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Our team of yogis has now tested over 40 of the best yoga pants in the last eight years. We bought 13 top models for this update and gathered several longtime yoga teachers and practitioners as expert testers. We practiced our flow in each pair, including forward bends, arm balances, and sun salutations. We spent more than 200 hours testing, looking at how each pair fit for various body types and how they performed in comfort, breathability, style, ease of movement, and durability. What emerged are detailed ratings on the best right yoga pants for wearing on the mat or just hanging around at home.
The beauty of yoga is that you don't need a lot of fancy gear to practice; you simply need to set aside some time to spend on your favorite yoga mat. If you are just starting, some props like a strap and yoga blocks can offer extra stability until you gain more flexibility, but they are not necessary. Many dedicated runners and bikers also love yoga as rest day activity and feel that it can bring balance to an intense training routine.
Editor's Note: This review was updated on March 20, 2022, to offer more insight into our extensive yoga pant testing process. We also updated each individual gear review with more comparison information.
Thin elastic waistband that stays in place without squeezing
REASONS TO AVOID
Not super durable
The Lululemon Align II legging is our favorite pair! They are stretchy and moved well no matter what pose we were contorting ourselves. They also proved to be a highly versatile pant that is great for yoga and any other activity you want, including boot camp or a casual day at work (or work from home).
We particularly love the high-waist, with just a simple, v-shaped elastic band that made our toosh look extra good, and we never felt squeezed or impeded in our practice. The material offers excellent shaping without feeling too constricting; it's a perfect balance! The Align II legging is also breathable for hot yoga or hot days. These leggings are available in various colors, styles, and sizes. If you're looking for a new pair of high-waisted leggings, this pair won't disappoint.
No elastic in the high waist, but they still stay up
REASONS TO AVOID
Breathability is just okay
The Alo Yoga High-Waisted Airbrush leggings are stretchy and move well no matter what pose is up next. We particularly love the high-waist on this pair; other manufacturers rely on an elastic band to stay up, but having that around your tummy is not always comfortable. This pair stays up all by itself, and we never found ourselves needing to re-adjust it mid-class. We also appreciated the contouring and support that they provide. The material offers excellent shaping without feeling too constricting; it's a perfect balance!
The Airbrush legging wasn't the most breathable pair in the test group. We also didn't particularly like the look of the "glossy" material on some colorways, but it is available in more matte-like finishes. If you're looking for a new pair of high-waisted leggings, this pair is a great option.
Material: 88% polyester, 12% spandex | Features: Available in different lengths
REASONS TO BUY
Warm for winter activities
REASONS TO AVOID
Sometimes too warm
Falls during running and HIIT
Amazon Core 10 Build Your Own exceeded our expectations when we first tried them on; we loved how they fit on our bodies. They provide a perfect balance between compression and comfort, making them great for yoga and other outdoor activity. They are one of the most durable pants we tried. We put them through the wringer, dragging them on rocks and rubbing our knees on our mats, and there is no sign of wear after testing; not even a slight pilling between our legs where we saw wear on every other pant, which is a pretty incredible feat. Coming in at such a reasonable price tag, this is astounding!
Their biggest downfall was breathability; we found they were boiling, and because they are not moisture-wicking, they take a while to dry after they become wet from sweat.
If you're like us, your closet confirms that you live in yoga pants. Some pairs are for around the house, some are "outside" pairs for hiking, climbing, or running errands, and some are for practicing yoga. Owning a couple of comfortable enough sets for all-day wear is essential. Some models might hold everything in and make your tush look ohm-mazing, but if you can't even sit down in them comfortably, then what is the point? The Beyond Yoga Spacedye Caught in the Midi High Waisted is our favorite pair for those lounge-around-the-house days. The material is soft, cozy, and stretchy while still compressing key areas. The high-waist is comfortable and stays in place without digging into you.
The downside to the soft material is that it is not breathable, and once wet, they dry slowly, making them ill-suited to most strenuous yoga classes, though they still work well for Yin. If you are looking for a pair of leggings for lounging or wearing under a dress or sweater, you'll thank us after trying out Beyond Yoga.
The 90 Degree by Reflex High Waist Powerflex is a unique pair of leggings, offering outstanding performance at a reasonable price. If you think it's ridiculous to spend an arm and a leg on something you wear to work out in, the Powerflex leggings are your new best friend. You get a lightweight pair with excellent breathability and ease of movement for a fraction of that. Why spend more?
There are a few downsides to this pair. The material is stretchy but not exceptionally soft or comfortable. While the pair that we tested this time around seemed well-made and we didn't have any unraveling seams, we experienced this while trying previous pairs; something to keep in mind if you like to keep your leggings for a long time (along with the price point). If you go through multiple pairs of leggings a year, though, then this might be the perfect pair for you, as you can buy three for the price of one "designer" pair!
This review is brought to you by OutdoorGearLab contributor Bo Outland. Bo has had a consistent yoga practice for over a decade and has been a full-time yoga teacher for almost half of that time. She started practicing yoga as a form of exercise but quickly became aware of the emotional and mental benefits. Having suffered from anxiety and depression, yoga became her essential coping tool. The yoga mat allows her to practice using breath, Drishti (focused gaze), and Bondahs (body strength and awareness) to calm down during firey poses. This practice in a controlled, safe space created new habits, skill sets, and tools to utilize in her daily life.
The market research necessary to start this review entailed an initial pool of over 60 different models of yoga pants. We selected the most promising styles to test side-by-side from this first cut, and in this iteration, we include 13 different options. Next, we put together a group of long-time yoga practitioners and teachers to attempt a series of poses in each pair. We also paid special attention to breathability and durability and devised unique test protocols to compare styles.
Our testing of yoga pants is divided across four rating metrics:
Breathability tests (25% of overall score weighting)
Ease of Movement tests (25% weighting)
Comfort and Fit tests (25% weighting)
Durability tests (25% weighting)
Breathability, ease of movement, and comfort were all examined during a series of vinyasa classes in hot and cool temperatures, in which we checked the pants for moisture retention. We also conducted testing while running, climbing, and participating in HIIT classes. Durability was examined over months of use in a variety of activities, such as wear around the house, hikes, and walks. We made sure each pair made it through at least ten wash and wear cycles.
Analysis and Test Results
Finding the right pair of yoga pants for your needs, the style you practice, and your body type is a difficult challenge. We want to wear something that fits well, doesn't impede our movements, wicks away our sweat, makes our booties look good, and is not see-through!
On top of that, a regular yoga practitioner probably needs several pairs in their closet, so we also value affordable and durable products. That's a tall order to fulfill! The truth is, you might never find that one perfect pair that's best for everything, as the right option for a heated yoga class or running is different than that for a gentle Yin class or skiing. However, some considerations make selecting the right pair easier, from what activities you do primarily to your own body's proportions. Keep reading below to see how the different models we tested fared in our side-by-comparison tests and what to look for when shopping on a budget.
The price of a pair of yoga pants can vary; have you ever wondered if there is a difference between the cheapest and most expensive pairs or if we're paying for the logo? The answer is yes, and also probably yes. We tested a variety of cheap "no-name" brands and ones from the most well-known labels in yoga apparel today. The classic "higher-end" brands often performed better than the inexpensive pairs off Amazon, but not always.
Testing revealed that inexpensive pairs, like the Amazon Core 10 scored high, while expensive ones, like Beyond Yoga Caught in the Midi, did not earn as high of marks. More often than not, we didn't like too many of the cheaper models out there. When shopping for a bargain, keep that in mind, and be sure to try (or order from a website that allows easy returns).
Breathability accounts for 25% of the overall scores. It is a combination of a few things: the weight of the material, which affects how hot you become, the ability to vent your perspiration or wicking, and the drying time. A final "cosmetic" consideration is how the material changes in color when wet. Some materials barely register a difference, and others leave you with noticeable sweat stains.
We wore each pair multiple times to the same yoga room for the same vinyasa class over several months when testing for breathability. The temperature in the room was consistent. While there might have been slight differences in our perspiration output daily, by doing the same level of vigorous practice, we got a great sense of how the various pairs fared in this category. We noted how we felt at the end of our practice, what the pants looked like, the sweat on the pants, and any color changes.
The Lululemon Align and Onzie High Rise Capri earned top marks in this category. They ventilated so well that by the end of class, we had barely worked up a sweat, and we hardly noticed where there was any moisture accumulation. It's no surprise that these were also the lightest weight pairs in this review. The thinner material in these models prevented us from getting too hot in the first place and also allowed our moisture to evaporate away.
On the other side of the scale are the Alo High Waisted Airbrush, Beyond Yoga, The North Face Perfect Core High-Rise, and Amazon Core 10. These models are heavier, which kept us warmer during class, and the materials do not vent as well as other models of similar weight.
Be wary when purchasing pants in any color but black. If you haven't worn them before, you may not know how the material's color changes until after you sweat. While some colors, patterns, and materials don't show much moisture, we learned the hard way that others do.
We then wore our top performers for breathability to heated yoga and pilates classes to see how they fared in extreme conditions: a 105F room with 40% humidity. In this type of class, we are typically soaked through with sweat by the 20-minute mark regardless of what we wear, but we noted whether the material retained moisture or let it evaporate.
The Alo High Waisted Airbrush felt fairly breathable in our initial tests, but in a heated room, the fabric turned clammy and constricting. We got wet and stayed wet. The standout for this portion of our tests is the Lululemon Align; the ultra-thin fabric wicked our sweat away, did not show any change in color when wet, and was so quick to dry that we felt almost completely dry again and the end of Savasana.
Ease of Movement
Along with breathability, ease of movement is one of the top considerations that we look for in athletic wear, and it has a 25% weighting in the overall scores. It is particularly important for yoga because, at some point, you will likely contort yourself into all manner of pretzel-like configurations on the mat. Some poses take years to master, and you never want to find yourself close to attaining your goals, only to be limited by your clothing.
For this category, we considered how well we could move and stretch in each pair and whether specific design features impeded our movement. In many cases, it was an extra feature that hindered movement that resulted in a lower score for a pair; on the whole, we found the synthetic nylon/spandex materials to be relatively equal in their ability to stretch and move with us.
Again, the Lululemon Align II is one of the highest scorers in this category, followed closely by the Patagonia Centered Tights. The Align II leggings are stretchy and have a soft feeling fabric. We never felt impeded by this pair, whether folding in, up or down. Of all the models in this review, this is the one that never had us cursing our pants mid-class. Sometimes the best pairs are the ones you don't notice. The Patagonia tights are slightly tighter and more supportive, but not so tight that we felt restricted.
A close runner-up is the Alo High Waisted Airbrush leggings. These also earned top marks in ease of movement and were one of our favorites for regular wear.
The models that scored the worst in this category are The North Face Perfect Core and ODODOS Dual Pocket. The North Face and ODODOS are designed to shape, which translates into incredibly tight and constricting, especially around the core. Not only can this be uncomfortable, but it also impedes our practice and make even a simple forward fold uncomfortable.
On the other hand, the Amazon Core 10 was loose and constantly fell down our waist, threatening to expose our bare bottoms to the rest of the yoga class and requiring constant readjustment. We felt that this impeded our movement in another way and had us continually grabbing our pants to ensure we didn't moon the rest of the class.
Comfort and Fit
Comfort accounts for 25% of these products' overall scores because, let's face it, some of us practically live in our yoga pants. We wear them to yoga, then to the gym, maybe with a long sweater to work and running errands on the weekend… we even write gear reviews in them.
When it comes to comfort and fit, we're looking for something that performs well in the studio and beyond. Can we leave this pair on all day without feeling too confined or wind up with a bunch of marks on our skin from excessive seaming? While the ideal pair has a compressive material that sucks everything in and offers some lift, we also don't want to feel too constricted, particularly when it comes to all-day wear and comfort.
Some of the most comfortable pairs in our test group are the Lululemon Align and the Alo High-Waisted Airbrush. They both have a high waist with only a thick band at the top that doesn't bite into your abdomen. The material on the Align is extra-soft, and we loved wearing this pair all day long.
The material on the Beyond Yoga Caught in the Midi is also comfortable enough for all-day wear, but we found ourselves pulling up our pants all day because there was not enough compression. When we did pull them up, an embarrassing camel toe would appear.
The pairs that didn't score well in this category are either too compressive or have odd features that interfere with our comfort. For example, the ODODOS leggings have a tummy-control panel that helps support and shape your midsection (see photo below on the left). Still, it feels confining and creates a muffin-top on our waist, making them difficult to wear for more than an hour or two. We also had some fit issues with the Hofi High Waisted, which had extra fabric around the crotch area that would bunch up awkwardly and wasn't comfortable.
In judging this feature, we evaluated how the different models held up during our recent three-month testing period and also compared the fabric to older versions from our testers' closets. This metric has a weighting of 25% in the overall scores of each product.
Pilling is the main culprit in the visible wear on your clothes, as pills ruin the look of a garment and are most likely the first sign of wear in a well-made model, appearing before seam tears or worn material. Pilling is a common problem with yoga pants; the friction caused by our legs rubbing against themselves, the mat, or whatever other surfaces you may scrape causes the formation of tiny balls or pills. These pills tend to hang on to synthetic fabrics more than natural ones, as the fibers are stronger and less likely to break. Also, we typically wash our yoga pants after every use. Most manufacturers recommend a cold wash and line dry, but this doesn't always happen, especially if you have a roommate/partner/parent that changes your laundry to be nice but isn't aware of special washing instructions.
During our three-month testing period, we noticed pill formation on most of the pairs we tried; specifically on the Alo High Waisted Airbrush, The North Face Perfect Core, 90 Degree by Reflex Powerflex, ODODOS, and Beyond Yoga Caught in the Midi. We noticed a very minimal amount of pilling on the Amazon Core 10, and these pants had the most straightforward care instructions of all the pants we tried. We threw them into the dryer many times and saw hardly any pilling anywhere.
The thickness of the fabric also influences overall longevity. Thickness can determine how quickly you get small holes in the knees or the butt where you most frequently encounter rough surfaces. Considering thickness is particularly important if you participate in activities like climbing, where your knees may scrape against rough rocks. The Beyond Yoga pants performed the worst in the category because we got a small hole in the knee just from moving around the house.
Lastly, considering the strength of the seams is important to note on the pants we tried. It isn't easy to create seams that stretch with the fabric without ripping. We noticed that with 90 Degree Relex the first time we tried them on, we heard a loud ripping sound from the seams. Later we noticed small holes forming where the threads were torn.
It is true that we ask a lot of our yoga pants. We want them to be able to wick away our sweat, stretch and bend with our bodies, hold up class after class, and look good through it all. Many factors go into finding the perfect pair, and we hope that our side-by-side comparisons have helped narrow down the selection for you, and you can choose a pair that you feel great in. Many thanks to Martina Zandonella of Martina Zando Photography for many of the beautiful images in this review.
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