From working out to lounging around, leggings are a comfortable and practical choice. Despite their apparent simplicity, they’re not all alike, and there’s nothing worse than a pair of ill-fitting leggings. They ride up, squeeze tight, slide down, and need constant adjustment. It’s not only annoying, but it also gets in the way of being active.
That’s why we spent the last 2 years testing as many leggings as we could. And after traveling, surfing, running, hiking, yoga bending, CrossFit sweating, and generally living in leggings, we narrowed down the best women’s leggings for a variety of pursuits.
We’ve divided the best women’s leggings list into four categories: workout, everyday wear, yoga, and winter. Of course, some leggings fit in multiple categories, and this list doesn’t include every legging on the planet. But it’s extensive, and we created it after thorough testing and research. At the end of our list, be sure to check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide.
- Best Overall Women’s Legging
- Best Budget Legging
- Best Cropped Legging
- Best Legging for Running
- Best Legging for Yoga
- Best Legging for Hiking
The Best Leggings for Women of 2022
Best Overall Women’s Legging: Vuori Clean Elevation Legging
The main reason these leggings ($98) are claiming the number one spot is that they’re just so incredibly soft. They’re some of the softest leggings tested, which makes sense as Vuori claims a soft suede feel (spot-on) made from recycled polyester and elastane.
They are a go-to for both lounging and wearing out but also offer up enough support for higher-impact exercises. With an ultra high-rise, thick waistband, and moisture-wicking abilities, they’re great for extra-sweaty days. They also have a hidden zipper pocket in the back big enough to hold a phone.
Vuori’s Clean Elevation is a true innovation, combining unmatched comfort with high-level performance capabilities.
- Size range: XXS-XXL; short, regular, and long
- Fabric: 87% recycled polyester, 13% elastane
- Inseam: 25″
- Lightweight and moisture-wicking
- Extremely soft
- Ultra high-rise
- No side pockets
Runner-Up Best Women’s Legging: Oiselle Triple Threat Capri Leggings
Say goodbye to sagging with Oiselle’s Triple Threat leggings ($27). After countless miles on the road and trail without ever needing to adjust our pants, these quickly became a favorite running legging.
The Nyelle compression fabric is soft and stretchy while still offering up plenty of support. We also found these tights wicked moisture well and dried quickly. The mesh panels on the back of the calves offer up a bit of extra venting for hot days.
With five pockets, you can easily bring your phone and other essentials. We especially like the ability to bring our phone without compromising the fit or causing any unwanted sagging. Overall, the Triple Threat performed as well or better than some more expensive options on this list.
- Size range: 2-14
- Fabric: Nyelle nylon/spandex blend
- Inseam: 18″
- Lots of pockets
- Runs smaller in the waist
Best Budget Legging: CompressionZ High Waisted Leggings
Looking for a major bargain? Then these beloved leggings ($50) are for you. They look way too small the first time you see them, but whoa do they stretch! Once on, they’re comfortable and stay in place.
These are a solid, low-cost option for working out, running errands, or going out on the town. We experienced a bit of pilling on the inner legs after many uses, but otherwise, they’ve held up surprisingly well.
Ideal for a wide variety of uses, CompressionZ has created one of the best-designed women’s leggings available today.
- Size range: XS-6XL
- Fabric: 73% polyester, 23% spandex
- Inseam: 24.4-27.2″
- Lots of stretch
- Inclusive sizing
- Not too expensive
- Not super durable
Best Cropped Legging: Athleta Ultra High Rise Elation Capri
Cropped or capri leggings can lead to dreaded sagging, but the Ultra High Rise Elation Capri ($79) by Athleta didn’t sag once, even after hours of wearing them while moving outside.
They’re made with an extremely lightweight and stretchy fabric — perfect for yoga — that doesn’t stretch out, sag, or restrict movement. It’s the perfect mix of compression and flexibility, though it might not be the most durable if you’re using them for outside hikes or high-impact exercises.
The high-rise, three-layer, unpinchable waistband is thick and compressive but not restrictive, and it doesn’t have side seams. There’s one hidden drop-in pocket large enough to hold a medium-size phone.
- Size range: XXS-3XL; regular, tall, petite
- Fabric: Nylon/Lycra blend
- Inseam: 21″
- UPF 50+ sun protection
- Ultra high-rise
- Less durable than others
Best Legging for Running: Janji ⅞ Groundwork Tights 2.0
These are the ultimate multitool tights ($98). They have a sleek look and undercover pockets in all the right places. The polyester-blend material is silky smooth on the skin while remaining both breathable and durable. Through hailstorms and heat waves, these have proven to hold up against the elements to maximize comfort and performance.
At first glance, the stitching looks like it’s going to be bothersome on the skin, but we never even noticed it. In fact, the seams actually add a fun, edgy, and textured look to the leggings that we haven’t seen elsewhere.
Consider the Groundwork 2.0 if you’re highly active in a range of conditions, but don’t want to sacrifice comfort.
- Size range: XS-XL
- Fabric: 68% nylon, 32% spandex
- Inseam: 24″
- Breathable and quick-drying
- Great pockets
- Fit around the waist wasn’t ideal for some body types
Best Legging for Yoga: prAna Kimble Printed ⅞ Leggings
If a buttery-soft legging is what you’re looking for, then stop right here. We loved these prAna Kimbles ($89) after the first wear, and, after 2 months of wearing them for yoga, running, and climbing, we’re even more impressed. Unlike other soft-feeling tights that pill after a few uses, these have yet to shed or show any signs of wear.
Additionally, the wide waistband has a tiny bit of compression, preventing sagging during all sorts of activities and movements. And the Coolmax gusset adds reinforcement and comfort in an important area of the body. Wear these leggings for working out or dress them up and show off the fun patterns.
- Size range: XS-XL
- Fabric: 81% recycled polyester, 19% elastane
- Inseam: 25″
- Very comfortable
- Wide waistband
- Longer inseam for taller women
- Runs small
Best Legging for Hiking: Fjallraven Abisko Trekking Tights Pro
We’re all about hiking leggings, and the Abisko Trekking Tights Pro ($150) by Fjallraven didn’t disappoint. They fit comfortably, offering good compression where needed, proper sizing, and a soft, smooth feel. Even after a multihour hike, they didn’t sag or stretch out and dried quickly with little smell.
They’re constructed with abrasion-resistant CORDURA on the seat and knees, which held up to scooting down rocks and crawling around after dropped snacks. The best part? The pockets. There are big ones on each side of the legs — one that is fully open and one that has an overlapping top so nothing should fall out.
These come in a ⅞-cut (resting just above the ankles so they won’t rub with hiking boots) with a 25-inch inseam. And if you didn’t know, Fjallraven stores offer free, in-store repair services and other customizations for a low cost.
- Size range: XXS-XXL
- Fabric: 71% polyester, 29% elastane; 90% polyamide, 10% elastane
- Inseam: 25″
- Matte, opaque finish
- Secure, deep pockets
- Reinforced knees and seat
Best Legging for Hunters: Carhartt Force Fitted Lightweight Utility Leggings
It’s difficult to find a pair of leggings that can hold up to busting through brush and spending time off-trail, but Carhartt managed to do it at a price that’s easy to swallow. For $60, the Force Fitted Utility Legging offers up a durable option for women who would rather hunt in leggings. And they’re still quite comfortable for relaxation.
These leggings are comfortable and they fit like a glove. Sizing is spot on, with pockets to spare and a moisture-wicking technology that really works on hot days in the field. Extra flex is added to the gusset, and Carhartt’s Rugged Flex technology is built into the legging as well.
Additionally, the thickness adds enough warmth on cooler days without being overwhelming. Overall, this is a fabulous legging and you needn’t worry about destroying them in the field.
- Size range: XS-3XL; regular and tall sizing (XS-2XL)
- Fabric: 8.5-oz. fabric: 95% nylon, 5% spandex
- Inseam: 29-31″
- Multiuse performance
- Not ideal for hot weather
Best Sustainable Legging: Patagonia Maipo ⅞ Tights
Even though the Maipo Tights ($99) from Patagonia were a little thin fabric-wise (it seemed as if a hole could happen at the tiniest snag), they were extremely comfortable and we loved the light blue and gray color, which reminded us of cloudy skies.
While thin, they still felt supportive for a low-impact workout and had little sag or stretch. But we really chose this pair because of how they’re made — the fabric is made from NetPlus 81% post-consumer recycled nylon from fishing nets.
If you want to look good while feeling great about where your threads came from, you won’t be disappointed with the Maipo Tights.
- Size range: XXS-XXL
- Fabric: 81% post-consumer recycled nylon made from recycled fishing nets, 19% spandex knit
- Inseam: 25″
- Flatlock seam construction
- Odor control from HeiQ Pure
- Fair Trade Certified sewn
- Material felt thin; won’t withstand abrasions
Most Versatile Legging: Lululemon InStill High Rise Tight 25″
Although high-rise is the go-to for leggings these days, the InStill High Rise Tight ($128) by Lululemon has not only a high waist in the front but also an even higher rise in the back for extra coverage. That means if you’re bending, twisting, and turning, you won’t have a gap.
These tights worked great for a yoga class — they have four-way stretch and are quick-drying — but honestly were also ideal to just lounge in or pair with a tunic. The fabric is buttery soft with a matte look — not too gym-wear shiny — and offers up a tight, hugged feel for support and comfort.
Lululemon is known for well-crafted clothing that’s ideal for fitness and can last a lifetime. If you can stomach the price, these tights have long-term viability.
- Size range: 0-20
- Fabric: 74% nylon, 26% Lycra elastane
- Inseam: 25″
- Extra high-rise waistband in the back
- Wicks moisture and dries fast
- Supportive and smooth
- Repellent finish to fend off light rain
- Unflattering seams near waist
Check Price at LululemonCheck Price at Amazon
Best Legging for Winter: Title Nine Crash 2.0 Tights
If you’re looking for warm, thick, and insulated leggings, look no further than Title Nine’s Crash 2.0 tights ($99), made with Polartec PowerStretch fleece. These tights are, as the brand wrote, the “cold butt cure.” And yes, we’ve weathered the coldest of cold days we could find while walking, hiking, and cross-country skiing — and these insulated tights did the job.
The Title Nine Crash 2.0 tights are thick but don’t bunch up, are insulated but still offer a little breathability, and are as stretchy as you could need for winter activities like skiing or running. Really, these tights are some of the best we’ve tested all winter long.
Our only con? The fit around the thighs can bunch up for some (depending on your figure and size). But for a heavy fleece layer, these tights look and feel great.
- Size range: 2-16 (XS-XL); comes in regular and cropped length (18″ inseam)
- Fabric: Polartec Power Stretch (90% recycled poly, 10% spandex)
- Inseam: 27″
- Perfect for winter
- Insulating, thick material still offers stretch
- Can bunch up depending on your hips/waist shape
Best of the Rest
Fabletics High-Waisted SculpKnit Leggings
These leggings ($70) manage to combine compression and breathability. The seamless design means you don’t have to worry about chafing, and we found the compression level left our bum looking great but wasn’t too intense for all-day wear.
One of the best features is the ability to cut the length. The SculpKnit material doesn’t fray, so you can keep the full length or simply cut across the bottom to get a customized legging length. This is great for anyone who has ever struggled to find the perfect fit.
These are priced at a very reasonable $70, or members can get two pairs for $24. VIP members always get 50% off, with even higher savings offered regularly. Basically, once you sign up, you pay $50 a month, which is credited toward your shopping account. You get 45 days to try new gear and can return hassle-free. Plus, you can skip any month and avoid being charged.
It’s a different way of shopping, but anyone with a real love for activewear will appreciate the savings.Check Price at Fabletics
Velocio LUXE Leggings
When luggage space is tight, these Italian-made leggings ($109) are the only pair you’ll need to pack. With just enough compression to provide support while still being thin enough to wear under a skirt, you can easily put these through a hard workout and then transition to a night out.
Velocio’s proprietary LUXE fabric, a blend of polyamide and elastane, maintains its shape and offers a silky-soft feel for all-day comfort. We’ve sent these through the wash more than 30 times without any signs of wear and tear. They’re a true wardrobe workhorse that’s worth the investment.
If you’re looking for something a bit heavier and better suited to cool days, check out the new Velocio RECON Leggings ($119). They’re made with an Italian dual-milled material and have a great next-to-skin feel. Complete with a high waist and sleek side zipper pocket, these have quickly become one of our favorite leggings.Check Price at Velocio
Toad&Co Timehop Light Tight
These leggings ($85) provide high-tech functionality in a stylish, everyday package. The Bluesign-approved, recycled polyester blend has Polygiene odor control to keep you fresh if you happen to wear these 5 days in a row.
They keep their shape, even after consecutive days of wear without washing. Best of all, they’re incredibly soft and comfortable.
We wore these walking the dog, running errands around town, and generally lounging around the house. The wide waistband remained comfortable throughout. And we found them surprisingly breathable. The drop-in pockets keep essentials at hand without adding bulk.
Anyone looking for a pair of comfortable, do-it-all everyday leggings will appreciate the Timehop Light Tight.
Check Price at AmazonCheck Price at Toad&Co
The North Face Perfect Core Tights
After more than 500 days of use (including motorcycling, yoga, camping, and hiking), these tights have maintained their shape, stayed comfortable, and remain in the daily rotation. We like how the higher waistband provides support and has the added benefit of reminding the wearer to engage her core during use.
These were formerly made by Lucy, and we’re happy to see The North Face continue making them after buying the brand.Check Price at Zappos
Why You Should Trust Us
For working out — whether hiking or running — leggings can be a comfortable and functional option. That’s why we spent hours and hours testing oh so many leggings.
After traveling, running, hiking, yoga bending, HIIT-ing, and generally living in leggings, our contributing tester found the standouts that will stay put, stay secure, and keep you moving and comfortable.
In addition to the author, we had multiple women staff and testers of different sizes put our best women’s leggings to the test over the course of several months.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Leggings
Stretch and Compression
The absolute worst thing about leggings is when they sag or stretch out after a wash. High-quality leggings should do neither, but that isn’t always the case. Ideally, a good pair of leggings will be made from both stretchy material and material that has a little bit of compression to give that nice, tight fit.
When trying on a pair of leggings, you should have to put them on like tights; if you’re sliding them up on and easily, they’re probably too big.
Rise and Length
Leggings vary so much now, both at the bottom and the top. Think about how much rise you want near your waist. High-rise leggings are great to keep your stomach covered if you’re moving from pose to pose in yoga, but low-rise might be more comfortable on a run.
Similarly, think about the length of the legs, which is a personal style preference. Leggings now come in a cropped/capri length, a ⅞ length that falls above your ankles, and a full length that covers your ankles.
If you’re using leggings to hike or backpack, you’ll want a fabric that is thicker to the touch and has added reinforcement on the knees and backside. For lower-impact activities like yoga or lounging, you’ll need to worry less about the fabric wearing out or tearing and focus more on the fit, feel, and comfort.
Pockets and Extras
We love large side pockets, but not all activities need pockets. For daily use and running, pockets are ideal. But for a yoga class, our phones and keys are in a locker room.
Other extras to look for include waist drawstrings, small pockets on the waistband for keys and cards, reinforced knees and bottoms for hiking and durability, and any special cutouts or details.
Make It Last: 3 Leggings Care Tips
Now that you’ve found the best women’s leggings for you, you’ll want to make them last as long as possible.
- Hang up or rinse immediately after working out. It’s tempting to wad up your sweaty leggings and toss them in the bottom of your bag, but take a few extra seconds to treat them with care. At the very least, hang them out to dry while you get changed, and then lay them flat in your bag. Even better, give them a rinse to remove sweat and bacteria that can break down the materials.
- Wash in cold water with mild detergent. Avoid fabric softeners and bleach, as these speed up the fabric breakdown and can inhibit the wicking properties. Consider using a specialty soap like our favorite Granger’s Active Wash ($10).
- Skip the dryer whenever possible to avoid overheating, stretching, and misshaping your favorite leggings. They’re made of quick-drying materials, so simply hang up or lay flat to dry.
What materials make the best leggings?
Leggings need to be both stretchy and flexible, but also supportive, compressive, and made from a material that won’t stretch out or sag. Look for leggings made from polyester and nylon with elastane, spandex, or Lycra. These materials will be stretchy, breathable, lightweight, and moisture-wicking.
When should I wear leggings?
Anytime! Just kidding — leggings are not exactly appropriate for every situation, though that does seem to be changing as loungewear is getting fancier and slacks are getting more comfortable.
Leggings are a perfect option for most activities where you’d normally wear shorts or hiking pants — think cycling, yoga, running, and backpacking. The specific legging might vary for each activity (see below for needs like durability and pockets), but overall, leggings are a comfortable option for most active and non-active outings.
What is the best brand of workout leggings?
Fitting true to size, prAna is always a consistent go-to for leggings. The brand’s leggings are available in a variety of styles and patterns, and they work for all activities. Lululemon is also well-known for its leggings, which are extremely comfortable and come in a lot of variety, though they sometimes run small.
Both Athleta and Vuori are also top contenders, with Vuori really making a name for itself lately with high-quality loungewear and activewear.
What do you look for in leggings?
Before buying, first think about what activities you’ll be using them for. If you’re hiking, look for reinforced knees and rear and plenty of deep pockets. For yoga, you’ll want a supportive pair with four-way stretch so you won’t be restricted in your movements. No matter what you’re using them for, the leggings should be tight and comfy, like a second skin.
Next, think about what size and how many pockets you want and other details like an ultra-high-rise waist, a drawstring waist, and the length (capri, ⅞, or full).
Do I need to wear underwear?
That’s mostly a personal preference. Active tights should be made from moisture-wicking and quick-drying fabric, so you should stay dry during a sweaty workout.
Some also have a crotch gusset — a triangle of fabric sewn in where all the seams meet together. This can help eliminate any unflattering tight seams and make going commando more comfortable.