leggings yoga slacker
Photo credit: Chip Fieberg

The Best Leggings for Women in 2020

After 2 years of intensive testing, we found the best leggings for women. Go 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 2 years 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 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.

The Best Workout Leggings for Women

Sagging is one of the biggest concerns with running and workout 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.

Oiselle Triple Threat Capri Leggings: $78

Oiselle Capri Tights

Say goodbye to sagging with the Triple Threat leggings. 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.

And 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.

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CompressionZ High Waisted Leggings: $30

Women's Black Running Leggings

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.

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Janji 7/8 Groundwork Tights: $88

Janji Groundwork Tights

These are the ultimate multitool tights. 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 hail storms and heat waves, these have proven to hold up against the elements and maximize comfort.

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 elsehwere.

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Kind Apparel Trail Crop: $89

Title Nine Otta Capri

These tights are up for any adventure. We’ve worn them on a 14-hour mission that entailed river wading, rock climbing, bushwhacking, and running. We fully expected for something on them to fail or to find problem areas. But they remained comfortable, durable, and awesome through it all.

They didn’t chafe, they earn top marks for moisture wicking, and they were even comfortable sopping wet. The side pocket fits a phone, keys, or an energy bar very nicely. And the crop style is flattering for both petite and long-legged women. The pattern is both fun and feminine.

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Fabletics High-Waisted SculpKnit Leggings: $60 or 2 for $24 VIP Offer

Fabletics Sculpknit Leggings

These leggings 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 $60, 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 towards 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 mega-savings.

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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 hardworking 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 Timehop Light Tight: $75

ToadandCo Timehop Legging

These leggings 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 wearing 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-all everyday leggings will appreciate the Timehop Light Tight.

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Velocio LUXE Leggings: $109

Velocoi Luxe Leggings
Velocoi LUXE Leggings

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.

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.

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icebreaker Cool-Lite Motion Seamless High Rise Tights: $120

icebreaker Cool Lite Legging

These ultra-breathable and flattering tights are the ultimate wool do-all leggings. Their wool makes them naturally antimicrobial, so they don’t get icky after a good sweat. Our testers have worn these for multiple days straight doing yoga, running outside, and hanging out around the house. Through it all, they’ve stayed fresh and fitted.

These leggings transition seamlessly from working out to casual wear. And we especially like their superior ability to wick moisture and sweat. While we wouldn’t do anything super rough outdoors with them, these are a go-to for yoga, trail running, errand running, and lounging around the house.

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Best Yoga Leggings

Whether flowing through asana or enjoying a moment of zen, you need a pair of leggings that work as hard as you do.

prAna Kimble Printed 7/8 Leggings: $89

prana Kimble Leggings for Womenprana Kimble Leggings for Women

If a buttery-soft legging is what you’re looking for, then stop right here. We loved these after the first wear, and now, 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 to it, making them stay put during all sorts of activities and movements. Plus, 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.

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The North Face Perfect Core Legging: $99

Lucy Perfect Core Leggings

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.

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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.

icebreaker Comet Tight: $130

Icebreaker Wool Comet Tights for Women

These are 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 g, 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.

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First Lite Kiln Long Jane: $90-95

First Lite Kiln Long Jane

We can’t say enough good things about the versatility, fit, and quality of First Lite’s base layer collections, but the Kiln Long Janes in particular hit the mark on a ton of levels. They’re offered in solids for us normal types and camo options for the hunters among us.

The merino wool blend is more durable than most, much more comfortable than most, and keeps scent at bay, meaning less time in the wash and more time spent in the backcountry.

The fit is spectacular, and the most comfortable of any base layer legging we’ve tried. A true high-waisted pant, it doesn’t fall down when active in the mountains or on the ski hill. Its next-to-skin quality maintains a solid amount of warmth. We’ve worn ours days upon days over two seasons, and they have yet to show wear.

And for those requiring more warmth, First Lite is releasing an even heavier legging this year. It’s called the Furnace ($110) and it’s currently available for preorder. Sign us up.

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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 in the comments for future updates to the article.


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