After looking at over 60 different models and brands, we chose the 13 best yoga pants you can buy in 2019 for our side-by-side tests. While yoga pants are often worn for casual wear or even as a fashion statement, we wanted to find out which ones worked best on the mat. We wore them to a variety of classes, including flow and heated sessions, and paid close attention to the little details. After over 100+ hours of yoga, we rated them on some key factors. We've compiled all of our findings below and have some great recommendations for you, whether you need a pair for the hot room or just for lounging around the house.
The Best Yoga Pants of 2019
|Price||$81.95 at Backcountry|
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|$56.00 at Amazon||$39.83 at Amazon|
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|$25.99 at Amazon||$93.95 at Amazon|
|Pros||Comfortable, supportive, easy to move in, contoured high waist with no elastic||Lightweight, breathable, many colorful design options||Breathable material, lots of sizes and styles available||Lightweight, breathable, easy to move in, inexpensive||Great fit and style.|
|Cons||Decent breathability but not good for heated classes||Fabric is slippery if not wet, little support or structure||Waist tends to ride down, tight on the calves||Fabric is a little stiff compared to others, durability issues in preivous pairs||Over the heel cut not for everyone, expensive, prone to pilling.|
|Bottom Line||A comfortable and stylish pair that looks and feels great on.||Great for hot yoga or anyone who sweats a lot.||A classic capri that you can use for a variety of activities.||A good pant for the price that will make you question whether the $90 pairs are really worth it.||Unique style and look that's better for teaching class than practicing.|
|Rating Categories||High-Waisted Airbrush||Onzie Capri||Prana Pillar Capri||High Waist Powerflex||Alo Goddess Ribbed Legging|
|Ease Of Movement (25%)|
|Comfort And Fit (20%)|
|Specs||High-Waisted Airbrush||Onzie Capri||Prana Pillar Capri||High Waist Powerflex||Alo Goddess Ribbed Legging|
|Material||87% polyester, 13% spandex||82% polyester, 18 spandex||88% Supplex nylon, 12% spandex||87% Nylon, 13% Spandex||Top: 87% Nylon, 13% Spandex Bottom: 90% Nylon, 10% spandex|
|Features||Wide waistband, anti-microbial fabric||Swimsuit-like material||Extended sizing available||Moisture wicking, 4-way stretch fabric||Over the heel cut, two different materials/colors|
Alo Yoga High-Waisted Airbrush
The Alo Yoga High-Waisted Airbrush legging is a new addition to our line-up this year and it turned out to be our favorite pair! They are stretchy and moved well no matter what pose we were contorting ourselves into. We particularly loved 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 great shaping without feeling too constricting — it's a perfect balance!The Airbrush legging wasn't the most breathable pair in the test group, so check out the Onzie Capri below if you need something for heated classes. 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, our Editors' Choice winner won't disappoint.
Read review: Alo Yoga High-Waisted Airbrush
Best Bang for the Buck
90 Degree by Reflex High Waist Powerflex
The 90 Degree by Reflex High Waist Powerflex are a special pair of leggings, offering great performance at a reasonable price. If you think it's ridiculous to spend so much money 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 have had this happen in previous pairs. Just keep that in mind if you like to keep your leggings for a long time. 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
Top Pick for Hot Yoga
If you like your yoga hot with a side of steamy, you'll want to have a look at the Onzie Capri. Made with a thin swimsuit-like material that instantly wicks your sweat away, the leggings feel soft and silky and will keep you from overheating when the furnace is cranking. They're our favorite thing to wear in a heated class, as the material doesn't show sweat and is quick-drying. They're comfortable and easy to move in, and most importantly, not see-through!
The thin fabric doesn't provide much compressibility or support, so if you like your leggings to suck everything in and hold it there, these might not be for you. They work just as well for non-heated classes, but the slick material can make some arm balances more challenging. They're available in a full-length legging, in case you prefer that style to a shorter capri, and they come in a variety of fun prints. They are also reasonably priced compared to the expensive brands, which is a nice break for your wallet.
Read review: Onzie Capri
Top Pick for All-Day Comfort
Beyond Yoga Spacedye High-Waist
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 Spacedye High-Waist 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 Spacedye.
Read review: Beyond Yoga Spacedye High-Waist
Top Pick for Tummy Control
The North Face Perfect Core High-Rise
While Spanx-like support is helpful from a visual perspective, it's not always the best option for exercise, and we found these pants constricting and uncomfortable. We had trouble breathing deeply in this pair, and couldn't wait to get them off after class. But for those who want or need that extra support, the trade-off might be worth it. Note that these are similar but not exactly the same as the old Lucy Perfect Core pant, as Lucy was recently bought out by The North Face. The are also only available in a legging at the moment and in "standard" sizes, so those who need more sizing options should check out the Prana Pillar line below.
Read review: The North Face Perfect Core High-Rise
Great Size and Style Availability
Prana Pillar Capri
Prana release the Pillar line of yoga wear in 2018, and they are making it in a wide assortment of styles and sizes. From capris to leggings to pants, and options up to 3X, Prana has you covered! They also have some print options in the leggings and capris, should you want a little more flair on the mat, and Short, Regular and Tall inseam availability in the pant version, should you be on the taller or shorter side.
We did have some fit issues with this pair though. The waist would stretch out on us during the day and start to sag, while the opening at the calf was narrow and felt constricting. It feels a little odd to have something be too tight in one spot but too loose in the other! Otherwise, they are a solid pair and a great option for those who need more sizing options.
Read review: prAna Pillar Capri
Why You Should Trust Us
This review is brought to you by OutdoorGearLab contributor Cam McKenzie Ring. She is no stranger to the restorative and beneficial effects of yoga. These days, when she is not on the mat, you can find Cam in the sandstone landscape around Las Vegas with her two boys. She's also a five-year veteran of Yosemite Search and Rescue and an accomplished, 20 year rock climber with El Cap big wall routes on her resume.
The market research necessary to start this review entailed an initial pool of over 60 different models of yoga pant. From this first cut, we selected 13 of the most promising to test side-by-side. Next, we got together a group of long time yoga practitioners and teachers to do a varied series of poses in each pair. Additionally, we paid special attention to breathability and durability and devised special test protocols for each. Breathability was examined during a series of vinyasa classes, in which the pants were checked for moisture retention. 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 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. 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 greatly. Have you ever wondered if there is actually a difference between the cheapest and most expensive pairs, or are we 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. As you can see from the chart below, we had inexpensive pairs, like the 90 Degree by Reflex, score high, while expensive ones, like The North Face Perfect Core fair much worse. More often than not though, we didn't like too many of the cheaper models out there, so keep that in mind when shopping for a bargain.
Breathability 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. The chart below shows the ranking of each pant in this metric.
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.
As you can see, the Onzie Capri, Teeki Hot Pant, and 90 Degree by Reflex Power Flex 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, Beyond Yoga Spacedye, and The North Face Perfect Core. 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 dark gray color that we tested the Soybu pants in also changed significantly when wet. This 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.
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 is the Onzie Capri; 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 Breathability, 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 certain design features impeded our movement. In many cases, it was an extra feature which 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.
Our Editors' Choice winner, the Alo Yoga Airbrush, is one of the highest scores in this category. The Airbrush leggings are stretchy and have a slight texture to them to aid in traction. 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 pair is the one you don't notice!
We also liked the movement we got out of the Teeki Hot Pant, the stretchy Yogalicious Ultra-Soft, and the 90 Degree by Reflex Powerflex.
While some models, like the Lululemon Wunder Under, felt a bit more constricting, the material on that pair did aid us a bit in arm balances, unlike the slick Onzie Capri fabric.
The model that scored the worst in this category is The North Face Perfect Core. It's a high-waisted design with extra compression panels in the midsection, but all that extra material interferes with forward bends and twists. And while the Beyond Yoga Spacedye legging moved well when dry, as soon as the material got sweaty, it clung to us and moved poorly.
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 the 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 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 Beyond Yoga Spacedye legging. It has a high waist with only a thin elastic band at the top that doesn't bite into your waist too much. The material is extra-soft and we loved wearing this pair all day long.
The material on the Alo Yoga Airbrush is also nice enough for all-day wear, and that pair has no elastic at the top, should that bother you. We also like the Alo Goddess Ribbed Legging. It has medium compression in the top section, keeping everything nicely sucked in without feeling too constricting, and the bottom ribbed fabric is 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.
The pairs that didn't score well in this category are either too compressive or have weird features that interfered with our comfort. For example, The North Face Perfect Core leggings have a tummy-control panel that helps support and shape your midsection (see photo below on the left), but it feels confining and it's hard to wear them for more than an hour or two. The Yogalicious Ultra-Soft are made with a soft material, but it has a thick elastic band at the waist that dug into us. We also had some fit issues with the Prana Pillar Capri. The waist is a little loose, but the leg opening for our calves is very tight. Finally, the Teeki Hot Pant 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 TNF Perfect Core, but instead, it's very uncomfortable, because every time we bend over, there is no structure to hold our tummy in, and the waist keeps sliding down on us in class (see photo below on the right).
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. Check out this chart to see which pairs we judged to be the most durable.
While the Prana Pillar is a new addition to this review, it's made with Prana's "Chakara" fabric, of which we have multiple pairs. This fabric is particularly resistant to pilling, and we have some pants that are several years old that still look great with little to no pills. 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 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. Also, 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 of pairs: the Alo Goddess Ribbed Legging and The North Face Perfect Core. The last time we tested the 90 Degree by Reflex Powerflex we had some seams unraveling right away, but this time around we didn't have any issues.
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 Alo Yoga Airbrush, 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, 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. Here are our Style ratings for each pair.
The Under Armour Mirror Boot Cut has attractive seaming details on the waist and legs, but it only comes 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 Prana Pillar Capri, but sometimes that's all you want from your workout gear. Here are some side-by-side photo comparisons of the different models in our updated review.
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. Many thanks to Martina Zandonella of Martina Zando Photography for the beautiful images in this review.
— Cam McKenzie Ring