But even if it's cold and rainy, it doesn't have to be that bad as long as you have the right gear. Here are 10 things that will keep you warm and dry on your next bike ride or run outside this winter.
1. Tights Those lightweight tights you use for late fall and early spring workouts just won't cut it in the winter. The Pearl Izumi Therma Fleece Zip Tights ($69.99) are one good choice. A soft fleece backing on this material keeps you warm when the temperature drops, and a wicking finish helps draw moisture from your skin.
2. Long-sleeve shirt In cold weather, you need a long-sleeve shirt that will keep you warm enough without causing you to overheat and sweat too much. Look for a midweight or heavyweight synthetic top with a zipper for venting, like the Marmot Midweight DriClime Base Layer zip top. It's a lightweight when compared to other cold-weather shirts, but don't be fooled by the non-bulky fabric. When paired with a wind-resistant vest, it will keep you plenty warm while running in 30 degree weather.
3. Vest A fleece vest can provide just the right amount of warmth to counter wind chill on bike rides. The Sierra Designs WindStopper Vest ($129.99) is slim-fitting for easy layering under a jacket. For running in milder climates, you'll want a wind- and water-resistant polyester vest that will provide some protection from the elements but still keep you from overheating. The Hind MicroCycle Vest ($49.99) finds a good balance between weather protection and venting with a solid, wind-resistant front and a mesh back for breathability.
4. Jacket A waterproof jacket is a must for cycling or running in wet weather. No matter what, look for a jacket with pit zips or a back vent so you can regulate your temperature to prevent over-heating. The Sugoi Bosui Vapor Urban Jacket has sealed seams for complete water protection and nine-inch pit zips for ventilation. Cyclists will appreciate the back zippered pocket.
5. Wool socks For winter workouts, choose wool-blend socks over synthetic options. Wool fibers create microscopic air pockets that help regulate temperature and wick moisture to keep you warmer than socks made from synthetics. The SmartWool Trail Runner II ($11.99) and Cycling Mini Crew aren't itchy like other wool socks you might have tried. They provide the right amount of padding while remaining thin enough so they won't take up too much space in your shoes.
6. Reflectors It gets dark early, and to be safe, you need to wear something reflective. Yes, you may look a little dorky, but it's better than being run over by a car. Options include reflective clothing such as the illumiNITE jackets, vests and tights. Although the material looks normal during the day, when hit with a car's headlights the entire fabric becomes reflective. Perhaps the most versatile choice is a reflective vest. Front and back reflective stripes keep you visible, and because it's mesh, you can wear it over your other clothing.
7. Hat Most of your body heat is lost through your head. An easy way to keep warm is by wearing a lightweight wool blend or fleece hat, such as the Patagonia Beanie ($24.99). This low-volume hat packs down small enough so it will easily fit in a vest pocket or can be tucked in the waistband of your tights if you warm up on your run. Hats are often too bulky to be worn under a cycling helmet, so go with a headband to keep your ears warm while riding.
8. Glove liners Except for in the coldest conditions, you'll probably warm up after you start your run and need to take off your gloves. But until that happens, you'll appreciate the extra warmth from a pair of lightweight gloves like the Manzella Max 10 Liners ($9.99).
9. Full-finger gloves Wind chill can quickly freeze your fingers on a bike ride. The Castelli 240 WindStopper Gloves ($59.99) were made with cyclists in mind. A sueded material on the palms makes it easy to grip the brakes and shifters, while a breathable, waterproof Gore-Tex layer keeps out rain and wind.
10. Booties You won't need these for running, but they're a must for cycling. Almost nothing is worse than cycling with feet that are so cold they're numb. Booties will provide some protection from the rain, but most importantly, they'll keep you feet warm. The Hind Cycle Booties ($29.99) are constructed with lightweight neoprene and have a cutaway to accommodate bike cleats.