As a person who reviews leggings for a living, I think I’m qualified to say which are the best and why.
137 to be exact. That’s right—I own 137 pairs of workout leggings. You’re probably thinking I’m insane, or maybe even a hoarder, but the reason I have so many leggings is because of my job. I’m a health and fitness journalist, and one of the main types of articles I write are gear reviews. Basically, brands allow me to try their new products either before or right as they’re hitting the market, so I can test them and then let readers like yourself know which are the best (and which ones are worth spending money on).
In my opinion, it’s a dream job. I’m a fitness fiend and have a passion for health, so I absolutely love what I do. Plus, I’m a bit OCD about matching my outfits, and because I write so much about gear, I have managed to develop quite the fitness wardrobe—undoubtedly one of the most extensive in the game.
But when a friend recently asked my opinion about different brands, I realized that I have very strong opinions about the best ones. Yes, I might own a lot of leggings, but I know exactly which ones I want to pack for vacation, which I need to wear for athletic training, and the exact pair I want to wear on a run. And because I own or at least have worn leggings—among other gear—from almost every brand out there, I think it makes me qualified to say which are the best. So, here are the 16 pairs of leggings I tend to wear over and over again.
Lululemon Align Pant II 25”
Some days, the thought of struggling to pull on tight leggings to go work out is the worst feeling. That's never a problem with these leggings, thanks to the buttery-soft Nulu fabric they’re made out of. They’re high-waisted, fit tight against your body without squeezing you in the wrong places, and they stay put no matter how hard or sweaty the workout. You’ll want to wear them everyday, so if you’re like me, chances are you’ll want them in multiple colors.
Reebok Lux High-Rise Tight
It might not seem too noticeable, but the ankle seam on these leggings is super flattering—even if you’re short like me. It actually makes legs look longer! These high-waisted leggings are perfect for a training session, but I also like to wear them traveling in a car or on a plane, when I know I might want to hit the gym upon arrival. The thick waistband keeps them in place.
Spanx Active Leggings
If you hate branding, you’ll love that these leggings have none visible. While Spanx is known for holding you in tight, the Slim-X fabric of these leggings do that, but not in an uncomfortable way at all. Flat seams prevent any chaffing and they’re placed in flattering areas that accentuate your assets. Guaranteed, these will become your go-to black leggings!
Alo Yoga Interlace Legging
The laced-up sides of these leggings gives them a different, sexy look, without feeling too revealing. The thick fabric sculpts and lifts your booty, and holds tight around your thighs without feeling uncomfortable. Bonus: The side details also serve as a great source of ventilation!
Beyond Yoga Spacedye Take Me Higher Long Legging
Another pair you’ll want to live in, the heathered colors and high-waisted fit of these leggings makes them super flattering on any body type. True to name, they’re beyond comfortable and allow for complete freedom of motion, so you can wear them to dance class, a HIIT session, CrossFit, a long run, or yoga. The fabric is so soft, you may end up wearing them when traveling, too.
ALALA Captain Crop Tight
The sheen material of this brand’s bestselling tight fits snug, but also feels comfy against your skin. The mesh panels behind the knee keep sweat at bay, but they’re also flattering and give the crop a more stylish look. Pull the waistband up high, or fold it over if you want them to fall lower on your waist.
Lululemon Pace Rival Crop 22”
I don’t own many capris, but these are a favorite, mainly thanks to the phone-size slip-in pocket on either side that allows for easy access to take a photo or Instagram Story mid-run. (They’re great in the gym, too, because who wants to leave their phone on the ground?!) The fabric fits tight, holds everything in, and gives incredible support, but still has a smooth finish against the body.
Lorna Jane Booty Support A/B Tight
If you’re a fan of high-waisted leggings with a bit of compression to hold in your belly and lift your booty, these are for you. The fabric is a bit thicker, which I like on days when I’m feeling a bit bloated. You could do 100 burpees in them, and they won’t move at all—so you don’t have to worry about hiking them up after every other exercise you do. I love the slate blue color, too.
Outdoor Voices TechSweat 7/8 Flex Legging
While this brand's popular color-blocked leggings aren’t my personal favorite, their TechSweat leggings, on the other hand, are incredible. The fabric has a silk-like feel and also a bit of compression, so the high-waisted design holds you in and feels slimming. Plus, the fabric doesn’t show sweat, so you aren’t restricted to only buying black. For the price, they’re totally worth it.
Under Armour Vanish Ankle Crop
A black, sheen-like finish on these leggings make any booty look flattering. They wick sweat unlike any other leggings I’ve worn. The fit is a low- to mid-rise with an envelope-like pocket in the back of the waistband to hold your phone, ID, or keys. They’re breathable and really comfy, too.
Sweaty Betty Power 7/8 Legging
These leggings slide on like a breeze, thanks to the thin, yet “powerful” sweat-wicking fabric they’re made out of. They’re uber stretchy, yet also supportive. The brand claims that they help “flatter where it matters,” which I can vouch for! They have a zippered back pocket in the waistband that you can stash your phone in, too, if you’re wearing them to go on a run. The Power Union Jack pattern (pictured here with Health's senior fitness editor Roz Frazier at an event for the London-based brand) is unfortunately sold out, but there are a slew of other colors available.
TLA By Morgan Stewart Jasper Legging Electric Coral
If we’re being honest, I’m normally not a fan of seamless leggings—I find they fall down no matter how tight they are. But surprisingly, this pair stays put pretty well. The thick, high waistband is flattering across the stomach, and they have a matching sports bra as well. While I wouldn’t wear them on a run, they’re perfect for a studio workout.
New Balance High Rise Transform Pocket Crop
For those of us who are a bit more vertically challenged, here’s another pair that hits in a flattering spot on the calf. I love that these pants have side pockets that can fit your cell phone and other personal items. The thick waistband has enough give to lie comfortably against your stomach. They have mesh inserts throughout, too, for added breathability.
Tory Sport Chevron Leggings
While they’re on the pricier side, these leggings hold up wash, after wash, after wash. The fabric they’re made out of is so soft, they’re comfy enough to wear all day. Plus, they’re extremely lightweight. There’s a zippered pocket in the waistband where I stash my iPod.
Nike Zonal Strength Tights
While Nike doesn’t make them anymore, you can still find these gems on some other retailers. The grid-like design actually serves a purpose—it provides support and compression to muscles you use most when running or working out. The fabric is soft and easy to pull on, and the high waist doesn’t fall down or move at all. There is also an inside drawstring if you want to have an even snugger fit, though I tend to leave it untied. I love these for running or a touch gym workout where you need a pair of pants that will stay put and wick moisture fast.
Gym Shark Dreamy Leggings
You've probably seen these popping up in your social media feed (amirite?)! They’re becoming popular for a reason. Despite some of their gear with bold branding, this pair is a lot more subtle. The high waist fits snug but doesn’t dig into your sides, and the fabric is really soft—so while they’re tight to get on, they’re comfy to wear. The earthy colors match with a lot, too. And you can’t beat the price.
L Shop Women’s Concepts Sport Spellbind Mesh Legging
You might find this one surprising, but these poly-spandex leggings do more than just support a team—they’ll also support you. Thanks to the wide waistband, they sit comfortably against your stomach, and the tagless design keeps scratching and irritation at bay. Mesh inserts allow for ample airflow, too. I like to wear them for a cardio or HIIT workout Sunday morning before going out to enjoy game day! Buy them in your team’s colors.