Layering Clothes for Cold Weather Walking Workouts

Stay Dry and Warm When Sweating in Winter

Team of Walkers at Race
Dressed for Cold Weather Race. Hero Images/Getty Images

What should you wear when it is cold outside but you are working up a sweat with your walking workout? While cotton may be the "fabric of our lives," it also can leave you cold and clammy if it gets wet as it doesn't wick moisture away from the body. It's especially bad to wear cotton jeans during wet, cold weather.

Wool has the same problem if it gets too wet, it doesn't dry fast and the wet fabric will chill you.

Polypropylene dries fast but doesn't pull the sweat away from the body.

Technology today produces fabrics that breathe, wick sweat away from the skin, insulate the body, and feel soft and cozy.

Layering to Stay Dry and Warm

Next to the skin: Your base layer should wick sweat away from your body to keep your skin dry. Cotton should not be used - save your t-shirts for other purposes. Buy long-sleeved polyester technical shirts at the running store or base layer undershirts from outdoor stores or sports stores. Look from fabrics such as Thermion, polypropylene, Thermax, Thinsulate, and silk.
Top Picks for Winter Walking Shirts

Insulating layer:  In between your base layer and your jacket you want an insulating layer that you can take off if you warm up, and put back on when you cool down. It can be a shirt, vest or light jacket.  The best choices are polyester microfleece, wool, down or fiberfill.

Outer layer: Even if you skip the insulating layer, you need an outer layer that is windproof and water resistant. A jacket that you can wear loosely over your other layers will protect you from the elements. It needs to be windproof so you won't get cold from too much air flow. It's amazing how much of a difference a simple windproof jacket can make.

If you are going to walk in the rain, you need a waterproof jacket, preferably one that is breathable so sweat can escape but rain can't come in.
Top Picks for Waterproof Jackets

Pants: If the weather is frigid, long underwear bottoms or tights underneath another pair of pants will keep you warm. Cotton and denim should be avoided. Running pants or running tights made of synthetics that wick moisture will keep you more comfortable in rain and snow.
Top Picks for Walking Pants

Body Odor?

Unfortunately, many wicking fabrics also retain sweat smells despite laundering. But you can get them out with my tip on how to get odor out of exercise shirts.

Where to Buy Layered Clothing

It can be confusing to try to shop for appropriate layered clothing online. Many items labeled as exercise clothing are simply cotton shirts and pants, which aren't going to wick away sweat and will leave you colder and clammy. It's better to start your shopping from our lists, or to go to these sites that specialize in suitable workout gear.

  • Roadrunner Sports: This is a great source for inexpensive layering pieces specially designed for runners (and fast walkers). Their shirts, tights, pants and jackets will serve you well for walking workouts.
  • National Running Center: This site has great deals on technical running clothing that works great for walkers.
  • REI-Outlet.com: They have overstocks, closeouts and seconds from top-name outdoors gear manufacturers as well as their own lines. They are a good source for waterproof jackets, vests, and base layers.
  • One Hanes Place: Outlet for Leggs, Hanes, Bali and Champion. They are a good source for sweat-wicking briefs and sports bras.
  • Campmor The catalog company has a good site for online ordering, and I found delivery to be very swift.
  • Eastbay Athletic shoes and gear.
  • Eastern Mountain Sports Online ordering from the major outdoor store chain.
  • Sierra Trading Post: This company specializing in closeouts, seconds and overstocks of outdoor gear and clothing at excellent prices.

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