The Best Leggings: My Top 5 Favorites

The Best Leggings: My Top 5 Favorites

The Best Leggings – 2021 edition

I’ve tested a lot of leggings. These are my favorites (and why).

Since reviews are inherently subjective, I think it’s helpful to first state the criteria that are most important for me. I care most about:

  • Performance/functionality
  • Versatility
  • Comfortable waistband
  • Quality

Notes:

  • I’m not sponsored by any of these brands, and these are my honest assessments.
  • Since originally writing this list, two of my all-time favorites have been discontinued (Lululemon In Movement, Athleta Chaturanga). Therefore I had to revise my list.

The Best Leggings for Yoga & Lounge: Lululemon Align

Ah yes, the infamous Align legging. The Align is often imitated, but nothing quite compares. Despite their high price and despite their delicate nature, the fabric on these is really something special. It’s hard to describe, but I just feel great when I’m wearing them. They’re super stretchy, ultra comfortable, and very flattering. The waistband is seamless, and they are very high rise (and make an even higher rise version). They come in many color options, with new colors offered each season. These leggings have a cult following, which is sort of a weird thing to say about leggings… if you think about it. But they really are great, and I can’t help it: I love them too.

As you will see in the reviews on the Lululemon site, the main complaint about Aligns is the pilling and quick-showing signs of wear. Aligns are made out of a delicate fabric that damages easily. It’s frustrating that something so expensive is also so delicate. This is why the Aligns are in my top 5, but not at the top of the list. To be fair, Lululemon makes it clear that this garment should only be used for yoga or similar light activities. And I haven’t had an issue with mine pilling yet, but I am careful not to wear them for intense exercise or activities. I also recommend washing in cold water (ideally in a garment bag for extra protection) and always air drying. This will help maintain the fabric and show less signs of wear.

You might like these if:

  • You like very light compression.
  • You like a high rise.
  • You don’t mind spending more for a pair of leggings.
  • You won’t get mad if the delicate fabric shows more wear and tear.

You might NOT like these if:

  • You prefer a banded waistband or drawstring to keep them in place.
  • You want more compression and structure.
  • You want a thicker legging with more coverage.
  • You prefer a low or mid rise.
  • You hate pilling or signs of wear.
  • You don’t want to pay a lot of money for your leggings (these are a spendy option).

The Best Leggings for Everyday: Colorfulkoala Brushed Buttery Soft High-Waisted

I’ve tried a lot of the popular brands on Amazon: 90 Degree, Queenie Ke, CRZ Yoga. But the Colorfulkoalas are my top choice.

As you can see from the rest of this list, I’m not as concerned with scoring my leggings at a low price. For where I’m at with my lifestyle right now, I’m willing to pay more for a quality item that will last longer. However I still love a great value, and that’s why these leggings made the list.

The fabric is lightweight and very stretchy, and the comfortable wide waistband is seamless. In fact, these were the first seamless-waistband leggings that landed on my radar, even before I discovered Lululemon. The seams on the inside of the legs are also a nod to Aligns, though many brands are creating a similar style these days. There’s a wide color range, and they also make a variation with side pockets. They are available in full length, 7/8 length, and capris.

These leggings made it on my list because I think they are the best legging for the price. Also the lower price makes them handy in situations where I don’t want to wear my more expensive leggings because I’m afraid of tearing or damaging them (ex: messy yard work or backwoods hiking where there’s a lot of brush and branches).

You might like these if:

  • You like colorful options.
  • You want a super comfortable legging that can be worn all day without any discomfort.
  • You love your Aligns but want a more affordable alternative for situations where you’re afraid of damaging the Aligns.
  • You like a high rise.
  • You don’t want to spend more than $30 for your leggings.

You might NOT like these if:

  • You prefer a banded waistband or drawstring to keep them in place.
  • You prefer a low or mid rise.
  • Your primary workout is running (I find these get hot and don’t breathe as well as other options during longer runs).

The Best Leggings for Cardio: Lululemon Wunder Train

These are soft, lightweight and comfortable (much like the very popular Lululemon Align pant), but more durable and less delicate. These are my go-to for any type of workout (running, weights, hiking, biking, yoga) but also for everyday wear. This is the only pair of leggings on the list that has a drawstring in the waistband, but I promise this one is not tight or uncomfortable. As far as fit, these run true to size for me (I wear the same size in Lululemon Wunder Unders), but I’ve read that some people size up. It really depends on how much compression you like. These hold up really well to repeated wearing and washing. Though expensive, this is a quality piece that will last for many years and get lots of use.

You might like these if:

  • You like Lululemon Aligns but want something more durable.
  • You like light compression.
  • You like a high rise.
  • You want a versatile legging that can be worn in a lot of situations.
  • You don’t mind spending more for a pair of leggings.
  • You prefer a banded waistband or drawstring to keep them in place.

You might NOT like these if:

  • You want more compression and structure.
  • You want a thicker legging with more coverage.
  • You dislike waistbands with drawstrings.
  • You want leggings with pockets.
  • You prefer a low or mid rise.
  • You don’t want to pay a lot of money for your leggings (these are a spendy option).

The Best General Purpose Leggings: Athleta Salutation

These are sort of Athleta’s version of the Align legging, but with a few key differences: The fabric is more durable, and the waistband is more compressive. Oh, and they have pockets! There’s not much to say about these, except they are a solid choice. They have a near perfect rating for a reason. And if I had to guess, I’d say these are probably Athleta’s most popular legging option right now.

You might like these if:

  • You are looking for a versatile legging that works for everyday wear as well as workouts.
  • You prefer a more compressive waistband.
  • You like a high rise.
  • You are petite or tall (they come in inseams of 25, 27 and 30)
  • You want pockets in your leggings.
  • You don’t mind spending more for a pair of leggings (these are a pricier option, though I can usually score Athleta gear at a discount during a sale, with rewards, or on Ebay or Poshmark).

You might NOT like these if:

  • You prefer a banded waistband or drawstring to keep them in place.
  • You prefer a low or mid rise.
  • You don’t want to pay a lot of money for your leggings.

The Best Leggings for the Gym/Strength-Training: Aoxjox Vital Seamless Leggings

The last piece on my list is actually a product that is similar to  Gymshark’s famous Vital Seamless leggings.  If you need a pair of highly functional leggings to actually wear to the gym, these truly can’t be beat. They are stretchy yet stay in place (no sliding down during squats) and are super breathable. The contouring details are a nice design touch, but they also help to mask sweat.

You might like these if:

  • You seek functional, high performance leggings for the gym
  • You like the seamless look
  • You want a lot of color options
  • You don’t want to spend a lot of money on your leggings
  • You like to wear matching sets when you work out

You might NOT like these if:

  • You prefer a banded waistband or drawstring to keep them in place.
  • You prefer a low or mid rise.

Bonus: Fleece-lined options for cold weather

If you are looking for a cold weather legging, there’s two that I recommend.

  1. Athleta Polartec (current year’s style is called the Altitude Tight)
  2. CRZ Yoga Fleece-Lined High Rise Legging
  3. 90 Degree by Reflex Fleece-Lined Legging

Look for a more comprehensive article on fleece-lined leggings in the near future.