These cooling leggings are the summer essential I never knew I needed

They're also made with UPF 40 for sun protection.
Jillian Ortiz / TODAY
By Jillian Ortiz

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Since March, I have happily been spending my days in leggings, sweatpants and practically every other bottom in my closet that has some kind of stretch to it. I honestly can’t remember the last time I put on a pair of “solid pants,” and I plan on keeping it that way — even over the summer.

So, instead of ditching my long pants for shorts, I started my hunt for comfortable leggings that I could wear throughout the next few months as the temperatures start to rise. Luckily, my search was not as extensive as I was expecting it to be, as a friend recommended I try these Uniqlo Airism Leggings that are made with a "cool to the touch" fabric.

I haven't tried much from Uniqlo, but I couldn't pass up the idea of cooling leggings. The price was right at just under $30, and the rave reviews convinced me to take a chance.

Uniqlo Airism UV Protection Soft Leggings

They truly do feel like “air”

Along with the height of the waistband, the other important quality I look for in a pair of leggings is how the fabric feels once I put them on. Once I put these leggings on, I never wanted to take them off. The fabric on the outside feels like soft suede, but on the inside it feels like air — which is exactly how they are supposed to feel. From the moment I put them on, I could immediately feel the cooling effect at work.

The leggings are crafted with Airism technology, which makes them moisture-wicking, stretchy, cool to the touch and breathable. I can usually only last a few hours in the pairs of leggings that are already in my closet, but I can wear these all day without breaking a sweat.

The day they arrived in the mail, I wore them straight to the grocery store to see how well they would hold up — and I was not disappointed. Even after pacing around the store and hauling groceries across the parking lot, I couldn’t believe how comfortable I still felt in 70-degree weather. I kept them on when I returned home and loved how great they were for lounging too.

Jillian Ortiz / TODAY

They’re available in a range of colors and sizes

Though I personally prefer a solid black pair of leggings since I can pair them with essentially any item in my closet, these leggings also come in shades of gray, red, beige and green (and I’ll likely be purchasing another pair soon). Even though I feel perfectly cool in the black style, opting for a lighter color such as beige might work even better for the summer.

Besides the comfortable feel, the best part might be the figure-flattering high-waist fit. The waistband provides enough coverage for me to feel confident all day long. It also stays put for most of the day, meaning I don’t have to worry about pulling up my leggings whenever I move around too much.

While the size rating on the website indicates they fit a bit snug, I found that the leggings run true to size. If you're still concerned about how they might fit, Uniqlo conveniently offers a size assistant that can help you find the size that is best for you, depending on your preferences.

They offer UV protection for the summer months

Applying sunscreen on my legs always seems to slip my mind, especially on days when I am just relaxing in the backyard. After finding out that UV rays are strong enough to penetrate regular pieces of clothing, I was even more thankful that these leggings were equipped with UPF 40 for extra sun protection.

Since UPF fabrics tend to be more tight-knit than regular items of clothing, I also feel comfortable knowing that the leggings aren't see-through. Plus, the length hits right at the ankle, so I don't have to worry about awkward tan lines from capri-length leggings.

Jillian Ortiz / TODAY

Between the soft fabric, high-waist fit and cooling feeling, I can't believe I found such a versatile pair of leggings without breaking the bank. I'm certainly no stranger to summer sweat and would typically prefer to throw on a pair of denim shorts during the warmer months. However, if you need me this summer, you'll find me living in these leggings.

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