This article is part of our series battle of brandswhere we compare category-leading products to similar products to determine which ones are really worth the money.
Amid the explosion in self-care — from yoga and Pilates to meditation — and the pandemic-induced work-from-home, women are wearing leggings longer and more often than ever. So we’ve gotten a lot smarter about which leggings are really worth investing in. Fit, comfort, design and style are a must, as are branding and cost.
Lululemon’s Align pants have become a cult favorite in recent years, thanks to their “buttery-soft” fabric making it easy to decide to wear them 24/7 and a fit that hugs the body Not tight or saggy. Need proof? The pants have more than 20,000 comments and the #Lululemonalign hashtag on Instagram has more than 9,000 posts, ranging from the influencer’s workout videos and try-on sessions to mobile street snaps. While it’s hard for reviewers to find fault with the Align, price can be high on the “cons” list—usually between $98 and $128 per pair.
Colorfulkoala’s Buttery Soft high-waisted yoga pants are equally popular on Amazon, with a whopping 46,000 positive reviews—hundreds of them loving the pants for alignment—and many more (a lot of) are even cheaper at $23 a pair.
What’s so good about these leggings, which we’ve dubbed the best workout leggings? They’re soft and body-hugging, flattering almost your curves from waist to ankle. Next is the fabric. The material, called Nulu, is super soft, sweat-wicking and has four-way stretch. You can wear these pants – whether you’re doing hot yoga or jumping in and out of the car to run errands.
Our pick for the best budget leggings of the year, the Colorfulkoalas come in over 40 colors and are just as soft as Lululemon for a lot less.
Lululemon’s Align and Colorfulkoala’s Buttery Soft are both super popular pants designed for yoga. The main selling point of both options is the super soft fabric they’re made of.
Align is made from the brand’s proprietary “Nulu” fabric, which is a combination of nylon and Lycra that’s sweat-wicking, stretchy, and, as I’ve mentioned multiple times, buttery soft. I’ve been a big fan of the Align for years and can attest that these leggings are perfect for low-impact activities like Pilates or yoga—and they’re so comfortable (and flattering) that I’m wearing them in the morning. Work out in them all day long. Unlike other yoga pants, the Align fabric doesn’t constrict, pinch, or squeeze your body, but instead skims over your shape without any muffin-like situations.
I also tested the Buttery Soft pants from Colorfulkoala and I can say that the nylon/spandex fabric is the closest I’ve seen to Nulu’s softness, but it’s not as soft as the Align and they’re shiny. I don’t mind the gloss at all, but the Align leggings definitely have a softer matte texture. Interestingly, the Colorfulkoala pants are brushed on the inside, and that texture is almost exactly the same as Align—so they do feel the same on the inside of the leggings, but on the outside they’re shinier.
Given Align’s matte texture, fabrics may be prone to picking up lint or stray hairs, which are more noticeable in darker colors and patterns. However, I didn’t experience this with the Colorfulkoala leggings because the slight sheen of the fabric doesn’t attract debris.
More about the fabric: Align’s Nulu fabric is completely opaque. Maybe it has something to do with the brand’s “see-through pants scandal” a decade ago, but you’ll never see someone’s panties on a downward-facing dog if they’re wearing Align. Now, Lululemon is also adding a double liner in its lighter shades to triple down on coverage (and thus make the leggings feel thicker and more comfortable). In addition to underwear, fabric density can also conceal other parts (read: cellulite, tummy tuck, etc.) that you might want to hide.
Colorfulkoala’s coverage is different. I tried the leggings in shades of black and lavender, and while the black covered me, the pink was very sheer. I actually wore Pilates pants and felt overexposed for most of the class. Not only because my underwear line is visible, but also those details that I don’t want to show off – the pants are so thin, especially in light colors, you can see your butt, legs and over. I do appreciate that the waistband is lined, it provides great tummy control.
Design-wise, the two pants are nearly identical, with the flat, exposed seams cut in exactly the same way. I didn’t experience any pair sagging or drooping—both stayed put all day. The Align waistband is a bit wider and 3/8″ longer than the Colorfulkoala pants, so it provides more belly coverage. The Align Tights also have a hidden belt pocket for keys, cash or credit cards, which is a thoughtful detail.
The Lululemon Align and Colorfulkoala High Rise Yoga Pants are comfortable to wear all day long. I’m in no rush to take off either pair after a workout, which is a good sign! While they’re not all the same fabric, they’re all super soft, and considering they’re designed so similarly, they fit the same way, framing your curves rather than pinching or pinching them. Yes, the pair of Colorfulkoala is relatively thin, which affects the coverage, but it does not affect the comfort at all.
Lululemon Align High Rise Pants
Colorfulkoala Butter Soft High Rise Yoga Pants
0 to 20
XS to XL
17″, 21″, 23″, 25″, 28″, 31″
25″, 28″, “full length”
80% nylon, 20% Lycra
80% nylon, 20% spandex
Machine wash cold, line dry
Machine wash and dry
Lululemon’s Align leggings are definitely worth the investment. Yes, you can buy four or five pairs of Colorfulkoala pants for each Align pair, but Align’s quality far exceeds the competition. I’m writing this story wearing a pair of Align leggings from five years ago and they look and fit like brand new – the ROI is justified.
At the end of the day, I cannot endorse Colorfulkoala’s inconsistent reporting. While the black pair does offer opacity, the fabric is still thinner than Align’s Nulu, which makes me feel more vulnerable, especially when I’m doing squats and lunges on the reformer. The Align fabric is bulletproof in terms of coverage and makes me feel more confident wearing them. As a mother of four in my 40s, it’s worth it.
However, if you’re on a budget, the Colorfulkoala is a great legging, but I’d recommend sticking to darker colors and patterns to play it safe.