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Best Running Leggings That Go the Distance

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updated: May 26, 2024

Whether you’re new to running or have put in daily miles for decades, your running leggings can make or break your run. There’s nothing worse than leggings that won’t stay up, rub and chafe, or are just uncomfortable. But when you find a great pair of running leggings, you can focus on your run, rather than worry about your wardrobe. I interviewed experts to find out the most important  qualities in choosing a great pair of running leggings for women. I also shared top picks for the best leggings to help you get started with your shopping. 

What to look for when buying running leggings for women

Fit

“Fit is the most important factor by far,” explains Caroline Grainger, ISSA certified personal trainer at FitnessTrainer.com. “Leggings that are too tight constrict your movement and reduce your circulation, while those that are too loose are going to lead to rubbing that will damage the fabric—and probably your legs.” 

To ensure a good fit, Grainer recommends that the leggings are snug enough that they don’t bunch up or slide around. At the same time, the leggings should be loose enough so that you can get them on and off easily and move freely. 

Material

Different materials are best suited for different types of conditions. “Cotton is a good choice for hot, dry weather, but a terrible choice for humid or wet conditions,” Grainger says. “Spandex provides a good fit that will stay in place, but offers virtually no insulation in cold conditions.” 

According to LacunaFit, elastane leggings, such as Spandex and Lycra, are stretchy, can have compressive qualities, and tend to wick moisture. Nylon leggings are stretchy and soft, but they can shrink if they’re not washed at the right temperature. Cotton is a soft and durable choice, and while it’s breathable while dry, it isn’t breathable when wet. Polyester is water-resistant , affordable, and stretchy, but it can get smelly over time. Wool leggings are ideal for keeping you warm, but they can be heavy and won’t have any stretch unless the wool is blended with another material. 

Cut

Leggings are available in several different cuts, which affect their feel and performance. For example, high-waisted cuts offer more coverage, and some runners feel that they offer a more secure feel. Shaping leggings create a contoured look. Full length leggings offer maximum coverage for cold weather runs, while ¾ length leggings are a popular choice for running in warm weather. 

Additional features

Consider additional features that will enhance the leggings’ performance. Flat seams can help to prevent chafing, while mesh inserts can maximize ventilation. Pockets often come in handy for holding small items like keys. Compression leggings have been proven to have a slight improvement on endurance, and to also help reduce muscle pain and inflammation. Many leggings now have safety features, like reflective material, for those late night and early morning miles. 

Our top picks for the best running leggings 

Best budget running leggings: CRZ Yoga Womens Naked Feeling Workout ⅞ Yoga Leggings

These leggings deliver quality features at an affordable price. The fabric is soft and stretchy, plus it’s resistant to pet hair, so you can look clean and put-together for your workout. The high rise offers a secure fit, while the seamless waistband helps to maximize your comfort. These leggings offer gentle compression for a supportive feel, and their sweat-wicking properties will come in handy during intense workouts. Choose from 34 colors to create your workout wardrobe. 

Specifications: 

  • Material: 71% polyamide, 29% Spandex
  • Length: 7/8
  • Size range: XXS-XL
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Price: $26

What we like: 

  • High rise for secure fit
  • Sweat-wicking
  • Extra soft fabric
  • Seamless waistband
  • Compression for support without feeling restrictive
  • Available in 34 colors

What we don’t like: 

  • Largest size is XL
  • Made in China

The bottom line: 

Stretchy but supportive, these leggings have a high waist and seamless waistband to help keep you comfortable during your workouts. 

Best budget running leggings
CRZ YOGA Womens Naked Feeling Workout 7/8 Yoga Leggings - 25 Inches High Waist Tight Pants Black Medium

CRZ YOGA Womens Naked Feeling Workout 7/8 Yoga Leggings - 25 Inches High Waist Tight Pants Black Medium

Best running leggings with pockets: Lululemon Align High-Rise Pant with Pockets

These Lululemon leggings feature a four-way stretch to keep you moving freely and comfortably. A no-dig waistband helps to avoid pinching, and the fabric wicks sweat, ideal for those hot or intense workouts. These leggings feature a hidden waist pocket and two side drop-in pockets large enough to hold your phone, so it’s easy to bring essentials on your run. Shopping tip: The Align has also made the lists for the best black leggings, best workout leggings, and the best Lululemon leggings.

Specifications: 

  • Material: 81% nylon, 19% Lycra elastane
  • Length: 23 inches, 25 inches, 28 inches, 31 inches
  • Size range: 0-20
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Price: $128

What we like: 

  • Available in 12 colors 
  • Sweat-wicking fabric
  • Four-way stretch fabric for comfort
  • No-dig waistband
  • Hidden waist pocket and two side drop-in pockets

What we don’t like: 

  • Lightweight support

The bottom line: 

With a hidden waist pocket and two side drop-in pockets, you can bring your phone, keys, and other small essentials while keeping your hands free during your run. 

Best running leggings with pockets
lululemon Align™ High-Rise Leggings with Pockets 25"

lululemon Align™ High-Rise Leggings with Pockets 25"

Best high waisted running leggings: Under Armour Women’s HeatGear High Waisted Leggings

These high-waisted leggings are crafted from lightweight fabric with a four-way stretch, allowing you to move freely during your workouts. The no-slip waistband provides a secure, supportive fit, and flatlock seams follow an ergonomic design to help prevent chafing. These leggings are available in three length options to ensure the right fit. A side drop-in pocket is sized for a phone, keys, or other small essentials. 

Specifications: 

  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Length: Short, Regular, Tall
  • Size range: XS-XL
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Price: $128

What we like: 

  • Lightweight fabric wicks sweat and dries quickly
  • Flatlock seams help to prevent chafing
  • High-rise no-slip waistband for secure coverage and support
  • Side drop-in pocket
  • Available in 15 colors

What we don’t like: 

  • Some runners find the waistband slips down

The bottom line:

A no-slip waistband and flatlock chafe-preventing seams make these high-rise leggings a comfortable choice for workouts. 

Best high waisted running leggings
Under Armour Women's HeatGear High Rise No-Slip Waistband 7/8 Leggings, MT, Midnight Navy/White

Under Armour Women's HeatGear High Rise No-Slip Waistband 7/8 Leggings, MT, Midnight Navy/White

Best cropped running leggings: Danskin Women’s All Over Printed Capri Legging

The Danskin Women’s All Over Printed Capri Legging features a cropped design ideal for hot weather use. That capri cut is paired with moisture-wicking fabric to help you stay dry and cool during workouts. The high-rise waistband features power mesh, creating a secure feel to help prevent it from sliding down. The leggings are available in five prints, so you can make a stylish statement. 

Specifications: 

  • Material: 86% polyester, 14% spandex
  • Length: Capri
  • Size range: Sl-XL
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Price: $20

What we like: 

  • High-rise waistband reinforced with power mesh for security
  • Moisture-wicking fabric
  • Compression fit
  • Curved back of waistband and yoke for a secure, comfortable fit
  • Soft feel and plenty of stretch
  • Five print options

What we don’t like: 

  • No XS size available

The bottom line: 

These leggings feature a capri cut paired with moisture-wicking material, helping to keep you cool and dry during workouts on warmer days.

Best cropped running leggings
Danskin Womens All Over Printed Capri Leggings, Grey Camo Print, X-Large US

Danskin Womens All Over Printed Capri Leggings, Grey Camo Print, X-Large US

Best compression running leggings: Zensah Ultra Compression Women’s Recovery Leggings

The Zensah Ultra Compression Women’s Recovery Leggings feature muscle-mapped ribbing and compression that supports your legs, quads, hamstrings, knees, and thighs during your run. While supportive, the fabric is also comfortable and breathable, and it wicks moisture to help you stay dry. The leggings feature seamless construction to allow you to move freely while minimizing chafing, too. 

Specifications: 

  • Material: 85% polyamide, 15% elastane
  • Length: Full
  • Size range: XS/S, S/M, L/XL
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Price: $100

What we like: 

  • Provides ankle to hip compression
  • Muscle-mapped ribbing and graduated compression provides support
  • Light and breathable material
  • Moisture-wicking and anti-odor
  • Seamless construction to help prevent chafing

What we don’t like: 

  • Only available in three sizes
  • Only available in black

The bottom line: 

These stylish black leggings deliver compression to support your legs, quads, hamstrings, knees, and thighs during your run, while also being comfortable and breathable. 

Best compression running leggings
Zensah Ultra Compression Women’s Recovery Leggings

Zensah Ultra Compression Women’s Recovery Leggings

Most comfortable running leggings: Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings

These leggings are lightweight with plenty of stretch. That material is paired with a seamless design to help keep you comfortable during your runs. Sweat-wicking technology and breathable marl mesh dots work together to keep you dry. The leggings’ high-waisted design is paired with a supportive waistband for a secure feel, so you can focus on your run.

Specifications: 

  • Material: 93% nylon, 7% elastane 
  • Length: Full
  • Size range: XS XXL
  • Care: Not specified
  • Price: $54

What we like: 

  • Seamless design for comfort
  • Lightweight fabric for distraction-free workouts
  • Sweat-wicking technology and breathable mesh to keep you cool and dry
  • High-waisted design with a supportive waistband
  • Available in eight colors

What we don’t like: 

  • Care instructions aren’t specified

The bottom line: 

These leggings are crafted from a lightweight, stretchy material, feature a seamless design, and wick moisture to help keep you comfortable during every run. 

Most comfortable running leggings
VITAL SEAMLESS 2.0 LEGGINGS

VITAL SEAMLESS 2.0 LEGGINGS

Related Article: The Best Running Shoes for Women, Recommended by Experts

Best running leggings on Amazon: Under Armour Women’s Motion Ankle Leggings

These leggings feature a breathable fabric with a four-way stretch to keep you moving without restriction. The fabric’s exterior is brushed, while the interior is smooth for an extra-soft feel. The high-waist design and wide waistband help to keep the leggings secure while also keeping you comfortable. They’re available in a range of lengths and sizes to ensure a great fit.

Specifications: 

  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Length: Short, Medium, Tall
  • Size range: XS-3XL
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Price: $55

What we like: 

  • Breathable, comfortable fabric
  • Four-way stretch to keep you moving freely
  • Brushed fabric exterior and smooth interior
  • Flat, wide waistband to keep you comfortable
  • Side drop-in pocket
  • Available in plus sizes
  • Choose from 34 colors

What we don’t like: 

  • Sizes are limited for some colors

The bottom line: 

With a brushed exterior and smooth interior, these leggings are extra soft and are available in a wide range of sizes and lengths for a comfortable fit. 

Best running leggings on Amazon
Under Armour Womens Motion Ankle Leggings, Black (001)/Jet Gray, Small

Under Armour Womens Motion Ankle Leggings, Black (001)/Jet Gray, Small

Best running leggings for cold weather: Smartwool Women’s Merino Sport Moto Leggings

These leggings feature a high-rise waist to help keep you comfortable. While the body is made of a nylon and elastane blend, the waistband and gusset are lined with a merino wool blend. That wool blend helps to promote moisture wicking and speed up drying, and it also offers insulative properties for cold runs. The fabric stretches four ways, helping to keep you comfortable and moving freely. 

Specifications: 

  • Material: 87% nylon and 13% elastane main body, 54% merino wool and 46% polyester trim
  • Length: Full
  • Size range: XS-XL
  • Care: Not specified
  • Price: $100

What we like: 

  • Waistband and gusset are lined with merino wool to promote moisture wicking and speed up drying
  • Drop in pocket and secure zip pocket
  • High-rise waist for a comfortable fit
  • Four-way stretch fabric is breathable and flexes with you

What we don’t like: 

  • Only available in three colors
  • Care instructions aren’t specified

The bottom line: 

A merino wool blend lines the waistband and gusset, promoting moisture wicking and adding thermoregulation properties to help keep you comfortable. 

Best running leggings for cold weather
Smartwool Women’s Merino Sport Moto Leggings

Smartwool Women’s Merino Sport Moto Leggings

Best plus size running leggings: Nike Women’s Zenvy Gentle-Support High-Waisted ⅞ Leggings

These leggings are available in plus sizes 2X, 3X, and 4X. They’re crafted with a lightweight nylon and spandex blend and feature an extra-wide high rise waistband to help keep them secure while also smoothing your stomach. The fabric helps to keep you dry, and while the leggings feature a streamlined look, they have a center back drop-in pocket large enough to hold your phone during your run. 

Specifications: 

  • Material: 63% nylon, 37% spandex
  • Length: 7/8
  • Size range: 2X-4X
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Price: $100

What we like: 

  • Lightweight and soft fabric
  • High-rise waistband for a secure fit
  • Extra-wide waistband for security and stomach smoothing
  • Nike Dri-FIT technology helps keep you dry
  • Center back drop-in pocket is large enough for a phone

What we don’t like: 

  • Only available in three colors

The bottom line: 

With their lightweight, soft fabric and extra-wide waistband that helps to smooth your stomach, these leggings are designed to keep you comfortable during each run. 

Best plus size running leggings
Nike Women's Zenvy Gentle-Support High-Waisted 7/8 Leggings, XL, Smokey Mauve

Nike Women's Zenvy Gentle-Support High-Waisted 7/8 Leggings, XL, Smokey Mauve

Most durable running leggings: Eddie Bauer Women’s Trail Tight Leggings

The Eddie Bauer Women’s Trail Tight Leggings are designed with durability for trail running and hiking. Their odor-control fabric helps prevent smells, and the leggings feature UPF 50+ sun protection. The power mesh waistband and high-rise design create a secure fit, and these leggings are machine washable for easy cleaning between your runs. 

Specifications: 

  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Length: Regular, Tall
  • Size range: XS-3XL
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Price: $28

What we like: 

  • Moisture wicking to help keep you dry
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Mesh leg inserts for extra ventilation
  • Odor control fabric
  • Power mesh waistband creates a secure, fit
  • Two drop-in cargo pockets and a zippered vertical pocket
  • Available in plus sizes
  • Choose from 24 colors

What we don’t like: 

  • Some colors are only available in very limited sizes

The bottom line: 

Designed to hold up to trail hiking and running, these leggings are machine washable and feature odor control fabric for easier maintenance.

Most durable running leggings
Eddie Bauer Women's Trail Tight Leggings - High Rise, Black, Medium

Eddie Bauer Women's Trail Tight Leggings - High Rise, Black, Medium

Best sustainable running leggings: Boody Active Blended High-Waisted ¾ Leggings with Pockets

These leggings are made from bamboo that’s organically grown and harvested from responsibly managed forests in China. Bamboo is breathable, odor-resistant, and soft to help keep you comfortable. According to Boody, the positive impacts of these leggings include 315.6 hours of LED bulb energy and 184.5 liters of drinking water saved.

Specifications: 

  • Material: 61% bamboo viscose, 27% organic cotton, 12% spandex
  • Length: ¾ 
  • Size range: XS- XL
  • Care: Machine washable
  • PRice: $31.58

What we like: 

  • Flat seams to help prevent chafing
  • Wide waistband for comfort
  • Two side pockets and a hidden pocket to store essentials
  • Curved panel shaping on the side leg for a streamlined, comfortable fit
  • Breathable material 

What we don’t like: 

  • Only available in three colors

The bottom line: 

These leggings are crafted from bamboo that’s organically grown in China, and they have several positive impacts, including saving LED bulb energy and drinking water. 

Best sustainable running leggings
Boody Active Blended High-Waisted ¾ Leggings with Pockets

Boody Active Blended High-Waisted ¾ Leggings with Pockets

Best running leggings for treadmill runs: Athleta Ultimate Stash ⅞ Tight

These leggings are breathable and moisture-wicking, ideal for keeping you dry during long treadmill runs. Compression provides support during your workouts, and a no-slip waistband offers security. The leggings feature large side stash pockets for a phone or keys, as well as a back drop-in pocket, keeping your hands free while you run. Shopping tip: Athleta also made our lists for the best flared leggings and the best joggers for women.

Specifications: 

  • Material: Recycled polyester and lycra
  • Length: 7/8
  • Size range: XXS-3XL
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Price: $109

What we like: 

  • Wicking, quick-drying material to keep you comfortable
  • UPF 50+
  • Compression provides support 
  • Large side stash pockets and a back drop-in pocket
  • No-slip waistband
  • Made from recycled polyester
  • Can be machine washed and dried
  • Available in a range of sizes 

What we don’t like: 

  • Only available in two colors

The bottom line: 

These leggings are breathable and moisture-wicking, plus a no-slip waistband provides a secure feel that’s ideal for keeping you comfortable during long treadmill runs. 

Best running leggings for treadmill runs
Ultimate Stash High Rise 7/8 Tight

Ultimate Stash High Rise 7/8 Tight

Best moisture-wicking running leggings: CRZ Yoga Ulti-Dry Workout Leggings

The CRZ Yoga Ulti-Dry Workout Leggings quickly wick moisture away from your skin to keep you dry. The fabric dries quickly,  preventing sweat patches. Its four-way stretch helps to maximize your comfort, and a seamless waistband adds security without digging in. These yoga pants provide compression, so you’ll have extra support during your run. 

Specifications: 

  • Material: 72% polyester, 28% elastane
  • Length: 7/8
  • Size range: XXS-XL
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Price: $28

What we like: 

  • Fast-drying fabric helps to prevent sweat patches
  • High waisted for security
  • Gusset crotch for a more flattering fit
  • Four-way stretch for comfort
  • Fabric provides compression
  • Seamless waistband doesn’t dig in
  • Choose from 13 colors

What we don’t like: 

  • No pockets

The bottom line: 

A polyester and elastane blend works to wick moisture from your skin, then quickly dries to prevent sweat patches. 

Best moisture-wicking running leggings
CRZ YOGA Ulti-Dry Workout Leggings for Women 25'' - High Waisted Yoga Pants 7/8 Athletic Running Fitness Gym Tights Melanite Small

CRZ YOGA Ulti-Dry Workout Leggings for Women 25'' - High Waisted Yoga Pants 7/8 Athletic Running Fitness Gym Tights Melanite Small

How we selected the best running leggings

When selecting the best running leggings, I considered the leggings’ design and cut, including their overall fit. I included leggings to fit a variety of body types, and looked for desirable features like compression and pockets. I also evaluated the materials used in each pair of leggings and considered how those materials would affect the leggings in terms of durability, breathability, moisture wicking properties, and overall comfort. 

How to keep leggings from sliding down while running

Legging manufacturer Loony Legs explains there are several ways to keep your leggings from sliding down while running. Make sure your leggings fit well, and reference the manufacturer’s size chart when buying leggings. Buying high-waisted leggings can provide extra security and may help to keep them from falling down. Look for leggings with a draw waistband feature, or choose compression leggings, which have a snugger feel that may help to keep them in place. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Are running leggings worth it? 

A quality pair of running leggings is absolutely worth the investment. Leggings that fit well can keep you comfortable during runs, so you stay motivated to finish that last mile. Quality leggings with features like flat seams can also help to prevent chafing and rubbing, so you can enjoy every run more. 

Are running tights the same as leggings? 

According to 220 Triathlon, running leggings are breathable and form-fitting, and they can be worn with or without overshorts. While running tights are very similar, they are thinner and are designed to be used with overshorts. Running tights are often used as an extra layer for warmth. 

What type of leggings are best for running? 

As you shop for running leggings, you’ll find that they’re available in many different sizes, styles, and features. Ultimately, the type of leggings that are best for running are the leggings that fit you best and keep you the most comfortable. Certain materials are better for certain types of weather; cotton’s breathability makes it good for dry, warm weather, while wool leggings can offer extra warmth during winter runs. Consider your personal preferences, as well as the temperature, when choosing the best running leggings. 

Do you wear anything under running leggings? 

According to Well + Good, whether to wear underwear under running leggings is a personal decision. Some runners may find that their underwear bunches up during a run and may choose to go without, while others feel most comfortable wearing underwear. If you choose to go without underwear, choose leggings with built-in panties or liners to absorb the extra sweat and help prevent bacteria and yeast growth.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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