Cold Weather Sports Apparel Tips

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Is there a type of long underwear that isn't bulky?

Polypropylene Underwear: Warmth Without Weight

If you're spending a lot of time outside in the cold, skiing, shoveling snow, or building snowmen, thermal wear made of polypropylene, a thin but warm moisture-wicking fabric, will serve you well. It's light enough to wear for running, but warm enough for when you aren't constantly moving. I have worn polypropylene thermal pants underneath shorts and lightweight tights for running, under ski pants for cross country skiing, and under casual pants for New Year's Eve fireworks.

Several sports apparel manufactuers offer polypropylene underwear, but Varitherm, part of Champion's Duofold collection, is the brand used by the U.S. Olympic luge, bobsled, and skeleton athletes.

   
What pants should I wear for cold weather workouts?

Cold Weather Sports Pants Keep The Chill Off Your Hard-Working Legs

No matter how active you are during a winter workout, it's important to protect your legs and keep them warm. A warm muscle is less likely to be injured, and cold weather athletic clothing has come a long way from the bulky ski suits and baggy sweatpants of the past.

Some athletes prefer fitted microfiber tights with a fleecy lining, others prefer a loose-fitting thermal pant that still has moisture-wicking properties. For extreme outdoor sports conditions (cold, wind, rain), choose wind- and water-resistant pants made from Gore-Tex or a similar performance fabric.

   
What is the best base layer for cold weather sports?

Thermal Tops Are A Snug Foundation For Winter Sports

When you're selecting athletic clothing for cold weather a thermal top is a great base layer. Choose a thermal top that fits fairly snugly against your skin to trap warm air. Also, be sure your thermal top is made from a moisture-wicking material to keep the sweat from building up on your skin and giving you that chilled, clammy feeling.

   
How does layering keep me warm?

Layering 101: Stay Warm, Dry, And Comfortable

When you're preparing for an outdoor run or other exercise in cold, windy, or rainy conditions (or all of the above), plan your cold weather sports apparel by combining several lightweight layers rather than wearing a single, heavy coat. The layers will trap heat between them to keep you warm without the bulk of a single heavy layer.

-Base Layer: For your base layer, to wear right next to your skin, choose a lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric, such as Champion's Double Dry or Nike's Sphere. The base layer moves moisture away from your skin and keeps you from feeling clammy and chilled. Some thermal clothes can be worn as base layers or on their own in warmer weather.

-Middle Layer: For your middle layer, choose a slightly heavier top that can be worn over the base layer, or by itself on a moderately cool day. A lightweight fleece or a half-zip top is good choice for a middle layer.

-Outer Layer: For your outer layer, choose a top or jacket that is wind-resistant and water-resistant, but also somewhat breathable, so you don't overheat. Read the labels; some jackets list suggested temperatures at which you'll be comfortable in them.

   
How can I keep my hands warm during cold weather workouts?

Hand-y Layers: Glove Liners Inside Of Mittens

For running or high-activity workouts in moderately chilly weather, your hands will probably be happy with thin gloves made from moisture-wicking fabrics from most sports apparel manufacturers.

When the temperature drops to the single digits, look for gloves made from Gore-Tex or a similar wind- and water-resistant material if you will be outside in the sleet or snow, or fleece gloves or mittens if you anticipate being cold but not damp. Layering a thin pair of gloves under wind- and water-resistant keeps your hands especially warm and dry, as the extra layer traps more heat.

In my experience with wintertime running, removing your gloves as you warm up is another way to vent and “let off some steam” if you start to feel too warm. Put the gloves in the pockets of your sports jacket or carry them in your hands and put them back on again if you start to feel colder.

   
What socks are best for cold weather workouts?

Thermal Socks Keep Your Feet Warm And Dry

For running and other outdoor activities in below-freezing temperatures, especially if you are skiing, winter hiking, or snowboarding, your usual, trusty moisture-wicking sports socks may not provide enough warmth. When the wind chill is in the double digits below zero, thermal athletic socks, such as SmartWool line, provide the warmth of wool and moisture-wicking properties to keep your feet dry.

Another option: Layer a thin pair of moisture-wicking socks under a standard pair of wool socks for a similar effect, but be mindful of the potential for blisters if the inner sock gets bunched up.

   
What is Gore-Tex?

The Most Extreme: Gore-Tex Apparel Sees You Through The Worst Weather

Gore-Tex, arguably the most waterproof and windproof fabric available, has been on the market for more than 25 years and sets the standard for cold weather running clothes. The patented Gore-Tex fabric keeps water from penetrating the garment but allows perspiration to escape so you don't overheat.

The Gore-Tex Windstopper collection is more breathable and windproof, but water-resistant rather than waterproof, so it's best for moderate cold (20-30 degrees), rather than extremely cold conditions (single digits).

The newest line of sports apparel, Gore-Tex XCR, claims to be the best of both worlds: Completely wind and waterproof but breathable to boot.

Whatever your sport, even if it's just walking the dog or getting the kids into the car, you will probably find a use for a Gore-Tex jacket. Gore-Tex apparel is not cheap, but it is a worthwhile investment. The breathability and water-resistance make Gore-Tex jackets, pants, and vests ideal as casual lightweight outwear as well as cold weather running clothes.

   
Is a hood better than a hat for keeping ears warm during a workout?

Hoods Vs. Hats: Both Are Music To Your Ears

Many thermal jackets or other athletic jackets have hoods to keep your head and ears warm and dry, so seek out a hooded style if you know that you'll often be working out in cold, wet weather. For versatility, some styles of fitness jackets have detachable hoods, or hoods that stow away into the jacket collar when you don't need them. Some hoods are simply a light shell of material for rain resistance, and others have some type of lining for warmth as well.

If hoods really annoy you, combat the cold with a sports hat. Close-fitting beanie-style hats are ideal for cold weather, and most sports apparel manufacturers offer hats in thin, moisture-wicking fabrics or heavier fleece fabric. The disadvantage of cold-weather thermal hats is that they don't always cover your earlobes. When it's cold, I feel colder if any part of my ear is exposed. If you feel the same way, opt for a lightweight fleece earband instead of a hat.

A bonus layering tip: If it's really cold/windy/rainy, wear a light moisture-wicking beanie (or an earband) underneath the hood of your sports jacket and you'll be ready to brave any elements.

   
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