Sports Apparel Accessories Tips

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How do I choose a sports bottle or hydration pack?

Water Belts: Be Your Own Camel

Long workouts require water, or some type of rehydration. Whatever the weather, take water or your favorite sports drink with you in some sort of bottle or hydration pack if you will be working out for much more than an hour.

Water bottle carrier belts come in many styles and sizes. If you prefer a single-bottle belt, look for one that is angled to one side; this makes it easier for you to pull the bottle out and put it back without missing a step.

Some people prefer belts that hold several small bottles rather than one large one. The advantage of these belts is that they distribute the weight evenly around your waist and minimize the distracting sloshing of a larger amount of water in a larger bottle.

The “camelback” hydration pack style is another option. The trademark Camelbak accessories, made by the Camelbak company, have sipping tubes that attach at the waist. Some people find that they drink more fluids when they used these hydration packs because the sipping tube is easier to use than reaching for a bottle. These bags have the advantage of being lightweight and, since they fit more closely to your body, they can be more comfortable to wear. That said, since they do fit closer to the body, they could make your back sweatier on a hot summer day. Although Camelbak has fanny-pak styles, they are better suited to walking or biking than to running. Try different styles and decide which factors are more important to you to get the best fit for your workouts.

What type of hat should I wear for summer running?

Topping It Off: Caps Keep You Comfortable

In warmer weather, lightweight baseball-style caps with mesh panels are the ideal sports accessory--they keep the sun out of your eyes and off your face. Some hats and visors also have built-in headbands to help absorb sweat. Most distance runners deal with excessive perspiration on their face and neck. One good tip is to wear a bandanna around your head and adjust the mesh cap on top of it. Look for caps with Velcro closures to get the best fit. Women who wear ponytails: Look for caps with the hole in the back; you can slide your ponytail through it and your hair stays out of your way.

If you don't like to cover the top of your head, a sports visor works well.

What packs can hold valuables during a workout?

No Pockets? Try A Mini Waist Pack

Sometimes you don't need to carry water with you, but you want to carry your keys, a few packs of power gel or Ibuprofen, or other valuables along on a workout and you aren't wearing any sports clothing with pockets. Small waist packs without water bottles come in a variety of styles with zippered pockets in different sizes. Some styles, such as the Mini Waistpack from Asics, have a pocket designed to hold your Ipod, too, with a handy hole for the headphones to go through.

These small packs can be a useful sports accessory for long runs, walks, or bike rides. Because they are lighter in weight and less bulky than a traditional “fanny pack,” they work as running packs, but can also double as passport carriers and money belts for travelers. And when you get to your destination, you can safely carry your valuables during your workouts.

What kind of sweatband should I wear for workouts?

Sweatbands Help Control Hair And Absorb Sweat

The right sweatbands can make your workout better because you won't be constantly wiping your face on a towel or on your sleeve. You can wear an ordinary bandanna as a sweatband, which fits well under mesh running caps. As a veteran long-haired runner, my sweatband style is to put my hair in a ponytail, braid the ponytail, wrap a bandanna around my head and tie the ends around the ponytail, and top it off with a mesh baseball cap that has a Velcro closure and a hole for the braid to fit through. The hat doesn't slide around, and I wear it this way for training and for marathons (and even for a 50-kilometer run).

But if you are workout out indoors and not wearing a hat, choose a sweatband made of terry cloth or moisture-wicking fabric because they will be more absorbent.

If you just want to keep layers of hair off your face, try a narrow rubber headband. These trendy bands were popular among the women athletes in recent Olympics, and you can find them at most places where sports apparel accessories are sold.

What reflective accessories can I wear at night?

A Reflective Vest Keeps You In View

Nighttime workouts can be a great way to unwind after a long day, but you can't let your guard down completely. Remember that drivers in cars aren't expecting to see runners, walkers, or bikers in the dark. If you regularly work out a night, a reflective vest may be a good sports accessory to have on hand. Although most brands of high-end running shoes have some reflective panels, wearing a vest makes you much more visible to oncoming traffic. But don't worry about adding bulk; several sports apparel manufacturers, such as Road Runner Sports, offer lightweight vests made of mesh. The vests have adjustable straps to fit most sizes and to layer over any combination of tops and jackets in cold weather.

If a mesh vest is too floppy and annoying, seek out the Amphipod Xinglet, a reflective harness that consists of a strap around the waist and straps over each shoulder that meet at the chest and back—like wearing two pairs of suspenders.

How can sports wristbands help my game?

Sports Wristbands Keep Sweaty Palms At Bay

Sweaty hands can be a hindrance during a workout, and sports wristbands can help you keep your grip on a tennis racquet, basketball, bike handle, or yoga mat. They can also come in handy for mopping your sweaty forehead during a tough workout. Most athletic wristbands, such as those available from Champion, are made of terry cloth for softness and absorbency.

Although some styles of sports wristbands are available with Velcro closures, most of them are elastic and they stretch to fit most wrist sizes. Shopping for children? Kid-sized sports wristbands are available from most sports apparel manufacturers.

Are their special sunglasses to wear with sports clothing?

Sports Sunglasses Protect Eyes, Prevent Wrinkles (Well, Maybe)

Sports sunglasses (not ski goggles) can make your workout more comfortable because you won't be squinting. A good pair of sports sunglasses protects your eyes from the sun and wind, as well as from flying debris, which is especially important when biking outdoors.

Most sunglasses that bill themselves as sports sunglasses are lightweight and curve to fit the head snugly. But there is a continuum of both quality and price, and you need to find your place on it. You can buy basic sunglasses for a few dollars and wear them for a workout, but they probably won't stay in place without some sort of strap. Sports accessory makers sell sports sunglasses ranging from Champion's $25 model with water-resistant coating to styles costing $250 or more.

For runners, the best sunglasses are lightweight styles with frames that hook snugly over the ears and don't bounce or slide around on the face.

Try different styles to find what model fits your head and face, and don't wear sunglasses in a competition that you haven't tried in training.

What bags are best for carrying sports clothing?

Bagging Your Workout (Clothes, That Is)

You have lots of fantastic sports clothing, but where do you put it if you have places to go before or after the gym? The right sports bag makes organizing your workout gear easier, and saves you time before and after workouts.

If you designate certain pockets or places in your bag for certain things, such as band-aids, gels, workout gear, post-workout dry socks or shirt, shoes, or hat, you'll spend less time rooting around for what you need, and you won't be late for your favorite class.

How can I keep my ears warm during winter runs?

Ear Warmers Take The Chill Off

If you want to keep your ears warm but you don't like to wear a hat, look for one of the many varieties of ear-warmer headbands that are available where sports accessories are sold. The caveat: if you want a headband to wear during a hard workout, make sure you get one that is made from moisture-wicking fabrics. Many clothing stores sell ear-warming headbands for fashion, not necessarily for sports, and these headbands are less likely to fit your head well and stay in place during a workout. Also, if they aren't made from moisture-wicking fabric, you may find that your ears and forehead are warm, but sweaty.

For the best fit, choose a headband that is slightly contoured to fit around the ears, rather than one that looks like a perfect circle. You'll be glad for the snug curves when the winter wind is blowing.

Are there special gloves and mittens to wear with sports clothing?

Give Your Hands A Hand With Sports Gloves And Mittens

If you exercise outdoors in the winter months, your hands will likely get cold so it's worth investing in a few pairs of lightweight, moisture-wicking mittens or gloves, so you have one pair to wear and one as a spare if you lose your gloves or need a replacement. Sports gloves and mittens are available in a range of weights and materials where sports accessories are sold, and vary in warmth and protection based on your region.

If the temperature hovers around freezing, you will probably be comfortable in lightweight, moisture-wicking polyester/Lycra blend gloves. These gloves can serve as base layers underneath a heavier pair of gloves or mittens, or they work well on their own as a light layer on a moderately cold day.

If you need serious protection from wind, snow, and cold, read the labels and look for gloves or mittens with a wind- and water-resistant coating, such as Gore-tex.

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Lynne Christen