The Very Best Leggings for Basically Any Situation

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Not to toot our own horn, but we know a thing or two about the best workout leggings here at SELF—in fact, we recognize a select few of them every year during our Activewear Awards. And it may sound dramatic, but a high-quality pair of leggings can make all the difference in how your day goes. If you’ve ever tried hitting the gym or enjoying a vinyasa flow while wearing leggings that won’t stay up or pinch and pull in all the wrong places, you know this to be true. With that in mind, we’ve curated the very best workout leggings for all sorts of activities, selected from droves of pairs that we’ve tested and had recommended to us over the years.

Our top picks:

  1. Best Overall: Athleta Salutation Stash Tight
  2. Best Budget: Old Navy High-Waisted PowerSoft Leggings
  3. Best for Yoga: Lululemon Align High-Rise Pant
  4. Best for Running: Lululemon Swift Speed High-Rise Tight
  5. Best for Gym Workouts: Reebok Lux High-Rise Leggings
  6. Best for Everyday Wear: Spanx Booty Boost Active 7/8 Leggings

Read now:

The best workout leggings

We’ve put tons of leggings to the test and these have come out on top. Whether you’re a runner, yoga enthusiast, hiker, or die hard lounger (or all of the above), an excellent new pair awaits you below.

Best Overall: Athleta Salutation Stash Tight


Salutation Stash Tight

  • Pros: Extremely comfortable and versatile, breathable fabric, durable
  • Cons: Next to none—practically perfect

Wherever your day takes you, you’ll be prepared in the best-selling Salutation Stash Tight from Athleta. It’s one of the brand’s most popular leggings for its wonderfully deep pockets (that somehow don’t add a ton of bulk), comfy and wide waistband, and thick fabric. Incredible durability was another reason we named the Salutation Stash the Best Leggings for Pretty Much Anything in our 2024 Activewear Awards (one of our judges was confident that these can last for years of wear). “These are my everything leggings,” they wrote. “I have been buying the Stash from Athleta for years, and they hold up. I teach barre, lift weights, hike trails, and browse the aisles of Trader Joe’s in them constantly.”

  • Available sizes: XXS to 3XL | Available lengths: petite, regular, and tall | Available colors: 9 options

Best Budget: Old Navy High-Waisted PowerSoft Leggings

Old Navy

High-Waisted PowerSoft Leggings

  • Pros: Great value, especially good for high-sweat activities
  • Cons: Some reviewers note the fabric could be thicker

These Old Navy leggings were our readers’ pick for this year’s Activewear Awards, and, wow, did they have a lot to say: “I literally have 25 pairs, and they’re the only bottoms I’ll do races in. The side pockets are so great, I don’t even need to wear running belts during my training runs to keep my phone, gum, and keys handy.” Another reader shouted out their price point, durability, compression level, and, perhaps most importantly, sweat resistance: “I wear them for my long runs on the treadmill and they don’t show sweat stains.”

  • Available sizes: XS to 4XL | Available lengths: petite, regular, and tall | Available colors: 4 options

Best for Yoga: Lululemon Align High-Rise Pant


Align High-Rise Pant

  • Pros: Extremely soft and stretchy, wide range of color options
  • Cons: Lacking compression

Arguably the most-loved Lulu bottoms across the board, the Aligns belong in the dictionary under “yoga leggings.” Buttery soft and non-constricting, they’re designed to feel like a second skin and move with you as you stretch, bend, and flow. “It truly doesn’t feel like you’re wearing pants, and they never cause chafing,” wrote one 2024 Activewear Awards judge. While they’re basically ideal for yoga, our judges and one SoulCycle instructor also recommended the Align leggings for indoor biking and simply wearing around the house.

  • Available sizes: 0 to 20 | Available lengths: 23, 25, 28, and 31 inches | Available colors: 12 options

Best for Running: Lululemon Swift Speed High-Rise Tight


Swift Speed High-Rise Tight (28-in.)

  • Pros: Designed to reduce friction, zippered back pocket and side pockets
  • Cons: On the pricier side

Above all, a good pair of running leggings shouldn’t distract you from your pace. And with their sleek, sweat-wicking fabric and impressive fit, Lululemon’s Swift Speed tights are very good, indeed. “[They] hold up tight in the waist—no sagging,” Sammie Bennett, Trail Sisters group leader in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and ambassador for Gazelle Sports, previously told SELF. Their continuous drawstring holds the waist in place, while the inseam-free design prevents chafing, so you can focus on your strides ahead.

  • Available sizes: 0 to 20 | Available lengths: 28 inches | Available colors: 6 options

Best for Gym Workouts: Reebok Lux High-Rise Leggings


Lux High-Waisted Tights

  • Pros: Relatively affordable for the quality, compressive and supportive
  • Cons: Some may find the compression too strong

If you just want some workhorse leggings that’ll keep up with you through HIIT classes, lifting sessions, and cardio workouts, you need a pair of the supportive, ultra-high-waisted Reebok Luxes. They won a 2023 Activewear Award for their overall reliability and versatility. “Sometimes full-length leggings look ‘bunchy’ at the ankles, but these were perfect,” one tester wrote. “The high waistband is extremely comfortable and flattering. They’re absolutely squat-proof as well. I felt very confident and comfortable, and I was able to complete all workouts without having to pull them up or adjust them at all (even during [a] sweaty vinyasa yoga class).”

  • Available sizes: XXS to XL | Available lengths: short and regular | Available colors: 8 options

Best for Everyday Wear: Spanx Booty Boost Active 7/8 Leggings


Booty Boost Active 7/8 Leggings

  • Pros: Thick and lightly compressive, sweat-resistant
  • Cons: May run small (according to reviewers)

A two-time Activewear Award winner (in 2021 and 2022), the Booty Boost Active leggings from Spanx are about as reliable as leggings get (and they win bonus points for their highly flattering fit). “These are perfection,” wrote one tester, who wears a size 2X. “They did not move. The leggings are high-waist and cover my entire tummy as a plus-size woman. Where have these leggings been all my life?” Another SELF tester raved about their versatility: “I could wear these leggings to the office and no one would know that they are for workouts.” They fit like a glove and look great even after hours of wear—the Booty Boost Active is easily our pick for all-day wear.

  • Available sizes: XS to 3XL | Available lengths: 25 inches | Available colors: 7 options

Best Compression Leggings: SuperFit Hero SuperHold Pocket 7/8 Leggings

SuperFit Hero

SuperHold Pocket 7/8 Leggings

  • Pros: Extremely supportive, thick and opaque
  • Cons: Tend to attract lint and pet hair, according to reviewers

At this point, it’s an odd year when SuperFit Hero’s highly compressive, squat-test-passing SuperHold pocket leggings don’t win an Activewear Award (their earliest appearance was in 2019). Throughout the years, they’ve wowed our testers with their extremely secure fit, inclusive size range, and overall great look (an influencer who tested a pair in 2022 said the SuperHolds were their go-to leggings for on-camera work). “The leggings definitely did everything they were supposed to do,” a 2023 tester wrote. “They were supportive, comfortable, cute, and helped me stay dry when I was really sweaty. I especially appreciated how the waistband stayed in place, and overall I didn’t have to adjust anything during my workouts.”

  • Available sizes: L to 7XL | Available lengths: 29 inches | Available colors: 6 options

Best for Lounging: Beyond Yoga Spacedye Caught In The Midi High Waisted Legging

Beyond Yoga

Spacedye Caught in the Midi High-Waisted Legging

  • Pros: Very soft, tons of color options
  • Cons: Inseam may feel short on some people

When you have a long day of nothing planned, a supremely comfy pair of leggings makes for a great uniform. And the ones that leap to mind for us are easily Beyond Yoga’s inimitably soft and smooth Spacedye tights. “These leggings definitely lived up to my expectations,” wrote one 2023 Activewear Awards tester. “I found myself reaching for them again and again since they were so comfortable, cute, and I didn’t have to fiddle with them while teaching or practicing yoga.” In 2024, we gave a nod to the Out of Pocket version of these leggings which are just as cuddly but feature two drop-in side pockets, too.

  • Available sizes: XXS to 4XL | Available lengths: 24 inches | Available colors: 15 options

Best for Cold Weather: Baleaf Fleece-Lined Winter Leggings


Fleece-Lined Winter Leggings

  • Pros: Lined for warmth yet breathable, budget-friendly
  • Cons: May bunch at the ankles or feel slightly long (according to reviewers)

If you brave icy temps in the name of your workout (or commute, for that matter), you need a pair of Baleaf’s refreshingly affordable fleece-lined leggings. “The wind doesn’t pierce through them like a lot of other leggings. They are also sweat-wicking, so they are great for working out,” Lindsey Quebedeaux, a track and cross-country coach, runner, and walker from New Braunfels, Texas, previously told SELF. They’re available in several styles: The one-pocket version has a mid-rise waist; the three-pocket is high-rise; and the water-resistant version has an extra-high waist and should come in handy when it’s not only cold but also wet outside.

  • Available sizes: XS to 3XL | Available lengths: 27-28 inches (depending on the size) | Available colors: 19 options

Best for Hiking: Outdoor Research Ad-Vantage Leggings

Outdoor Research

Ad-Vantage Leggings

  • Pros: Very durable, stretchy
  • Cons: Not suitable for cold weather hikes, limited color options

Hikers ask a lot of their leggings: They should be easy to move in, but they can’t rip or snag when the trail gets rough. Few pairs strike this balance between stretchy and tough quite like the Ad-Vantage from Outdoor Research. Made with rock climbing in mind, they’re abrasion-resistant through the knees and hips and provide full range of motion. As our 2023 Activewear Awards tester put it, “I am able to move at any angle in these and they stay in place. I also feel like they’re perfect for travel because they are durable, lightweight, and have some compression.”

  • Available sizes: XS to XXL | Available lengths: 25 inches | Available colors: 3 options

How SELF tests and selects workout leggings

For SELF’s Activewear Awards, we tap staffers, everyday exercisers, and experts of all stripes (from hikers and marathon runners to weight lifting trainers and fitness coaches) to test hundreds of leggings, sports bras, and more. They’ll put their gear through the wringer, sweating, moving, and living in their apparel for hours throughout the testing period, then use our official Activewear Buying Guide to determine which items were truly the best. You can rest assured that the leggings that made the cut were road-tested to the fullest.

When we seek out recommendations outside of our yearly awards, we ask trusted fitness experts in the field for their absolute favorites. While a flashy new pair that they’re excited about is always of interest, we want to know which leggings they come back to time after time—and those are the ones we’ll feature.

What to look for when shopping for workout leggings

There are a few key things to keep in mind when you’re updating your leggings collection.

  • Activity: High-impact activities and gentler movements like stretching call for different types of leggings. For the former, you may want a pair that’s thicker, more compressive, and sweatproof. Meanwhile, you’ll probably prefer leggings that skew softer and lighter-weight for yoga, Pilates, and other lower-intensity workouts.
  • Length: Leggings are available in a range of lengths, from full-length (meaning they go all the way to the bottom of your ankle) to 7/8 (which hit around or just above the ankle) to capri (which usually reach the middle of your calf). When in doubt, measure your inseam.
  • Material: Any leggings should have a good amount of spandex, Lycra, elastane, or other stretchy material to ensure they fit close to your body without restricting your movement. Beyond that, you can look for pairs made with moisture-wicking, breathable, squat-proof, extra-soft, lightweight, or cold weather-ready materials. As mentioned above, your preferred type of workout can help you determine which fabrics and feels will work best for you.
  • Rise: This is more a personal preference than anything else, but it’s still important to check how high the waistband goes on a new pair of leggings, especially if coverage and support are key details for you.
  • Additional features: Don’t forget nice-to-have elements like a drawstring, well-placed pockets, and breathable mesh panels. Depending on what you like, these add-ons can make a solid pair of leggings genuinely exceptional.


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