8 Best Thermal Leggings to Stay Warm
Stay warm during your outdoor winter workout or walk with these comfortable pairs of thermal leggings, from fleece-lined to Merino wool.
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Thermal leggings for cold weather
There’s nothing better than a toasty pair of leggings to make frigid—but fun!—winter activities more tolerable. From skiing and snowboarding to sledding and outdoor running, this one piece of clothing ensures that the lower half of your body is as protected as possible from the cold temperatures. While any old pair of leggings might suffice underneath heavier snow gear, a solid pair of thermal leggings may be all you need to go up against cold weather. (Check out these weird things that can happen to your body in winter.)
The benefits of thermal leggings
Unlike normal workout leggings, thermal leggings are designed to keep you warm while you exercise in cold temperatures, pulling the sweat away from your skin so you stay dry, explains dietitian and nutritionist Roger E. Adams, certified personal trainer and founder of eatrightfitness.com. “Most thermal leggings are made from a combination of both natural and synthetic materials, such as wool, cotton, and nylon,” he says. “The tight compression these garments give you also provide support to tired muscles and may reduce overall fatigue during a workout and provide support during the day,” he adds.
In addition to keeping you warm on a cold day, Ronnie Lubischer, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of Lubischer’s Burn and Blast Training, has found thermal leggings to be particularly useful for lifting weights. (These are the best workout leggings, according to trainers.)
“I have my athletes wear thermal leggings during intense heavy lift days because they help increase blood flow to large muscles in the glutes, thighs, and calves which, in turn, will maximize their lifts,” Lubischer says. He adds, “Another added benefit is that the anatomically correct stitching helps reinforce or bolster existing connective tissue (joints and ligaments), which provides added protection during lifts.”
(Learn the fitness myths that can damage your health.)
How to choose the right pair of thermal leggings
Selecting the right material is key. Although fleece leggings might keep you warm, you may want to skip them if you’re looking for a pair for exercise, Adams suggests. This is because they can trap sweat on your skin, Adams notes.
He also points out the importance of selecting thermal leggings that fit nice and tight so as to provide support and compression. This, he says, can actually give your workout a boost as it supports your tired muscles and may delay fatigue. (Thinking about exercising indoors too? These are the best products for indoor workouts.)
“However, you don’t typically want a really heavy material as it may feel too heavy if you are running outside,” says Adams. “If you are cross-training or doing other types of activity, a heavier legging may suffice, but if you are running or cycling, a thinner material is likely going to feel better and a bit more natural, and still provide warmth and support,” he explains.
Best thermal leggings for outdoor activities
Here are some of the best thermal leggings that give you the support, warmth, dryness, and comfort you’re looking for while you enjoy winter activities.
Nike Pro Icon Clash Tights
Insulated with a warm layer of fleece, these thermal leggings from Nike will keep your temperature regulated and your body dry and sweat-free during a workout, thanks to their Dri-FIT technology. They have enhanced maneuverability so that you can get from point A to point B with ease without feeling the frigid temperatures that surround you. They’re also eco-friendly, because the fabric is made from 50 percent recycled polyester.
(Check out the best cold weather jackets for walking or running.)
Brooks Carbonite 7/8 Tights
If you’re a runner looking to continue your early morning or late evening exercises even after the temperatures have dropped below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, these Brooks leggings have your back. Runners will like these because they’re lightweight, super comfortable, and they keep you warm with their DriLayer fabric, which is a mix of nylon and Spandex. They also have reflectivity areas in the motion zones to help drivers see you more easily even in the dark. (This is the best reflective clothing for running and walking.)
Odlo Natural + Kinship Warm Base Layer Bottoms
These beautiful leggings from Odlo are made from a blend of Merino wool, which creates natural thermoregulation and insulation. They also have a soft and versatile top that is built with innovative ventilation zones to keep you dry and prevent you from overheating while you’re exercising. (Check out the best cold weather face masks for coronavirus.)
Baleaf Fleece-Lined Winter Leggings
Fleece-lined, yet breathable, these soft brushed fabric leggings from Baleaf are made from a fabric combination of 87 percent polyester and 13 percent spandex. They hold up physically well to movement thanks to their anti-drop, high-rise waistband that provides full coverage. There’s a hidden pocket in the waistband that’s large enough to store your smartphone and even a few credit cards.
(These are the best black leggings with pockets.)
Odlo Performance Blackcomb Base Layer Bottoms
Another comfortable pair of leggings from Odlo, the Performance Blackcomb, is designed from a blend of tech fabrics, including polyester, polyamide, and elastane. They’re so soft and stretchable that you’re able to move comfortably and without feeling restricted in your movements. Bonus: They’re slim-fitting and contour to your body in a natural way while allowing for ventilation and enhanced moisture management. A built-in ZeroScent technology helps keep you fresh and dry.
(Here are the best social distancing sports and workouts you can do.)
Nike Sportswear Tech Fleece Pants
This other pair of Nike leggings is a bit looser—more like a mix between an athleisure jogger pant and a pair of true, form-fitting exercise leggings. Made from 100 percent cotton, they feature Nike’s well-known Dri-FIT moisture management technology, which wicks away sweat effortlessly. In addition to the drawstring closure, these pants feature two zippered side pockets that can store your phone, credit cards, keys, or whatever else you may need with you on the go.
(These are the best face masks for exercise.)
Asics Lite-Show Winter Tights
Brushed knit insides provide warmth and thermo-regulation of these Asics thermal exercise leggings made out of a classic combination of 92 percent polyester and 8 percent spandex materials. They have a comfortable fit with a clean-finish waistband and zip opening for an easy on and off. Reflective print ensures enhanced visibility of drivers and passersby on the road while you’re outdoors.
(Here are some essential rules for working out in winter.)
Qualidyne Men’s Cycling Bike Pants
If cycling is your thing and you love to do it outdoors no matter the temperature, you’ll need a pair of these Qualidyne thermal leggings designed for the sport. These offer low back support and anti-friction features to reduce friction and irritation while you’re on the saddle. They’re made from 90 percent polyester and 10 percent spandex synthetic fibers and feature a fleece inner layer that helps wick moisture and keep your skin dry. They have ankle slippers that allow for an easy on and off and have reflector strips to increase visibility.
Next, here are some winter shower tips to keep in mind after exercise.
- Roger E. Adams, PhD, CPT, dietitian, nutritionist and founder of eatrightfitness.com
- Ronnie Lubischer, CSCS and owner of Lubischer's Burn and Blast Training, West Long Branch, New Jersey