A PAIR of the best running leggings can help make your run even more enjoyable, maybe even make you a little faster or help you run further. We tried and tested the best in the market and came up with a list of our favourites.
We love running as a nation: approximately seven million of us in the UK head out at least twice a week for a run, whether you’re running for fun or you’re entering races competitively, the right kit can make all the difference.
A good pair of running leggings can make your jog much more comfortable and maybe keep you out longer or even help you beat your fastest times.
The best running leggings need to be made of fabric that’s breathable and wick sweat. They also need to be made from a stretchy material that moves with whatever speed and terrain you’re tackling (having a pocket for a key is a bonus, too!).
Other things to look out for are reflective fabrics which are good for those who like running very early in the morning or in the evening when there is low light. No matter what your run requires, we’ve rounded up the best running leggings to get you across the finish line…
Best running leggings at a glance:
- Best with pockets: Under Armour Run Anywhere
- Best high-waisted: Sweaty Betty
- Best all-weather: Gymshark
- Best for low light: Adidas
- Best value: Decathlon
- Kiprun Women’s Running Tights, £34.99 from Decathlon – buy here
Pros: Cheap, very comfortable, great fit, all the pockets!
Cons: Pockets could make the waistband heavy if you’re not used to it
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These medium-sized running tights were one of the biggest surprises we tried: despite being one of the cheapest pairs of leggings we tested, they came out as total winners.
The Kiprun tights are actually pretty technical: the fabric is lightweight but supportive, has built-in moisture management to keep sweat away from the skin, and it even has compression elements for better circulation.
The large adjustable waistband keeps the leggings in place even when all five pockets on it are full…yes, five pockets! This is one of the elements that makes the Kiprun tights perfect for outdoor running. There are four large mesh pockets that can fit a large phone or a small water bottle each (that’s two on the front of the waistband and two on the back).
Then there’s one large phone-sized zipped pocket on the front of the waistband, with a vertical zip slightly to an angle which made it much easier to access the phone than the horizontal zips on all the other leggings. The additional smaller pockets on the front work for gels, keys, cash and more.
All these pockets are a dream for long-distance runners and are one of the reasons these leggings quickly became some of our favourites (full pockets did take a little bit of getting used to, but you'll be fine after a couple of kilometres!).
To add to that, the leggings are incredibly soft to the touch and easy to get on and get off after a sweaty run. Small holes make up patterns along the outside of both legs and helped hugely with ventilation on runs, and a seamless finish on the ankles insures there’s no chafing or rubbing.
- Running Leggings, £42 from Gymshark – buy here
Pros: Good range of movement, reasonable price, good size pocket
Cons: Not much really!
These Gymshark running leggings were much easier to get on than the other Gymshark leggings in this review and the medium was a good fit for us.
The high-waisted tights feel supportive and the body contouring seams give a very flattering shape. The material is much thinner and has sweat-wicking tech to keep you cool and dry as well as reflective logos for running in low light.
A zipped pocket large enough for a phone and other small belongings sits on the back of the waistband and kept items very secure with no bounce during all the runs.
They were tested on an outdoor 5K and 10K run as well as interval sprints on the treadmill and the lightweight, stretchy fabric felt very comfortable on all runs.
There were no issues with them feeling sweaty and even after a particularly hard run in the rain, they were easy to get off. These leggings give some of the more expensive leggings a real erm…run for their money.
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- Under Armour Branded Waistband leggings, £25 at Very – buy here
Pros: Good colours, great easy-to-wear material, flexible movement while running, very cheap, good for other exercise, too
Cons: Not as technical as some running-specific leggings
These pretty running tights look fuss-free, but they actually tick a lot of boxes needed for an excellent pair of running leggings. The tights have anti-odour technology and are made from a super-light HeatGear® fabric designed to be cool and breathable, the quick-dry material wicks sweat away from the body and also features four-way stretch to allow a flexible run.
The leggings were so quick and easy to put on and take off and felt silky against the skin and super light during outdoor runs. We also tested them in an indoor HIIT class and they performed brilliantly.
The mesh elastic waistband made sure the leggings stayed in place through both burpees and 10K runs. There’s a deep drop-in pocket on the right-hand side which kept our phone secure on the runs. These leggings look no-nonsense but have everything you need for your run and are available in sizes XS-2XL.
- Swift Speed High-Rise Tight 28”, from £79at lululemon – buy here
Pros: Super comfortable during the run, well-placed pockets, longer length
Cons: On the pricey side
These lululemon leggings fit like a glove; they were super easy to pull on and off and the seamless, sweat-wicking Luxtreme™ fabric means they are low-friction and they really do feel barely there when running and there’s no chance of chafing.
There’s added Lycra for increased stretch, so there is absolutely no restriction during strides. The running tights come with reflective detailing, two large slide-in pockets on each leg and one zipped pocket on the waistband too, and they are longer in length than the other full-length leggings, so ideal for the taller runner.
These leggings performed really well during 5K, 10K and 15K runs – they stayed perfectly put, didn’t get too hot during warmer runs and the slick fabric gave the run a gliding-like feel. These are a well-made pair of technical running leggings.
- UA Run Anywhere Ankle Tights, £80 from Under Armour – buy here
Pros: Considered design, specifically for runners, great pocket options
Cons: Waist comes up small
These leggings have been specifically designed with the outdoor runner in mind and the Run Anywhere collection is all about being able to run with everything you need.
In the case of these leggings, it comes in the shape of a deep phone-sized pocket on each leg with a pocket flap over them for added security and another phone-sized, zipped pocket on the back of the high waistband to separate up your belongings so you can access as needed.
The leggings are ankle-length, but the mesh panels along the side of each leg and the sweat-wicking material makes them feel light and airy and helps with temperature control.
We really liked the look of these leggings, the colours are cool and they also have reflective details for when it’s low light outside. We found them very comfortable on both short and long runs, they cling to the legs and allow a lot of flexibility, and the pockets on the side were amazing for easy access when changing music on our phone.
The only downside is the waist did feel a little tight once on and also when we were trying to get them on and over the hips so we would recommend going up a size for even slightly curvier runners and those who suffer from bloating.At a size 10-12 we opted for medium but would probably go for a large next time and use the drawcord to adjust as needed.
- Zero Gravity High-Waisted Running Leggings, £95 from Sweaty Betty – buy here
Pros: Fit really well, good pockets, flexible, nice design
Cons: On the expensive side, but worth it if you can afford it
There wasn’t much to complain about when it came to these Sweaty Betty leggings: they are pretty much the perfect running leggings. From the ultra-lightweight quick-drying fabric, UV protective material, reflective strips for running in low light, compression technology to insure good circulation and even an added bum-sculpting design.
They are easy to pull on and take off, the high-waist is a comfortable fit with an adjustable waist drawstring, there’s a zipped back pocket that easily fits a phone and an equally big slide-in pocket on the left leg for easier access.
The run in these leggings was really good, the legs feel free to move without any restriction and the material feels soft but supportive and there was no bounce from the phone in either pocket.
The leggings are a little longer and cover the ankles which is my preference to those that sit just above the ankle, but they are ventilated enough not to feel hot even on a summer run. Generally, they are an excellent fit and didn’t need any adjusting during the run.
- Sweat Seamless Mesh Leggings, £60 from Gymshark – buy here
Pros: Very good fit, stretchy material makes quick strides easy
Cons: No pockets, waist felt a bit tight once on
These leggings were a bit of a mixed bag but we kept them in as they felt great to run in because of the four-way stretch design and performed equally well on cold and hot days, despite being made with a thicker material than most of the other leggings we tested.
The reason could be that this SWEAT collection is made with DYNMC technical fabric which heightens breathability to keep you cool throughout the run. The thick ribbed waistband also kept the leggings in place through everything from treadmill sprints to indoor hill runs.
We were sent a medium which was quite a squeeze as a size 10-12 to get on, so we would suggest going up a size, that would also be recommended for runners who suffer from bloating.
- Fast Impact Reflect At Night X-City Full-Length Running Leggings, £85 from adidas – buy here
Pros: Super soft and comfy, great fit, lots of good technical elements, specifically made with running in mind
Cons: Quite pricey
These leggings are a great fit: we were sent a small for our size 10-12 frame and they were easy to put on and take off.
The high waist and tie-up drawstrings meant that everything felt comfortable and secure. These are good hybrid leggings, great for indoor and outdoor running, but they really come into their own at night due to the reflective strips all over the leggings and glow-in-the-dark trims.
They were just as effective on a hot day due to the adidas AEROREADY tech that absorbs sweat and cools you down.
There’s a phone-size pocket on the right leg and a zipped (very snug) pocket on the back of the waistband and the tight fit ensures no bounce from your belongings whilst out for your run.
The leggings sit longer than the ankle and are like a second skin so provide an excellent range of movement. These are a well-thought-out technical legging made specifically for running and you can really tell on both short and long runs.
- CEP Reflective Tights, £99.95 from Amazon – buy here
Pros: Very comfortable, 360-degree reflection in low light, made for runners, water repellent
Cons: Too thick for Summer runs, expensive
These CEP leggings are designed specifically for the extremes: that means dark, cold nights where there’s a risk of rain. The CEP leggings feel thick and come with a plush-enhanced lining, heat and moisture management and are made with weather-resistant materials.
There’s also TIGHTFIT tech to increase comfort along with a roomy back pocket, meaning our phone sat lower on our back during runs and actually felt more comfortable there.
As we’ve hit the summer months, the leggings did feel quite warm on the run but they do have an element of compression which could help with evening recovery runs where you tend to run slower.
We were sent a small and we did have to squeeze past the hips, but, once on, the CEP leggings did fit well around the waist. They are a nice fit and helped with a comfortable stride both during outdoor and indoor runs.
- Skims Performance High-Wasted 7/8 Legging, £97 from Skims –buy here
Pros: So soft they feel like second skin, good movement for intervals
Cons: No pockets, expensive
The brand started out as a shapewear company and that definitely comes through with these Skims running leggings as they hug the legs, glutes and waist in all the right places.
The leggings also feature the brand’s circulation-improving SERES-5warp knit construction and are designed to contour the body and also support during the run.
Skims sent us a large size to test and although I thought they looked big, they actually fit like a glove. They were easy to put on and the soft fabric feels like a second skin, meaning there is great range of movement during the run.
There are no pockets, so I did prefer them for indoor runs, where they performed really well during intervals and a couple of 5K runs. The plain, flattering fit that sits on the ankle, is good enough to wear generally as lifestyle leggings too.
- Natal Active Luxe Maternity 7/8 Leggings, £55 from John Lewis – buy here
*Consult your doctor before exercising during and post-pregnancy.
Pros: Good design for pregnant runners and postpartum
Cons: Material is a bit thick for long runs
Being pregnant doesn’t mean you need to stop running if it’s already part of your exercise regime, you might need to eventually slow down or cut down the length of your run but a good pair of leggings could help prolong your running and also ensure that you’re comfortable.
Natal Active do a range of pre and postnatal training leggings including these Luxe Maternity ones, that our pregnant runner tried, and the Natal Active Swift Run Maternity Leggings.
Both come with deep slide-in pockets on each side which can easily fit a phone, the fabric is soft and comes with sweat-wick tech and a non-slip, soft, over-bump panel above the waistline kept the leggings secure during the run. That means the leggings will fit you through different stages of your pregnancy, including post-natal, when they can be worn as lifestyle leggings or for gentle post-natal exercise.
The low waistline that sits below the bump panel is also good for not irritating mums post-c-section. These leggings went down very well with our pregnant runner who tested on a few short runs of 20 minutes but felt they might be a bit thick for any longer outside on a sunny day.
- Seamless Universal Active Leggings, £40 from Up Clothing –buy here
Pros: Look great – could double up as loungewear, don’t need to be washed after every wear – no matter how sweaty, sustainable, very stretchy, can be used for various workouts
Cons: No pockets, not specifically for running
These Up Clothing leggings aren’t made specifically for running, but there are a number of reasons they made the list of best running leggings.
Firstly, they fit really well, the large waistband keeps everything in place even when doing hill runs or intervals and the four-way stretch material means there’s a huge amount of flexibility for the legs. Despite the stretchy material, they are quite thick, so they do take a minute to pull on but once on they look and feel flattering, helped by the body contouring features that run along the lower legs and the outer thighs and they also add a bit of compression to the tights.
One of the standout features is the tech featured in the fabric which includes Polygiene™ StayFresh technology that continuously breaks down bacteria to reduce odour and drirelease® that works by pushing perspiration and body odour out of the fabric and into the air. This means you don’t need to wash them after every wear but can dry them out and wear them again. This is perfect for runners who are going away and don’t want to back multiple exercise fits, it also saves water and is better for the environment.
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Sustainability is key to Up Clothing: the leggings are made from recycled materials and the company also practices fair trade with all their products made in Portugal by local craftspeople.
We tried these leggings on an outdoor run (we had to carry a phone armband as there are no pockets) and they performed well due to the amount of flexibility they allow the stride. They were also great for treadmill interval running and the gym in general.
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