The Best Yoga Pants Review
What is the best pair of yoga pants for your practice? If you've ever found yourself deeply contemplating this question during your Final Savasana, or cursing your current pair because they were too tight/loose/heavy/see-through, wonder no more! We put ten of the most popular and highest rated models through our side-by-side comparison testing process to help you find the best pair for you, no matter what style you practice. We stretched and sweated in them for months, noting all the different characteristics that made us like them, or not. We wore them to heated classes, vigorous Vinyasa classes, gentle Yin classes, Pilates mat and Reformer classes, and even around the house, because let's face it, we love to live in yoga pants. Then we rated the different models on their Breathability, Ease of Movement, Comfort & Fit, Durability and Style. Keep reading below to see how the different pairs fared in our tests and to figure out which model is the right one for you, whether you're a seasoned Yogi or new to the practice.
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Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
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 derrières look good, and is not see-through! On top of that, regular yoga practitioners need several pairs in their closet, so we also want something that's affordable and durable. 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 is different than that for a gentle Yin class. However, there are considerations that make selecting the right pair easier, from what style you practice to your own body's proportions. We go into greater depths as to what kinds of yoga pants are suited to different styles of yoga in our Buying Advice Guide. Keep reading to see what various types of yoga pants are out there and how the different models we tested fared in our side-by-comparison tests.
There are many different types out there, from the cut and style to the kind of materials used. We've broken these different types down in some basic categories to help explain what features we discuss in this review.
Straight or Flared leg vs Leggings
For many Yogis this is the fundamental start of determining which pair you are going to buy. Just as some people prefer apples over oranges or tea over coffee, this too is a basic preference determined by your body shape and style of yoga. Some people think their legs look weird or short in leggings, and prefer the look of straight cut or flared legs. Others prefer the feel of leggings during strenuous classes as there is less material flapping around. Still others like to practice in leggings but wear flared legs when running errands or lounging around the house. While you've probably already made up your mind as to which way your preferences lie, we do feel like there are some good points to both options, and we have many of each style in our quiver of yoga pants. We chose a variety of styles for this review, and tested three boot cut/flared leg and four leggings. However, many of the models that we chose are also available in a different cut, which is good news for all of us!
Full Length vs Capri
We also included three capri length models in this review. Capris typically end somewhere below the knee to mid-calf, or around a 19-20 inch inseam. Again, whether you prefer to practice in a long pant vs a capri or even a short is usually a matter of personal preference, as well as the climate you live in and the type of yoga you practice. Hot yoga practitioners typically wear as little as possible in their heated studios, whereas you're probably not leaving your house in shorts or capris in the middle of winter in the Northeast. All of the capri models that we tested are available in a full-length legging.
Materials used: Cotton vs Synthetic
A final and important distinction to make is the different types of fabric that your yoga pants are made of. While we go into greater detail about the different materials used in our Buying Advice Guide, we wanted to note here the main difference between cotton and synthetic. Cotton is a "natural" fiber from the cotton plant, and synthetic fibers are an oil-based product derived from plastic polymers. These two materials have many different properties, including melting points (keep your synthetic clothing away from open flames!), comfort and feel, as well as "eco" qualities. But the most important property when it comes to clothing that you sweat in is absorbency. As synthetic fibers are derived from oil they are naturally hydrophobic (they do not like water), and are not as absorbent as cotton. Cotton is very absorbent, and this material retains more water than a synthetic one. Some manufacturers blend cotton with synthetics to try and get the best of both worlds, but in our experience and testing process we discovered that this is not always a successful choice. For this reason, we purposefully did not include any cotton-blend pants in our review this year.
Unless you'll be doing the gentlest of gentle yoga classes and don't anticipate sweating one drop, we'd go for models made with all synthetic material over a cotton or cotton-poly blend.
Breathability in a pair of yoga pants is a combination of three things: the weight of the material, which affects how hot you get, 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 embarrassing sweat stains, but more on that in a minute. When testing for breathability, we wore each pair multiple times to the same yoga room for the same type of yoga class (Vinyasa) over several months. The temperature in the room was consistent, and while there might have been slight differences in perspiration output on a day to day basis, 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 amount of perspiration on the pant, and the change in color, if any.
In this portion of our testing process, there were some clear winners from a breathability standpoint, and some clear losers. The Onzie Capri Pant, 90 Degree by Reflex Power Flex, and Teeki Hot Pant all 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 then 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. The clear failures when it came to breathability were the Soybu Killer Caboose Pant and Lucy Perfect Core Pant. These models were heavier, which kept us warmer during class, and the material did not vent as well as other models of similar weight. The Prana Audrey was fairly breathable, though the dark gray color that we tested them and the Soybu pants in changed significantly when wet. This situation was both shocking and embarrassing, and had us questioning if we had a sweating problem. Our tests of the other pants confirmed that this was not a "normal" situation, and that these models just did a very poor job in this category.
Be wary when purchasing pants in any color but black. You won't know how the color of the material changes until after you sweat in it. 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 105 F 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 are wearing, but we wanted to note whether the material retained moisture or let it evaporate. The Lululemon Wunder Under Crop III 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 was the Onzie Capri Pant; 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 after Final Savasana.
Ease of Movement
Along with Breathabilty, Ease of Movement is one of the top considerations that we look for in athletic wear, particularly for this practice where, if we try hard and long enough, we contort ourselves into all manner of pretzel-like configurations. Some poses take years to master, and you never want to find yourself close to attaining your goal pose only to be limited by your clothing. For this category, we not only considered how well we could move and stretch in each pair, but also whether there were certain design features that impeded our movement in any way. In many cases, it was an extra feature which impeded movement that resulted in a lower score for a pair; on the whole we found the synthetic nylon/spandex materials to be fairly equal in their ability to stretch and move with us.
The model that scored the worst in this category was the Lucy Perfect Core Pant. It's a high-waisted model with extra compression panels in the midsection, but all that extra material interferes with forward bends. The flared leg also interferes with more difficult arm balances where you need to cross at the ankles, and the extra material flaps around and is a distraction. We also took some points off the Onzie Capri Pant, as the material is slippery when dry (traction improves with moisture), which also makes some poses, like Bakasana (Crow Pose), more challenging. And while the Beyond Yoga Spacedye Long Legging moved well when dry, as soon as the material got sweaty it clung to us and didn't move as well.
The model that scored the highest this category was the Lucy Studio Hatha Capri Legging. These leggings are stretchy and have a slight texture to them to aid in traction. Of all the models in this review, this was the one that never had us cursing our pants mid-class. Sometimes the best pair is the one you don't notice! We also liked the way the 90 Degree by Reflex Power Flex and Teeki Hot Pant moved as well.
Comfort & Fit
Let's face it – some of us practically live in our yoga pants. We wear them to yoga, and then to the gym, and running errands on a weekend … we even write gear reviews in them! So when it comes to comfort and fit, we are looking for something that works 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 skin marks 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. For example, the Lululemon Wunder Under Crop III that we tested in the "Full-on Luon" fabric had great compression, but these leggings were hard to even get on and we couldn't wait to take them off after class. They may have made our behind look good, but if we don't feel comfortable as well then it's not worth it. We also found the Lucy Perfect Core Pant very uncomfortable, and while the tummy-control panel helps support and shape that area, it also feels confining and it's hard to wear them for more than an hour or two.
We also had some fit issues with the Teeki Hot Pant and the 90 Degree by Reflex Power Flex pant. The Teeki has no elastic in the waistband, just a doubled up layer of the main fabric of the pant. You think that would make it more comfortable, particularly when compared to the excessively tight Lucy Perfect Core Pant, but instead it was very uncomfortable, because every time we bent over there was no structure to hold our tummy in. If you're young and fit, this might not be a problem for you, but once you've had a couple of kids or have any fat accumulation in that area, you want/need a little more support there! As for the 90 Degree, the waistband was cut a little wide and a little high for us, and didn't feel as comfortable as previous versions of this pant did.
Now for some good news. We loved the feel of the Beyond Yoga Spacedye Long Legging so much that we gave it a special Top Pick for All-Day Comfort award. This pair is cozy and soft, and you'll never want to take them off. We also like the Alo Goddess Ribbed Legging. It had medium compression in the top section, keeping everything nicely sucked in without feeling too constricting, and the bottom ribbed fabric was soft and cozy. The legging does extend over the heel though, which is not for everyone, but we liked that style and it wasn't a problem to practice with the material extending under our feet. Our Editors' Choice winner, the Lucy Studio Hatha Capri Legging, also had good Comfort & Fit, and probably our favorite waistband in this review. It was the perfect width and sat in the correct spot across our hips: too low and you'll be pulling up your pants all day (Lululemon Wunder Under); too high and it interferes with your yoga poses (Lucy Perfect Core).
In judging this feature we looked at how well the different models held up during our three-month testing period, and also compared the fabric to older versions from our testers' closets. While we didn't quite own every pair that we tested previously, between the lot of us we had many older versions of the models in this review. This is key in gauging the longevity and durability of a pair, as some materials pill faster than others. Pilling is the main culprit in determining longevity, as pills ruin the look of a garment and are more likely to happen before a seam tears or the material wears through – though we did have some issues with that as well! Pilling is a common issue with yoga pants; the friction caused by our legs rubbing against themselves or the mat helps cause 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. In addition, we typically wash our yoga pants after every use, and how many of us remember to turn them inside out or line dry them? For more on the prevention of pilling and overall care of synthetic materials, go check out our Buying Advice Guide.
During our three-month testing period, we noticed some pill formation on only a couple pairs: the Alo Goddess Ribbed Legging and the Lucy Perfect Core Pant. We also had some seam unravelling happen on the 90 Degree by Reflex Power Flex pant. On the positive side, the real stand-out was the Prana Audrey. Not only did we not see any pills or change in the material during our testing window, but we compared this new pair to a two year-old model that had been worn and washed at least 50 times. We could barely tell the difference between the two pairs. While no material lasts forever, Prana's "Chakara" fabric comes close.
This category is slightly more subjective than the others; however, we did poll a variety of ladies to get their opinions on the different styles we tested, and there were some consistent trends. We all loved the look of the Lululemon Wunder Under Crop III, and we were all dismayed by the print placement on the Teeki Hot Pant. Some of us loved the wild patterns of the Onzie Capri Pant, while some couldn't see themselves pulling off that look if they had to run into the grocery store after class or pick up the kids from school. The Lucy Perfect Core Pants look great on and have attractive seaming details on the waist and legs, but they only come in Black, and while it's nice to have one or two staple pairs in that color, it does limit our options a bit. There were many pairs that had fairly plain styling, like the Lucy Studio Hatha Capri Legging and the Beyond Yoga Spacedye Long Legging, but sometimes that's all you want from your workout gear. We all liked the style of the Alo Goddess Ribbed Legging, as it offered a fresh look with color blocking and a ballet style influence. When it comes to yoga fashion, there are as many color and pattern options out there as there are aphorisms in the Yoga Sutras. Don't let the latest trend intimidate you; pick what looks and feels most comfortable on you.
It is true that we want a lot from 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. Check out our Buying Advice Guide for more detailed considerations on what to look for, from the types of materials used to what works best for different styles.
— Cam McKenzie Ring
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