Condé Nast Traveler

It was an infatuation born out of necessity. While traveling in Rome this past spring, I excitedly woke up in the wee hours to attend an exclusive tour of the Vatican Museums with its head key keeper as he turned on the buildings’ lights. I slipped on a dress and reached into my Away suitcase to grab my tights, only to realize I forgot to pack them.

Panicking, I was faced with the choice of exposing my legs to the April chill, or completely changing outfits. Time was ticking, so I slipped back on the Lululemon leggings that I had just been wearing in bed and ran out the door. Though I felt self-conscious about wearing running leggings under a dress, I figured at least they’d get me through the morning cold and I could take them off when I got there. Spoiler: I never did.

While I’d always thought of them as my exercise pants, I soon realized that these lightweight Nulux fabric leggings—the Lululemon Fast and Free High-Rise tights—were much more versatile than that.

I originally brought them on trips because they were so thin that I could easily roll them up and stuff them in a corner, making them an efficient pair of travel pajama pants. But when I realized how low and deep the two side pockets are, I started wearing them on flight days, too—they gave me a secure spot to slip my passport and phone into, and I always knew my essentials were with me because I could feel them against my thighs.

Soon I became attached to those extra pockets on sightseeing days, too, since they could hold tickets, brochures, maps, hair ties, KN95 masks, and other items that I needed quick access to. They also work with all kinds of outfits: I paired them with a New Balance half zip to kayak in Bend, Oregon, an H&M Conscious Choice button-down to sightsee in Amsterdam, and a flannel and puffy equestrian jacket when biking in Valencia.

Lululemon Fast and Free high-rise tights

As they are technically designed for running, the high-rise pants feel like a silky second skin, with four-way stretch that moves with you, but added Lycra fiber to help retain its shape. That means there’s no riding up in the wrong places or loosening waistbands—the pants simply serve as another protective layer, moving in every direction you do. Though I haven’t had to use it, there’s also an inner drawstring to ensure a snug fit, and I recently discovered five drop-in pockets on the waistband available to tuck more essentials into. 

While there’s no doubt I’ve sweat in them during more active adventures (as well as running from Terminal A to Z during a one-hour layover in Frankfurt), they still feel fresh after days of wear. After all, they’re breathable, quick-drying, and sweat-wicking. Even after I accidentally spilled some beer in my lap, there were no signs of stain or smell after a few minutes. 

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