Man In Tights
Earlier in the week I discovered that it may be too cold up north to continue wearing shorts on trips to the White Mountains. In the past this was an easy change from shorts to pants as I simply stopped zipping the legs off of my favorite convertible pants. When it got even colder, I just moved on to wearing softshell pants. However, these days – in the spirit of moving fast and running whatever terrain possible – the convertible pants just do not cut it, and most softshell pants feel too heavy for an intense aerobic effort.
So what should a person wear on a hard run in the White Mountains when it gets cold? The answer I keep coming back to is running tights. A few years ago the idea of wearing tights would have been appalling to me, but after the last few years of immersing myself in cycling I have become more tolerant of skin tight apparel. It is already commonplace for me to swap out my shorts for running tights on cool morning runs at home, so it would seem logical that if it works for training it would work for the real thing. Add to the mix a slight indifference to style, and a belief that function should trump form, and the easy answer is I should be wearing tights. But for some reason tights feel wrong in the mountains.
On this past weekend’s run (Zealand, South Twin, North Twin, and Galehead) I paid close attention to the pant choices of the people along the trail and it proved that wearing tights on mountain hikes is fairly commonplace. Sadly, it is commonplace for women to wear tights, not men. Is this some dark side of gender bias that I never noticed or explored? Is it acceptable only for ladies to wear functional, form-fitting apparel in the mountains? Or is this another case proving that women are indeed smarter than their male counterparts?
I for one certainly enjoy when an athletic-looking lady cruises past me in a pair of tights…let’s just say on those occasions I enjoy both the form and function of such attire. If I enjoy watching an athletic female cruise past me in some form of revealing apparel, who is to say the ladies wouldn’t enjoy seeing a man in a snug pair of slacks on the trail? Perhaps I am being selfish for depriving the women along the trail from enjoying the view of my posterior?
So what is holding me back from using tights? Perhaps it is the judging looks I fear I would receive from my fellow outdoor people. People raised on fleece and flannel would surely be jarred by a man in tights. Furthering that idea is the belief that I would be too self-conscious in my clothes to enjoy the beauty of the mountains. Even in my vainest moments, I believe the sight of me in tights would detract from most any view. Maybe it is just too much of a diversion from my long standing idea of what a hiker should look like. It could be I just do not want to geek out another sport. What I can’t flush out is why wearing tights is so embarrassing for men and me in particular?
If I can’t find a suitable tight alternative, the world of the White Mountains might be seeing a whole lot more of me in the near future.