The Best Running Leggings for Women Who Run Every Day

July 22, 2019

Whether you’re an avid marathon runner or a casual jogger who likes to pound the pavement from time to time, the last thing any runner wants to deal with is uncomfortable or ill-fitting workout clothes that throw you off your pace, after all, running is hard enough as it is.

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That’s why it’s so important to do your research ahead of time and choose the right running apparel that’ll fit seamlessly on your body and never distract you from your workout.

Nike Women's Pro Cool Capris

When it comes to women’s running leggings, there are a few key features to consider. Since running tends to include lots of sweating, you’ll want to make sure you choose a pair made with moisture-wicking fabric that won’t trap sweat and leave you feeling drenched after a run (regardless of the season). Mesh panels are another addition you can look for that’ll add even more breathability to the leggings. 

If you’re an outdoor runner, you should also consider fabric thickness opt for winter-ready leggings, like Under Armour’s ColdGear Authentic Women’s Leggings, that are thermal or fleece-lined for added warmth during the colder months, and go with lightweight and thinner fabrics in the summer, like Nike’s Pro Fit tights.

Nike Women's Pro Tights

Another important factor to look for in workout leggings is a comfort. Choose options that have four-way stretch for optimal freedom of movement and a snug (but comfortable) fit that’ll stay in place no matter what because there’s really nothing more frustrating than having to pause your run to pull up sagging pants.

Aside from fit and material, many running leggings boast other crucial features like super convenient inner pockets for storing your keys, credit card, or phone during a run, and reflective stripes for safety during nighttime or early morning runs when it’s dark out.

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To help you find the best running leggings for women, we tapped a few hard-core runners to hear their favorites. You’ll find all of their recommendations, below, that covers a wide variety of selections so whether you’re looking for a high-waisted fit that’ll never fall down, options to keep you warm in winter weather, or the best compression leggings for injury recovery, you’ll find something that works for you here. With any of these picks, you’ll never have to worry about bothersome leggings distracting you from getting a great run in.

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1. Best for cold weather: Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Authentic Leggings

Runner Sarah Klein recommends Under Armour’s ColdGear Leggings because they’re warm (but not too warm) and perfect for cold weather. “I love how warm they are without making me overheat.

I can wear these as my only layer for winter runs,” she tells Health, “and they never budge. There’s nothing worse than having to readjust your clothes when you run!”

Under Armour Women's Cold Gear Authentic Pants

2. Best high-waisted running leggings: Asics High-Waist Tights

If you’re looking for a pair of high-waisted leggings, go with this option by ASICS. Rozalynn S. Frazier, an avid marathon runner, loves this pair for its fit and breathability.

“I am drawn to high-waisted pants for two reasons they hold me in, and the band on the waist doesn’t fall down (so I don’t have to spend my entire run adjusting my pants),” Frazier tells Health.

They’re made with stretchy, form-fitting material for optimal flexibility, and along with the flattering high-rise cut, they have a wide elastic waistband for added comfort.

The quick-drying fabric and mesh ventilation panel on the back of the waist also mean they’ll never leave you drenched in sweat. “They’re breathable, which is great because I often overheat when I am logging miles, so these keep me at a nice body temperature,” adds Frazier.

3. Most comfortable and versatile running leggings: Nike Pro Women’s Tights

A super versatile option, the Nike Pro Fit tights are not only a top choice for running, but for other types of activity as well. Former NCAA Track & Field athlete Brittani Cotton recommends these and calls them her “tried and true, constant classic” pair of leggings. While they’re not compression tights, they still offer light control and, most importantly, they’re super comfortable. “You get the simultaneous feeling of control with the freedom of feeling like you’re wearing nothing,” says Cotton.

Nike Women's Pro Tights

4. Best compression leggings for recovery: 2XU Women's Elite MCS Compression Tights

If you’re recovering from an injury or just want to give your joints some extra TLC during runs, compression leggings like these popular compression tights by 2XU are your best choice.

“The compression keeps the ‘fast-twitch’ muscle responsive, which encourages controlled mobility and calf flexion,” Cotton tells Health, adding that “the structure of the tights are great for speed work and training.”

2XU Women's Elite MCS Compression Tights

Aside from the targeted compression capabilities, these leggings are made with a lightweight, flexible, and moisture-wicking fabric that also boasts a UPF rating of 50 meaning it’ll protect your skin from UV rays.

5. Best reflective leggings for night runs: Nike Epic Lux Flash

Lastly, Nike’s Epic Lux Flash leggings come recommended by two runners. They’re a great option for staying safe while running in the dark because the reflective stripes will make you visible to drivers. 

“It’s often dark out for many of my morning runs, and since I run near a lot of cars here in New York City, visibility is extra important,” says Klein. “The waistband pocket is also a plus it’s just the right size for a phone, and it actually doesn’t bounce.”

Nike Women's Epic Lux Flash Running Tights

Frazier also calls this pair one of her favorites. “I love pants with big pockets, and the side one is big enough to stash my smartphone and enough GUs (energy gels) to get me through a 20-mile run,” Frazier says. “And they are tight and fitted without being restrictive.” These leggings are also available in a quick-drying form that’s made with extra effective sweat-wicking fabric.