Gear Review: C9 (Target) running pants

I’ve written about C9 (Target) brand clothing before.

The C9 brand thermal layers, fleece, running shorts, socks and other clothing is not only just good for the price but just plain GOOD.

For deep shoulder season hiking, I bought a pair of C9 running pants. They are somewhat baggy polyester pants that are little thicker than a light baselayer, lighter than most softshell pants if a little more form fitting. In other words, something for running other than hiking (Hence the name. Genius!). They breathe very well.


from Target

I’ve had mixed results for using them for hiking in even deeper shoulder season conditions. I think nylon pants and a base layer are more effective for me.

However, I’ve been using them for ski touring the past few weeks.

I’ve long used wool pants for my ski tours.  For the group stop and go activities, and esp for group winter backpacking trips with more social camp time, they have worked extremely well.

But I’ve been going almost exclusively solo for my ski tours so far.  Though the season is young, due to my schedule versus some friends, I suspect this trend may continue.

What I found is that the wool pants were perhaps not the best when I was moving consistently. Even on the winter backpacking trips, when I am not hanging out in camp, I found this to be the case.

So, I broke out the C9 pants and started using them.

They work very, very well.

Even some light “fluffy” snow was repelled away.


Essentially, the running pants functioned as very light and flexible softshell pants vs the heavier wool “softshell” pants.

And at $25, a very good deal for these running pants. About a quarter of the price, or less, for similar “Cross country ski pants” sold at REI. And running pants? About twice or more the price.

I think I will be wearing these running pants more often for my ski tours.

The exception? When the weather started dipping below ~10F or so even when moving, my legs were a little colder.  I suspect I could throw on my wind pants I use for winter (also by  C9!), but that’s another layer to futz with versus the one layer of the wool pants. I’d also take a ventilation penalty by throwing on wind pants.

EDIT: I wrote this document over the weekend. Yesterday, (January 13th), I was in Cotsco and saw Champion branded running pants a little thicker than the Target ones  with a light fleece-like lining, but otherwise vary similar. May work for colder temps? The pockets do not zip up and the waistband can’t be cinched as easy, but may be an option for colder weather esp if dry. Have to give these a whirl. For $15, worth a shot…

What it comes down to for me:

  • Solo and/or consistent pace on ski tours above ~10F : C9 Running pants
  • Winter group trips with more camp time and/or stop and go pacing: Wool pants
  • Any trip where temps are below ~10F when I am skiing:  Heavier C9 pants

For $25, another excellent layer has been added to my kit.

No matter how experienced I may become, I’d like to think there is always more to learn and try when it comes to the outdoors.

UPDATE DECEMBER 2018: The C9 branded pants are my mainstay for winter use.  The light ones are typically for day use and warmer weather, the heavier ones for colder (below 15F or so) weather. I very occasionally break out the wool pants if there is extended camp time.

With the Jet Sled variation of my pulk on the way to the 10th Mtn Division Hut. December 2017. PCO Anton S.

Disclosure: Obviously bought with my own funds. I suspect Target is not too interested in the niche of backpackers looking for good bargains…


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Noah Bradley
Noah Bradley
4 years ago

Hey pmags, I’m from Canada and I’d love to get some of these for xc backcountry skiing! Unfortunately Target failed to lift off in Canada a few years ago… do you know of any alternatives? Thanks!

4 years ago

Thanks for your quick response! And thanks for all your gear reviews, I appreciate that a lot of it is applicable to outdoor activities in Canada.

4 years ago

Found some! Do you recommend getting the right size, or sizing up a little? Wondering for fitting layers under, but wouldn’t the extra air also warm up the legs like a sleeping bag effect?

Colorado Jones
2 years ago

Yeah, my high school used to check out each of us a pair of those (with matching wind jacket; both in school colors) at the beginning of each track and cross country season back in the 1980s. Pretty effective for workouts in cold, windy fall/spring weather as I recall. Definitely appeals to my old-school approach to layering in the outdoors 🙂