Above photo credit: Chip Fieberg
After 365 days of intensive women’s leggings testing, we found the best leggings for women. Get from yoga to the mountaintop to the coffee shop without a hitch.
From working out to lounging about, leggings are a comfortable and practical choice. But there’s nothing worse than a pair of ill-fitting leggings. They ride up, squeeze tight, slide down, and need constant adjustment. It’s annoying and gets in the way of being active.
That’s why we spent the last year testing oh-so-many leggings. And after traveling, surfing, running, hiking, yoga bending, CrossFit sweating, and generally living in leggings, we found the standouts.
We’ve divided the best leggings list into five categories: running, water, 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.
Best Running Leggings
Sagging is one of the biggest concerns with running leggings. It’s hard to go the distance when you have to pull up your pants between strides. On the other hand, it’s equally awful to feel overly constricted by too-tight leggings. Luckily, we found several pairs that ride the line, managing to stay up while remaining comfortable.
These midweight capris will easily have you running from summer straight into fall (and the milder days of winter). The Plya Compression fabric provides a snug fit, and the subtle reflective details on the waist and hips boost visibility. And with four pockets, you can bring all your road or trail essentials. This style does tend to run small, so consider sizing up for the best fit.
These leggings have impressive multitasking skills. We wore them on daily runs in all types of weather, as a base layer cross-country skiing, and as a standalone when teaching yoga and acrobatics. They have seams in all the right places to make chafing a nonissue, and they offer a handy stash pocket for an ID and cash for an emergency post-run coffee or beer.
We recommend washing them soon after exercising, as they tend to hold odor easier than other wool tights. If you’re looking for a pair of leggings that can be worn in multiple climates and scenarios, look no further. These simple, comfortable, and flattering leggings are perfect for the minimalist, adventure-seeking gal.
Looking for a major bargain? Then these beloved leggings 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.
If you’ve ever spent a long day surfing, SUPing, or otherwise frolicking in the sea, you know the value of a good pair of water leggings. They not only provide superior sun protection, but also protect against chafing and discomfort.
These lightweight (7-ounce) leggings are a warm-water dream. We wore a pair for three days straight while rafting and SUPing down the Snake River and were impressed with its comfort and durability. The flat-lock seams give a chafe-free fit, and the wide waistband keeps everything in place whether swimming, paddling, or hiking. Grab a pair of surf leggings and have fun in the sun all day long without worry.
Proudly made in the USA, the Keala easily transitions from the big wave barrel to lunch in town. We like how the wide, folded waist stays in place no matter what and how the flattering cut accentuates in all the right places. And you can wear these with a clean conscience knowing they’re made from recycled materials. Surf’s up.
Best Everyday Wear & Travel Leggings
We’ll admit it, there are days – weeks even – when we wear nothing but leggings. And if you’re looking for a hard-working option while traveling, you can’t go wrong with a packable pair that will provide stylish comfort on the plane, ample coverage during yoga, and leg warmth out on the town.
Toad&Co Lean Leggings: $42 (on sale)
We’ve been testing a single pair of these leggings for more than 2 years, and they’re still going strong! Sure, you can find a cheaper pair of cotton leggings, but we guarantee they won’t provide the comfort or long-lasting durability of the Lean Leggings. It’s worth paying for leggings that manage to blend soft, organic comfort with a stay-put, all-day fit.
When luggage space is tight, these Italian-made leggings 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.
Vuori Asymmetric Block Leggings: $41 (on sale)
Vuori has some very important components figured out when it comes to women’s leggings. These Vuoris have a slightly higher and wider waistband, making them both flattering and very comfortable. The fabric is soft, stretchy, and quick-drying, making it a perfect legging for yoga, hiking, or travel.
We found them to be a bit on the warmer side when it’s hot out, but for early morning walks, outdoor yoga, and cool weather outings, they’re the first thing we reach for in the morning.
Yoga, Hiking, and Fitness Leggings
Whether flowing through asana, hiking the local trail, or crushing a sweat session, you need a pair of leggings that work as hard as you do.
These Fair Trade Certified leggings are equally at home on the trail and the yoga mat. We liked that the wide waist band stayed in place through all sorts of movement and the soft fabric provided all-day comfort. And, of key importance for yoga, we never had any concerns about them being see-through. Even when bending and contorting to the max. We found they fit true to size.
After more than 500 days’ use (including motorcycling, yoga, camping, hiking, and all-day wear), these have maintained their shape, stayed comfortable, and are still 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.
EVER Sweatflow Legging: $66 (on sale)
These leggings will keep you cool and comfy making big miles on the trail or curled up on the couch at home. We like that the high waist provides support and does away with any “muffin-top” discomfort. EVER’s proprietary fabric manages to be soft and cool while also providing full, opaque coverage.
The Sweatflow leggings are constructed with silver to kill bacteria, with a goal of allowing you to wear five times without washing. We found them to be impressively stink-minimizing, but not perfectly odor-free. Get sweaty enough during a big workout or mountain ascent, and you may want to wash more often.
But regardless if you go five wears between washes or not, these are excellent leggings. They’re comfortable, durable, flattering, and fairly priced. And every pair of leggings sold funds 1,000 liters of water purification for a family in a developing country.
Providing just the right amount of stretch, breathability, and thickness, these leggings are a great go-to choice. The back seams create a flattering booty effect, and you never have to worry about any see-through embarrassment. And if that’s not enough for you, consider Oprah herself gave them a seal of approval, wearing them on the cover of her namesake magazine. Do note they tend to run a bit big, so consider sizing down for the best fit.
A rapidly growing company whose mission is to “redefine recreation as a part of your everyday life,” Outdoor Voices is becoming well-known for its durable, flattering, timeless pieces. We’ve been testing a pair of Hi-Rise 7/8 Warmup leggings for several months, and they have been a go-to legging for teaching acrobatics and yoga, with a very high waistband that is flattering and comfortable.
The seams are also nicely placed, meaning that they don’t rub or dig into the skin – and they make short legs look a little longer! The material, a textured compression tonal fabric, is sweat-wicking and plenty thick. Even after 15 consecutive days of wearing and washing, these leggings held up perfectly.
Insulated Winter Leggings
Just because the temperature has dropped doesn’t mean you need to give up on leggings. Thanks to these insulated options, you can wear them alone during winter hikes or as a base layer when hitting the mountain.
Designed specifically for cold-weather use, these lined, high-stretch tights manage to protect against the cold without causing you to overheat. The FlashDry material accelerates the removal of moisture, which is especially important when it’s cold out. Stash what you need in the small, zippered pocket and get outside no matter the season.
Icebreaker Comet Tight: $130
This is for anyone on the hunt for a do-all legging that easily transitions from cold-weather base layer to an all-day lounge pant to a standalone legging. At 230 grams, these provide plenty of warmth while remaining breathable and light enough to wear during the shoulder season. And the best part of wool is that it naturally remains odor-free, even after hard use. For hiking, snowshoeing, running, or staying cozy at home, the Comet is one of our favorites.
Make It Last: 3 Leggings Care Tips
Now that you’ve found the perfect pair of leggings, you 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 ($14 on Amazon).
- 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.
Have a favorite pair of leggings we didn’t include? Let us know and we’ll check it out for future updates to the article.