best running leggings for women guide

Best Running Leggings For Women

Running leggings are one of the essential pieces of kit for runners, and they can perform many functions.  These functions include safety – ensuring visibility when running at night, compression – muscle and circulation support, contouring – to mimic body movements,  and moisture wicking. 

All running leggings should be flexible, durable, and breathable, and come in different leg lengths and waist heights. In this guide we are going to take a look at running leggings in more detail.

Are Running Tights The Same As Leggings?

Running tights and leggings are very similar, in that they both cover the legs and are a stretchy, often lycra-based material to allow movement for running, but they do they differ.

Running leggings are made of thick opaque material and can be capri, 3/ 4, 7/8  or full length.  The come in normal thickness or compression style which are tighter with specifically positioned seams to encourage blood flow to the muscles.

Running tights are lightweight and breathable and are designed to stretch and move with your body.  They are generally more translucent and so it is necessary to wear another layer over the top for modesty.  Running tights often come with an under-foot strap to hold them down. They are also suitable for acting as a base layer by adding layers on top in cold weather.

What Is The Difference Between Winter And Summer Leggings?

As you would imagine summer running tights are lighter in weight than those designed for winter.  Both will be breathable and flexible, however tights designed for winter will be denser and possibly lined to provide greater insulation. against the elements.  This is obviously not just important for comfort but to keep muscles warm in order to perform at their best.

You would expect summer weight leggings to be finer, moisture wicking and breathable, to ensure you keep cool when its hot.  Mesh panels often feature for increased airflow.

What Is The Difference Between High Waisted And Midrise Leggings?

Many brands feature high waisted running leggings currently as this style seems to be very popular.  High waisted styles tend to come up to above the belly button, the benefit being they keep ‘everything in’ and feel very secure.  

Midrise tights tend to come to just below the belly button.  Many people prefer this style as they feel too restricted in high rise styles.  This is all down to personal preference, and you can only really work out which style is for you once you have tried both.

What Is The Difference Between Capri And 7/8 Leggings?

Capri length running leggings come to just below the knee.  7/8 leggings finish just above the ankle.  Both styles are in fashion, although the choice can be affected by the person’s height or body shape as 7/8 leggings do elongate the legs slightly more.

The other consideration is comfort; capri length leggings are cooler as you are less covered up, however some people prefer the look of 7/8 length.  These still allow a bit of air onto the bottom part of your legs.

What Do The Terms Seamless, Knitted & Contour Shaping Mean?

Seamless – this doesn’t mean ‘no seams’ it just means less seams.  This style is achieved by using a fabric that is knitted in a circular fashion before it is cut and stitched together. The advantage being that there will be less rubbing / chafing and weak points when the fabric is in use and under stress.

Knitted – woven stretchy material, giving the most amount of stretch and flexibility, for a distraction free workout.

Contour shaping – these are engineered to mimic your body’s movements.  They will be shaped around the waist, thighs and knees, so they allow the most amount of movement and support without restriction.

What Are Compression Tights?

Compression tights give more than just added warmth.  They provide runner’s legs with support and a ‘squeeze’ to the leg muscles, namely the quads, hamstrings and glutes. 

Research suggests that endurance is optimized when an athlete wears compression garments. The theory is that compression tights give a controlled amount of pressure to improve the rate of oxygenated blood going to your muscles and deoxygenated blood going back to the heart; this can reduce lactic acid build-up.

What Should You Look For In A Pair Of Running Leggings?

When choosing a pair of running leggings, it can feel overwhelming and confusing as there is such a choice available. What is helpful therefore is to really think about what you personally want to use them for, and when you will be running in them.  

For example, if you regularly run before or after work in the dark it is a good idea to look for running leggings that have reflective strips or lines on them so that you are visible to traffic.  If you need to keep your keys on you whilst running, tights with a zipped pocket in the back would be a good choice.

If you are struggling with muscle recovery after your runs, it may be worth trying compression leggings to see if they help.

The climate or season in which you are buying the running leggings for is also a factor, a capri or 7/8 length would be a better choice for runs in the spring or summer, and full length tights (as a base layer with additional layers on top) would be sensible for winter.

In no particular order, we are going to cover some of our favourite running tights:

  • Brave Active Jodie Leggings
  • Adidas By Stella McCartney Truestrength Leggings
  • Reebok Running Printed Leggings
  • Nike Fast Mid-Rise Crop Running Leggings
  • Next Active Sports Sculpture Leggings
  • GymShark Speed Leggings
  • Lululemon Base Pace High-Rise Crop 23
  • SweatyBetty Therma Running Leggings
  • Brave Active Siouxsie Leggings


brave active jodie leggings
  • Tummy control and contoured back
  • Affordable price
  • 6 colours to choose from
  • Excellent value
  • No zips
  • No compression support

The Brave Active Jodie Leggings are incredibly comfortable, they have a flexible design combined with contouring for a flattering fit.

Suitable for working out, running or just hanging out with friends in and available in 6 on-trend colours so you can combine style with functionality.  

The seamless design of the Brave Active Jodie Leggings means there is no chance of rubbing or chafing whilst in motion.

The elasticated high-waist style means they will not fall down and come in 5 sizes ranging from extra-small to extra-large.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Brave Active Jodie Leggings



adidas by stella mccartney truestrength leggings

  • Moisture absorbing AEROREADY technology
  • Sustainable - made of recycling materials
  • Elastic waist
  • Only 3 colours available
  • Higher price point
  • Delicate to wash - recommend cold cycle
  • Expensive

These Adidas ‘True Strength’ running leggings by Stella McCartney have many credentials, they are not only engineered to keep you dry when you dial up the intensity, but they are also good for the environment!

Made using at least 60% recycled materials you will rest easy knowing that you are working out whilst doing your bit for the environment.

Contoured around the thighs for maximum movement, and available in red, blue and black in high waisted design, these running tights certainly don’t sacrifice functionality over style.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Adidas By Stella McCartney Truestrength Leggings



reebok printed leggings
  • Pockets for keys
  • Reflective pattern in low light
  • Mesh panels and speedwick technology to keep you cool
  • Made from 30% recycled materials
  • Only 2 colours available
  • Delicate to wash - recommend cold cycle

Specifically designed for running, these leggings have a lot of great features.

The mesh panels and Speedwick technology means that perspiration will be wicked away, and you will remain comfortable and dry on even the most demanding runs. These leggings also comes with a handy pocket for keys which is a nice addition.

Not only is the pattern attractive and a nice change from the many plain offerings on the market, but it also doubles up as a safety feature; being reflective in low light.

Made from polyester and elastane makes for a fitted fit, with the added bonus of sustainability – the materials are 30% recycled.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Reebok Printed Leggings



nike fast mid-rise crop running leggings
  • Zipped pockets
  • Available in 7 sizes
  • Dri-Fit technology to move sweat away from your body
  • Sizes come up small
  • Seams less durable than others
  • Thinner less supportive materials with no contouring

These cropped running leggings use Nike’s tried and tested keep cool technology: Dri-Fit, as well as mesh panels behind the knees for extra air-flow. 

There is a great range of sizes available in this style, as well as 3 colours. 

These leggings give back to the environment too – they are made from at least 50% recycled polyester fibres.

A zipped back pocket will keep your keys secure and elasticated and drawstring waist keeps them in place.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Nike Fast Mid-Rise Crop Running Leggings



next active sports sculpting leggings
  • Available in mid-rise or high waist options
  • Great price
  • Moisture wicking fabric
  • Over 15 styles & colours
  • No contouring
  • No pockets
  • Come up small for size for some

These running leggings are really affordable and come in a huge range of colours and styles.

Fashionable as well as functional they have a moderate compression functionality, giving you support while you work out.  Suitable for gym work and running.

The material has moisture wicking properties to keep you feeling your best and they come in different leg lengths and waist heights so they really will fit any body shape.

Some of testers noted they do come up slightly small for size.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Next Active Sports Sculpting Leggings



nike epic luxe mid-rise trail running leggings
  • Water resistant fabric
  • Elastic key loop in waistband and pockets
  • Made from 75% recycled materials
  • Expensive
  • Only available in 1 colour - black

Primarily designed for trail running, these leggings have a whole load of features that will make running in the wilderness in British weather much more comfortable.

They have oodles of storage; a drop in pocket, zipped back pocket and elastic key loop in the waistband. 

The Nike Epic Luxe trail running leggings are full length leg with a mid-rise waist style.

The major design feature of these leggings is that they are made from water resistant fabric meaning your legs will stay dry and warm even in the wettest weather.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Nike Epic Luxe Mid-Rise Trail Running Leggings



gymshark speed leggings
  • Compression fit for extra support
  • Pocket in waistband
  • Great value
  • Only 2 colours available
  • No contouring

These leggings are designed for running, they are smooth and seamless, meaning there are no distractions or potential to rub when using them on endurance runs or sprint training.  

They have a compression fit, so that key muscle areas are supported to boost performance and aid recovery.

The high and wide waistband gives added core support and ensures these leggings stay in place.

There is a pocket at the back to store valuables such as your keys.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Gymshark Speed Leggings



lululemon base pace high-rise crop leggigns
  • Back pocket
  • No Inseam
  • 8 colours to choose from
  • Higher price point
  • Delicate to wash - recommended cold cycle

Designed for running, these leggings are 7/8 length in a smooth and lightweight fabric.

A back pocket and continuous waist drawcord mean you can securely carry your valuables with you and they will stay in place. No inseam means there is no chance of rubbing even on the longest runs,

Nulux fabric feels sleek and cool to the touch, and is quick drying and sweat wicking meaning on really hot days you can push yourself that extra mile and still stay comfortable.

Engineered with 4-way stretch, giving a flattering and supportive feel.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Lululemon Base Pace High-Rise Crop Leggings



sweatybetty therma running leggings
  • Available in 7/8 and full length
  • Reflective for visibility at night
  • Water resistant finish
  • Expensive
  • Only available in green

These leggings are suitable for workouts in the gym as well as running.

Due to their water-resistant qualities, they are also very insulating so will do a great job at keeping your muscles warm on cold outdoor runs.

Side and back pockets allow valuables to be kept secure and safe.

Reflective dots on the outside legs make these running leggings perfect for running at dawn or dusk.

Users report they are extremely warm and stay up well despite them being thicker.

Made from 77% recycled materials, these running leggings will keep your sustainability conscience clear too! 

>>> Check The Latest Price Of SweatyBetty Therma Running Leggings



brave active siouxsie leggings
  • Contoured, seamless design
  • Exceptional value
  • Keep cool fabric including mesh panels
  • 2 colour options
  • One length available

These ¾ length leggings are incredibly comfortable and lightweight making them perfect for working out or going for a run on the hottest of days.  

Breathable soft touch fabric combines with mesh on the thighs and calf areas to contour the body, and flatter the figure.  One of the key features of these leggings is the high waist, meaning that they don’t move.

The price of these leggings is really great too and represents real value for money. Available in dusty pink or grey.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Brave Active Siouxsie Leggings



If you have any questions you would like to ask about running leggings, please ask below in the comments.

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