If we were betting women, we’d venture a guess to say that we on the R29 Shopping Team love testing and writing about
workout (and non-workout!) leggings as much as you love living in them. (Seriously — you guys cannot get enough!) From doing a deep dive into the best leather leggings for your next night out to going in on the vast expanse of the essential black legging, we consider ourselves experts in all things stretchy-pant related. (ICYMI, we also tapped astro experts to share which ones are perfect for .) your star sign Today, we’re taking our commitment to legging journalism to a whole new level with our latest installment of Tried & True. Over the course of three months, R29's wellness writers divided and conquered the task of wear-testing nine popular legging brands to rank them from best to not-the-best. (Which doesn't, I repeat, doesn't mean "worst"!) Read our unfiltered reviews — and get an inside peek on the workouts we put them through — in the following slides. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission. Overall Score: 4.8 Stretch: 4.8
These get a near-perfect score from me because they feel like a second skin, but don’t make me feel like I’m squeezing myself into them when I put them on. They are very flexible and moveable when on, and I don’t have any limitations in movement. For that reason, they’re my go-to for running.
Sweat wicking: 5.0
I had high hopes for leggings that literally had “TechSweat” in the name, and they didn’t let me down. While there’s some boob sweat happening by the end of a run, I’m still pretty much totally dry from the waist down. Like, I’m not totally unconvinced that these leggings aren’t made of some NASA-engineered tech-y fabric. They’re essentially like the
Hermione Granger uses to repel water from Harry Potter’s glasses during a rainy Quidditch match, but in workout leggings form.
— Karina Hoshikawa, Beauty & Wellness Market Writer Outdoor Voices
TechSweat 3/4 Leggings, $, available at
Outdoor Voices More Comfort/Fit: 4.8
This goes hand-in-hand with stretch in my book, but after trying a variety of workouts (from jogging to yoga), I can honestly say that the OV TechSweats are very high on the list in terms of leggings that I don’t want to take off.
They passed the squat test — AKA, the very scientific way to see if leggings turn a bit sheer on the booty. I’m a big fan of OV, and for me, they always knock it out of the park in terms of design. The navy color, Baltic, makes me feel so put-together, even at my local gym at 6:45 a.m.
Writer's note: While we stand by the quality and performance of these leggings which were reviewed in February, we did want to acknowledge allegations of toxic work environments within Outdoor Voices which were reported this week. To read more of our coverage surrounding the story, click here. — Karina Hoshikawa, Beauty & Wellness Market Writer More Overall Score: 4.5 Stretch: 4.5
I wore these tights on runs, as I cross-trained at the gym, to SoulCycle, to pilates, and even dancing at a club (it was part of a costume for a Super Bowl theme party). I was impressed with the way they held up across categories. I felt I had the flexibility to do any movement I needed — even the hip openers and the jersey turnpikes.
Sweat wicking: 5.0
I have nothing to say about the sweat-wicking, because I never noticed or thought about my sweat when I wore these pants. In my eyes, that’s the ultimate goal.
— Molly Longman, Wellness Writer lululemon
Fast and Free High-Rise Tight 28" Non-Reflective, $, available at
lululemon More Comfort/Fit: 4.5
LeAnn Rimes once sang: “How do I breathe without you?” That’s exactly how I feel about these leggings. They’re more breathable than most of the pairs I own, without feeling loose.
I’m obsessed with the
of the leggings I chose. I will say: I expected a little darker hue than I got based on the photos online, but I loved this pair just the same. If rouge is a little too bold for your taste, the pair comes in five other colors including, navy and grey camo.
— Molly Longman, Wellness Writer More Overall Score: 4.5 Stretch: 4.9
Wowowow. As I mentioned in my January 2020
of these, the stretchy factor on these is unreal. Similar to the OV TechSweats, these truly feel like a second skin — dare I say, like I'm wearing
nothing at all
Sweat wicking: 4.0
My only callout for these is that they aren't the most moisture-wicking or compressing, if those are two dealbreakers for your legging needs. They're by no means the worst, but months after my initial test, I still find myself reserving these for lower-impact workouts (I'm currently loving the free ClassPass at-home workout vids!) or weekend errands.
— Karina Everlane
The Perform Legging in Lichen, $, available at
Everlane More Comfort/Fit: 5.0
Love Actually "To me, you are perfect"
sign here. Everlane knocked it out of the park in terms of the comfort factor. They are silky-soft, and fit like a dream. There’s no gaping at the waist, and they hit me right at my ankle – even though I’m 5'2. These are a solid choice for petite women.
see-through, but since the fabric isn't all that thick, I generally stick to neutral underwear for peace of mind. That said, the olive color (and the
terracotta red recently spotted on Hilary Duff
elevated and chic that planning my choice of underwear is a small price to pay.
— Karina Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa More Overall Score: 4.45 Stretch: 4.5
Disclaimer: The “workout” I tried out my Fabletics leggings in was actually moving all of my belongings and furniture back into my room after redoing the floors. Still, I’d count that as a form of exercise! I love a super tight legging (nothing bothers me more than having to pull up the waistband mid-workout) and the Fabletics ones I had on stayed put, even through all the pushing and pulling. There was still enough stretch to feel comfortable in them.
Sweat wicking: 4.0
I’ll be honest — I worked up a little bit of a sweat moving the entirety of my belongings from one area of my house to the other. But, I still felt fresh and clean — or at least as much as I possibly could have been in that situation.
— Lizzy Gulino, Health & Wellness Writer Fabletics
High-Waisted PowerHold® 7/8, $, available at
Fabletics More Comfort/Fit: 4.8 While I didn’t complete a truly hardcore workout while in my Fabletics, I still appreciated the way they stayed on my body. I love a compressive fit, and this pair checked all the boxes for me. Opacity: 4.5 These were made from a pretty thick material. Even when I bent down to pick up a few heavy boxes from the floor, it was apparent that they’d never come off as see-through. I tried out just plain black leggings [which were opaque] from Fabletics, but the brand has a ton of cool and colorful options to choose from. I’m definitely looking forward to stocking up on more in the future. — Lizzy Gulino, Health & Wellness Writer Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Gulino More Overall Score: 4.0 Stretch: 4.0
I don’t mean to brag, but I was able to test out a set from Girlfriend Collective while taking a hike in Hawaii (I know, right?!). The pair I tried out definitely has some great stretch to them, and they’re also soft and comfy AF.
Sweat wicking: 4.3
The temps in Hawaii were around 80 degrees, and let me tell you — I’m the kind of person who can
work up a sweat. I completed the hike without feeling super uncomfortable or drenched in my own sweat, so I’d give it a thumbs up.
— Lizzy Girlfriend Collective
Midnight Compressive High-Rise Legging, $, available at
Girlfriend Collective More Comfort/Fit: 3.5 Personally, I like my leggings super tight so they don’t slide down when I’m on the move. During my hike, I had to pull them up a few times, but if you like tights less tight they should work just fine. Opacity: 4.5 While these didn’t feel as thick as the Fabletics leggings I tried, I’m still confident they’d hold up nicely in any squat sesh. I tried out the cutest dark blue set, but the brand has a ton of other fun colors and patterns available in the same style. And a feel-good bonus: Girlfriend's fabrics are made from recycled materials — 25 water bottles, to be exact. — Lizzy Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Gulino More 6. Alo Player High Waist 7/8 Leggings Overall Score: 4.0 Stretch: 4.5
These were super stretchy and felt great on my body. The fabric wasn't super thick, so it was pretty breathable and moveable.
Sweat wicking: 4
Not the best, but also definitely not the worst. Because I prefer more techy fabrics for intense cardio, I'll probably reserve these for more low-impact workouts, like pilates (or brunch). While the nylon/spandex blend felt very cozy and soft, this style isn't the sort of legging that has the smooth, moisture-wicking sheen that performance fabrics do.
— Karina Alo
Player High Waist 7/8 Leggings, $, available at
Nordstrom More Comfort/Fit: 3.0 Let's get one thing straight: These feel like buttah on. However, I had some struggles with the waistband, which had the tendency to dig and sag as I moved around — which didn't feel amazing when I was in upside-down coyote pose during my aerial yoga class. Opacity: 4.5 Totally black, totally opaque. I loved the color-blocked, mixed-material design, and no amount of (on mat) sumo squats revealed the color of underwear I was wearing. (I asked a buddy to keep tabs.) Success! — Karina Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa More 7. Nike Pro AeroAdapt Women’s Tights Overall Score: 3.9 Stretch: 3.0
Although these leggings are chic, I’ve definitely worked out in stretchier pairs. When I go for a run around Central Park, I feel a little more constricted than I do in some of the other brands I’ve tried. Because of this, I’d recommend them more for cross-training than yoga or jogging.
Sweat wicking: 4.0
I don’t feel like my legs will drown in their own sweat after lunging in this pair of leggings, particularly since the sides are lined with sweat-activated vents that release heat. Although I tested them over a few months in the winter, I can’t wait to try them in the summer because of this. No one wants to feel like their pants are trapping them in a vat of their own juices, especially in July.
— Molly Nike
Pro AeroAdapt Women’s Tights, $, available at
Nike More Comfort/Fit: 4.0 They fit super well, and I feel snug as a bug in a rug — if bugs lived for a good sweat session — when I wear them. Opacity: 4.5 I would say my favorite thing about these leggings is the style — including the opacity. There’s something about the placement of the textured vents and the criss-cross elastic band on the side that really makes me like the look of this pair more than most of my other plain black ones. It also comes in army green color dubbed “juniper fog,” for those who are sick of plain black leggings. — Molly More Overall Score: 3.875 Stretch: 4.5
Since these are yoga leggings, I expected a good amount of stretch and was not let down. This Core10 (Amazon's in-house activewear brand!) pair didn't disappoint in that department, and were v snug and super soft.
Sweat wicking: 3.0
Speaking of softness, I could tell by the fabric that these probably weren't going to keep me dry during a HIIT class. The poly/elastane blend felt cotton-y, not silky, dolphin-smooth like other pairs I own. Sure enough, I was dripping (drip drip!) after a three-mile run at the treadmill. So much so, in fact, that I ran so quickly back to my apartment to shower that I forgot to snap a pic at the gym. Apologies for the messy bedroom mirror selfie in 3, 2, 1...
— Karina Core 10
Women's All Day High Waist Full-Length Yoga Legging, $, available at
Amazon More Comfort/Fit: 4.5 These were seriously as comfy as can be — I didn't want to take them off, except for you can't even tell how sweaty I actually was in this picture. The fit on these was super comfortable on my body — no issues with the waistband or crotch — and it's great to see an affordable style (these are just $29!) that's also size-inclusive. I would save them for low impact activities and lounging though. Opacity: 3.5 I probably wouldn't wear a neon cheeky with these anytime soon, but I could probably get away with a darker solid in a pinch. The brushstroke print — in addition to being cute! — did have a camo effect that I loved, though. — Karina Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa More Overall Score: 3.7 Stretch: 4.0
Decently stretchy! The fabric felt thicker than I'd expected, but still had a lot of give to it.
Sweat wicking: 3.3
I sweat a lot when working out, so moisture-wicking fabric is key when it comes to what I’m looking for in my leggings. I got the matching bra to this set, and there was definitely some boob- and lower back-sweat by the end of my workout. Not terrible (also, reminder that sweating is a totally normal thing!), but if you're looking for something that'll hold its own during hot yoga, then this might not be the one for you.
— Karina All in Motion
Women's Marble Print Contour Power Waist High-Rise 7/8, $, available at
Target More Comfort/Fit: 4.0 For less than $30, I was pretty impressed with how well these fit. The compression and high waist felt very supportive during a morning Barre3 class, but was moveable enough for me to do aerobic moves (plus infinite tiny squats) with total ease. Opacity: 3.5 I absolutely loved the way they look and feel – seriously, this set is a total compliment magnet — but if you get the white pair that I’m wearing, I’d play it safe with your underwear color. They aren’t made of the most opaque fabric ever, so unless you want the person behind you to see just how much you like leopard print while in downward dog, proceed with caution. — Karina Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa More Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here? We Tested 20 Eyeliners For The Perfect Cat-Eye