Fall is officially here, and we’re primed for tights season. We love the freedom of wearing shorts, but sometimes our legs need a sleek layer to shield the tempestuous elements that come with colder weather. We called in dozens of leggings of varying lengths—capri, cropped, 7/8, and full-length—and chose the best, shown here, for their quick-drying capabilities, stretch, and comfort.
Take a look below at info on five of the best tights from our testing, then scroll farther for buying advice and deeper reviews of these and other top performers.
What to Look For
The fibers found in tights are usually polyester (or polyamide or polyurethane) for durability and water resistance. Wool is sometimes incorporated into the fabric, too, for warmth. In bottoms meant for the coldest of days, you’ll notice they have a thicker feel but aren’t constrictive; this is because elastane is also woven in for a little give and ease of movement. Besides warmth and stretch, other elements to look for when shopping for tights include:
→ Visibility: Being seen is of utmost importance, especially during early morning and late evening runs when light is precious. Bright or light-colored tights or those with reflective detail provide extra insurance for safer runs.
→ Pockets: Having a stash spot (or two) for keys, cards, and extra cash ensures a hands-free run. If floor workouts are part of your regimen, choose tights with a waistband pocket, which usually forgoes the zipper for added comfort.
→ Zippers: Tights can also be a hassle to put on and take off. Zippered leg openings are a godsend for last-minute wardrobe changes—like when your shoes are already laced up.
→ Ventilation: Finally, there are tights meant for those questionable days when you’re not quite confident about wearing shorts. Mesh panels and perforations help with venting in areas prone to getting sweaty.
How We Tested
We enlisted the help of more than 20 testers to run in this season’s newest leggings. We found tights that kept our legs toasty without feeling clammy with sweat, the kind you can wear year-round. These breathable bottoms will shield you from the wind, allow range of motion, and keep you from become a human Popsicle. The tights that made the cut are the ones we’ve worn on runs, to yoga class, and admittedly long past our workout because they’re that comfy—and just cool.
Korsa Women’s Infinite High Rise Capri
This capri from Road Runner Sports’s new apparel line Korsa is light enough for temperate weather and ultra-soft for all-day wear. The leggings have built-in anti-stink tech and a high waistband with a small pocket convenient for storing keys and cards. One tester ended her run with a coffee shop order and spent the rest of her caffeinated workday still wearing the capri.
Outdoor Voices Women’s 7/8 TechSweat Leggings
The women’s TechSweat 7/8 Leggings from Outdoor Voices harmonizes a second-skin fit with a flexible and breathable fabric. The near-compressive feel means the tights don’t slip during a run, yoga, or even explosive HIIT exercises. And the TechSweat fabric (a nylon-lycra-poly blend) is breathable, wicking away sweat so you won’t feel clammy mid-workout.
Tester Feedback: Kylie R., “The cut of the pants was a favorite feature of mine. The seams and support on the rear side and down the leg allowed my body to feel hugged but not restricted. This is ideal when squatting, jumping, running, or even just walking.”
Janji 7/8 Groundwork Tights
These tights have a stretchy high waistband that prevented us from continually pinching our sides to hike them up and stop slippage. “At no point during my run did I feel like pulling up the leggings,” said a tester. “They were comfortable, form-fitting, and overall ideal for hourglass runners.” The bottoms have five pockets for storage: two slits in the waistband, an external back envelope pocket, and two deep side pockets.
—BEST BARGAIN BUY—
Old Navy Women’s High-Waisted Powersoft 7/8 Leggings
Not only are these tights affordable, but they come in a variety of colors, patterns, and sizes and have deep side pockets. You can also choose from different inseams so the length is actually 7/8, whether you’re petite, tall, or regular. A minor critique is that the Powersoft wasn’t as compressive as other high-waisted tights.
Tester Feedback: Renee H., “The tights were very comfortable and also performed very well. I felt like my legs, thighs, and rear end were held in and supported. They did not feel suffocatingly tight on my legs, and didn’t sag or loosen. A good fit for the price.”
Athleta Women’s Ultimate Stash Pocket 7/8 Tight
Similar to Old Navy’s High-Waisted Leggings, Athleta’s are worth the extra cash when you desire more supportive compression for high-intensity workouts. The bottoms have secure, narrow side pockets for storing small valuables, such as gummies and keys. Also like Old Navy’s legging, they’re available in petite, tall, and regular, as well as plus, with waist/hip sized to accommodate 1X to 3X.
Brooks Momentum Thermal Tights
These 28-inch-inseam tights are woven with Brooks’s DriLayer Threshold fabric, which wicks away moisture and locks in warmth so you won’t freeze. Both the men’s and women’s tights have side pockets with ample room. Testers liked how comfy the tights were but wished there was more reflectivity. For a more visible option, we recommend Brooks’s Carbonite Tights (below, $130).
Tester Feedback: Tim O., “I have never had really good running tights, so I really felt these were incredible. The breathability and warmth is key. I would recommend these for my friends running in the colder months, who don’t want to suffer from the elements.”
—BEST FOR LONG RUNS—
Tracksmith Turnover Tights
The Turnover tight is perfect for hitting the uptempo on a frigid, crisp winter morning. They’re lightweight and knitted with Inverno Blend, a brushed fabric from Italy that protects you from blustery headwinds and dries quickly when you’re running hard and long. The tights have a zippered back pocket, and the men’s version has zippered leg openings.
—BEST FOR LAYERING—
Asics Men’s Movelayer Cropped Tight
The Movelayer is an ideal option for men who want more coverage on their legs or an extra layer under their shorts or pants when the temperature dips. It has an interior drawstring to adjust the waistband and is made of quick-drying material, which had a tester running midday in 70 degrees without complaint. The only drawback, he said, was that the tights had no pockets.
Tester Feedback: Cory G., “These would be perfect for someone who likes to wear tights under shorts on a longer run because you won’t overheat and they have a great fit and feel. The waistband did not rub, and I was able to move freely for the mileage.”
Shefit Boss Leggings
Though we love the Ultimate sports bra (which took home one of our Gear of the Year awards), we were skeptical of Shefit’s tights debut; they look deceptively tiny before you put them on. But these leggings are remarkably stretchy and incredibly comfortable. Sizing ranges from extra-small to 2luxe. The thin material is surprisingly durable and doesn’t overstretch from wear or machine-drying.
Brooks Carbonite Tight
The Carbonite is a part of Brooks’s Run Visible Collection, which draws eyes with reflective accents on the apparel. The tights have 3M Scotchlite Carbon Black stretch panels on the outer thighs and ankles so you can be easily spotted, especially under headlights. The fabric wraps tightly and comfortably around the skin to allow full range of motion. Some testers it’s a little too thin for temps below freezing. Bummer: The zippered back pocket was too small to carry a smartphone.
Tester Feedback: Tim O., “I was impressed by how flexible they were on my body, especially through the hips and crotch. They moved with me and didn’t force me to adjust my running. They were not loose and felt compressed on my body, which really gave me more confidence.”
—BEST FOR UPTEMPO RUNS—
New Balance Women’s Q Speed Fuel 7/8 Tight
The Q Speed Fuel grants your need for speed with a sleek fit and high-rise coverage that doesn’t slide down. One tester said these were the most comfortable tights she’s worn. “They’re lightweight and stay in place,” she said. The tights have drop-in hip pockets and reflective details, including a strip on the elastic waistband.
Asics Women’s Fietro Tight
These tights are your simple black leggings, made of moisture-wicking fibers and boasting an elastic waistband with pockets to store keys or gels. Testers loved the lightweight, soft, and stretchy material. The Fietro is also available as capris ($50).
Tester Feedback: Lakota G., “Asics’s Fietro leggings made me a believer in Asics again. It was basically love at first touch. The material is so soft that you could get away with throwing on your favorite blouse post-workout and wearing these out and about.”
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