Cold weather should be no obstacle to winter training, and expensive gear shouldn't be required to keep the outer limbs and core of the body warm. Thin, breathable layers are recommended for temperature regulation, and head gear helps prevent heat loss through the neck. These 10 inexpensive winter workout essentials will help wearers brave the elements from head to toe.
10 Winter Workout Essentials for $25 or Less
Sun, snow, rain, and harsh winds slowly degrade the elasticity and firmness of facial skin. A balaclava protects the whole face: mouth, nose, cheeks, forehead, and chin, as well as the neck. The MJ Gear balaclava ($13 on Amazon) is made of lightweight polyester that's breathable, odor resistant, and quick drying. It scores an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars from nearly 300 reviewers, who note its virtues for all kinds of winter sports and activities.
When running in the cold, it can be awkward to fit winter accessories over hair that's tied back. This headband ($14 on Amazon) has an opening in the back for a ponytail. Soft polyester fleece keeps the ears and head warm while wicking away perspiration. The headband scores a solid average of 4.5 stars from some 350 reviewers, who say the hole for the ponytail keeps the band in place and their ears tightly covered.
When exercising outdoors, many runners layer on a thermal undershirt, a long-sleeve shirt, and a third garment that's easy to remove. The Danskin Now women's Dri-More full-zip hoodie ($12 at Walmart) is made of soft cotton-blend material and ends just below the hips. It features a full zipper, large front pockets, and a hood to keep the head and neck warm. The hoodie comes in black, grey, or dark navy in sizes small to XXL (some reviewers suggest buying up one size). The light weight and flattering fit earn the product an average 4.4 stars from more than 240 reviewers.
There's a reason hikers prefer merino wool socks over cotton -- wool is warmer and holds moisture without feeling wet against the skin. Thermal merino wool socks ($20 for three pairs at Walmart) have a brushed fleece lining for additional comfort and warmth, as well as heel and arch support. They're available in medium and large sizes for men and women. Reviewers report that the socks keep feet warm without being bulky.
The layer of clothing closest to the skin performs a critical function: It must help retain and distribute body heat during outdoor winter workouts. The Hanes X-Temp thermal underwear crew tee for men ($10 at Walmart) does the job without constraining movement. The fabric is 60 percent cotton and 40 percent polyester and sized for a snug fit. It comes in red, black, heather grey, and natural. The long-sleeve tee generates an average 4 stars from reviewers, who like the price and the comfort.
When it's raining or snowing, the Trespass Qikpac jacket ($25 at Sierra Trading Post) comes in handy. Waterproof and lightweight, this gender-neutral garment boasts a breathable membrane with mesh lining for air circulation. There are elasticized cuffs, adjustable drawstrings at the hem, and a three-piece hood to keep the wet and cold air out. The jacket comes in black, cobalt blue, lime green, red, and gray and packs neatly into a small bag. Several hundred reviewers proclaim its 4.3-star value. Many report using it while running, camping, biking, hiking, and kayaking in inclement weather.
Body heat builds up quickly during cold weather runs, so a moisture-wicking sports bra is a welcome accessory for women. The Everlast Sport seamless sports bra ($14 at Kmart) transfers and keeps moisture at bay for a more comfortable run. The seamless racer-back design holds everything firmly in place and the foam support cups are removable. Reviewers praise the comfort and style and give the bra an average 4.5 rating. It's available in black, magenta, and methyl blue.
Hand warmers are essential to frostbite prevention on fingers. Pack two HotHands hand warmers ($5 for 10 at Walmart) when heading out for several hours in the cold. They heat up as soon as the package is opened, and each warmer provides heat for up to 10 hours. Wear under gloves or when keeping hands in pockets. Reviewers appreciate the toasty warmth, which earns the warmers an average 4.8 stars.
Speed walking and hiking outdoors in winter require eagle-eyed attention to each step. Ice and snow grips that strap onto sneakers and hiking shoes are a cheap and easy safety precaution against slips and falls. OuterStar ice and snow grips ($8 to $9 on Amazon) feature non-slip steel studs and spikes for grip. They fit men's and women's shoes and come in small to extra-large sizes. They also fold to fit in a purse, pack, or pocket. The average reviewer rating is 4.3 stars, with kudos for the security they provide.
It's a smart idea to protect a smartphone against wet weather and sweat regardless whether it's used for fitness tracking or music listening. The Voxkin universal waterproof case ($15 on Amazon) comes with waterproof earphones, a built-in compass, an armband, and a lanyard. It even suffices for underwater photo shoots. Dozens of satisfied users report trusting the case to safeguard their mobile devices, and award it an average 4.5 stars.