5 Top Thermal Leggings for Staying Warm This Winter
Stay warm during your outdoor winter workout or walk with these comfortable pairs of thermal leggings, from fleece-lined to Merino wool.
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.
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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.
“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.”
(Related: The Health Benefits of Skiing, Skating, and Playing in the Snow)
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.
“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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
(Related: The 8 Best Winter Boots For Your Feet, According to Podiatrists)
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.