Fashion

The 20 Best Leggings for Every Activity

Finding the perfect leggings is an art, one which takes years of experience and trial and of error. There are leggings for everything you could ever need pants to do, from sitting on your couch to running a marathon. All said, navigating the world of leggings is a beast.

The different types of leggings

You can choose styles with buttery soft fabric, high-tech compression, moisture-wicking capabilities and fleece linings. Leggings can be cropped or full length, fitted or flared and cost anywhere between $20 and $200. “Not all leggings are created equal,” says endurance athlete Brooke Danielson. “Some are high-rise, some are low-rise and some are made from softer less supporting fabrics, while others have more technical fabrication. This will give you a starting place for the research phase,” she adds.

Based on the fabric and design of the leggings, you might also see some trendy stuff around what leggings have the ability to do — including offering booty-lifting compression and strategically placed seams for an ultra-flattering fit.

Common legging fabrics include:

  • Elastane: Elastane, or spandex, is often the part of the fabric that makes the item feel stretchy.
  • Nylon: A strong, lightweight synthetic fiber that’s somewhat elastic (but to a lesser degree than spandex).
  • Lycra: A type of spandex known for its stretchy feel, helping products to move as you do.
  • Polyester: A durable, quick-drying fabric that retains its shape. Tons of clothes use polyester, and it might make up the bulk of your legging fabric that’s not stretchy spandex or Lycra.

Common hemlines on leggings include:

  • Low-Rise: Leggings with a lower rise are great for not feeling constricted. Some people like these for yoga, where you can get some skin-to-skin contact during your belly breaths, or for a more minimal feel while lounging at home.
  • Medium-Rise: Medium-rise leggings are an option for everyone, but they tend to work better for people who are shorter or have short torsos. The rise will fit nicely without creating any front wedgie situations.
  • High-Rise: High-rise leggings tend to be pretty popular across activities and body types for their ability to stay put as you move. But that’s not all they’re good for: “I prefer a high waist so my abdomen has support,” says Danielson. “What people often don’t know, or think about, is the blood flow in that area when working out. It’s important to have compression and stability from the legs to the belly.”
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What to consider when purchasing leggings

In addition to considering the look and feel you want out of your leggings, “it’s important to know what activity you will be doing most often in them,” says Mirror Trainer and Lululemon Ambassador Hollis Tuttle.

The best leggings for you might actually be a few different pairs you like for different activities. A legging that feels super soft and comfortable without sliding down during your favorite yoga class might not work — in fact, probably won’t work — for a run.

“Let the activity point you in the right direction, and then you can narrow down your selection from there,” Tuttle says. “Take the time to try several different styles to find what fits you best — a few extra minutes in the fitting room are worth it.” To make your search more purposeful and less overwhelming, choose one activity to shop for first, she advises.

  • For lounging: You might not think that lounge pants deserve a lot of strategic shopping, but allow us to convince you otherwise. The perfect lounge legging is soft in the right places, doesn’t pill easily and doesn’t cost too much. The strategy here is, well, less strategy. Save the pricey tech specs and fabrics for your tough workouts.
  • For yoga: For yoga, Danielson says to go for something soft and less technical. You want something that feels good to put on but doesn’t move around too much. Tuttle’s go-to yoga leggings are also the ones she wears for running errands, because they are comfy enough to do both.
  • For HIIT and cardio: “If you’re looking for something to run, cycle or do cardio in, make sure to look for something supportive with a higher waistband as well as more technical, breathable fabrics,” Danielson says.
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Now that you have the basics down, go ahead and shop the 20 best leggings for women to fit every activity and need. We included styles highly recommended by our experts, as well as options that are beloved by customers and personally tested and approved by this author.

Top Leggings for Women

Athleta Ultimate Stash 7/8 Tights

Best Leggings for Running

Athleta’s Ultimate Stash 7/8 Tight is one of Danielson’s favorites. She’s an endurance runner, so her pants need to stay up and hold up over time. These are made with a recycled blend of nylon and lycra for a stretchy fit that’s both sweat-wicking and quick-drying. This combo is perfect for long runs, where you don’t want your pants holding onto sweat and feeling wet. They’re also one of the best leggings with pockets, perfect for stashing your phone and keys. 




Athleta Ultimate Stash 7/8 Tight


$89



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Lululemon Fast and Free High-Rise Tights

Best High-Waisted Leggings

Lululemon’s Fast and Free high-rise tights are a favorite for trainers, including Tuttle. They have the perfect high-waisted fit and don’t budge when you workout. (For this reason, they’re my personal choice leggings for running, too.) Tuttle also highlights the style’s handy side pockets, which are ideal for holding a phone.




Lululemon Fast and Free Tight


$128



Buy Now

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Everlane The Perform Leggings

Best Black Leggings

If you’re searching for a good, simple, inexpensive black legging, Everlane’s The Perform legging is for you. It has a thick waistband for optimal comfort and a cool, stretchy fabric that makes these one of the best leggings to wear as pants. I wear them with a bodysuit and a cardigan or with a hoodie and oversized coat. They don’t look like workout pants, per say, which is why they look sleek for everyday wear. I don’t particularly love them for working out because they tend to slide down around the waist for me. But at $68, they’re the kind of leggings I don’t feel bad about stocking up on. 




Everlane The Perform Legging


$68



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Alo 7/8 High-Waist Airlift Leggings

Most Comfortable Leggings Overall

Alo’s 7/8 high-waist Airlift leggings are some of the most comfortable leggings you can wear, thanks to their minimal shape and super-soft fabric. They really, truly feel like you aren’t wearing anything. Wear them for yoga or your favorite mobility class. Alo is worn by many A-listers and fitness influencers, and these leggings make a great base for any stylish outfit. To extend their life, hand wash them cold and lay them to dry.




Alo 7/8 High-Waist Airlift Legging


$118



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Nike One Luxe Mid-Rise Leggings

Another one of Danielson’s favorites is Nike’s One Luxe mid-rise leggings. They’re great for every type of workout and one of the best leggings to wear as pants. Nike’s Luxe line is next-level good, really delivering on its name. The fabric on these leggings are silky and sustainable, made from 50% recycled polyester fibers. These are the kind of leggings you can wear while you’re working all day long, and then take ’em straight to the gym for a lifting session.

20 Best Leggings of 2022

Courtesy of Nike




Nike One Luxe Mid-Rise Leggings


$90



Buy Now

Girlfriend Collective High-Waist Leggings

Best Leggings for Curvy Figures

Girlfriend Collective’s high-waisted leggings are some of the most size-inclusive pants around and best leggings for a curvy figure. (It’s no wonder the brand has become insanely popular.) This pair is high-waisted, compressive and come in sizes XXS to 6XL. Like the rest of the brand’s styles, it’s also made with recycled water bottles.

Girlfriend Collective High-Waist Leggings




Girlfriend Collective High-Waist Leggings


$88



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Tory Burch High-Rise Sculpt Compression Leggings

Most Fashionable Leggings

Danielson has been around workout clothes for a minute, so we know to trust her rec when she says she loves Tory Burch’s high-rise Sculpt compression leggings. Not only are they super stylish, but they also have that tight compression that’s good for improving blood flow — one of Danielson’s keys to finding the best leggings. The pair’s compressive fit and four-way stretch is meant to be tested out in a HIIT workout.




Tory Burch High-Rise Sculpt Compression Leggings


$128



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Spanx Look at Me Now Seamless Leggings

Best Leggings on Amazon

Spanx Look at Me Now seamless leggings are one of the great leggings you can buy on Amazon. Spanx has low-key been making some popular workout clothes for some time now, so use this as your sign to try them — we promise they don’t fit like shapewear. However, the double-layer waistband does provide a little compression and shape. Wear them for your favorite HIIT class or cardio session.

20 Best Leggings of 2022

Courtesy of Spanx




Spanx Look at Me Now Seamless Leggings


$62-$169



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Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings

Best Affordable Leggings

A seamless, compressive style (featuring more compression in the waistband than in the legs), Gymshark’s Vital Seamless 2.0 are some of the most comfortable and best affordable leggings you can wear for strength training and other types of in-studio workouts. Priced at $50 — and often on sale — they’re a great pair for stocking up on, too.




Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0


$50



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Carbon38 High Rise Full-Length Leggings

Best Compression Leggings

Carbon38’s high-rise leggings are one of the best compression leggings for those who are new to trying the category. That’s because Carbon38’s signature Cloud Compression is tight and supportive without making you feel sucked in. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, the leggings are stellar all the way down to the little details, as they’re full length and complete with pockets.




Carbon38 High Rise Full-length Legging


$98



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Lululemon Align High-Rise Leggings

Best Leggings for Every Day 

Lululemon’s Align high-rise leggings are the holy grail of leggings. In fact, if there’s one legging that could have a chance at doing it all, it’s this one. Tuttle wears these pants all day, “from street to studio and back again,” she says, and Rachel Nicks, another Mirror trainer and Lululemon Ambassador, swears by them for pregnant women.

I also wear these every day, and found they are the softest legging I’ve ever felt (the only drawback is they might be too soft for some activities, like running). Their shining feature, however, is the thick, seamless waistband that never makes you feel sucked in or cut off.




Lululemon Align High-Rise


$98 – $118



Buy Now

Sweaty Betty Ski Base Layer Leggings

Best for Skiing 

The range of activities in which leggings can fit is vast, and Sweaty Betty’s ski base layer leggings are here to round out your collection. I have an old season’s version of these, which have lasted me years, and I will never go back. As a lifelong skier, most base layers are functional, but that’s about it. These are soft, keep you warm in the snow and they’re cute. Long johns could never.

20 Best Leggings of 2022

Courtesy of Sweaty Betty




Sweaty Betty Ski Base Layer Leggings


$108



Buy Now

Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tights

Best Gym Leggings

Tuttle and I agree that Lululemon’s Wunder Train Tight is the best gym legging around. These have a similar shape to the Align style featuring a thick, easy-to-wear waistband, but with a bit more structure at the top so they don’t slip and slide. The EverLux fabric, made of nylon and elastane, also wicks away sweat.

Tuttle takes them to the gym to lift weights or swing kettlebells. “They move well with me and are sturdy enough to stand up to everything that I put them through,” she says. For all types of cross-training, these leggings are it.




Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tight


$98 – $118



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Blanqi Maternity Belly Support Leggings

Best Maternity Leggings

Blanqi’s maternity leggings are a favorite choice for the best maternity leggings you can get. They look like an easy black legging you can wear all day, and they are certainly ones that count as pants. The key is in the belly support which is super stretchy and will work with your fluctuating figure. The back fabric is formed into an X for a little extra back support.

20 Best Leggings of 2022

Courtesy of Blanqi




Blanqi Maternity Belly Support Leggings


$64



Buy Now

Aerie ​​Offline Real Me Crossover Leggings

Best Lounge Leggings

American Eagle’s ​​Offline Real Me leggings come highly recommended on the Internet, and they’re certainly one of the comfiest leggings made for lounging. They’re beloved because of the crossover waistband, which sits softly on the hips. The fabric is super soft and there isn’t a ton of support, which is why these are perfect to wear while working from home or crushing movies from the couch.




AE ​​Offline Real Me Crossover Legging


$45



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Fabletics Ultra High-Waist Leggings

Fabletics Ultra high-waist leggings are an internet favorite, and if you’ve never tried the brand’s leggings before, this is a good pair to start with. The silhouette is high-waisted with a classic 7/8 length, which is a great place to start with leggings for all sorts of workouts. These will stay up but give you a little breathing room on the legs once you start getting sweaty. Plus, they have some hidden pockets if you’re not trying to bring a bag to the gym.




Fabletics Ultra High-Waist Leggings


$80



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Lululemon InStill High-Rise Tight

Best Workout Leggings

Nicks is a big fan of Lululemon’s InStill high-rise tight, a new style from the brand. “I love the seams and support I get around my waist,” she says. “When I do yoga, Instill passes the test of not rolling down when I am making moves on the mat. And when I’m strength training, Instill remains my favorite and doesn’t ‘move’ when I am in the gym.” She adds that they feel quite similar to the Aligns but with a less constructed waist. All thumbs up.




Lululemon InStill High-Rise Tight


$118 – $128



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All Access High-Waisted Center Stage Capri Leggings

All Access’ High-Waisted Center Stage Capri are buttery soft and a great pair of black leggings in which to build a collection. They’re made with 50% spandex and 50% nylon and offer a totally seamless construction. The capri is a great option for a little less coverage, but the same legging also comes in mid-rise and high-rise silhouettes with pockets, if you so desire.




All Access High-Waisted Center Stage Capri


$95



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Beyond Yoga Caught in the Midi Leggings

Comfortable leggings for work you can wear all day long? Count us in. Beyond Yoga’s Caught in the Midi leggings feature stretchy polyester and spandex fabric for freedom of movement, but also have a reinforced waistband to keep you feeling supported. Put these on in the morning and wear them until you’re ready to hit the gym — and no need to change. Pair them with a very comfortable shoe to stay on theme.




Beyond Yoga Caught in the Midi Leggings


$97



Buy Now

Adidas Ivy Park All Over Print Tights

Also Consider Stylish Leggings

When it comes to cool leggings, the Adidas Ivy Park All Over Print Tights also rank high on our list. Their houndstooth print is unique yet not too in-your-face and begs to be paired with your favorite Adidas sneakers. In terms of function, these are high-waisted, super stretchy and have   ventilation details on the back of the legs. They’re also made in part with recycled fabrics.




Adidas Ivy Park All Over Print Tights


$85



Buy Now


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