Girl on skateboard in leggings in California

The Very Best Leggings for Travel

Let us sing the praises of leggings! A perfect pair can fulfill at least a half-dozen travel needs, making them a multitasking essential. They can be worn under dresses or skirts for extra coverage, layered under pants for more warmth, and used as bottoms for long international flights. They’re comfy enough for lounging, stretchy enough for yoga, and while some claim it’s a fashion faux pas, the bold can straight-up wear them as pants. But not all leggings are created equal. Some are too slouchy, see-through, or saggy after just a few washes. But these ones? They’re up to the challenge of becoming your go-to packing pair.

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Reliable Activewear Leggings: Zella

From karate-kicking to downward dogs to running for your gate—these super-durable leggings are made with active women in mind. Created by the sportswear line Zella, they get top marks from over 5,000 reviewers on Nordstrom who find that they wear equally well during a variety of activities (including napping). Key features include moisture-wicking fabric, hardwearing flatlock seams that don’t chafe, and a flattering super-wide, high-rise waist.

$54 at Nordstrom

Inexpensive, All-Purpose Leggings: C9 Champion

Looking for a pair of tried and true leggings you can reach for again and again? Go for a pair of C9 Everyday High-Waisted Leggings from Target. The trusted sportswear brand Champion created affordable performance leggings in a stretchy fabric (hello, 12% spandex) that actually stays in place, but lets you bend and move around with ease. A small miracle, they stay in place without digging in to your skin. These hard working leggings hold up through multiple wears, so you can focus on running (a marathon or to get an iced coffee) and not on whether your leggings are see through. 

$24.99 at Target

Sleek Cold-Weather Leggings: UNIQLO

Baby, it’s cold outside! For days when the wind-chill is hovering around Arctic Circle levels (or just feels that way), UNIQLO offers a super-affordable option that uses pile-lining and the brand’s much-touted “Heattech” technology to keep wearers toasty. The science? Super-soft rayon fabric wicks away moisture and essentially converts that into heat—or something. The upshot? These leggings bring the warmth without the bulk, making them ideal for layering in the fall or winter. They're machine washable and available in great neutrals, too.

$15 at UNIQLO

High-Style Hipster Leggings

A darling of fashion editors everywhere, the recreation brand Outdoor Voices offers a stylish take on the typical pair of leggings. Its swooshing inseam cuts up across the thigh and gives a flattering wrap-around on the backside, while its compression fit lifts and holds everything in place. But these aren't all looks and no substance: sweat-wicking fabric means you can bust a move in these, and a discreet waistband pocket is big enough to hold essentials, like a hotel keycard and ID. Tip: These run a bit small, so size up!

$75 at Nordstrom
Women's Cuddl Duds Stretch Fleece Leggings

Ultra Cozy Leggings: Cuddl Duds

Pajama pant meets spandex in these astoundingly soft fleece leggings from Cuddl Duds, a brand known for making super-cozy cold-weather apparel. Reviewers use them for everything from a plush base layer to lazy Sunday loungewear. They hold up in the wash and are available in a selection of base neutral colors, along with a few fun patterns and colors. (Snowflake print, anyone?) Plus there's an added bonus that’s absent from other leggings—a hidden pull at the waist to reduce slouch.


Old-School Classic Leggings: GAP

These are the Goldilocks of leggings: They’re not too thin, not too thick. They’ve got an easy mid-rise waist that isn’t too low or high. Plus the waistband is narrow, but not too narrow. They’re truly classic, trusty, old-school leggings coming from a classic brand—the GAP. The material also avoids extremes; it’s a super-comfy jersey-knit rayon-spandex blend that’s stretchy, soft, and avoids any trendy mesh panels or other bothersome froufrou.  

$30 at Gap

Secret Pant Leggings: UNIQLO

The perfect decoy. These leggings are made for those sightseeing days when you feel obligated to wear pants. (Boo to that!) Earning superb reviews from UNIQLO customers, these faux pants are perfectly soft and stretchy. They feature classic denim-style seams, but there’s no actual a front zipper or front pockets. However, the back pockets and belt loops are legit, giving a bit of functional flair.

$20 at UNIQLO

First-Class Velvet Leggings: Eileen Fisher

Who says leggings can't be upscale? This velvety pair would be right at home in the first class cabin, parked next to a flute of Champagne. With plush, upscale fabric, these leggings look more "night at the opera" than "Zumba class." Top it off with a floaty silk tunic and add polished mules for a look that's both comfortable and refined. 

$138 at Eileen Fisher
old navy Maternity Full-Panel Leggings

Maternity Leggings: Old Navy

Traveling while pregnant is hard enough, why subject yourself to pants? These are your classic leggings reconfigured to accommodate second and third trimester tummies. Reviewers rave about their construction for their softness, stretch, and sleek fit over growing baby bumps. They’re made with a moisture-wicking cotton blend fabric, feature a secure elastic band and stretchy panel, and—best of all—they’re supremely cheap.


Shapewear-Inspired Leggings: Spanx

Consider this an Instagram filter for your lower half. Yes, these leggings are a bit pricey, but their sucks-everything-in construction means you’re smoothed over, from your belly button to your kneecaps. And thankfully, the cut is still comfy and breathable, just hugging in any jiggly parts. Its waistband-free top means there’s no pinching, and the anti-microbial fabric finish means you can wear them on an overnight flight without fretting they’ll be funky.

$88 at Spanx

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