While today’s top athleisure brands debut beautiful new legging styles on the regular, the bottom line is that many of us can’t justify spending the equivalent of a week’s worth of groceries on a pair of stretchy black pants.
When on the hunt for wallet-friendly leggings, the question quickly becomes, “Where can I find a style that doesn’t make a dent in my finances, yet still stands tall in terms of quality?” Finding a pair priced under $30 is magical—as long as your savings aren’t accompanied by regret-worthy compromises in factors like multidimensional stretch, non-sheer fabric, material and shape integrity, and simple aesthetics.
Best Leggings Under $30
Searching for the perfect pair of budget-friendly leggings is definitely a balancing act. You want to feel supported in the gym and out on the town now (not after months of saving!), but don’t want to make a poor purchasing decision that results in you tossing your recently purchased leggings in the trash and spending additional money on another pair.
I rounded up five affordable workout leggings and put them through the ringer. I carefully considered each pants’ fit, material, breathability, and style as I sported them in and outside of the gym and yoga studio, and even on long travel days. Although the prices of these budget leggings were fairly similar, there was one victor that won by a landslide. Continue reading for a thorough guide that will help you navigate the industry of reasonably-priced leggings.
Please note that at the time of this writing, the following leggings were all priced under $30.
C9 Embrace High Waist Leggings
Unfortunately, the two pairs of C9 leggings that I tested underperformed in a variety of categories. While I’ve owned a C9 legging or two in the past, these two in particular have a quality that reflects the price tag—meaning you get what you pay for and aren’t going to be surprised by any luxury or special touches.
Although I attempted to rock these for a full day of wear, I ended up taking them off after a few hours. While C9 touts these leggings’ ultra compression, moisture-wicking technology, and hugging fit, the legging fell short in each of these areas.
Priced under $30 and outrageously accessible for anyone within close proximity to a Target, this legging will be your go-to for last-minute binds. I’ve been the woman stranded on a weekend getaway without a pair of leggings and desperate for a quick sweat sesh. When that’s the case, the C9 Embrace High Waist Legging will get the job done.
As mentioned, this pair lacks some of the key attributes I was looking forward to after reading their official description. Instead of offering genuine compression, any tightness in the legging seemed to be the result of a lack of stretch and the cottony material felt stiff throughout my time wearing these leggings.
Although C9 claims that this legging will hug you in all the right places, I noticed significantly less shape after only half a day of wear. Readjusting the waistband became a regular occurrence as the hours wore on.
The thin material is also prone to pilling, clinging, and attracting dog hair. Despite the thin fabric, there was still a complete absence of sweat-wicking properties. Instead, I felt clammy as the sweat from my short circuit lingered in crevices I’d rather not be thinking about while trying to work out.
C9 Freedom High Waist Leggings
The Freedom High Waist C9 leggings weren’t well distinguished from the Embrace leggings. In fact, I confused the two pairs on multiple occasions. That being said, my review of the Freedom High Waisted Legging is nearly identical.
As we’ve covered, this pair will work well if you’re in a pinch. The one quality that sets the Freedom apart from the Embrace is its waistband. Hugging my torso along my belly button, I was pleased with the increased comfort of the higher rise (but only when considering it in light of the mid-rise of its sister pair).
I hoped—I truly did—for the four-way stretch technology conducive to weightlifting and yoga; yet I didn’t find it here. Because of this lack of flexibility, the material was see-through at the bottom of my squats. With the inclusion of the cons listed for the Embrace leggings—all of which also apply to the Freedom—this sheerness was the determining factor for me: the C9 Freedom definitely isn’t a budget staple.
90 Degree by Reflex Capri
The 90 Degree by Reflex Capri’s material was nearly identical to that of the C9 leggings, but this pair was far more sheer. It took nothing more than a glance in the mirror to notice that any bending would result in a clear view of my undergarments.
With the lacking integrity and underwhelming technology of the fabric, these wouldn’t be suitable for exercise; but I did find them moderately comfortable for lounging around the house, which is a plus, right?
The capri length was tailored well to the calf, and the pocket in the waistband could potentially be used for a small wad of cash or a few loose keys. The thin fabric would be ideal for a quiet summer night spent tucked away on a deck with a good book.
Because of the poor quality, this legging doesn’t offer any real versatility. If any moving or bending is required, this is certainly not the pair to throw on. The material has a soft, brushed finish which also makes it prone to pilling and clinging. Similar to the previous C9 pairs discussed, I foresee this legging losing its fit and color after a few laundry cycles. In my experience, early signs of wear seem to be inevitable.
Because the legging lost shape throughout the day, I found myself hiking up the waistband far too often. While this certainly wouldn’t be an issue if the day involved nothing more than peaceful lounging, I wouldn’t recommend wearing these leggings for a full day of activities.
7Goals Cyber X Mesh Legging
Alas, we have a pair of budget-friendly leggings that offers celebration-worthy quality, far exceeding the expectations of the price tag! I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort, cute aesthetic, and versatility of this legging. The Cyber X Mesh Legging by 7Goals offers many perks that I once believed were only offered by higher priced brands.
The mesh detailing along the legs creates a fun look perfect for a warm yoga flow or weekend date at the park. The x-band along the waistline was something I had never seen before. Although I was admittedly uncertain when first trying the pair on, it took me nothing more than a few seconds to fall in love. The wrapping along the torso accentuated my waistline and seemed to add a bit more of an hourglass shape to my unabashed squareness.
In addition to the aesthetic features, the fabric itself was also of higher quality. It wasn’t see-through in the slightest. Although cotton leggings often take on a shine when they’re stretched along the glutes and thighs, this pair didn’t exhibit that issue! Cue a major sigh of relief.
7Goals has perfected the balance of stretch, compression, and comfort. I gladly sported these for the entire day (and let’s be honest, maybe a few consecutive days). If nobody you know saw you wear them, did you really?
The meshing was also comfortable, and surprisingly the flexibility of the fabric around those areas didn’t take a hit. The addition actually added to the breathability of the pant. $30 for all of these perks?! Unbelievable.
The fabric required to create the x-band around the Cyber X Mesh Legging’s extra-high waist did result in a bit of bunching. While this isn’t an issue when pairing the leggings with a sports bra or crop top, there could potentially be an issue when paired with “standard” shirts for a comfy, athleisure look.
Old Navy High Rise Compression Leggings
This pair slid in as a clear runner-up, although it does land considerably behind the 7Goals Cyber X Mesh Legging. The Old Navy High Rise Compression Leggings represent a significant step up from the quality of the first three pairs of leggings discussed.
That being said, the overall lack of comfort would keep me from adding another pair of the Old Navy High Rise Compression Leggings to my wardrobe. When all I want is a pair of stretchy black bottoms, these leggings felt like nothing more than two-way stretch.
For the price, this pair does provide you with the necessities. These workout leggings don’t flaunt any overtly athletic features, meaning they could easily be worn with everyday attire.
The waistband fit snugly across my abdomen, hitting just above my belly button. It stayed in place throughout my morning of easy stretching and dog walking. No wiggling or readjusting required.
The legging had pretty minimal compression, although it did feel better than both the C9 and 90 Degree by Reflex pairs. Unfortunately, this still wasn’t enough to maintain the integrity of the leggings’ shape throughout a long day of wear. The thin material also had a sheen that accompanied the cottony, brushed fabric.
The fabric is also prone to signs of wear, clinging, and pilling—all of which seems to be standard for budget-friendly leggings, but are still worth noting.