We asked runners to share their favorite pair of leggings to run in. Here’s what they recommend.
Whether you’re an avid marathoner or a casual jogger who likes to pound the pavement from time to time, the last thing any runner wants to deal with is uncomfortable or ill-fitting workout clothes that throw you off your pace—after all, running is hard enough as it is. That’s why it’s so important to do your research ahead of time and choose the right running apparel that’ll fit seamlessly on your body and never distract you from your workout. So to help you find the best running leggings for women, we tapped a few hard-core runners to hear their favorites.
These are the 14 best running leggings to shop this year, according to women who run every day:
- Best for Cold Weather: Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Authentic Leggings
- Best High-Waisted: Asics High-Waist Tights
- Most Comfortable: Nike Pro Women’s Tights
- Best for Recovery: 2XU Women's Elite MCS Compression Tights
- Best Waistband: Lululemon Fast and Free High-Rise Tight 28"
- Best Sweat-Wicking: Nike Epic Lux Running Tight
- Best Sculpting: Sweaty Betty Power Workout Leggings
- Best With Pockets: Athleta Rainier Tight
- Best Budget: Old Navy High-Waisted Elevate Built-In Sculpt 7/8 Compression Leggings
- Best for Shorter Legs: New Balance Impact Running Tights
- Best for Long Legs: Lululemon Wunder Under High-Rise Tight 28"
- Best Sustainable: Brooks Greenlight 7/8 Essential Tight
- Most Reviewed: The Gym People High-Waist Yoga Pants
- Best Capris: Lululemon Pace Rival High-Rise Crop 22"
When it comes to women’s running leggings, there are a few key features to consider. Since running tends to include lots of sweating, you’ll want to choose a pair made with moisture-wicking fabric that won’t trap sweat and leave you feeling drenched (regardless of the season). Mesh panels are another addition you can look for that’ll add even more breathability to the leggings. If you’re an outdoor runner, you should also consider fabric thickness. Opt for winter-ready leggings that are thermal or fleece-lined, like Under Armour’s ColdGear Authentic Women’s Leggings, for added warmth during the colder months, and go with lightweight and thinner fabrics in the summer, like Nike’s Pro Fit tights.
Another important factor to look for is comfort. Choose options that have four-way stretch for optimal freedom of movement and a snug (but comfortable) fit that’ll stay in place no matter what—because there’s nothing more frustrating than having to pause your run to pull up sagging pants. Aside from fit and material, many running leggings boast other crucial features—like convenient inner pockets for storing your keys, credit card, or phone during a run—and reflective stripes for safety during nighttime or early morning runs when it’s dark out.
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You’ll find the recommendations from 13 runners, below, that cover a wide variety of options—so whether you’re looking for a high-waisted fit that’ll never fall down or the best compression leggings for injury recovery, you’ll find something that works for you here. With any of these picks, you’ll never have to worry about bothersome leggings distracting you from getting in a great run.
Best for Cold Weather: Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Authentic Leggings
Runner Sarah Klein recommends Under Armour’s ColdGear Leggings because they’re warm (but not too warm) and perfect for cold weather. “I love how warm they are without making me overheat. I can wear these as my only layer for winter runs,” she tells Health, “and they never budge. There’s nothing worse than having to readjust your clothes when you run!”
Best High-Waisted: Asics High-Waist Tights
If you’re looking for a pair of high-waisted leggings, go with this option by ASICS. Rozalynn S. Frazier, an avid marathon runner, loves this pair for its fit and breathability. “I am drawn to high-waisted pants for two reasons—they hold me in, and the band on the waist doesn’t fall down (so I don’t have to spend my entire run adjusting my pants),” Frazier tells Health.
They’re made with stretchy, form-fitting material for optimal flexibility, and along with the flattering high-rise cut, they have a wide elastic waistband for added comfort. The quick-drying fabric and mesh ventilation panel on the back of the waist also mean they’ll never leave you drenched in sweat. “They’re breathable, which is great because I often overheat when I am logging miles, so these keep me at a nice body temperature,” Frazier adds.
Most Comfortable: Nike Pro Women’s Tights
A super versatile option, the Nike Pro Fit tights are not only a top choice for running, but for other types of activity as well. Former NCAA Track & Field athlete Brittani Cotton recommends this pair, calling them her “tried and true, constant classic” leggings. While they’re not compression tights, they still offer light control and, most importantly, are super comfortable. “You get the simultaneous feeling of control with the freedom of feeling like you’re wearing nothing,” says Cotton.
Best for Recovery: 2XU Women's Elite MCS Compression Tights
If you’re recovering from an injury or just want to give your joints some extra TLC during runs, compression leggings—like these popular compression tights by 2XU—are your best choice. “The compression keeps the ‘fast-twitch’ muscle responsive, which encourages controlled mobility and calf flexion,” Cotton tells Health, adding that “the structure of the tights are great for speed work and training.” Aside from the targeted compression capabilities, these leggings are made with a lightweight, flexible, and moisture-wicking fabric that also boasts a UPF rating of 50—meaning it’ll protect your skin from UV rays.
Best Waistband: Lululemon Fast and Free High-Rise Tight 28'
Designed specifically for running, Lululemon’s high-rise tights have a tighter waistband design and a drawcord to keep them securely in place. Tori Kengor, a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA)-certified running coach and co-founder of Relentless Runners, recommends the style based on its abundance of pockets—”for all the run snacks”—and perfect compression levels. Ultramarathoner and UESCA-certified running coach, Kelly Lutz, also called this style one of her favorites. The brushed fabric is lightweight yet squat-proof and warm enough for long outdoor runs.
Best Sweat-Wicking: Nike Epic Lux Running Tights
Nike’s Epic Lux running leggings come recommended by Frazier, Klein, Lutz, and former NCAA cross country runner Megan O’Brien. Along with using Nike's signature Dri-Fit technology to wick away sweat and keep you at a comfortable temperature, they also feature mesh panels on the legs for added ventilation and chafe-free flatlock seams. Plus, this breathable, stretchy pair also has pockets on the sides and in the waistband. “The most important thing is that they have two side pockets that can actually fit your phone,” O’Brien says. “If you’re doing a long run and need energy gels or gus, you can just put them in the pockets as well.”
Frazier also calls this pair one of their favorites. “They’re tight and fitted without being restrictive,” she adds.
Best Sculpting: Sweaty Betty Power Workout Leggings
Elizabeth Corkum, a running coach at Precision Run and Equinox+, says Sweaty Betty’s Power leggings are her go-to pair for runs (and running errands). They’re made with a polyamide and elastane blend that’s sweat-wicking, squat-proof, and slightly sculpting. More importantly, they fit really well, according to Corkum, and “don’t slide around or shimmy while running or lifting.” Bonus: Corkum says they pair well with boots and a sweater when traveling.
Best With Pockets: Athleta Rainier Tight
Safely run before dawn or after dusk in these high-waisted tights from Athleta. They have reflective details along the sides to keep you visible to oncoming traffic, as well as zip pockets on the back of the waistband and both legs to securely stash your essentials. RRCA-certified running coach Lauren Sheu calls this style is one of her favorites and raves that “the quality is great [and] they’re ultra-comfortable.” She typically uses the side pocket to store her phone and keys during runs.
Best Budget: Old Navy High-Waisted Elevate Built-In Sculpt 7/8 Compression Leggings
Running coach Monica Olivas—who has more than 30 marathons and 60 half marathons under her belt—discovered that it’s possible to find good leggings on a budget when she stumbled upon this popular pair from Old Navy. She took the style on a test run and afterwards said it was a “match made in runner heaven.” Olivas adores the style because it offers compression in all the right places with enough stretch to retain your full range of motion. They’re also super flattering, she says, and the low price point justifies buying multiple pairs.
Best for Shorter Legs: New Balance Impact Running Tights
Jessica Donohue, a USA Track and Field Association-certified coach, says New Balance’s Impact Running Tights are her favorite pair. Made from a blend of recycled polyester and spandex, the mid-rise leggings use the brand’s signature DRY technology to keep you cool and dry mile after mile. The comfortable style stays in place during runs, and it also includes two features that are crucial for outdoor runners: reflective trim and both hip and waistband pockets. The cross country specialist prefers the cropped option because it’s the “perfect length” for someone on the shorter side, she says.
Best for Long Legs: Lululemon Wunder Under High-Rise Tight 28"
If you’re closer to 6-feet tall or more, RRCA-certified running coach Audrey Singer recommends these Lululemon tights. Although they’re not designed specifically for running, Singer says the high-waisted leggings never fall down during runs—and she’s had 17 years of competitive running experience to test her claims. The stretchy style also has a bit of Lycra in its fabric makeup to help retain its shape over time. More importantly, the breathable leggings come in a longer 28-inch length for the “tall girls.”
Best Sustainable: Brooks Greenlight Essential Tight
These Brooks running tights are made with Bluesign-certified materials, which conserve resources and minimize environmental impact, according to the brand. This sustainable approach doesn’t impact the technical features of the mid-rise leggings, though: They’re still sweat-wicking, supportive, and soft, with “no-bounce” pockets that prevent items from flopping around mid-stride. It’s easy to see why RRCA-certified running coach Christine Nichols deemed them her favorite running tights. (The style is no longer available at Brooks, but a limited selection is still available on Amazon.)
Most Reviewed: The Gym People High-Waist Yoga Pants
These affordable leggings reign supreme on Amazon as the number one best-selling running pants. The sweat-wicking design has earned more than 2,700 rave reviews, including shoutouts from a New York City Marathon finisher and a Spartan racer. Both runners agree the style stays put, doesn’t uncomfortably rub, and is breathable enough to prevent overheating during long runs. Shop the style in sizes XS to 3XL and choose from ankle or full lengths.
Best Capris: Lululemon Pace Rival High-Rise Crop 22"
Free your calves with this high-rise running tight from Lululemon, a go-to of certified RRCA running coach and National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) personal trainer Tammy Whyte. The sweat-wicking style has mesh paneling, large side pockets, and a drawcord waist for a customized fit. It’s also made with Lululemon’s signature Luxtreme fabric, a silky material that’s breathable, supportive, and stretchy. Whyte says the cropped leggings not only stay in place during long runs, but they’re also really flattering.