. Particularly how well it supports your legs. While you may feel some aches from your exercising after you remove the pants, that’s only if you push yourself too hard for too long, and even then the pants keep in relative comfort until then.
This may seem a silly thing to add as an important aspect of the product. After all, shouldn’t pants being comfy be a given for them to be considered high quality? Well, there’s a big difference between how a pair feels while standing stock still, and how they feel in the heat of the long run. Sub Sports pants do both, and that is notable.
Cost and Value
One of the biggest benefits to being so simple in its design is that it doesn’t cost all that much. In terms of the retail price, it is ideal for starting out athletes who don’t have as much money to burn.
10. SKINS Ry400
Ask any athlete what the most grueling part of their lifestyle, at least in the early stages, is and they will tell you the same: the comedown after a long run can be hell. Once the adrenaline wears off, the aches, pains, and general fatigue hits you like a freight train ramming top speed into a fruit stand. What is there to do? Well, that’s where the SKINS Ry400 Recovery Long Tights come into play.
What separates these tights from the crowd is that you’re actually meant to wear them both during and after a workout because the tights will actually aid your recovery overtime after a workout so the DOMS isn’t as severe.
If you buy the male variant of these tights (nothing like this for women, which is a problem) you’ll find a little hatch in the front groin area that lets you relieve yourself without having to remove the tights first. Seeing as how taking off tights can be a pain from how tight they are, this is a bonus.
Cost and Value
The biggest problem with the Ry400 is the price, which is considerably steep for this kind of pants, ranging at least over $100 in retail price. Not to say the value doesn’t make up for it, but there are cheaper options out there that do basically the same thing.