Must-have winter workout gear: The best jackets, leggings, socks and more
Don't get caught in the cold without these winter workout picks for everyone.
Updated Dec. 14, 2021 9:00 a.m. PT
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Giselle Castro-SlobodaFitness and Nutrition Writer
I'm a Fitness & Nutrition writer for CNET who enjoys reviewing the latest fitness gadgets, testing out activewear and sneakers, as well as debunking wellness myths. On my spare time I enjoy cooking new recipes, going for a scenic run, hitting the weight room, or binge-watching many TV shows at once. I am a former personal trainer and still enjoy learning and brushing up on my training knowledge from time to time. I've had my wellness and lifestyle content published in various online publications such as: Women's Health, Shape, Healthline, Popsugar and more.
This includes wearing the proper layers for those 20-degree (or colder) days, the right jacket, and leggings and hats that stay put during any activity. You'll also want footwear that can handle all of mother nature's elements. With so many options to pick from, it can be overwhelming knowing which are worth purchasing.
After researching the most highly recommended winter attire, I narrowed down my favorite pieces based on brand reliability and customer reviews. Use this list as a guide before heading out on your next winter workout excursion.
If you're looking for a jacket to keep you warm on those cooler days, the Reebok Thermawarm + Graphene Jacket is a solid choice. The jacket is made up of graphene, which is one of the most heat-conductive materials on earth. It also has an adjustable cord that helps prevent any drafts from sneaking in. Reviewers like layering this jacket with a sweatshirt and say that it's versatile for running errands or being active outdoors.
One thing to keep in mind is that the jacket is cropped so depending on your fit preference, you may want to size up. Additionally, the pockets are placed further back and not as secure, so if you take this jacket out during a run or bike ride, you should have a backup compartment to hold your keys and cell phone.
If you don't let the elements of winter, including snow, stop you from being active, then you need the right footwear. The Brooks Cascadia 15 GTX is a good choice for men and women who want a shoe with the right amount of stability and grip for when they're exploring the most uneven terrains. Reviewers call it the perfect trail running or hiking shoe because it is waterproof, well-cushioned, has a firm sole and supports even high foot arches.
If you are looking for gloves that are unisex, the Saucony Fortify Convertible Gloves are a good choice. These are convertible, which means you can wear them as a five-fingered glove or a mitten. The wind mitt is tucked into the backhand pocket and can be worn as an option for especially cold weather. These gloves are midweight, plus wind and water resistant. Reviewers say that it's easy to use a smartphone even with the mitten in place. Other reviewers say that if your hands tend to run hot, these gloves are a good option for winter activities because they're not overly warming. However, one buyer pointed out that these gloves may not be the best option for days that are colder than 30 degrees.
Ibex Woolies Tech Long Sleeve Crew & Base Layer Bottoms
Best men's winter thermals
Winter gear is all about layers -- they're key to keeping you warm on frigid days. The Ibex Woolies Tech Long Sleeve Crew and the Woolies Tech Base Layer Bottoms are intended to be a midweight base layer for all your winter activities. The thermals are made up of merino wool and nylon "Core" Elastane Jersey, allowing you to move freely. The merino wool is moisture-wicking, keeping you dry and odor-free during your most extreme outdoor activities. Reviewers say that these thermals keep them warm during bike rides and runs, and they're anything but bulky -- making them ideal for layering. Some loved these layers so much that they bought extra pairs year after year.
If your hair tends to get dry in the winter and you've avoided wearing a hat because of fear of hair damage, Grace Eleyae's silk hats can help with that dilemma. The hat line was created with hair care in mind, featuring silk- and satin-lined products to keep your hair healthy, shiny and free of damage.
The silk baseball hat is ideal for those cool mornings when you're going for a quick jog or running errands and don't want to ruin your styled hair. Reviewers agree that this hat is a great invention for all hair types and styles, especially during the colder and drier months. One thing to keep in mind is that the hat only comes in one size, but if you need more or less room its back strap is adjustable.
The Nathan Reflective Beanie is made up of a soft polyester and spandex fabric intended to move with you and keep you warm. If you enjoy exercising outdoors during the evening, its reflective detailing helps you stay visible during nighttime. It's lightweight enough to wear for running, cycling, hiking and for everyday wear. Reviewers love its high quality and how it stays put during even the most rigorous of activities.
The Swiftkick Pursuit Four socks are designed to keep you cool in the summer and warm during the winter. The socks are made out of merino wool, which helps regulate body temperature and keeps your feet dry. The best part is these socks can be worn comfortably whether you're going on a hike, run, bike ride or trail run. One reviewer raved that the socks even handled Portland's rainy and cold climate well during his runs. Another person mentioned that they wear these socks year-round and it's the only brand they wear.
Bombas created their own performance running socks for cold weather. The material is made up of merino wool and Hex Tec, which makes the sock more breathable and keeps you dry and blister-free. Bombas chose to design a calf sock because it is the right length for all outdoor activities and does a better job of keeping dirt out than shorter socks. Reviewers like the high quality of these socks, and one person said that it's the only sock they use during their winter runs. Another reviewer based in Chicago swears by these socks and says they give you warmth even when the windchill is below zero.
Keeping your ears and head covered is important when being active in the cold outdoors. Smartwool's Merino 250 Reversible Headband offers proper coverage of the ears and head and is designed for all genders. It is made up of merino wool and is double layered, making it ideal for being active during low temperatures. Some reviewers say they use this headband during skiing and snowboarding, while others have worn it while hiking and running. One person said they turned to outdoor running during the pandemic and this headband withstood the cold winters of Chicago.
Best men's sunglasses for cycling and winter sports
These wraparound sunglasses are ideal for any of your favorite winter activities. Even though the lenses are big, the glasses are lightweight and have a nose pad so it sits comfortably on your nose. These glasses look best on oval, heart-shaped and round faces. Reviewers share that these stay put while cycling, hiking and other winter sports. A few people mentioned that the sunglasses are also versatile enough to use in the summer and can be used while playing sports such as volleyball and baseball.
Goodr Women's Sunglasses OG A Ginger's Soul Sunglasses
Best women's bounce-free sunglasses
If you're looking for classic sunglasses that will stay on during your run, Goodr's OG A Ginger's Soul sunglasses will fit your needs. The non-reflective glasses won't slip or bounce during your most rigorous activities. The lenses offer 100% of UV400 protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Reviews show that the majority of buyers are satisfied with this classic set of sunglasses that are ideal for all forms of outdoor activities, but especially running. Some reviewers say they loved their first pair enough that they bought more Goodr styles.
The right leggings can make your winter activities more enjoyable and remove the worry of freezing while spending hours outdoors. Title Nine's Crash 2.0 Polartec Tight is made with Polartec fleece designed to keep you warm and chafe-free. You have the choice to purchase the tights in a solid or striated color. Women who reviewed these tights across the board agree these tights keep them warm and dry during the coldest and wettest weather.
If you're looking for something to keep you warm that isn't a bulky jacket, Outdoor Research's Trail Mix Cowl Pullover is a good option. The pullover has a waffle grid design, is made up of fleece and includes thermo-regulating ActiveTemp technology. This midweight pullover is intended to keep you warm and dry during your outdoor activities. Reviewers say that the pullover keeps them warm and is versatile and stylish enough to wear during a walk, at home or the office. Another reviewer said she uses it as a cozy base layer for her jacket on those cold rainy days.
If you're looking for a puffer vest that isn't bulky yet is still functional, Lululemon's Another Mile vest fits the bill. The stretchy vest is intended to be worn during winter activities and is designed to move with you. The water repellent material also keeps you dry no matter the elements outside. Reviewers share that the vest is the perfect layer to keep them warm even when wearing a sweatshirt. One reviewer said it kept her warm when she wore it while playing tennis and cycling. One thing to keep in mind is that it runs small, therefore it's best to size up.
Under Armour Men's ColdGear Reactor Performance Hybrid
Best men's running jacket
Under Armour is known to have winter gear to keep you warm during even the harshest of wintry elements. Its ColdGear Reactor Performance Hybrid will keep you insulated and prepared for those early morning runs, hikes, cycling sessions and more. The jacket is breathable and lightweight so it doesn't feel bulky. One reviewer recommended wearing thermals under this layer on days that are below 30 degrees, and another said they liked that this item is a hybrid between a hoodie and a jacket. Other satisfied reviewers said the jacket kept them warm during their winter runs and golf games.
IcebreakerBodyFit 200 Oasis Crew Top & IcebreakerBodyFit 200 Oasis Legging
Best women's thermals
When you're planning on going winter camping or hiking and need a reliable base layer, the IcebreakerBodyFit 200 Oasis top and leggings are a great choice. The thermals are made up of merino wool to keep you dry during your long winter excursions. It's soft, comfortable and was designed to move with you and the slim fit makes it easy to layer. Reviews across the board say that these thermals are the best all-around for activities such as hiking, mountain biking, skiing and running, and even those frigid days when you just need an extra layer.
The Asics Lite-Show Winter Tight are a good choice if you want to stay warm and well-supported during those cold winter days. The tights are form-fitting yet include a drawcord waist tie to let you adjust it for your best fit. Reviewers who swear by these tights say they've used it as a base layer for work, while others say it kept them warm on the coldest winter days for the duration of their long runs. These tights also include Firefly technology which helps you remain visible even at nighttime.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.