Don’t let the rain get in your way — we’ve rounded up everything you need to keep warm, dry and protected while exercising in cold, wet weather.
When the pandemic shuttered the gyms, lockdown pushed many of us outdoors for our workouts.
We’re now facing another winter of exercising in the park, and whether you’re running, cycling or training, the right gear is essential to keep you warm, dry and protected.
So we asked personal trainers and fitness experts what kit they rely on when the temperatures drop.
“We tell our members there’s no such thing as bad weather, it’s bad clothing,” says Mark Ward, co-owner of Movement Fitness, which runs outdoor group training sessions in Dublin.
Layers, he notes, are the most important thing in the winter months, so you can take them off as you warm up.
The top layer is crucial and should be “light, breathable, water-resistant or waterproof, with a high down-fill in the jacket”, Mark says, to ensure you are warm enough when starting out.
He names The North Face and Jack Wolfskin as his top brands for down jackets.
The North Face’s range is pricey, but on the lower end is the Winter Warm Jacket (€130), which is designed for running and training, with a synthetic fill to reduce heat loss and quick-drying fabric to wick away sweat.
At Jack Wolfskin, the hooded Tasman Jacket (€149.95, Jack-Wolfskin.ie) has a hybrid design combining a stretchy back and sleeves with a windproof, insulated front filled with duck down. Both are available in men’s and women’s sizes.
Personal trainer Hanna Nytomt of ShapeUpFitness.ie likes the jackets from Under Armour.
“They’re very good and they’re not too thick. Whatever you’re getting has to be quite fitted,” she advises, as bulkier clothing can get in the way and distract you from your workout.
Kieran Keenan, PE teacher and owner of personal training service FitSquad.ie, also names Under Armour’s outerwear as his favourite, in particular the OutRun The Storm jacket (€100, UnderArmour.ie).
“This is the perfect jacket for those cold winter evening runs,” he explains. “It’s water-resistant and lightweight, it’s stretchy, comfortable and it keeps you warm.”
For a reliable, fully waterproof jacket, Galway-based personal trainer Sarah Thornton recommends the AquaDry jackets from Craghoppers, such as the hooded Atlas shell jacket (€140, craghoppers.com).
Craghoppers Atlas Jacket
“That one is brilliant. I’ve worn that for the last two years because I’ve just been outside all the time and I knew I was going to be out in the rain. That keeps me really warm and dry,” she says.
The key thing to look out for is a good grip on the sole and a waterproof lining such as Gore-Tex to help you tackle cold, wet and windy weather.
“Gore-Tex can be super helpful to minimise your feet getting wet, and Nike and Adidas have some really good Gore-Tex runners for outdoor training. They have very good water resistance,” says Mark.
Nike’s Pegasus Trail 3 Gore-Tex is available for men and women (€149.99, nike.ie), complete with a Gore-Tex layer to keep water out, a tough rubber outsole for better grip on muddy terrain and lightweight foam for a smooth run.
Adidas offers a lower-priced Terrex Agravic (€100, adidas.ie) with a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, protective toe cap for rocky paths and a durable outsole for multidirectional traction, or the higher-end Terrex Agravic Flow Gore-Tex (€160, adidas.ie), which boasts the brand’s Boost cushioning, a sock-like fit and a rubber outsole with even stronger grip. Both styles come in men’s and women’s sizes.
Hanna swears by the Brooks Ghost 14 GTX trainers (€160, BrooksRunning.com), also available for men and women.
“They’re just brilliant because they keep my feet dry and warm in the winter,” she says.
“A lot of my girls are now changing to Brooks — they try it and they just go wild. It’s really comfortable on the foot, and they do have that Gore Tex and that extra bit of grip as well if it’s wet. They are amazing.”
In 20 years of training, Kieran says his favourite running shoes for winter weather are the Charged Bandit Trail Gore Tex (€100, UnderArmour.ie).
“They are lightweight, extremely comfortable and 100pc waterproof, so no need to worry about running through mud and rain,” he says.
Cyclists and hikers should check out the range by KeenFootwear.com, recommended by Sarah.
“That is a great waterproof walking shoe, so if you’re cycling to work, you won’t arrive with soggy socks,” she says. The Targhee waterproof hiking shoes, available in three colours each for men and women, are priced €149.95.
Tops, bottoms and accessories
For men, Kieran names the ColdGear range by Under Armour as his go-to for winter workouts.
“It’s an insulated layering technology that keeps you warm and dry in cold conditions and is extremely comfortable and lightweight. It acts as a base layer holding heat in,” he says.
His top picks are the ColdGear Fitted Mock Top (€55) and ColdGear Leggings (€55, UnderArmour.ie).
He says of the top: “It keeps you feeling light, warm and dry, and can be worn on its own or under multiple layers. It has a stretch mesh back and underarm panels, which wick sweat and dries really fast.”
The leggings, meanwhile, can be worn alone or under shorts. “Compression leggings increase blood flow, both during a workout and afterwards. They provide more oxygen flow to leg muscles, keeping them from cramping,” Kieran says.
For women, Hanna is another fan of Under Armour’s long-sleeved ColdGear base layers (€50, UnderArmour.ie) and highlights the leggings from Irish brand AvaRoseLeggings.com (€60).
“They’re high-waisted and they stay up, keeping your mid-section warm, and it’s also really good material,” she says. “I wear them all the time.”
Sarah likes leggings by fellow Irish brand Gym+Coffee (€70, GymPlusCoffee.com) and warns against being seduced by budget brands.
“I’d be wary of the cheaper ones — they can look great, but a lot of the time they don’t move well with you and they don’t last as long,” she says.
When it comes to accessories, Hanna says your choice of hats and gloves may depend on the activity you’re doing. For circuit training, she advises gloves with a good grip, such as The North Face’s ETip Hardface Fleece Gloves with grippy silicone palm (€50, TheNorthFace.ie).
“They’re fitted and not too bulky. If you’re running, they don’t necessarily need a grip, but if you are doing any weight work, I do find the grip is really helpful,” she says.
A hat can be too hot, so she suggests a fleece-lined headband such as the Aeroready Knit Headband from Adidas (€20, adidas.ie) to cover your ears without overheating.
If you do prefer a full hat, Kieran says the Storm Beanie from Under Armour (€30) is breathable, soft and comfortable thanks to its light, stretchy fleece and sweat-wicking material.
Best buys in winterproofing workout gear
For strength sessions: ETip Hardface gloves (€50, TheNorthFace.ie)
These fleece gloves are equipped with a silicone grip so you can get a better handle on weights and props during outdoor training.
“They’re fitted and not too bulky,” says Hanna Nytomt. “If you are doing any weight work, I do find the grip is really helpful.”
For running: Charged Bandit Trail Gore Tex running shoes (€100, UnderArmour.ie)
For runs on wet winter days, you’ll want a trainer that keeps the water out without roasting your feet. Kieran Keenan says this style is “lightweight, extremely comfortable, and 100pc waterproof, so no need to worry about running through mud and rain”.
For cyclists: Targhee waterproof hiking shoes (€149.95, KeenFootwear.com)
Don’t let rain interfere with your commute — Sarah Thornton hails these waterproof shoes, available in men’s and women’s sizes, as a great option to ensure you can cycle to work without arriving in the office with soggy feet and socks.