The best running tights for women in 2024, tried and tested

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Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored
Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored

Running tights are a fundamental part of a runner’s wardrobe. Sure, you could wear any sort of active bottoms, but leggings specifically designed for the sport will serve you better in the long run. Why? Because not only are they designed to fit better without restricting your stride but they better support your legs during repetitive impact, all without distracting you from your workout.

This is illustrated by a global consumer survey by Adidas, done in partnership with associate professor in exercise science and a physiological consultant for elite athletes Jason White, as well as professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr, head of the research group in breast health at the University of Portsmouth. In fact, the survey showed that 58% of women stop frequently to pull up their leggings during a workout, while almost half complain about marks left on their skin due to tight-fitting apparel. Running is hard enough; no one wants to spend miles tugging at their pants.

Of course, there are lots of workout leggings to choose from when you narrow it down to those that are best for high-impact activities. So we spent more than a month testing top-rated and highly recommended tights from brands like Lululemon, Nike, Adidas, Hoka, On and more. After logging countless miles, we narrowed it down to the best. Here are four pairs that stood apart from the rest.

Bandit Women’s SoftSpeed Cold Weather Run Tights
Best running tights


This sleek pair of running leggings checks all the boxes. They’re super lightweight, feature chafe-free seaming and light brushing on the inside for comfort and have five pockets for all your essentials.

$118 at Bandit

Editor’s Note: Our pick for best running tights, the Women’s SoftSpeed Cold Weather Run Tights, is currently unavailable, but Bandit promises that it periodically restocks its most popular products. However, it does recommend adding your email to the waitlist on the product page so you will be notified when it comes back in stock.

Old Navy High-Waisted PowerSoft 7/8 Leggings
Best budget running tights

Old Navy
Old Navy

High quality doesn’t always come at a high cost, and Old Navy’s leggings are a perfect example. With light compression, two large pockets and a high, wide waistband, they’re comparable to much more expensive styles when it comes to performance.

$28 at Old Navy

Lululemon Swift Speed High-Rise Tights, 28-Inch
Best splurge running tights


Runners love these leggings, and for good reason — they may be expensive, but they offer size diversity, top-notch fabric technology, multiple storage options and long-term durability.

$128 at Lululemon

Nike Go Leggings
Best running tights for compression


Support often comes with a locked-in feeling, but these Nike leggings offer subtle compression that still allows you to move quickly and freely. The extra-wide waistband was the best of any legging tested.

$120 at Nike

Best overall running tights: Bandit Women’s SoftSpeed Cold Weather Run Tights

$118 at Bandit

Bandit SoftSpeed Cold-Weather Run Tights - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored
Bandit SoftSpeed Cold-Weather Run Tights - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored

To be honest, we were surprised to find that these were our favorite leggings of the bunch, only because Bandit Running is such a newcomer to the fitness apparel world. This boutique, New York-based brand launched in 2020 and has quickly gained traction among hardcore runners. We raced a half marathon in the brand’s similarly designed shorts last summer and had nothing bad to say about them.

First, even though they are advertised for cold weather, these are fine in any conditions where shorts won’t do. In fact, they’re so lightweight, it feels like you’re wearing nothing at all. Sleek and smooth on the outside, they’re lightly brushed on the inside for a cozy feel — but it’s more comfy than it is toasty. We also almost always prefer leggings without a center seam because it is infinitely more flattering while also reducing the risk of uncomfortable rubbing and irritation. Flatlock seaming everywhere else also means less chafing, which is always a win.

While these aren’t the most compressive leggings we tested, we had no issues with sagging or drooping. The fabric itself is lightweight but strong, with an adjustable drawstring at the waist to provide extra security. We stuffed the five pockets — there are two smallish drop-in pockets on the sides (surprisingly, they did fit an iPhone 14 Pro Max without a case), plus two gel pockets and a zippered pocket on the back — and didn’t have any issues. Yes, they are on the more expensive side, but no more so than products from familiar brands like Nike, On or Lululemon, and over the course of multiple runs, we were convinced that they earned that price tag.

Because Bandit is a newer brand, they may run out of stock more frequently, but they restock regularly and seasonally, so don’t despair if they aren’t available — they’ll be back.

Best budget running tights: Old Navy High-Waisted PowerSoft 7/8 Leggings

$40 From $16 at Old Navy

Old Navy High-Waisted PowerSoft 7/8 Leggings - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored
Old Navy High-Waisted PowerSoft 7/8 Leggings - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored

Don’t sleep on Old Navy’s workout gear. This lower-cost alternative feels just as premium as other brands we tested, yet rings up at a fraction of the price. Not to mention it’s also frequently on sale. If you’re looking for a great pair of tights for under $50, you can’t go wrong with Old Navy’s High-Waisted PowerSoft Leggings, which come in multiple colors, sizes up to 4X and two lengths (7/8, which ends just above the ankle, and full-length).

Old Navy’s PowerSoft fabric offers light compression with a soft feel. It’s the kind of material we wear to work out, then don’t want to take off while lounging around post-run. It’s made from polyester, which is breathable and lightweight and less expensive than nylon, and spandex, which gives a snug, supportive fit. These aren’t as compressive as the Nike or Lululemon options, but the lightweight feel made them more comfortable on a warmer run.

The wide waistband on these leggings is universally flattering too. It comes up over the belly button but also feels secure enough that we didn’t find ourselves constantly tugging at them at any point during our hour-long easy run (although we did have to pull them up a few times when our massive phone was in one of the two side drop-in pockets). One thing to keep in mind is that they don’t have a drawcord at the waist, so you’ll want to make sure they fit correctly.

Best splurge running tights: Lululemon Swift Speed High-Rise Tights, 28-Inch

$128 at Lululemon

Lululemon Swift Speed High-Rise Tights, 28-Inch - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored
Lululemon Swift Speed High-Rise Tights, 28-Inch - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored

Lululemon’s Swift Speed High-Rise Tights were the most recommended by other runners. Available in sizes 0 to 20 and in two lengths (25 inches and 28 inches) these leggings will suit the majority of runners out there — as long as you can handle the hefty price tag.

Lululemon leggings are generally worth the price, though, given the amount of technology they pack into their apparel. These are made from the company’s proprietary Luxtreme fabric, a blend of nylon and Lycra elastane that is sweat-wicking and breathable, and has four-way stretch capabilities and added Lycra fibers for stretch and shape retention.

The fabric itself is slick inside and out, and with the seams moved to the outside, we didn’t experience any dreaded chafing. Luxtreme is definitely a heavier fabric, so we wouldn’t wear these on warmer days, but that heft gives the material durability (it still looks new after multiple washes) and provides a slightly compressive fit that feels secure.

That’s especially true if you tie the continuous drawcord, although this infinity-style loop is not our favorite design, as it can be tough to untie when sweaty (and good luck if you run it through the wash while tied). However, many runners won’t even need it, thanks to the run-specific contoured waistband, which hits just above the belly button and hardly budged during our six-mile workout — even with an iPhone 14 Pro Max tucked into one of the two side drop-in pockets and car keys zipped into the back pocket.

Best running tights for compression: Nike Go Leggings

$120 at Nike

Nike Go Leggings - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored
Nike Go Leggings - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored

Last year, Nike overhauled their leggings line with size inclusivity in mind, moving from a sport-specific (running, yoga, etc.) approach to a sensation-specific one driven by 3D fit technology. There are now three styles: Nike Zenvy, Nike Universa and Nike Go, all of which come in five lengths and XS to 4X sizes (for 30 leggings options total). Of all the leggings we tested, none felt more supportive than the Nike Go.

These high-waisted leggings (which also come in a mid-rise style) aren’t designed as compression leggings, but they’re made from a nylon and spandex blend called Nike InfinaLock and have an almost scuba suit-like feel to them, if scuba suits were breathable. The compression does make these leggings a bit warmer than other options, but Nike’s Dri-Fit technology moves sweat away from your skin for quicker evaporation, and we didn’t experience any discomfort over the course of a mid-day, hour-long run.

The compression is most noticeable around the extra-wide waistband, which was designed to help reduce rolling, pinching and sliding. We always have issues with leggings sagging at the waist, especially when we load up the pockets, but these didn’t budge. Even if they did, there’s an internal drawcord for adjustments with a built-in clasp that makes tying and untying unnecessary (bless the designer who came up with this!). And speaking of pockets, there are six: three drop-in pockets at the back waist, a secure zip pocket on the thigh and two angled, seamless side pockets.

What to consider when shopping for running tights

Fabric technology

Tracksmith Lane 5 Crop Tights - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored
Tracksmith Lane 5 Crop Tights - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored

Most running tights are made from a mix of nylon, which is stretchy, breathable, and quick-drying, and spandex or elastane, which are also stretchy and moisture-wicking. Brands play up those features with different proprietary blends; Nike’s InfinaLock fabric, which you’ll find in the Nike Go leggings, feels much more compressive and supportive than the InfinaSoft fabric in the Nike Zenvy leggings. Some fabrics, like Tracksmith’s Veloce Blend, are UV protective, while others, like Lululemon’s SenseKnit technology, offer targeted support and breathability. Look for features like four-way stretch, breathability and moisture-wicking in the product descriptions.


Athleta Salutation Stash Tight - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored
Athleta Salutation Stash Tight - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored

You might like a fit that skims over the skin or a snugger fit that keeps things from bouncing. It’s all a matter of personal preference. Either way, your tights shouldn’t be so tight they restrict your movement. Most legging fabrics have four-way stretch, but certain styles may mention having different levels of support, like the “gentle hug” of the Athleta Salutation Stash Tights, or the “light compression” the Old Navy High-Waisted PowerSoft 7/8 Leggings offer. The waistband is also super important when it comes to fit; a wider waistband is designed to smooth or flatten the stomach area, while a smaller band can be more likely to roll. If you’re between sizes, opt for tights with an adjustable drawstring at the waist so you can customize your fit.


Nike Universa - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored
Nike Universa - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored

You’re more likely to find leggings with pockets than without these days, and for good reason: You need somewhere to put your essentials on the run. Most running tights have drop-in side pockets that are large enough to fit most smartphones — although not always with a case — or a back zip pocket to secure something small, like a credit card or keys. Some, like the Lululemon Swift Speed High-Rise Tights, have both, or, like the Bandit SoftSpeed Cold-Weather Run Tights, offer multiple options, like drop-in pockets and a zip pocket at the back, as well as little slots to hold gels. The amount of storage you need in a pair of pants also comes down to personal preference. If you hate the feel of wearing a phone on your hip or at your back, you can always opt for a running belt or some kind of vest.

How we tested

On Running Performance Tights - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored
On Running Performance Tights - Ashley Mateo/CNN Underscored

First, we polled the running community, asking what tights they most prefer to run in. We combined that list with selections that were highly recommended by other review sites, and finally, we reached out to brands to find out about their latest apparel updates.

Once we had a solid list, we considered cost, fabric technology and size inclusivity and called in our top choices. Then we put those to the test on the road. We logged at least an hour in each pair of leggings, giving thought to comfort, support, breathability and any standout features while on the run.

Running conditions

  • Weather: We ran in all types of weather, including sun, light rain and snow, with temperatures ranging from the single digits to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Location: We ran on paved roads, dirt trails and a nearby high school track.


  • Support: While running, we considered the compression the fabric provided.

  • Technology: We noted if the leggings had any extra fabric technology, like sweat-wicking or breathable properties.

  • Thickness: We also paid attention to how thick the fabric felt and if that inhibited motion at all or caused discomfort.


  • Security: We noted which type of drawstring each pair had and if it stayed secure.

  • Waistband: We paid particular attention to the width of the waistband and whether it sagged, rolled or drooped.

  • Pockets: We also paid attention to how the fit was affected when holding a large smartphone or multiple energy gels.

Other running tights we tested

Nike Universa Leggings

$110 at Nike

The Universa were a contender for best running tights, but they’re newer so we had less input from other runners. The brand’s midweight InfinaSmooth fabric offers medium support compared to the Go’s more intense compression, although they have a similar extra-wide waistband that feels supportive and keeps everything in place. There are only two pockets on the sides, but they’re nice and deep, which allowed us to keep our phone in one and stuff everything else, including two gels, in the other. We found these to be sort of the Goldilocks option of Nike’s three new styles — not too tight, not too light, but a happy medium that will serve most runners.

Nike Zenvy Leggings

$100 From $58 at Nike

The least supportive option from Nike’s new batch of leggings, the Zenvy feel incredible — more like a thicker dance tight than a traditional legging. The InfinaSoft fabric is lightweight and flattering, with the same extra-wide waistband as the other two styles that smooths your stomach and keeps everything sucked in while applying a lot less pressure. Because these only have one drop-in pocket at the back and because the fabric doesn’t offer much compression (we don’t recommend putting your phone in the pocket even though it fits, unless you’re OK with it pulling the waist down), we’d save these for shorter, easier runs or any other low-impact activity.

Tracksmith Turnover Crop Tights

$118 at Tracksmith

We’re huge fans of Tracksmith’s Lane Five shorts, so we were happy to see a longer style in a legging; these stop at the mid-calf. (The name has changed, but these were previously the Lane Five Tights.) Made from the brand’s sleek Inverno Blend, which has a cozy brushed interior that helps regulate temperatures and soft inseam panels to minimize chafing, these feel super comfortable in nearly any conditions. The selling point of any Lane Five style is its five pockets — one zippered in the back and two drop-in pockets on each side — which can fit up to eight gels without causing any drooping or sagging at the waist, even over the course of a whole marathon. Unfortunately, none of those are big enough for a phone.

Tracksmith Session Tights

$98 at Tracksmith

Tracksmith’s Session Tights, also available as shorts, are crafted from a lightweight fabric (it’s mostly nylon, with a little bit of elastane) that’s slightly thicker than their other full-length leggings. A little more durable than the Lane Five tights, these are meant to be a workhorse option, something you can wear year-round for any type of workout. We didn’t love the seam up the center or the thin waistband, which we kept tugging at throughout our speed workout, but the fabric is breathable and the built-in UV protection is a nice touch for sunnier workouts. Again, the back pocket isn’t large or secure enough to hold a phone, but it can hold smaller essentials.

Lululemon SenseKnit Running High-Rise Tights, 28-Inch

$168 at Lululemon

These tights are an upgrade for any runner who likes the Lululemon Swift Speed High-Rise Tights. The brand’s SenseKnit technology combines compression and mobility with strategic zones of support and ventilation. So when you stretch the fabric, you can see where the knit is more open. The result is a lighter-weight legging, also available in a 23-inch length, that’s just as durable and allows for even more freedom within your stride. Of course, you are paying for that technology and these are a whopping $40 more than the Swift Speed tights. While they don’t have side pockets to fit a phone, you do get a fold-over envelope pocket on the back that kept our valuables (keys, credit card) secure.

Adidas Daily Run 7/8 Leggings

$65 at Adidas

Adidas also reimagined its legging collection last year, focusing on full adjustability, increased support structures, airflow management and size inclusivity. The Daily Run tights came in standard and tall options, as well as sizes up to 2XL, and they’re made from a recycled polyester and elastane blend. We would have preferred a little more compression and support, as we did find the wide waistband migrating down our hips a bit (especially with our phone in one of the side drop-in pockets), but the fabric — which uses Aeroready, Adidas’ sweat-wicking technology — felt lightweight and we didn’t have any issues with overheating on a sunny run.

Athleta Salutation Stash Tights

$109 at Athleta

Yes, these are meant for yoga or studio practices. But multiple runners recommended the Athleta Salutation Stash Tights to us, and they turned out to be equally effective for running. The nylon and Lycra blend that makes up Athlete’s Powervita fabric provides plenty of support, with a soft finish that’s especially nice on cooler runs. It’s also sweat-wicking and breathable, and has UPF 40+ sun protection woven in.

Hoka Novafly Run Tights, 25-Inch

$108 at Hoka

These Hoka leggings hit all the basic requirements, with a drop-in pocket on the right leg for your phone, a zip pocket on the left for your keys and credit card and an adjustable waistband to dial in the fit. Plus, they’re made from a super-soft polyester and elastane blend knit. Hoka also added a clever pass-through pocket at the rear to stash a shirt when it gets too hot or if you need somewhere to store a few gels. We’ve found through testing that we prefer nylon blends for support, and these didn’t give us the same locked-in feel as other tights. The drawstring did help mitigate any looseness, but we’d save these for shorter, easier runs.

The Gym People Thick High-Waisted Yoga Pants With Pockets

$30 $25 at Amazon

The Gym People’s high-waisted yoga pants have more than 46,000 5-star ratings on Amazon, and while they’re not specifically running leggings, that’s never stopped us before. These were the thickest of the leggings we tested, which gave them a certain amount of support others lacked (they’re also billed as “shapewear” on Amazon), even though it also made them warmer to wear. But the fabric is moisture-wicking with four-way stretch and interlocked seams to minimize chafing. We didn’t find these to be quite as comfortable as the Old Navy leggings, but at around $30, they’re definitely another solid budget option.

On Running Performance Tights

$70 at On Running

These Performance Tights from On Running felt very similar to the leggings we tested from Adidas and Hoka. They’re engineered from a lightweight, moisture-wicking recycled polyester and elastane blend that’s got tons of stretch but lacks a bit in the support department — although there is an infinity drawcord like the one you’d find on a Lululemon pair in case you need to tighten things up. We liked how big the zip pocket was on the back, which made it a no-brainer for valuables but still left plenty of room for a gel or two.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed price at the time of publication.

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