Best Yoga Pants of 2021
|Price||$98 List||$79.00 at Backcountry|
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|$65.56 at Backcountry|
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|$65.50 at Amazon|
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|$22.99 at Amazon|
|Pros||Buttery soft, easy to move in, great color options and fit, comfortable, breathable||Compressive, shaping, stylish, and durable||Comfortable, supportive, easy to move in, contoured high waist with no elastic||Durable, look great on, comfortable material, breathable, capri fit||Lightweight, breathable, easy to move in, inexpensive|
|Cons||Needs delicate care||A little tight, thick, could be more breathable||Decent breathability but not the best for heated classes||A little tight around the waist, not much variety in style and color||Fabric is a little stiff compared to others, durability issues in previous pairs|
|Bottom Line||Soft and comfortable for various athletic activities, we love their breathability, ease of movement, and color options||A compressive all-around tight that's great for most activities, but doesn't breathe well for a heated yoga class||Great for most types of yoga classes plus they look and feel great on||Performs well for most yoga classes and is a great addition to the closet||An inexpensive pair that works well for a variety of styles|
|Rating Categories||Lululemon Align II||Patagonia Centered Tights||High-Waisted Airbrush||Transform High-Waisted Capri||High Waist Powerflex|
|Ease Of Movement (25%)|
|Comfort And Fit (25%)|
|Specs||Lululemon Align II||Patagonia Centered...||High-Waisted...||Transform...||High Waist Powerflex|
|Material||80% nylon, 20% Lycra||85% Recycled polyester, 15% Spandex jersey||87% Polyester, 13% Spandex||88% Supplex nylon, 12% Lycra||87% Nylon, 13% Spandex|
|Features||Comfortable waistband that lies flat against skin, naked sensation, hidden pocket in waistband, high waisted||Recycled material, flattering wide waistband with 1/2 inch elastic band, soft thread in seems for skin to skin comfort, key pocket||Wide waistband, anti-microbial fabric||Wide waistband, double layer powermesh inset panels in waist for max support, triangle gusseted crotch, high waist||Moisture wicking, 4-way stretch fabric|
Best Overall Yoga Pants
Lululemon Align II
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 very versatile yoga 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 very breathable for hot yoga or hot days. These leggings are available in an array of colors, styles, and sizes. If you're looking for a new pair of high-waisted leggings, this pair won't disappoint.
Read review: Lululemon Align II
Best for Contouring and Support
Alo Yoga High-Waisted Airbrush
The Alo Yoga High-Waisted Airbrush leggings are stretchy and moves well no matter what pose we contort ourselves into. 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.
Read review: Alo Yoga High-Waisted Airbrush
Best Bang for the Buck
Amazon Core 10 Build Your Own
Amazon Core 10 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 little pilling between our legs where we saw wear on every other pant, which is a pretty incredible feate. 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 do not dry quickly if they become wet from sweat.
Read review: Amazon Core 10 Build Your Own
Excellent for Gentle Yoga
Beyond Yoga Spacedye Caught in the Midi High Waisted
If you're like us, your closet confirms that you live in yoga pants. Some are for around the house or as pajamas, some are "outside" pairs for hiking, climbing, or running errands, and some are for actually practicing yoga. Owning a pair (or more) that is comfortable enough 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 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. This makes 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 to wear under a dress or sweater, you'll thank us after trying out the Beyond Yoga.
Read review: Beyond Yoga High Waisted Midi
Budget Pick for Basic Performance
90 Degree by Reflex High Waist Powerflex
The 90 Degree by Reflex High Waist Powerflex is a special pair of leggings, offering great performance at a reasonable price. If you think it's ridiculous to spend an arm and a leg on something that you wear to work out in, the Powerflex leggings are your new best friend. For a fraction of that, you get a lightweight pair with great breathability and ease of movement. Why spend more?
There are a few downsides to this pair. The material is stretchy but not particularly 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 testing 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!
Read review: 90 Degree by Reflex High Waist Powerflex
Why You Should Trust Us
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 that time. She started practicing yoga as a form of exercise but quickly became present to the emotional and mental benefits. Having suffered from anxiety and depression, yoga became an 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. From this first cut, we selected 14 of the most promising to test side-by-side. Next, we put together a group of long-time yoga practitioners and teachers to conduct a different series of poses in each pair. We also paid special attention to breathability and durability and devised unique test protocols for each.
Breathability was examined during a series of vinyasa classes in hot and cool temperatures, in which the pants were checked 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, and at least ten wash and wear cycles.
Related: How We Tested Yoga Pants
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, regular yoga practitioners need several pairs in their closet, so we also want something 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 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.
Related: Buying Advice for Yoga Pants
The price of a pair of yoga pants can vary; have you ever wondered if there is actually a difference between the cheapest and most expensive pairs, or if we're simply 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. Keep that in mind when shopping for a bargain, and be sure to try (or order from a website that allows easy returns).
Breathability 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 embarrassing sweat stains.
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.
The Lululemon Align and Onzie Capri 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 Alo High Waisted Airbrush, Beyond Yoga, The North Face Perfect Core, and Amazon Core 10. These models were heavier, which kept us warm during class, and the material did not vent as well as other models of similar weight.
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 are wearing, but we wanted to note 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 after Savasana.
Ease of Movement
Along with breathability, ease of movement is one of the top considerations that we look for in athletic wear, particularly for this practice where at some point in our practice, we may 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 goals, 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 certain 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.
The Lululemon Align II is one of the highest scores in this category. The Align II leggings are stretchy and have a soft feeling to the fabric. Whether folding in, up, or down, we never felt impeded by this pair. 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!
A close runner up was the Alo High Waisted Airbrush leggings. These also earned top marks in ease of movement and were just edged out this year for our top award.
The models that scored the worst in this category are The North Face Perfect Core and ODODOS. The North Face and ODODOS were both designed to be incredibly tight and constricting, especially around the core. Not only was this uncomfortable, but it also impeded our practice and made 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! This felt like it impeded our movement in another way and had us continually adjusting and grabbing our pants to ensure we wouldn't moon anyone.
Comfort and Fit
Let's face it; some of us practically live in our yoga pants. We wear them to yoga, and 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.
The most comfortable pair in our test group is the Lululemon Align. It has a high waist with only a thick band at the top that doesn't bite into your waist. The material 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 because there was not enough compression we found ourselves pulling up our pants all day. When we did pull them up an embarrassing camel toe would appear. The Alo High Waisted Airbrush pants also ranked very high for comfort and had that all day comfy feel — maybe just a little less than the Lululemon Align and Beyond Yoga leggings.
The pairs that didn't score well in this category are either too compressive or have odd features that interfered 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), but 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 Waist which had extra fabric around the crotch area that would bunch up awkwardly and wasn't comfortable, to say the least.
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.
Pilling is the main culprit to the longevity of your clothes, as pills ruin the look of a garment and are more likely to happen in a well-made model before a seam tears or the material wears through, though we did have some issues with that as well! Pilling is a standard problem with yoga pants; the friction caused by our legs rubbing against themselves, the mat, or whatever other surfaces you may scrape, 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. Also, we typically wash our yoga pants after every use, and sometimes it is difficult to follow the care instructions perfectly, especially if you have a roommate that changes your laundry to be nice.
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. There was a very minimal amount of pilling noticed on the Amazon Core 10, and these pants had the easiest 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 is also important to consider. Thickness can determine how quickly you get small holes in the knees or the butt where you may 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 from just moving around the house.
Lastly, considering the strength of the seams is important to note on the pants we tried. With stretchy material, it is difficult 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 little holes where the ripping sounds came from.
We prefer to line dry our yoga pants and find this extends the lifespan. Especially if you have a more expensive pair!
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. Many thanks to Martina Zandonella of Martina Zando Photography for many of the beautiful images in this review.
— Bo Outland