This article originally appeared on Outside
Great cold weather workout gear should move with you, keep you warm, and let you breathe. From the gym to the trails to the studio, these pieces will outfit you for a winter of indoor and outdoor training and recovery.
The Winners at a Glance
Norrona Senga Warm1 Hood
Ridge Merino Women's Aspect Wool High Rise Base Layer Bottoms
Tracksmith Brighton Base Layer
Vuori Mid Rise Elevation Slim Bootcut Pant
Lululemon Align Bra Light Support and 6" Align High-Rise Shorts
The Reviews: The Best Women's Workout Gear of Winter 2024
Norrona Senja Warm1 Hood ($189)
This versatile midlayer fleece, made of 100 percent recycled polyester, is lightweight and impressively warm, with thoughtful details like a generous half-zip for dumping heat, a zipper chest pocket, and extra long sleeves with thumbholes. It was designed for trail running, so it works well for higher-output activities: it dries quickly, wicks sweat, and has been treated with an amino sugar polymer that helps minimize odor. But it's equally useful while backcountry skiing and on cold runs as it is for mellow dog walks and around-town wear.
Bottom line: A warm layer for any and all cool-weather activities
Ridge Merino Women's Aspect Wool High Rise Base Layer Bottoms ($74.95)
Wool leggings are hard to get right. They tend to stretch and sag, and often are too warm for anything other than layering under Gore-tex. But these 80-percent wool leggings from Ridge Merino feel like my favorite synthetic-material yoga leggings, with a wide waistband and a flattering, snug fit. And despite the wool blend, they're lightweight and breathable enough for indoor training (though I wouldn't wear them to hot yoga). Whether you're looking for something cozier than poly for an early morning gym session or a soft, warm base layer for a winter run, they're versatile, flattering, and comfortable.
Bottom line: A supremely versatile, natural-fiber base layer
Tracksmith Brighton Base Layer Long Sleeve Top ($88)
This is a do-it-all merino layer. The 52 percent wool, 28 percent nylon, 20 percent polyester blend is smooth and soft next-to-skin, thanks to a seamless construction. A more open weave throughout the core and a denser weave in the arms offers extra warmth where you need it and more breathability where your body generates ample heat. It's equally happy layered underneath jackets and overshirts, worn as an outer layer during an outdoor workout, or as a yoga top on a cool day in the studio. It became a go-to baselayer for cool early-morning ski tours, thanks to its mix of breathability and warmth.
Bottom line: A good-looking, easy-wearing, breathable, next-to-skin layer
Lululemon Align Bra Light Support ($58) and 6" Align High-Rise Shorts ($64)
Sizing: 2-14 (Bra) / 0-20 (Shorts)
The Align collection from Lululemon is made of a buttery-soft, gently compressive, nylon/lycra fabric designed for yoga. But for this tester, it became a go-to for gym workouts, stretch sessions, hikes, hot yoga classes, and more. For an A/B cup, the Align bra is supportive enough for skiing, mountain biking, and similar higher-impact activities, and the long-line cut offers extra coverage, making it a good option to pair with a high-waisted bottom if you feel like skipping a shirt. The Align shorts are the best biker-style shorts this tester has tried: they’re snug and flattering, stay put through complicated mobility work and weight room circuits, and have stretchy hems that don't cut in at the thigh.
Bottom line: The comfiest, most flattering bike shorts this tester has tried, and a comfortable yet stylish bra
Vuori Mid Rise Elevation Slim Bootcut Pant ($108)
If you're ready to branch out from the legging silhouette, these super-soft polyester/elastane pants from Vuori are a great option. Sweat-wicking but still soft and cozy, they're perfect for the gym, yoga, and other studio classes, and make a great lounge pant for your recovery days, too. A mid-rise through the waist offers security while still allowing freedom of movement, and the gentle flare and slight crop at the ankle keep them out of the way when you're doing fancy footwork.
Bottom line: Cozy workout pants for the legging-averse
How to Buy
Your gear needs for a winter workout will depend on your preferred way to move and where you like to do it, which is why we prioritized pieces that work well in several different contexts. If you're going to be exercising outside in cool temperatures, look for wool next-to-skin layers, which will help you stay warm even if you're sweating, and choose insulated pieces that still help you shed heat. I've found that running layers generally double well as ski base layers or other high-output activities outdoors. If you're a die-hard gym-goer or a yogi with a penchant for heated classes, your needs likely won't change much seasonally, but you should focus on finding light, sweat-wicking fabrics that offer you the range of motion that you need.
Fit is a matter of personal preference and will also change based on activity, but it's always a good idea to order a couple of sizes in any given piece and return what doesn't work. If we've learned anything from testing gear, it's that sizing varies wildly between different brands, and isn't always consistent even within a brand. The best piece of clothing is one that fits just right. No matter how much you like how something looks, you're not going to wear it if it's not comfortable.
How We Test
Number of products tested: 40+
Number of workout activities: 12 (Winter mtb, winter road cycling, trail running, road running, yoga, weight training, stretching/recovery, backcountry skiing, downhill skiing, hiking, pilates, crossfit)
This year, we prioritized finding pieces that are multi-functional, with the versatility to cross over from barre class to the ski hill to the trail and back to the weight room. There's no reason why you shouldn't feel excited to pull on your ski base layers for a yoga class, or your favorite running shirt for a gym session. And of course, comfort and function were top of mind. We offered bonus points for clothing made with natural fibers or sustainably-sourced synthetics. Our products were primarily tested in Santa Fe, New Mexico: on cold, stormy mornings up at the local ski hill, on cool, dry afternoons on our techy foothill trails, in studios and gyms, and on downtown streets.
Meet Our Lead Tester
Abigail Barronian is a multi-sport athlete based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a senior editor at Outside Magazine. She's an avid skier, mountain biker, flyfisher, and backcountry traveler, with a fondness for the weight room and a nice, mellow yoga class. She's been testing gear for a decade, and moving her body as much as she can for even longer. If you're looking for a strong opinion about a sports bra, ski jacket, or pair of socks, you know where to look.
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