Monday, 5 December 2011

Review: Youth vs Girls' vs Women's - which tights are better for a petite runner? Part 1

Running tights or leggings have always been awkward for me. They are usually about a foot too long and often with zippers at the ankles, not very easy to alter. Luckily, the weather in Southeast England is temperate enough that up until now, I've been able to get by just wearing capris during the winter season.

But a few months ago when it was unusually cold, I randomly ran with capris and knee socks. I was mildly surprised at how much better my calves felt having a little bit of warmth! So I decided to go on a mission:

I was going to find a pair of running leggings that fit! (Or at least ones that I could live with!)

So I went to my local sports shop (Nick Rivett on Church Road--they are great!) and the very helpful salesman took one look at me and suggested the Under Armour ColdGear YOUTH leggings, as the material was really nice and the length would probably work for me. Size large fit surprisingly well and I was so happy when the leggings didn't cover my feet I took them home! But then I got thinking...

Youth and girls sportswear are worth considering because for basics, they are often cheaper and they solve a petite runner's biggest gripe--sleeves and legs that are far too long. But since clothes for women are often cut for a woman...they are always worth a try, too. So for part 1 of this review, I'm going to try and highlight the differences between these options by comparing:
  • Under Armour Youth ColdGear Action Leggings (Size L, £24.99 at
  • Nike Pro Combat Printed Girls' Thermal Tights (Size L, £30.00 at Nike Store EU online)
  • Under Armour Women's Cold Gear Compression Tights (Size XS, £34.99 at

Under Armour Youth ColdGear Action Leggings, Size L
These leggings have a high spec, very similar to UA adult leggings. They are described as having a close, compressive fit as well as other features like flat reinforced seams and odor control. The waistband is thick, reminding me a little of pull-on trousers that kids wear. The overall fit is good on me, although I feel like the rise is a little too high--my belly button is nearly covered! The length is definitely not too long...but surprisingly almost too short. These youth leggings go down to about 1 inch above my ankle bone and I would actually prefer them a tad longer.

Under Armour Youth

Nike Pro Combat Printed Girls' Thermal Tights, Size L
Like the UA Youth leggings, these tights have a compressive fit and are made with material specifically for the cold weather. Similar features include flat seam construction and Dri-Fit (breathable) fabric. The flat elasticated waistband is more comfortable, as is the slightly lower rise. However, the fit overall isn't very good for me. They are too tight across the hips and thighs, and although they are supposed to be compressive, for some reason the legs flare out at the bottom. Like the UA Youth--though again, very nice to have tights that aren't too long--I would prefer these to be a little longer.

Nike Girls'

Under Armour Women's Cold Gear Compression Tights, Size XS
The UA Women's tight is made from the same material as the Youth leggings, with similar features in terms of construction. These tights are supposed to have a low rise but on me they're still a little bit high. The tights are definitely too long and cover my feet about half way. However, the flat elastic waistband is more comfortable than the one on the Youth style and overall, the fit is actually miles better. While my figure could kindly be called boyish which might lend itself better to a youth cut legging, the women's cut is much more comfortable. The tights fit in all the right places, particularly in the waist and crotch. The compressive fit feels even throughout the hips, thighs, and legs. For me, the only real issue with these is the length.

Under Armour Women's

Other things to consider when it comes to Youth vs. Girls' vs Women's:

Waistbands - Women's vs Girls' or Youth
Youth vs. adult models within a brand can be made of the same materials and construction, but the rise and waistband are often different. In the pics below you can see how the youth style has a much chunkier elasticated waistband vs. the flat elastic in the women's style. The chunky elastic and high rise makes it feel a little restricted in the middle of my waist. The women's style is more comfortable to me and sits in a better place. The elastic waistband might not be an issue for you, but do compare.

Under Armour Youth waistband (from the back)

Under Armour Women's waistband (from the front)

Crotch - Youth or Unisex vs Girls' or Women's
One of the main distinctions between Youth/Unisex vs Girls'/Women's is how the crotch is cut. For women and girls there is usually a gusset, which makes the fit better and the movement more comfortable. I personally find a difference (especially with tight-fitting clothes) and prefer having a gusset, so you should check which works best for you!

So, what's the verdict?

Youth vs Girls' vs Women's running tights.....for me the Women's running tights WIN! While these tights fail solve my biggest issue--tights and leggings that are way too long--the overall cut, fit, and comfort of the Women's tights are much, much better. The biggest surprise was finding the youth and girls leggings a little too short.  I'm 5'1" with short legs, so if you are a taller petite (eg up to 5'4") or have legs that are more in proportion, then these would probably be like waders for you!

Youth and girls' sizing can still be an option, particularly for ladies smaller than me (yes, I've learned that I'm a big petite!) so it's always worth comparing between the different sizing ranges of a brand. Especially if you have wonderful curves!

Now that I've settled on women's sizing for my running tights, stay tuned for part 2 of my review later this week.

Ladies, have you ever tried wearing youth or girls' running tights? Yea or nea?

Apologies for still being camera shy!


  1. Those look like pretty decent tights for going running in.

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  3. Post is quite interesting and the comparison between women vs girl in nice part and the info graphic part is good. By the way i always love these kind of legging. Most of time i wold like to wear it. Would you like to share more about tight-fitting clothes.

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