Want to ease the pain of winter outdoors? Check out these top gear recommendations from Jeff Banowetz.
Find body-temperature balance with Tracksmith’s Waffle Layer
Layering for winter running can be a challenge. If you start with an ultra-thin, moisture-wicking top like you wear most of the year and pair it with a light shell, chances are you’re going to stay cold. But if you add a fleece insulation layer, that probably makes you too hot. The solution: Change to a base layer with some insulation like the Waffle Layer by Tracksmith. This 100% Merino wool top is naturally moisture-wicking and odor-resistant. The waffle pattern in the fabric traps air against the skin to increase insulation, but it also helps excess heat to escape once you warm up. The soft and cozy next-to-skin feel is welcome on cold winter mornings — it may just provide the boost of motivation to push you out the door. When the sun’s out and the temperature isn’t too low, you can wear this on its own. Add a jacket for protection from the wind and rain, and you’re set for everything but the most frigid conditions. The piece is so comfortable — not to mention good looking — that it just may become your go-to top for any winter activity.
Price: $108, tracksmith.com
Keep your muscles loose during the offseason with this approachable foam roller
This time of year, many athletes take stock of their season and look ahead to what’s next. Perhaps it’s also time to back off and work on those aches and pains? Maybe get yourself a foam roller and learn how to use it? By now, chances are you’ve seen people use these basic massage tools after a run or workout. But with so many products on the market — in so many different shapes — it can be intimidating. The TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller is a reasonably priced, all-around winner to get you started. The best-selling hollow-core roller features a multi-density foam surface that helps repair those aching muscles like a sports massage. Use it regularly, and you can relieve muscle pain and tightness while increasing your mobility and circulation. The cylinder features three different surfaces, designed to act as the fingers, fingertips, or palms of your hand, to best manipulate different parts of the body. It’s lightweight (just 1.5 pounds) and compact, making it an excellent choice for those who want to bring it along when traveling. Do yourself a favor and take the time to learn the techniques and stick with the program. You’ll be feeling much better when next season rolls around.
Price: $35, tptherapy.com
Breathe easy in New Balance’s Q Speed T-shirt
You have a lot of choices when it comes to a technical short-sleeve top to wear at the gym or while running. So what makes the Q Speed Breathe stand out from the crowd? Let’s start with the function, as it features two of New Balance’s best performing technologies — NB ICEx, which helps you stay cool, and NB DRYx, which pulls moisture away from you. You will find that it’s incredibly breathable and handles moisture well, especially when you’re doing those hot treadmill runs in the winter. The shirt is a bit longer than most technical tops, with a curved hem. It’s made with 34% recycled polyester, and reflective seams give you 360-degree visibility when you’re running outside again. It comes in an athletic fit, so there’s not much flapping around when you’re moving fast — if you like to show off the guns, this is an excellent choice. It also has a subtle pattern that helps differentiate it from other running tops, but not enough to be too flashy. Ultimately, this is a performance top, and you’ll be happy with the results when you push yourself in it. It doesn’t hurt that you’ll look good as well.
Price: $45, newbalance.com
Scale back on your garment shedding with this Houdini Power fleece
Everyone loves a comfy fleece, but they’re not all created equal. It turns out that traditional fleeces have a problem that you probably don’t know: It’s called microfiber shedding, and it happens in the washing machine. Tiny particles of synthetic material are washed away from the garment and end up polluting the water system. While the source of microplastic pollution is complicated, synthetic fabrics are a cause for concern. Enter the Power Air Houdi from Houdini. The top was created with a process developed by Houdini and Polartec that results in a fabric that sheds five times fewer particles than the best fleece on the market now. While traditional fleece has exposed fibers, the Power Air features fibers that trap the air in small pockets that are knitted into the fabric. You’ll just notice that the hoodie is light, comfortable, and excellent at keeping you warm. Yet it’s also breathable, so you don’t overheat when wearing it inside or during exercise. It’s made from 54% recycled polyester, and with extended sleeves with thumb loops, a two-way zipper, a high-collared hood, and a bottom hem with a hidden draw cord, it’s designed to keep you warm for any outdoor adventure. It’s good for both the environment and your comfort.
Price: $250, houdinisportswear.com