Workout leggings have become a wardrobe staple for many people, whether you wear them for yoga or other workouts, relaxing, or everyday life. They hit the right balance of comfort and style: softer and stretchier than jeans yet not as slouchy as sweats. There are also hundreds of options available, in all different brands, lengths, materials, and styles.
To determine which leggings are the best of the best, we put 14 pairs to the test. Overall, the affordable Colorfulkoala Full-Length Leggings(available at Amazon) from Amazon (which are less than $30 a pop) came out on top as the best leggings for all-purpose wear, thanks to their breathable material and snug-but-not-compressive fit. For those looking specifically for pants to wear while practicing yoga we recommend the Lululemon Align Leggings (available at Lululemon) for their flexible, buttery soft fabric that follows your every move.
Here are the best leggings for women we tested ranked, in order:
Colorfulkoala Full-Length Leggings
Athleta Ultra High Rise Elation Tight
Lululemon Align Pant 25"
Zella Live-In High Waist Leggings
Bandier All-Access Center Stage Leggings
Beyond Yoga Spacedye Caught In The Midi High Waisted Legging
Colorfulkoala is arguably the most popular Lululemon dupe out there, with 27,000+ reviews and a 4.4-star rating on Amazon. After wearing the brand’s 7/8-length yoga leggings for close to a year now, I understand the hype. The fabric is almost as buttery smooth as Lululemon’s offerings yet the Colorfulkoala ones come in at a quarter of the price. The leggings fit snug against my skin without bunching or feeling overly taut, and I never had to pull or adjust them no matter what I was doing, from yoga to weight lifting to getting up from the couch. I’m 5-foot-5 and the size small leggings I tested hit about a half-inch above my ankle—the ideal length for me. The nylon/spandex material didn’t trap sweat against my body and it dried quickly so I didn’t leave my workout a soggy mess. Another perk is that I didn’t notice that odor that many leggings get in the crotch area when you sweat.
The only negative thing I have to say about Colorfulkoala leggings is that they pill easily. I own a couple of pairs, and after five washes or so, each had slight pilling around the ankles and inner thighs. This isn’t a deal breaker for me—and it may be something you could avoid with more careful washing—but it is something to consider. The leggings come in women’s sizes XS to XL with a 25- or 28-inch inseam and in 37 colors and patterns.
Lululemon Align leggings are the softest leggings I’ve ever put on my body. They’re made of the brand’s Nulu fabric, which is 81% nylon and 19% Lycra elastane, and feels like a second skin. While the material is soft and stretchy, it isn’t very compressive or supportive. This makes the Aligns the best for yoga or similar low-impact activities like Pilates or barre. They offer flexibility and a “barely-there” feeling but lack adequate support for something higher impact like running.
I’ve owned Aligns for years and now have 12 pairs in my rotation. They’re durable and high quality, with all of them still in near-perfect condition after up to hundreds of wears and washes. I like that the Aligns come in an array of prints and colors, women’s sizes 0 to 20, and three lengths—21-, 25-, and 28-inch. The 25-inch leggings are my favorite for my 5-foot-5-inch, size-4 frame, hitting right at my ankles without any bunching.
I’m Amanda Tarlton, the style editor at Reviewed, and I have a leggings problem. That is, I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as having too many pairs—which would explain why I currently have more than 40 of them neatly rolled up in my dresser. I own ones for working out, ones for teaching yoga, ones for practicing yoga, ones for lounging, and ones for all of the above. I wear them all day, every day (and sometimes all night, every night), so it’s safe to say I’m a true leggings connoisseur. Who better than to test and rank the best options out there?
I started by doing what I do best: shopping. I chose 14 of the most popular pairs out there, based on customer reviews and ratings (and personal experience, of course). Then, with the help of Reviewed’s senior scientist, Julia MacDougall, and our apparel expert, Jamie Ueda, I devised a rubric for judging the leggings. I wore each pair for one to two days of everyday life—i.e., working at my desk, running errands, and binge-watching Real Housewives reruns. I also wore each pair for one to two hours of light-to-moderate exercise, which involved mostly walking but also the occasional jogging, yoga, and weightlifting.
After washing each pair of leggings once, I also tested them for their moisture-wicking and drying capabilities. I poured a tablespoon of water on the fabric and watched how far the water spread from the initial point of contact (a sign of wicking) and timed how long it took to dry. I also laundered the leggings three total times to look for signs of pilling and/or shrinkage, but while I measured the leggings before and after washing, none of them changed significantly in size so this wasn’t a factor in the final results.
When shopping for workout leggings, you have a lot of factors to consider. Your leggings should be snug and supportive so you don't have to constantly adjust them while moving around. Another thing to look for is whether or not they pass the "squat test"—i.e., they're completely opaque even when squatting down or bending over. (Cheaper, lower quality leggings will become sheer when stretched.) You'll also want to pay attention to breathability and sweat-wicking abilities. A good pair of workout leggings will pull moisture away from your skin and dry quickly post-exercise.
What Is The Best Material For Workout Leggings?
Many workout leggings these days are made of some combination of polyester, nylon, and elastane, explains our apparel expert, Jamie Ueda. The best material depends on the type of workout you're doing. For instance, compression leggings will provide more support, while leggings with cutouts, mesh paneling, and sweat- or moisture-wicking fabrics offer more ventilation. "Four-way stretch" is also commonly found on product tags, and just means the material is flexible in all directions so it won't limit your range of motion or feel constricting on your muscles. Lastly, some leggings are made with cotton because it's soft and breathable—however, Jamie cautions that it's not ideal for someone who sweats a lot, as cotton is slower to dry than synthetic fabrics.
Other Workout Leggings We Tested
Athleta Ultra High Rise Elation Tight
Not only do the Athleta Elation leggings have nearly 2,000 glowing reviews, but several Reviewed staffers and our apparel expert Jamie Ueda are big fans. When I tested them, I found the brushed nylon/elastane material very soft to the touch and thick enough to be fully opaque, yet breathable enough that I didn’t feel suffocated. The waistband hits about two inches below my bra line and securely held and smoothed my midsection without ever rolling down. The Athleta leggings come in one length (which landed right at my ankle) and in a wide range of sizes from XXS to 3X that fit true to size. The one thing I dislike about these tights, however, is that they have a seam directly down the center in the front. This creates a somewhat noticeable camel toe in the crotch area that made me self-conscious in public (fortunately, I found that a thicker pair of underwear minimizes the effect). These Athleta tights come in four solid colors.
With over 7,200 reviews at Nordstrom, the Zella Live-In High Waist Leggings are one of the most popular pairs at the giant retailer. The spandex/polyester blend fabric feels like a cozy knit cotton, so it’s as comfortable for lounging around the house as it is for working out. However, these leggings are heavier than others I tried. While this didn’t bother me while exercising—I’m always cold—it makes them more suitable for colder weather workouts or wear. And if you’re someone who easily sweats or overheats, these may not be the best choice for you. The Zella 28-inch leggings come in women’s sizes XXS to XXL and six colors. Note: While I found the quality of the leggings to be good, some long-time Zella fans note that the material has changed in recent years and isn’t as high quality as it once was. They say it feels more like cotton now.
I’m a big fan of Bandier’s highly rated Center Stage leggings for their sleek material. It’s very smooth to the touch, has a slight sheen, and is impressively lightweight. It isn’t very absorbent, so sweat dries fast. Similar to the Align leggings, the Bandier ones barely feel like I’m wearing pants at all. The only complaint I have about the leggings is how bulky the waistband is. It didn’t lie flat and smooth against my skin—rather, it created a ridge that showed beneath a top and cut into my skin when sitting down. These leggings come in women’s sizes XXS to 3X, two lengths, and 11 colors including metallics.
Beyond Yoga Spacedye Caught In The Midi High Waisted Legging
The Beyond Yoga leggings have the most comfortable waistband of all the pairs I’ve tried. It hits higher than most, landing only an inch and a half below my sports bra, which is a win for someone like me who has a long torso. The waistband stayed in place and I never had to adjust it when I was working out. The fabric, a polyester and lycra blend, is very soft and thicker than some other leggings so it’s completely opaque, no matter what you’re doing. However, I found that the material keeps sweat trapped against your skin and takes a long time to dry after working out. The Beyond Yoga leggings come in women’s sizes XXS to XXL and 17 colors.
The highlight of the Outdoor Voices leggings is the brand’s trademark “core” waistband. It has just the right amount of compression so it doesn’t fall down while I’m moving around, yet it’s thin enough that it sits smoothly against my skin. The “TechSweat” material˘—which is a blend of nylon, polyester, and spandex—dries quickly so I could wear them to run errands after working out without feeling like a sweaty mess. The issue with the leggings is that the compressive waistband is, well, compressive, so they can be difficult to pull on. The rest of the leggings also have slightly less compression which is an awkward contrast to get used to. The OV leggings come in women’s sizes XS to XL and five solid colors. Caution: While I tested the black leggings—which were opaque even while squatting—some reviewers warn that the lighter colors are see-through.
Girlfriend Collective has risen to social media fame thanks to its inclusive sizing and commitment to sustainability. The brand’s OG high-rise leggings—which have nearly 14,000 rave reviews—come in women’s sizes XXS to 6X and are made of a blend of spandex and polyester derived from recycled water bottles. The fabric is thick and compressive, so I felt comfortably covered and not at all self-conscious about my lower half jiggling or bouncing around while I ran or jumped. When I was exercising, I liked that the waistband fit snugly around my waist but it was too tight to be comfortable when sitting down just relaxing on the couch. Between that and the noticeable compression, these leggings are made for working out but not so much for lounging. They come in six colors.
Lululemon Wunder Under High-Rise Tight 25" Luxtreme
While the Lululemon Align leggings earned our “Best for Yoga” badge, the brand’s Wunder Under tights didn’t perform nearly as well in our tests. The nylon and Lycra elastane fabric is very thick, which is both a blessing and a curse. It holds everything in while you exercise, but it also traps in all the sweat and often feels too constricting. The waistband of my size 4 pair cut into my skin just enough to give me a slight muffin top (where the flesh of your waist sticks out over the pants), so I felt too self conscious and uncomfortable wearing the Wunder Unders with just a sports bra or crop top. It also left indents on my skin, even after wearing the leggings for just an hour. What's more, going up a size didn't fix either of these issues. These tights come in women’s sizes 0 to 20, 25- and 28-inch lengths, and seven colors.
Alo Yoga’s Airlift leggings are a favorite with celebs Kendall Jenner and Selena Gomez. I like that the high-waisted leggings are made of a sleek and slippery polyester and spandex blend that wicks away sweat and doesn’t show moisture stains. The 7/8-length leggings didn’t bunch up at the ankles or around the thighs—instead, they fit comfortably snug and are cropped right at the top of my ankle. While the waistband hits high on my waist (landing about two inches above my navel), it had a tendency to roll down, especially when I was doing squats. I frequently pulled up the leggings or unfurled the waistband, an annoying distraction during my workout. The Alo Yoga leggings come in women’s sizes XXS to XL and 13 colors.
Old Navy High-Waisted Elevate 7/8-Length Compression Leggings For Women
These Old Navy leggings are among the most affordable leggings I tested—but, unfortunately, the quality matches the low price. The fabric, a blend of polyester and spandex, is thin and stiff, and I noticed pilling on the inner thighs after just one wash. However, the leggings are compressive as labeled so there’s enough support for high-impact activities. That said, I wouldn’t wear them to work out in again because not only were they uncomfortable, they're slightly transparent when squatting. The Old Navy leggings come in women’s sizes XS to XXL, two lengths, and six colors.
My first impression of the Everlane Perform Leggings was how difficult they were to get on. I know that leggings are supposed to be tight, but these are really tight—and I’m not sure if sizing up would help, as they don’t offer much stretch. I felt restricted while working out yet the waistband rolled down constantly so I had to keep hiking it up while I exercised. I like the way the soft fabric—which is a blend of nylon and elastane—feels against my skin. It’s lightweight and thinner than other leggings so it felt breathable. However, this also means it shows more VPL (visible panty lines) and doesn’t pass the squat test (i.e., it becomes sheer when stretched). The Everlane 28-inch leggings come in women’s sizes XXS to XXXL and five colors.
Celebrities Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, and Hailey Bieber post photos wearing Koral’s Lustrous Leggings all the time, so I was excited to try them for myself. However, they failed to live up to my expectations. As someone with a long torso who prefers high-waisted leggings, I found the mid-rise cut of these leggings to hit at an awkward spot between my navel and hips. I felt like I constantly had to pull them up and I couldn’t squat comfortably in them without worrying about a wardrobe malfunction. I like that the brand’s “Infinity” fabric—which is 85% polyamide and 15% Xtra Life Lycra Sport—has a shimmery sheen that makes them appear dressier than the average pair of leggings, so you can wear them to the gym or to date night—but I also found it itchy on my skin after just one hour of wear. The Koral leggings come in women’s sizes XS to L, one length, and three colors.
Spanx is a household name when it comes to shapewear and leggings, and the brand has become very popular in the last year, thanks to its top-selling faux leather leggings. Unfortunately, I have little positive to say about the Spanx seamless leggings. At first glance, they appeared extremely tiny—almost child-sized—despite being my usual size small. Putting them on was a serious struggle—I had to yank each leg up inch by inch. Once on, I noticed they created a very obvious camel toe in the crotch area that was both unsightly and uncomfortable. The leggings also have to be hand-washed, which is very inconvenient. However, if you’re someone who prefers thick, textured leggings, the Spanx ones are ribbed and smooth out your legs’ silhouette. The Spanx 24.5-inch leggings come in women’s sizes XS to XL and three colors.
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