Our Favorite Winter Workout Clothes for Women

‘Tis the season for hot cocoa by the fire, holiday festivities and staying as warm and cozy as possible. And while the phrase “warm and cozy” often conjures up images of your favorite sweatpants and comfy blankets, it can also mean swapping out your activewear for something a bit more toasty. Not exactly what you had in mind, but staying comfortable while working out during the winter months is just (if not more) important.

If you’re new to winter workouts, especially outdoors, you might not realize the necessity of changing your workout gear. But if you enjoy working out outdoors or, like us, just simply want to stay warm traveling to and from class, investing in the right winter activewear is not just an option, but a necessity. When dropping temps and winter elements like snow and ice come into play, wearing the appropriate clothing during your workout can help you exercise warmly and safely.

Thankfully, there are plenty of activewear brands that have specially designed clothing for a colder climate. They’ve selected specific materials, embedded technologies, and more to ensure users can endure the many challenges cold-weather workouts bring easily and comfortably. If you decide to stick to any old workout gear, you run the risk of injury, discomfort and a less effective workout.

That’s why we’re here to teach you everything you need to know about winter workout gear. From what to look for while shopping to taking care of your winter pieces, we’ve compiled this guide to answer all of your burning winter workout wear questions. Plus, keep reading to shop some of our best recommendations because, as we all know, winter is here. 


Why you need weather-appropriate clothing

Whether you’re just looking for something to wear to class or you’re brave enough to bear outdoor workouts during the winter season, investing in the right activewear is essential to having an effective, comfortable and even safe workout. Here are a few of the top reasons why:

It will keep you warm

One of the most obvious reasons? Winter workout wear is meant for freezing temperatures, snowfall and other conditions that often prevent you from enjoying an outdoor workout. Investing in the proper gear will keep you feeling comfortable and warm enough to not only complete your workout, but also enjoy it. They are specially made with fabrics and materials that will keep you warm (but not too warm), are great for layering, and make your outdoor workout a comfortable one.

lululemon Toasty Tech Tight II

It will help you stay safe

Exercising outdoors in any season is always a bit of a challenge. You have weather, temperature, and many obstacles (whether you’re in nature or within a city) to look out for. But with snow, shorter daylight hours and below freezing temps, working out during the winter season requires even more care and precaution. Winter workout gear is specially designed to help you take these on, not only to keep you warm, but to maintain traction on slippery paths, stand out among the darkness and prevent cold-weather related injuries like frostbite.

It will help you stay dry

When you’re doing an outdoor workout (or walking to and from class) during the winter months, you’re taking elements like snow, rain, hail, sleet, ice, mud and more head-on. This type of weather is something your typical activewear just isn’t made for. Activewear that is meant for this type of weather will keep you nice and dry so your workout can continue uninterrupted. Waterproof materials, sweat-wicking technologies and other perks make opting for cold-weather workout gear a much better choice than other types of activewear.

It will give you a better workout

Working out is hard enough (trust us, we know!). But working out in clothing that doesn’t keep you warm or dry? That’s just like giving yourself an added challenge to your exercise — and not the good kind! Give yourself a better, more enjoyable workout by investing in appropriate clothing that’ll only help you, not hold you back.

It will help you stay healthy

With office colds and flu season in full force, it’s extra important to keep your immunity up during the colder months. Exercising in wet sneakers and too thin activewear can have a major impact on your ability to get sick or injured, so wearing the appropriate gear is not only important for you, but for everyone else around you.


What to look for in winter workout clothes

Not all activewear is created equal, which is precisely why you should pay special attention when picking out workout clothes you’re going to use during cooler months. Certain materials and technologies built into cold weather workout clothing can not only improve your performance, but ensure you stay comfortable no matter what the temperature is like outside. Here are some tips for choosing the best activewear to wear during the winter.

The North Face Women’s Ventrix Hoodie

Layers, layers, layers

Wear long-sleeved synthetic materials underneath other forms of clothing. This will keep moisture and sweat away from your skin while you workout. Next, add a top coat like a fleece or wool sweatshirt that can help you stay nice and toasty without totally weighing you down. Plus, adding a layer of coziness to your outfit makes heading outdoors even more appealing.

Avoid cotton

This material isn’t able to withstand sweat and other moisture and won’t have the proper insulating abilities to keep you warm and dry.

Look for wicking materials

Most cold-weather activewear is sweat-wicking, and this can be a total game changer when it comes to working outside in freezing temps. Workout clothes with sweat-wicking technologies keep moisture out so you stay nice and dry. Keep an eye out for this when purchasing everything from leggings to socks.

Opt for waterproof whenever possible

Snow, ice and slush can be a real downer when exercising outdoors and you don’t want to be stuck with wet sneaks or mud-stained leggings. Plus, staying as dry as possible will improve your workouts and keep your immune system intact. Wearing activewear that is wind resistant (like a windbreaker) is an added bonus.

Don’t forget: Winter days are much shorter than usual. Try to choose outfits that come in bright colors or sneakers that light up as an added safety precaution.


How to care for winter workout clothing

Is there a special way to take care of your winter workout gear? Thankfully, unless the brand specifies otherwise, you can treat your cold-weather gear just like any other activewear. Here are some tips to keep your workout clothes in tip-top shape, throughout the winter season and beyond.

1

Wash your activewear ASAP after a workout

This will clean away any dirt, sweat or bacteria that would otherwise build up in your dirty laundry hamper.

2

Use the gentle cycle and wash with cold water, if possible

You can even opt for a delicates bag if you prefer! This will prevent the quality and color of your activewear from deteriorating in the wash.

3

Hang dry instead of using the dryer

Throwing your activewear in the dryer can affect the shape and stretch of your leggings and sports bras and may even shrink them. If you’re in a bind and need your workout clothes stat, make sure you dry them on the lowest setting possible, separately from your other clothing.

 


Our top picks by category

Ready to refresh your wardrobe for the cold? Here are some of our picks for the best winter workout clothes including leggings, jackets, tops and other cold-weather accessories.

Other helpful resources:

Are Fleece or Thermal Leggings Warmer?

10 Warm, Compact Jackets That’ll Definitely Fit in Your Gym Bag

The Best Headbands For Working Out in Cold Weather

 

Stephanie Limiti is a born and raised New Yorker living out her dreams of palm trees and sunshine in Los Angeles. When she's not zenned out in yoga class, she's reading biographies and volunteering at dog rescue shelter. Follow her on Instagram.