October 21, 2021

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We Tried 10 Pairs Of Workout Leggings To See Which Ones (Literally) Held Up

If we were betting women, we’d venture a guess 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 find out which pairs are perfect for your star sign.)Today, we’re taking our commitment to butt-hugging 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 ten 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 of the top ten pairs — and get an inside peek at the workouts we put these stretchy bottoms 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.MWL Form High-Rise 7/8 LeggingsOverall Score: 4.75Stretch: 5I’ve found that with many highly compressive leggings, putting on a brand-new pair can be an exercise in self-doubt. Like, are these my size? Why are they so hard to get on? However, once I got these properly positioned on my bod, they yielded to my every move with nary a protest and I felt free as a bird.Sweat-wicking: 4Is it very embarrassing if I admit that I didn’t actually sweat much in these? In other words, I’m just getting back into the exercise saddle after having a baby, um, almost a year ago, so my weekly jogs have been a little … light. Plus, I road-tested these bad boys in 30-degree temps, so overall I didn’t have much sweatiness to show. But perhaps this is a testament to the wicky properties of this pair — they absorbed any trace of sweat before I could even detect it?MWL Form High-Rise 7/8 Leggings, $, available at MadewellComfort/Fit: 4.5I’m a size 6-ish these days, so I tried both small and medium in Madewell’s legging to see where I’d land on the spectrum. While I was really happy with the fit of the medium — they felt snug, comfortable and less compressive than the small, which some might prefer — they were ultimately too big, and didn’t stay up while I jogged. The small was ultimately a better fit, although (like many compression leggings) gave the initial impression that they were going to be too teeny. However, once I’d wriggled my way into them and made sure the waistband was hoisted into place above my bellybutton, they stayed put and held me in — and, most importantly, felt sublimely comfy.Opacity: 5These ’gings are dense! Not only did they pass the squat test with flying colors, they even helped to correct some VPL. (Some. Not all.) Maybe it’s the matte-fied slate hue of this particular pair, but they thoroughly blocked any light from getting through. I felt very modest (despite the fact that I was basically wearing cligny, skintight pants).— Emily Ruane, Fashion Market WriterOutdoor Voices TechSweat 3/4 LeggingsOverall Score: 4.8Stretch: 4.8These 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: 5.0I 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 Impervius spell 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 WriterOutdoor Voices TechSweat 3/4 Leggings, $, available at Outdoor VoicesComfort/Fit: 4.8This 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.Opacity: 4.5They 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 WriterLululemon Fast and Free High-Rise TightOverall Score: 4.5Stretch: 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: 5.0I 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 Writerlululemon Fast and Free High-Rise Tight, $, available at lululemonComfort/Fit: 4.5LeAnn 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. Opacity: 4 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 WriterEverlane Perform LeggingOverall Score: 4.5Stretch: 4.9Wowowow. As I mentioned in my January 2020 review 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: 4.0My 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.— KarinaEverlane The Perform Legging, $, available at EverlaneComfort/Fit: 5.0Insert 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.Opacity: 4.3They’re not totally 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!) are so elevated and chic that planning my choice of underwear is a small price to pay.— KarinaPhoto: Courtesy of Karina HoshikawaFabletics High-Waisted PowerHold 7/8Overall Score: 4.45Stretch: 4.5Disclaimer: 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: 4.0I’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 WriterFabletics High-Waisted PowerHold® 7/8, $, available at FableticsComfort/Fit: 4.8While 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: 4.5These 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 WriterPhoto: Courtesy of Elizabeth GulinoGirlfriend Collective Midnight Compressive High-Rise LeggingOverall Score: 4.0Stretch: 4.0I 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: 4.3The temps in Hawaii were around 80 degrees, and let me tell you — I’m the kind of person who can easily 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.— LizzyGirlfriend Collective Midnight Compressive High-Rise Legging, $, available at Girlfriend CollectiveComfort/Fit: 3.5Personally, 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: 4.5While 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.— LizzyPhoto: Courtesy of Elizabeth GulinoAlo Player High Waist 7/8 LeggingsOverall Score: 4.0Stretch: 4.5These were super stretchy and felt great on my body. The fabric wasn’t super thick, so it was pretty breathable and moveable. Sweat wicking: 4.0Not 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. — KarinaAlo Yoga 7/8 Player Leggings, $, available at Alo YogaComfort/Fit: 3.0Let’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: 4.5Totally 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!— KarinaPhoto: Courtesy of Karina HoshikawaNike Pro AeroAdapt Tights Overall Score: 3.9 Stretch: 3.0Although 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: 4.0I 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 Tights, $, available at eBayComfort/Fit: 4.0They 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: 4.5I 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. — Molly Core 10 All Day Comfort High Waist Full-Length Yoga LeggingOverall Score: 3.875Stretch: 4.5Since 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: 3.0Speaking 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 on 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…— KarinaCore 10 All Day Comfort High Waist Full-Length Yoga Legging, $, available at AmazonComfort/Fit: 4.5These 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: 3.5I 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.— KarinaPhoto: Courtesy of Karina HoshikawaAll In Motion Contour Power Waist High-Rise 7/8 LeggingsOverall Score: 3.7Stretch: 4.0Decently stretchy! The fabric felt thicker than I’d expected, but still had a lot of give to it. Sweat wicking: 3.3I 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. — KarinaAll in Motion Contour Power Waist High-Rise 7/8 Leggings, $, available at TargetComfort/Fit: 4.0For 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: 3.5I 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.— KarinaPhoto: Courtesy of Karina HoshikawaLike what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?We Tested 20 Eyeliners For The Perfect Cat-EyeWhat We Actually Bought (& Loved) For Under $10010 Ways To Make New Year’s Resolutions Less Dire

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