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Colder weather doesn’t have to mean spending more time indoors on the couch. In fact, there are many great ways to stay active during the winter — the key is having the right gear.

If you plan on exercising in the great outdoors, it’s important to invest in winter gear that protects you from the elements, including freezing temperatures and snowy conditions.

We selected essential pieces of winter workout gear to help keep you safe and warm from head to toe while you’re running, walking, skiing, or snowshoeing.

Keep reading to see our picks of the 11 best pieces of winter workout gear to stock up on.

To make our selections, we used the following criteria:

  • Practicality: We chose items that are practical for a variety of outdoor winter workouts.
  • Materials: Whether you’re looking for a moisture-wicking base layer or boots that will keep you from sliding around on ice, we paid close attention to the materials used.
  • Value: We chose items that offer value for the cost in terms of usefulness, durability, and versatility.
  • Company reputation: We looked for trusted brands that provide detailed product information and great customer service.
  • Customer reviews: We read countless online reviews to see what people had to say about various products and brands.
  • Vetting: The products on our list have been vetted to ensure that they align with Healthline’s brand integrity standards and approach to well-being. You can read more about our vetting process.

A note on price

General price ranges with dollar signs ($–$$$) are indicated below. One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher cost.

Keep in mind that prices may vary depending on where you shop.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $50
  • $$ = $50–$125
  • $$$ = over $125

Best headlamp

Fenix HM61R Multi-Use Headlamp

  • Price: $$
  • Available sizes: one size
  • Best for: early morning or evening workouts

The Fenix HM61R Multi-Use Headlamp runs on a 18650 battery, which performs well in cold weather. The bright light is useful for winter camping trips and for nighttime running, hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing.

The versatile lamp functions as a right-angle flashlight and can clip to your belt, pocket, or chest strap for hands-free use. Plus, it has eight lighting modes, including a red light that works well for night navigation.

Pros

  • red light function for night vision
  • solid build quality
  • dust- and water-resistant
  • lifetime guarantee

Cons

  • gets hot on the brightest setting
  • some complaints that the magnetic charger cable is too short

Best beanie

Tough Headwear Running Beanie

  • Price: $
  • Available sizes: one size; available in men’s and women’s
  • Best for: running

Made from polyester and spandex, this breathable running beanie is designed to wick away sweat while fitting snugly to keep your head and ears warm during winter runs.

The cap features a thermal fleece lining that makes it suitable for temperatures of 10–40°F (-12–4°C), according to the company. Plus, the women’s version includes a ponytail hole to help keep long locks out of your face.

While the beanie is marketed toward runners, it’s thin enough to fit under a helmet for skiing or snowboarding or under a thicker hat for longer snowshoeing or cross-country skiing expeditions.

Pros

  • lightweight and breathable
  • thermal fleece lining
  • affordable
  • ponytail hole included in women’s version

Cons

  • some complaints about inconsistent sizing

Best neck gaiter

Smartwool Thermal Merino Neck Gaiter

  • Price: $
  • Available sizes: one size
  • Best for: any cold-weather activity

The Smartwool Thermal Merino Neck Gaiter can provide wind protection and keep your neck warm and dry during your outdoor excursion.

Made from 100% merino wool, the gaiter is designed to retain warmth even if it gets damp and to dry quickly. Plus, the two soft merino wool layers are breathable enough to cover your face.

Customers note that, in addition to keeping your neck and face warm, the gaiter can be used as a headband or ear warmer.

Pros

  • dual-layer merino wool
  • provides wind protection
  • dries quickly
  • versatile

Cons

  • too tight and short for some

Best lightweight base layer

Smartwool Classic All-Season Base Layer Long-Sleeve

  • Price: $$
  • Available sizes: XS–XL women’s; S–XXL men’s
  • Best for: mild winter weather activities, high exertion activities, or people who tend to run warm

Great for mild winter weather or for use as one of several layers, this all-season base layer from Smartwool is an essential for any winter, spring, or fall wardrobe.

Made from a mix of 87% merino wool and 13% nylon, this long-sleeve shirt is designed to help you stay nice and dry and is a bit more durable than 100% merino wool tops. The shirt also features minimalist seams and offset shoulders for a more comfortable fit and to minimize chafing.

While this base layer is great for running, shoulder season hiking, and warm ski days, you may want to check out the company’s Classic Thermal 1/4 Zip if you plan on being out in colder weather for a long time.

Pros

  • lightweight and breathable
  • moisture-wicking merino wool construction
  • minimalist seams for comfort

Cons

  • some complaints that the thin material snags easily
  • not quite as soft or insulating as the Smartwool Classic Thermal 1/4 Zip

Best vest

prAna Alpine Air Vest

  • Price: $$$
  • Available sizes: XS–XL women’s; S–XXL men’s
  • Best for: winter hiking, climbing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and running

The prAna Alpine Vest adds a stylish layer of warmth to your outfit without creating bulk.

It works well on its own or under or over a sweater, coat, or ski jacket for your next climbing, hiking, or cross-country skiing excursion. It’s also a good option for runners who get hot while wearing a full jacket.

The insulated vest has zippered pockets and a durable water-repellent coating. What’s more, the vest is made from recycled materials and folds into its back pocket, so it’s an eco-friendly and travel-friendly option.

Pros

  • quality construction
  • durable water-repellent coating
  • warm and comfortable
  • made from recycled materials
  • folds into its own built-in pocket for travel

Cons

  • some complaints that it runs big
  • armholes too large for some

Best insulated jacket

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

  • Price: $$$
  • Available sizes: XXS–XXL women’s, XS–3XL men’s
  • Best for: skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, hiking, and cross-country skiing

A great option for snowboarding, ice skating, hiking, and cross-country skiing, the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket adds an insulating layer of warmth and helps protect against wind chill.

You can wear the lightweight jacket over multiple layers or under a wind shell or rain jacket for extra protection. It keeps your neck warm and has one inner and two outer zippered pockets.

Plus, this Fair Trade Certified jacket folds easily, so you can stash it in a small bag or backpack on your next rock climbing adventure.

Pros

  • easy to pack
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • lightweight and windproof
  • comfortable design
  • large range of sizes

Cons

  • stitching may unravel over time
  • fabric snags easily
  • body and arms are too long for some

Best hydration pack

CamelBak Zoid Hydration Pack

  • Price: $$
  • Available sizes: one size
  • Best for: skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and hiking

Designed for hands-free hydration during days on the slopes, the CamelBak Zoid Hydration Pack is a great way make sure you’re drinking enough water during your workout. You can also use it for other activities, such as hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

Thanks to its minimal design, you can wear the pack over or under your jacket.

The pack has a 2-liter (68-ounce) reservoir and an insulated hose to prevent freezing. It also features a zippered pocket for stashing a few small items, such as your keys and a protein bar.

Pros

  • quality construction
  • lightweight
  • comfortable design
  • waterproof material
  • small zipper pocket

Cons

  • some complaints of leaking issues
  • may be too small and compact for some

Best convertible mittens

Kombi Opener Magnetic 3-in-1 Mittens

  • Price: $$
  • Available sizes: XS–XL unisex
  • Best for: hiking, walking, running, skating, snowshoeing, and sledding

The Kombi Opener Magnetic 3-in-1 Unisex Mittens are a good option for outdoor winter workouts as they feature a magnetic closure seal and easily convert into gloves. They are also well insulated and offer water and wind protection.

According to Rachel MacPherson, a certified personal trainer and winter fitness enthusiast, “The Kombi Opener Magnetic 3-in-1 Mittens are my top pick for warm, durable mittens. They keep me warm when skating, sledding, walking, and hiking. The gloves [also] make it convenient to use your phone. When closed, the mittens are extremely warm and comfortable.”

Pros

  • convenient convertible design
  • synthetic leather material to improve grip
  • insulated and waterproof

Cons

  • tend to run small
  • stitching may unravel over time

Best training pants

Craft Glide Pants

  • Price: $$
  • Available sizes: XS–XL women’s, S–XXL men’s
  • Best for: hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing

These Swedish-made pants feature softshell fabric and bird-eye backing that provide warmth, ventilation, and protection from wind and water. The adjustable waist and elastic jersey at the back of the knee offer comfort and flexibility.

These outdoor training pants work well for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. And they fit snugly over boots to keep snow out.

Note that the company recommends sizing up if you are between sizes or plan to wear a base layer.

Pros

  • quality fabric and construction
  • fantastic freedom of movement
  • breathable and windproof

Cons

  • small pocket
  • fitted design that may be a downside for some

Best boots

Sorel Kinetic Breakthru Sneaker Boots

  • Price: $$$
  • Available sizes: 5–12 women’s, 7–15 men’s
  • Best for: walking, snowshoeing, and hiking

The superb insulation and microfleece lining of the Sorel Kinetic Breakthru Sneaker Boots are meant to keep your feet toasty in wet winter weather. The seam-sealed waterproof boots also have rubber soles with enough grip to prevent slipping on ice and snow.

Extremely supportive and comfortable, these boots are suitable for snowshoeing, walking in the snow, and mixed terrain hikes. As a bonus, they’re stylish enough for everyday wear.

Just keep in mind that several customer reviews recommend sizing up, especially if you plan to wear thick socks.

Speaking of which, the best socks for winter workouts depend on the activity. We recommend checking out brands like Smartwool and DryMax to find a pair that’s right for you.

Pros

  • excellent traction
  • incredibly comfortable
  • warm insulation

Cons

  • tend to run small
  • narrow toe box

Best traction system

Yaktrax Pro Traction Device

  • Price: $
  • Available sizes: S–XL
  • Best for: walking, running, and hiking

Ideal for winter walking, running, and hiking, the Yaktrax Pro Traction Device cleats offer safety, stability, and traction on ice and snow. The rubber foot frame is entwined with steel coils and has a removable Velcro strap over the top of the foot.

MacPherson recommended Yaktrax to Healthline, saying that they’re essential for “running outdoors when it’s icy or snowy. They are also great for walking, hiking, and climbing. I like to wear them when I take my kids sledding as well.”

She also noted, “I’ve tried a few similar options, but Yaktrax is the best for me. They fit a wide range of boots and shoes, and I’ve never slipped, even when running hill sprints on icy roads. They last forever and are made from high quality materials.”

Pros

  • lightweight and comfortable
  • easy to put on and take off
  • excellent traction on snow and ice

Cons

  • possible that coils may rust and unwind over time
  • some complaints that the rubber snaps easily

There’s no shortage of cold-weather workout gear to choose from. To make sure you’re purchasing a product that’s right for you, consider the following factors:

  • Cost: Consider the usefulness and longevity of an item to determine your budget.
  • Type of activity: Consider whether an item is practical for the type of activity you plan on doing. Make sure clothing is comfortable, breathable enough to allow airflow, and flexible enough for freedom of movement.
  • Type of fabric: Especially for socks, hats, and base layers, choose moisture-wicking fabrics such as nylon, polyester, and polypropylene to keep the sweat off your skin. Merino wool is another good option that’s also insulating.
  • Weather conditions: Select items that provide an appropriate level of warmth, insulation, and wind protection without adding bulk. For wet and snowy conditions, choose water-resistant or waterproof gear. Make sure you have the appropriate footwear for icy conditions. And always keep your head, hands, and feet warm.
  • Visibility: Stay conspicuous in low light and snowy conditions by wearing light, bright clothing and high visibility gear. It can also be a good idea to look for items with blinking lights or reflective strips. For headlamps, look for quality options that feature a lithium battery that can withstand cold temperatures.
  • Versatility: To get the most out of your gear, select versatile items that you can use for multiple activities. Some of your gear may be appropriate for everyday use in addition to workouts, which reduces your cost per wear.
  • Customer feedback: Read online reviews to see what people say about product quality, brand reputation, and customer service experience.

With the right workout gear and a few safety pointers, you can stay safe and comfortable while exercising outdoors in the winter.

Here are a few safety tips for outdoor winter workouts:

  • Always do a warmup and cooldown.
  • Dress in layers that dry quickly, retain warmth, and are breathable. Consider wearing a protective outer shell when it’s windy or snowy.
  • When exercising in dim lighting, be sure to dress in bright colors and consider wearing a reflective vest or attaching a blinking light. A headlamp is also a good idea, especially if you’ll be exercising in a poorly lit area.
  • Keep your head, hands, and feet warm.
  • Especially if it’s windy or snowy, cover exposed skin, including your face, ears, and neck.
  • Wear sturdy footwear with good traction.
  • Change out of wet clothing as soon as possible.
  • While you may not feel thirsty, remember to drink enough fluids to stay hydrated.
  • In very cold weather, be on the lookout for signs of frostbite, such as mild shivering, hands and feet that feel cold or numb, and pain and redness in exposed areas.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors if the temperature is below -8°F (-27°C).

A quick guide to layering

Generally, there are three key layers: base, middle, and outer.

Whether you need one, two, or all three depends on the activity you’ll be doing, the duration of that activity, your exertion level, whether you tend to run hot or cold, and — most importantly — the weather.

Here’s a quick look at each layer:

Base layer

  • Function: wicks away sweat
  • Examples: long- or short-sleeve shirts made from moisture-wicking fabrics such as polyester, nylon, silk, or merino wool; in warmer conditions, sports bras and underwear may suffice, while in colder temps, a full set of long underwear may be necessary

Middle layer

  • Function: keeps your body warm
  • Examples: down- or synthetic-insulated pants and jackets; polyester fleece items also work well

Outer layer:

  • Function: protects your skin from wind and rain
  • Examples: waterproof or water-resistant, breathable shell jackets and vests; if there’s snow, you may also need a pair of snow pants

In addition to these layers, don’t forget about your extremities. Hats, gloves, socks, and shoes are also key for keeping you warm and dry during your workout.

Is it safe to exercise outside during the winter?

In general, it’s safe to exercise outside during the winter if the temperature is at least -8°F (-27°C). Remember to factor in the wind chill (1).

In extremely cold weather, your body temperature may drop, increasing the risk of injury and tissue damage. Move indoors and seek help if you experience symptoms of hypothermia, such as excessive shivering, confusion, and slowed speech or breathing.

Why is it important to stay active during the winter?

Staying active in winter is important for keeping up with your fitness goals and maintaining physical and mental health. Experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week (2).

Regular exercise provides many benefits, including boosting energy levels, lowering blood pressure, and supporting brain and heart health. It can also help improve sleep, alleviate anxiety, and build strength (3, 4, 5).

Additionally, exercise can improve your balance, which is helpful if you live in an area with ice and snow (6).

What are some winter-friendly workout ideas?

Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding, ice skating, walking, and running are all great outdoor activities to enjoy in the winter. Skiing and snowboarding are also popular, though they require a larger financial investment.

Depending on where you live, activities such as hiking and cycling may be an option. And, of course, you can also enjoy indoor activities such as strength training, yoga, and barre in the colder months.

While there are plenty of ways to exercise indoors, outdoor winter activities provide the bonus of allowing you to spend time in the fresh air (and possibly sunshine).

Investing in a few key pieces of winter fitness gear can make a world of difference to your safety, comfort, and performance.

Plus, quality products that keep you warm and dry may help make your workouts more enjoyable, which can boost motivation. Use this list as a guide to help you gear up for your next winter workout.