24 Must-Have Items for Working Out in the Cold
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2016
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Once the leaves fall off the tree and the weather turns colder, tank tops and shorts no longer cut it on your outdoor runs. Time to upgrade your winter-workout wardrobe and add some hoodies and full-length leggings into the mix. Because let’s face it: While cycling in the latest, greatest fabrics and apparel might not improve your pace, the sheer fact that you’re not freezing your seat off will definitely help with the endurance aspect. But if you’re lost browsing running jackets and can’t decide if the next mega moisture-wicking fabric is worth the splurge, check out these recommendations from our contributors, personal trainers and staff. No matter your budget, outdoor workout of preference or fitness level, you’re sure to find something to freeze-proof your cold-weather workouts.
LULULEMON IN FLUX JACKET
If you’re looking for a cozy zip-up hoodie that’s perfect for running in the elements, check out this jacket. The fabric is moisture-wicking to keep sweat off your skin without overheating. “I just discovered it after Thanksgiving this year, and I wear it all the time (with washings in between, of course),” says Dena Karsenty, Livestrong.com Director of Product, “and I can run for miles wearing it and not even know that I’m wearing it. It’s snug enough that you can store everything in the front pockets -- keys, ID, cell phone -- without worrying that it will fall out. There’s even a hidden inner pocket within the pockets, which I just love.” PRICE: $128. WHERE TO FIND: lululemon.com
More info on the lululemon In Flux Jacket and where to find it.
NIKE LUNARGLIDE 7
Inspired by the Northern Lights, these shoes will have you lighting up the night. Normally, I prefer minimalist running shoes, but even though these shoes have a lot of cushion (and I know some people prefer that), they’re very lightweight. They don’t have as much arch support as I’m used to, and I usually have to order a half size up with Nike shoes, but I really like wearing these on my evening runs around my neighborhood, when I take my dogs for a walk and even while running errands because they’re so comfortable. PRICE: $180. WHERE TO FIND: Nike.com
More info on the Nike Lunarglide 7 and where to find it.
CONCEPT 2 ROWER
Not all your cold-weather workouts need to take place outdoors. If you just can’t force yourself to face the elements when the temperature drops, it might be worth it to invest in an indoor rower. “I just moved from L.A. to Philadelphia, so I haven’t quite embraced winter workouts,” says Kelly Plowe, Livestrong.com Nutrition Editor. “Instead, I purchased a Concept 2 rower so that I can still get in my cardio without freezing my butt off. It’s a great, low-impact workout, and it’s a more full-body workout compared to running. The Concept 2 is worth the money, because these things are tanks. They last forever.” PRICE: $900. WHERE TO FIND: Concept2.com
More info on the Concept 2 Rower and where to find it.
MICHI STORM POCKET LEGGINGS
If your winter workouts border more on mild (after all, some of us are lucky enough to live in Southern California all year long), these leggings will shield your legs from blustery breezes. Or if you’re headed to Pilates classes in colder climates, these make a great base layer. “I’m big on layers,” says Lisa Jey Davis, Lagree Method and classical Pilates instructor. “Because I often start teaching early in the morning, then move on to taking a class or doing my workout, which is followed by more teaching in the late afternoon or evening, I’ve got to be prepared for the weather to be all over the map. I love my MICHI Storm Pocket Leggings (I got mine at Carbon38). They’re perfect for most temperatures, but when it dips below 50 here in L.A., I throw a pair of sweatpants on top.” PRICE: $135. WHERE TO FIND: MICHINY.com
More info on the MICHI Storm Pocket Leggings and where to find them.
MERINO WOOL BUFF
One of the most overlooked (but truly important) places to keep warm during your cold-weather workouts is your neck. The Buff does just that -- without choking the air out of your workout. “The Buff is one of the most versatile winter-clothing items in my wardrobe,” says Wes Kennedy, founder of Elite Training Programs. “One of the key areas to cover for warmth is your neck (with your carotid arteries close to the surface). Unlike other neck gaiters, the Buff merino wool neck gaiter isn’t stiflingly thick and has the extra length to cover the ears and head when necessary.” PRICE: $36. WHERE TO FIND: BuyABuff.com
More info on the Merino Wool Buff and where to find it.
NEW BALANCE PERFORMANCE MERINO LONG SLEEVE CREW
Sometimes your cold-weather workout doesn’t require a jacket that’s rated for 20 degrees Fahrenheit. In those cases, it helps to have a long-sleeve top like this one from New Balance on hand to keep your core and arms warm without burying you in fleece. “I happen to love merino wool and never thought it could work in fitness gear,” says Holly Perkins, personal trainer and founder of Women’s Strength Nation. “I’ve been living in this because it’s super-warm but still a thin layer. I love the thumbholes for when I’m cold and getting started in the gym. I use the thumbs until I’m warm, then release my hands completely. Then, when I’m fully warmed, I take off the long sleeve and can fit a tank underneath!” PRICE: $89.99. WHERE TO FIND: NewBalance.com
More info on the New Balance Performance Merino Long Sleeve Crew and where to find it.
THE NORTH FACE THERMOBALL FULL ZIP JACKET
And then there are those times when you really do need a heavy-duty jacket to keep the cold (or rain or snow or sleet) out. “When it comes to cold-weather gear, I don’t go anywhere without my North Face Thermoball Jacket,” says Collette Stohler, creator of the fit travel blog Roamaroo.com. “Perfect for cold conditions, it even keeps me insulated if the sky decides to pour down while I’m out on my evening run. Luckily, North Face makes it easy for me to carry even when I’m not rocking it. When I travel (as I am currently doing around the world), I can roll the Thermoball up into (you guessed it) a ball and carabiner it to my bag.” PRICE: $199. WHERE TO FIND: TheNorthFace.com
More info on The North Face Thermoball Full Zip Jacket and where to find it.
TAVI NOIR SELAH EBONY KNEE HIGH GRIP SOCKS
When the no-show and crew socks of summer just aren’t doing the trick during yoga or Pilates anymore, opt for a pair of knee-highs you can fit over leggings or under looser yoga pants. “My Tavi Noir Selah knee-high grippy socks are the bomb (and so adorable) for keeping my feet warm while either teaching or taking classes in the early morning,” says Lisa Jey Davis, Lagree Method and classical Pilates instructor. “Because most studios are chilly when they first open (even in L.A., some studios are in the high 40s/low 50s first thing), these are my new go-to!” PRICE: $28. WHERE TO FIND: TaviNoir.com
More info on the Tavi Noir Selah Ebony Knee High Grip Socks and where to find them.
SUGOI ALPHA HYBRID JACKET
Need a lightweight jacket with breathable warmth? Enter: SUGOI’s Alpha Hybrid Jacket. A slightly fitted jacket that moves and stretches with you, it has a lightweight woven shell that won’t stifle you but still keeps out wind and water. The fabric panels on the sleeves, sides and back regulate your core body temperatures, whether you’re actively engaged in a touch workout or in the middle of your cooldown stretching. It also has a pocket on the chest and two front hand pockets so you can carry your keys, ID and MP3 player with you through your workout. PRICE: $170. WHERE TO FIND: SUGOI.com
More info on the SUGOI Alpha Hybrid Jacket and where to find it.
PATAGONIA NANO PUFF JACKET
When it comes to workout gear that makes your investment worth it, versatility is the name of the game. You need pieces that will transition with you from those freezing-cold nights to those almost-tolerable winter days. “I went camping last week in Big Sur and Northern California and found this jacket to be the perfect layer for cold nights, but also lightweight enough for long hikes during the day,” says Kelly Gonzalez, L.A.-based certified personal trainer and yoga teacher. “It’s very lightweight, so you can stuff it in your backpack when you start moving and get warm. When you’re traveling light, it also makes a great pillow!” PRICE: $199. WHERE TO FIND: Patagonia.com
More info on the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket and where to find it.
LULULEMON VINYASA SCARF
For all those times you walk out of barre or spin class into frigid temperatures, you need a scarf like this one to keep your neck, shoulders and chest from cooling down too quickly. It’s also versatile enough to make an appearance in your weekend and “off-gym” wardrobe. “A client gifted this to me and I live with it,” says Holly Perkins, personal trainer and founder of Women’s Strength Nation. “I love that you can snap it in a variety of ways: You can unsnap it and wear as a wrap, or partially unsnapped it for a scarf that looks super-cool. Also, it doubles perfectly as a lower-back support on the plane when I’m traveling. If I don’t need it to stay warm on the plane, I use it to support my back so that my neck doesn’t hurt after long flights. I also unsnap it and use it as a blanket for my legs. It’s pretty genius.” PRICE: $58. WHERE TO FIND: lululemon.com
More info on the lululemon Vinyasa Scarf and where to find it.
NIKE AEROREACT PULLOVER
During winter runs, it’s a balance between staying warm at the beginning of the run while not overheating toward the end. This pullover (with Nike’s Dri-FIT fabric) allows me to do both. I pull the thumbholes over my hands at the beginning and can shed the extra coverage later if needed. It’s fitted but not constricting, and the fabric doesn’t rub or chafe. It even has a small pocket for your ID and a key (or a tiny MP3 player like an iPod Nano). PRICE: $110. WHERE TO FIND: Nike.com
More info on the Nike AeroReact Pullover and where to find it.
WHAT’S GOOD EBEANIE
“Since it’s often too warm down here in L.A., the only thing I can recommend is a beanie. Since most heat is lost through the head, it’s the most important part to keep warm (obviously, after the center body mass, but as far as extremities),” says Marcus Kowal, founder and CEO of Systems Training Center in Los Angeles. If you’re looking for a beanie that has warmth and function, you’ll want to check out the What’s Good eBeanie. It syncs with your smartphone or other Bluetooth-enabled MP3 player and allows you to listen to your music through headphones in the hat. It’s just the upgrade your cold-weather workouts need to keep you going the extra mile without succumbing to the elements. PRICE: $40.95. WHERE TO FIND: WhatsGoodeBeanie.com
More info on the What’s Good eBeanie and where to find it.
FREE COUNTRY BLISSFUL REVERSIBLE VEST
Layer this vest on top of your long-sleeve base layer when your workout calls for a bit more core warmth. As an added bonus, it’s reversible! Reversibility has always been a huge plus for me in both my regular and workout wardrobe. One side keeps out the elements and the other is soft and comfy. I like having the option to zip it up during my warm-ups and workouts to keep me extra toasty, and then unzipping it either partway or all the way for a portion of my cooldown (provided it’s not too cold outside). PRICE: $42. WHERE TO FIND: FreeCountry.com
More info on the Free Country Blissful Reversible Vest and where to find it.
UNDER ARMOUR COLDGEAR INFRARED 1/4 ZIP
For those that hate the constricting feeling of a crew-neck shirt but don’t want to deal with the hassle of a full-zip jacket, this quarter-zip hoodie is a great option. “Like most Under Armour cold gear, this jacket keeps the heat in and the cold out,” says Kyle Arsenault, personal trainer and founder of The Athletic Way. “What I like about this jacket most of all is that it is loose-fitting, which allows me to put some extra layers (such as the Under Armour compression gear) underneath for those really cold days. A quality pullover that is comfortable and keeps the cold out is critical for my winter sprint sessions!” PRICE: $59.99. WHERE TO FIND: UnderArmour.com
More info on the Under Armour ColdGear Infrared 1/4 Zip and where to find it.
PRISMSPORT TRAINING JACKET
Many runners avoid outdoor run during the winter, fearing the cold weather ensures misery during their favorite four-mile run, but colder temperatures don’t have to drive you to the treadmill. “The trick is to layer your clothing, so if you feel uncomfortably warm, you can remove layers by wrapping them around your waist,” says Holly del Rosso, San Francisco-based certified personal trainer. “The heavyweight Heather Training Jacket by Prismsport is an essential layer to my outdoor fitness routine. My favorite feature is the thumbholes in the wrist sleeves that you can wear if you forget your gloves or use them as your running gloves.” PRICE: $128. WHERE TO FIND: Prismsport.com
More info on the Prismsport Training Jacket and where to find it.
More info on the Prismsport Training Jacket and where to find it.
VIE ACTIVE RILEY FULL-LENGTH LEGGINGS
Perfect for hiking, spin class or a good old-fashioned strength-training session, these leggings also feature a side pocket to store your ID, keys or other small items without adding bulk. While the length is optimized for women around 5'10", shorter women can also wear them with an underfoot wrap during yoga or barre classes. “I am beyond obsessed with this brand. These tights are the most incredible fabric and insane fit,” says Holly Perkins, personal trainer and founder of Women’s Strength Nation. “I can literally be bloated, premenstrual and fluffy, and when I wear them, people tell me I look like I lost weight. No joke.” And who doesn’t want that? PRICE: $120. WHERE TO FIND: vieactivewear.com
More info on the Vie Active Riley Full-Length Leggings and where to find them.
MYPAKAGE PRO SERIES
Guys, you need this base layer. Bear with us for just one second, because the MyPakage Pro Series (available as a brief, full-length or boot cut) is like a bra for your goods. Not convinced you need the extra support down there? Just trust us and try them out. Your cold-weather workouts will never be the same. And at the very least, you’ll have a lightweight, moisture-wicking base layer that is high-stretch and features a lightweight, no-roll waistband. So it’ll move with you regardless of your workout without going anywhere you don’t want. PRICE: $40-60. WHERE TO FIND: MyPakage.com
More info on the MyPakage Pro Series and where to find it.
SKIDA TOUR NECKWARMER
Whether your ideal way to stay active during the winter is a run or bike ride or you prefer to hit the slopes for skiing and snowboarding, the Skida Tour Neckwarmer will keep the wind and snow out of your face and off your neck. A cold face is always the most unbearable part of my winter workouts, likely because it’s the only thing not covered, which is why I love this neck warmer. I can pull it up around my nose, mouth and chin as I get started and then leave it hanging around my neck as I get warmer (or alternate back and forth, as I do a lot). And the prints are so fun that I even wore mine sightseeing around the chilly streets of Paris. PRICE: $20. WHERE TO FIND: ShopSkida.com
More info on the Skida Tour Neckwarmer and where to find it.
LULULEMON SWIFTLY TECH LONG SLEEVE CREW
There’s nothing worse during any season of workouts than being constricted by workout gear that’s either too loose or too fitted. This long-sleeve tee strikes the perfect balance, moving with you but not getting in the way or pinching at odd places. “For a base layer, there is seriously nothing better for the active outdoor gal than the lululemon Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve Crew,” says Collette Stohler, creator of the fit travel blog Roamaroo.com. “Its lightweight and breathable fabric lets your body breathe and keeps you warm at the same time.” PRICE: $68. WHERE TO FIND: lululemon.com
More info on the lululemon Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve Crew and where to find it.
FREE COUNTRY SOFTSHELL TOUCH GLOVES
Don’t forget to show your hands some love when you head out into the cold! These fleece-lined gloves not only keep your hands warm, they are also made with fabric that allows you to use your touchscreen smartphone with them on. These gloves are seriously soft on the inside while still being wind and water resistant on the outside, so they’re great even when I’m not working out. PRICE: $19.99. WHERE TO FIND: FreeCountry.com
More info on the Free Country Softshell Touch Gloves and where to find them.
NEW BALANCE HEAT EN ROUTE JACKET
This jacket is truly the intersection of stylish clothing and functional workout apparel. And if you live in L.A., like personal trainer and founder of Women’s Strength Nation Holly Perkins, both of those features are a must. Because even though style isn’t essential for a great workout, there’s something to be said for treating yourself to something with a little more pizzazz than your standard zip-up. “The style is ridiculously cool, the fit and fabric are premium and the breathability is great,” she says. “It keeps me warm but not sweaty.” PRICE: $119.99. WHERE TO FIND: NewBalance.com
More info on the New Balance Heat En Route Jacket and where to find it.
C9 CHAMPION WOMEN’S LONG SLEEVE PULLOVER
When your standard long-sleeve tee isn’t quite enough to keep you warm, try this long-sleeve pullover. The extra-long sleeves have thumbholes and a stretchy cowl neck you can flip up over the lower half of your face if needed, so it’s a great alternative to standard tees. PRICE: $24.99. WHERE TO FIND: Target.com
More info on the C9 Champion Women’s Long Sleeve Pullover and where to find it.
LULULEMON SCUBA HOODIE III
In true lululemon style, this hoodie will go with you just about anywhere through just about any workout. Wear it on a run, throw it on after Zumba or cardio kickboxing or wear it in the stands at one of the season’s last football games. “I love this hoodie. It’s super-cute, very thick and cozy,” says Holly Perkins, personal trainer and founder of Women’s Strength Nation. “It’s warm, but made of cotton, so it doesn’t have the weird aspects of tech fabric. It’s a bit bulky, but it can hang in there for a run.” PRICE: $118. WHERE TO FIND: lululemon.com
More info on the lululemon Scuba Hoodie III and where to find it.
Michael Blann/DigitalVision/Getty Images
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What are your go-to pieces for cold-weather workouts? Do you have a running jacket, hoodie or pair of leggings that you just can’t live without during winter? Have you ever tried any of the gear on our list? What would you recommend to a friend looking for similar gear? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below!
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