- Buyer's Guide
Best Gym and Workout Clothes for Women
Working out means different things to different people. For some, it’s heading out on a run or doing a weight session at the gym. For others, it may be cycling, hiking, climbing, walking, or yoga. Maybe you relish doing your workouts outdoors. Or perhaps you love the flexibility of home-based workouts. And that’s the great thing about working out. There’s something for everyone, regardless of how and where you like to work out. But whatever your fitness preferences may be, having quality performance-oriented clothing to work out in makes a big difference. Not only do you benefit from features such as moisture wicking, stretch, or odor resistance, but you get a little mental boost too. Some added pump to get after it. So with the above in mind, we’ve tested and rounded up some of the best gym and workout clothes for women. Pieces that offer performance, style, and importantly, versatility.
The aim of this guide is to help you find pieces you can turn to again and again. Pieces that will function well across multiple settings, whether that’s a variety of workout environments or everyday/travel flexibility too. So you can curate a workout wardrobe that works hard for you in more ways than one. These workout clothes for women have been divided into various categories, with considerations for warmer and cooler weather too. So without further ado, let’s jump in…
Durable Versatility With Inbuilt Support: Rab Women’s Maze Tank
- Fabric: Outer – 96% polyester, 4% elastane; Inner 88% polyester, 12% elastane
- MSRP: $45
The Maze Tank was designed for climbing, but I’ve found its versatile design works well across a range of activities including lifting weights and cycling. It’s a great bouldering top, with a slim fit that’s comfortable next to skin and features a racer back to increase breathability. It also has an inbuilt support bra, and I really like the all-in-one design. The support might not be sufficient for everyone but it worked well for me. While it feels soft and comfy, it’s durable too. I haven’t had any issues with stitching, tears, or the like in the fabric while coming up against bouldering walls.
The fabric feels thicker than other tanks in this list (which makes sense given it’s designed for climbing environments), so if maximized breathability is your priority you may want to look at other options in this guide. That being said, it’s not not breathable, and the racer back definitely helps. If you’re looking for a quality-made, durable, versatile tank with inbuilt support, the Maze Tank is well worth checking out.
Sustainable Breathability: Houdini W’s Tree Tank
- Fabric: 100% Tencel™ lyocell fabric
- MSRP: $45
Swedish sportswear/outdoor brand Houdini are leading the charge in sustainable clothing manufacturing and business practices. From clothing rentals and repairs to full product circularity, Houdini is pushing a more progressive, sustainable approach to clothing and is an impressive example for others to follow. So what’s their gear like in use? Well, I think the Houdini W’s Tree Tank is one of the softest, most comfortable tanks I’ve ever worn. You feel the softness as soon as you pick it up and once you put it on, it’s like (and I don’t mean to be hyperbolic here) what I imagine wearing a cloud would feel like. You know it’s there. But it’s not weighing you down and it’s incredibly breathable and soft.
So, what’s the secret? Woodland Jersey. This Tencel® fabric is made in Austria from 100% wood pulp. Super-soft. Breathable. And it has an attractive drape to it, which looks good with the regular fit of the tank. Houdini states the material is naturally antibacterial and this indeed seems to be the case. The care label suggests airing instead of washing so I tried this after repeated workouts and I was pleasantly surprised. It smelled absolutely fine after leaving it to air overnight, and was perfectly comfortable to wear over successive workouts. Now I’m not saying never wash it. But if you’re doing light to moderate activity or want to cut down on your sportswear laundry time, this tank will be just fine for several wears before washing. I think this would also make it a great addition to your packing list for travel use too.
And that product circularity? Once the tank reaches the end of its life, you can deposit it in one of Houdini’s in-store recycling units and they’ll take care of recycling or composting the raw materials. One thing worth mentioning, the fabric is quite thin and slightly transparent. I haven’t experienced any durability issues so far, but be aware that a sports bra may show through. It did slightly with the colorway I tested but you could opt for a darker one which might not be transparent at all. This is by no means a major issue (think slight transparency, not completely see-through!). Just something to consider if you don’t like sports bras showing through, in which case try one of the darker colorways.
Merino With Style: FINDRA Isla Merino-Lite Vest Top
- Fabric: Merino-Lite (87% non-mulesed merino and 13% nylon)
- MSRP: £40 (around $56)
If you can’t find it, make it. A mantra embraced by Scottish clothing brand FINDRA. The founder created the brand to fill a gap in the market after struggling to find women’s clothing that offered outdoor/active performance, comfort, and attractive style in one (FINDRA subsequently launched a menswear range too).
The Isla Merino-Lite Vest Top fully embraces a harmonious blend of performance and style, with a commitment to sustainability too. It’s made with FINDRA’s own Merino-Lite fabric, a blend of 87% non-mulesed merino and 13% nylon, so you get the great performance benefits of merino wool with added durability and stretch courtesy of the nylon.
The vest lived up to its promises, resisting odors really well and keeping me cool and comfortable during workouts. Flatlock seams and reflective detailing enhance the comfort and functionality, while the vest’s draping fit gives it a little edge in the style stakes. It also packs down really small, making it a great addition to your travel packing list too. This vest is the most expensive on this list but you’re getting solid quality for your money. Sustainable construction, a comfortable and stylish design, and versatility for everyday/travel wear too.
Practical Comfort With Everyday Style: Vuori Lux Performance Tank
- Fabric: 88% polyester, 12% elastane
- MSRP: $44
Vuori have taken the brief “make it comfortable, practical, and stylish” and run with it. A fine example of this is their Lux Performance Tank. Soft, breathable, comfortable, odor-resistant…it lives up to its name, bringing a balanced blend of style and performance to your workout wardrobe. The racer back helps keep you cool, while the stretch fabric and slim-fitting design moves with the body. A subtle nod to halterneck styling ups the aesthetics and the soft, comfy feel makes this a piece you’d be happy to wear beyond your workouts too.
Budget-Friendly Performance: Sundried Piz Fora Women’s Training Vest
- Fabric: 100% recycled polyester
- MSRP: £20 (around $28)
You might not have heard of Sundried before. A British brand founded by an entrepreneur and triathlete who wanted to create quality triathlon clothing that wouldn’t break the bank or ignore sustainability. Consider me suitably intrigued.
I will admit, considering its budget-friendly pricing, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this vest. But I was very pleasantly surprised. The Sundried Piz Fora Women’s Training Vest offers a solid blend of comfort, performance, and sustainability, all with an affordable price tag. It’s part of Sundried’s responsibly made EcoTech® range featuring fabrics from recycled plastic bottles, recycled coffee grounds, and biodegradable yarn. This vest is made with 100% recycled polyester.
I found the vest performed really well. It’s very lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying. It’s comfortable against the skin, easy to move around in and the racer back helps with breathability too. While the tank tops in this list all sit around hip length, this one is the longest with a dropped hem design and isn’t close-fitting round the base, so it’s a good option if you like looser, longer fits that offer more coverage.
I’d say it’s the “sportiest” looking of the tanks on this list and doesn’t have the everyday/travel crossover versatility of the other options in the aesthetics department. The branding at the bottom is also fairly obvious, which might not be your thing if you prefer subtle/no branding. However, if this crossover versatility is important in your gear selection, there’s a more subdued black colorway option that would lend itself to environments beyond workouts, so definitely check that out.
This vest is really versatile (I’ve climbed, run, cycled, and lifted weights wearing it), comfortable, quick-drying, and sustainably made. I think it offers great value for money and demonstrates that sustainable performance gear may be more affordable than you think.
I’m going to preface this section by saying that choosing suitable sports bras can be tricky. Different body shapes and activities will require different styles and levels of support. So while I’ve highlighted two options below that worked well for me, they likely won’t suit everyone. That being said, I definitely recommend trying them out if you think they’ll suit!
Soft, Adjustable Comfort: Sundried Women’s Seamless Sports Bra
- MSRP: £20 (around $28)
I think Sundried have done really well with this design. It blends soft comfort, attractive styling, and adjustability. The seamless construction and soft fabric feel make it very comfortable to wear. And the straps allow you to adjust the fit, so you can tailor it to your preferences. Sundried states this sports bra is suitable for medium and low-impact activities. I’ve climbed, cycled, lifted weights, and run in this comfortably. However, let’s just say I’m not well endowed in the chest department. For those who are, you may want to restrict this to the advised low/medium impact activities. I really like this sports bra and I’d definitely say give it a chance if you’re not sure it’s for you. It’s not expensive and even if it won’t suit high-impact activities, it should work for low and medium-impact workouts, yoga sessions, and even everyday wear.
Sustainable Simplicity: BAM Unity Bamboo Crop Top
- Fabric: 64% bamboo viscose, 24% organic cotton, 12% elastane
- MSRP: £28 (around $39)
Whether you wear it as a crop top or under a shirt, this is a simple, comfortable and sustainably made sports bra that will suit a range of workouts. Like the sports bra above, I’ve climbed, cycled, done weight sessions and run in this and it’s performed well. Again though, it won’t suit everybody (BAM suggests A and B cups on their site). It’s made from Enduro bamboo jersey that feels soft and moisture-wicking, with a scooped back that helps keep you cool too. It’s not adjustable, so I would suggest paying attention to the sizing and checking your measurements to get a suitable size.
Multifunctional Merino Performance: Smartwool Women’s Merino 150 Base Layer Short Sleeve
- Fabric: Merino 150 – 87% merino wool, 13% nylon
- MSRP: $75
This short sleeve base layer offers an excellent blend of everyday style, performance and versatility. It features Core Spun fabric technology, meaning the merino fibers are wrapped around a nylon core. This increases durability while keeping the merino next to the skin and allowing you to benefit from its soft, moisture-wicking, and odor-resistant properties. It’s got a slim, longer-length fit that sits around the top of the hips, with smooth seams and raglan sleeves. I find this a really comfortable, versatile shirt that easily adapts to a variety of environments. I’ve worn it during bouldering sessions, weight training, cardio and outdoor hikes. It’s a great urban/outdoor hybrid for active use but also looks good for everyday wear too. I’d highly recommend adding this to your wardrobe for its versatility and comfort, and there are plenty of colorways too to suit your own style.
Lightweight Technical Performance: Rab Women’s Sonic Zip Tee
- Fabric: Motiv™ single jersey fabric
- MSRP: $60
Looking for technical features in an incredibly lightweight package? The Rab Sonic Zip Tee delivers. Rab states this t-shirt weighs a mere 80 grams. I found the size 8 weighed even less at 69 grams (according to my kitchen scale anyway). But it packs in a lot of technical performance thanks to its Motiv™ single jersey fabric. The fabric is designed to maximize moisture-wicking and quick-drying properties through its star-shaped yarn in an open knit structure. And yep, it certainly does what it says on the tin. But it’s not finished there. It also features integrated antibacterial Polygiene® odor control, reflective detailing, as well as a zip on the chest so you can quickly enhance ventilation if desired.
Rab designed this top for mountain running but I’d say it’s an amazing running top in general, whether you’re hitting the trails or city pavements. I think cyclists and hikers will appreciate its lightweight moisture-wicking properties too. If the grams count but you don’t want to sacrifice performance, this top is an excellent lightweight technical piece that you’ll be happy to reach for again and again. And thanks to its incredible lightweight construction, it’s easy to pack in a travel bag for workouts during your trip.
Super-Lightweight All-Rounder: Rab Women’s Force SS Tee
- Fabric: Outer – Motiv™: 100g/m²,100% polyester; Inner – Polygiene® Stays Fresh Technology
- MSRP: $40
If you’re looking for a non-zipped alternative to the Sonic Zip Tee, I’d recommend the Force tee. This is a solid technical all-rounder you can wear for a variety of active uses – climbing, running, cycling, weight sessions and more. It also features lightweight and breathable Motiv™ single jersey fabric (though a different texture to the Sonic) with Polygiene® technology for odor resistance. This shirt is even lighter than the Sonic, weighing 63g (size 8) when I weighed it. Like the top above, it’s quick-drying, moisture-wicking, and includes reflective detailing. Between the Force and the Sonic Zip Tee, I’d say the Sonic is slightly more breathable (and obviously the zipper offers additional venting). But if light weight is the priority, the Force SS Tee comes in tops with its incredibly lightweight design.
Colder Weather Comfort: GORUCK Grid Fleece Half Zip
- Fabric: Polartec® Power Grid fabric (92% polyester, 8% Spandex)
- MSRP: $95
GORUCK’s Grid Fleece Half Zip offers a great balance of understated style and performance. It’s made with breathable, moisture-wicking Polartec® Power Grid fabric. I found this fabric durable, quick-drying and comfortable next to the skin. It did a very good job regulating temperature, so I didn’t feel overheated. Also, thanks to the half zip design, you can unzip if you need some added ventilation.
That being said, I’d say this is a good option for cooler temperatures if you’re doing high output activities. For warmer environments I’d say opt for something lighter. For early morning or late night runs when the temperature drops or cooler months when you need that little extra snuggly push to get you going, this is likely to be one of your go-to options. Also, one of my favorite features is a discreet side pocket just above the hem which is great for stashing a phone or other small items in. Added bonus? It’s got a nice sleek design that slips easily into everyday and travel settings too, so it’s a great option if you’re after multi-environment versatility in your workout wardrobe.
Lightweight Versatility for Warmer Weather: Arc’teryx Quadra Crew Neck Shirt LS Women’s
- Fabric: Bowen™ – 100% polyester
- MSRP: $69
So that something lighter for warmer weather? Arc’teryx steps up with the Quadra Crew Neck Shirt LS. It’s designed with multi-sport mountain versatility in mind (think trail runs, extended hikes, etc.) but it works just as well for indoor activities too. The long sleeves offer protection from the sun but the shirt feels really lightweight, making it good for warmer temperatures. It didn’t stick to me and never felt like it was weighing me down or restricting my movement. If you’re looking for a versatile lightweight long-sleeved shirt for active indoor and outdoor activities, this may be just right for your needs.
Lightweight Performance and Great Comfort: Smartwool Merino Sport 150 Hoodie
- Fabric: Merino Sport 150 fabric – 56% merino wool, 44% polyester
- MSRP: $100
Simply put, I love this hoodie. It offers an excellent blend of comfort, versatile style, and performance features. The hoodie has a longer, regular fit that sits around the hips and doesn’t restrict your movement, with flatlock seams for added comfort. The blend of merino wool and polyester gives it breathability, odor resistance, moisture-wicking, and durability for a range of activities. The fabric feels lightweight but tough enough that you don’t need to baby it. Just pull it on and get on with things, whether you’re hitting the bouldering wall or going for a run, walk or hike outdoors. I can’t really think of any issues with this hoodie, it just works really well and feels really comfy. Plus, with its understated style, this is very easy to alternate between workout sessions and everyday wear or taking on your travels as a multifunctional piece for one-bag travel. If you want a lighter hoodie that packs in the performance of merino, is durable and versatile enough for multiple activities, and looks good whether you’re working out or simply going about your day, I’d highly recommend putting this one on your shortlist.
Super-Light Technical Multifunctionality: Arc’teryx Atom SL Hoody Women’s
- Fabric: Tyono™ 20 outer, Permair™ 20/Dope Permair™ 20 (depending on colorway) – 100% nylon lining, Coreloft™ 40 (40 g/m²) insulation, bluesign® approved Stretch Fleece Side Panel – 93% polyester, 7% elastane
- MSRP: $229
Sure, it’s got hoody in the name. But I like to think of this piece as a hoody/jacket hybrid. It’s also got ‘SL’ in the name, which stands for Superlight. And this piece definitely is. Weighing a mere 237 grams (8.4 oz), the Atom SL feels exceptionally lightweight when you put it on. Yet it boasts a range of useful features in this impressively lightweight package. It’s designed to provide insulation in milder conditions and it certainly does. This hoody resists wind effectively while allowing flexibility and breathability, keeping me feeling comfortable while I’m on the move without overheating. It also offers protection against light showers through its DWR finish, though it’s not going to keep you dry in a solid drenching so don’t expect it to do so.
It features a blend of materials to offer different performance features where they’re needed, including stretch side panels, insulation, breathability, moisture-wicking, and wind resistance. And two zippered pockets keep your small essentials secure yet easily accessible too. This hoody shines as a packable performance piece you can take pretty much anywhere. Stash it in a gym bag, slip it on for cold or drizzly outdoor runs, keep it in your pack for hikes, or add it to your travel packing list as a versatile outer layer.
It’s become my go-to outer layer for milder weather because it’s just so easy to wear and benefit from its features without feeling weighed down. Alternatively, I carry it in a bag and forget it’s even there. If packable technical performance without the weight is your priority, I highly recommend adding the Atom SL Hoody to your active wardrobe.
Multifunctional Midweight Merino: Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie
- Fabric: 100% merino wool
- MSRP: $215
Can’t get enough of merino? Well, TAD’s Artemis Hoodie dishes up 100% merino in a sleek, versatile design offering all-in-one style, performance, and adaptability. The Artemis Hoodie utilizes merino’s excellent performance properties to resist odors, wick moisture, and regulate temperature while you’re getting active. And its flexible design makes it suitable for indoor and outdoor sessions alike. Pull it on for a warmup, outdoor walk or hike, or even an indoor session when the temperatures are cooler. You won’t be reaching for this when it’s really hot. But when the weather’s feeling fresh or you’re just warming up/cooling down, it will offer sufficient warmth without overheating. Plus, it’ll be a solid mid-layer for when winter rolls around too. This hoodie has some weight to it and feels like a quality piece. Added details include thumbholes, handwarmer pockets, a YKK zipper that opens/closes smoothly every time, and reinforced elbows for added durability too.
It’s worth noting this hoodie has a slim fit, so if you prefer slightly looser-fitting hoodies, I’d recommend sizing up. There’s a drop back hem too for added coverage when you’re bending. It sits slightly under the top of my hip bones but this might vary depending on different torso lengths. I think the Artemis Hoodie does really well at combining performance properties and functional details in a stylish design that works equally well in active and day-to-day settings. If you’re after that urban/workout/outdoor – pretty much anywhere, to be honest – versatility, check this one out.
Cropped Coziness: Public Rec Luxe Fleece Cropped Hoodie
- Fabric: 82% Pima cotton, 9% polyester, 9% Spandex
- MSRP: $98
If cropped hoodies are more your cup of tea, Public Rec’s Luxe Fleece Cropped Hoodie might be your new go-to. It sits loosely at the waist (on me; it might be longer on others) but more snugly around the arms (at least for me) and has some weight to it. It’s made with a French Terry Fleece fabric and feels soft to the touch on the outside and even softer on the cozy inside. The hood feels comfortable and stays in place while up, and there’s a drawstring if you want to adjust the fit. There are two hand pockets and a nice added feature are the thumbholes on each cuff to help the sleeves stay in place, though I found they stayed in place just fine and didn’t slide. I also didn’t experience any movement restrictions while wearing this. It’s a soft, cozy, and flexible piece for warmups or cooldowns or more sedate cardio like outdoor walks. I’d definitely say this is one for cooler temperatures or restricting to warmups/cooldowns, as you’ll build up heat quickly. Think fresh spring and autumn sessions or cold winter workouts. And there’s no reason you can’t lounge in this at home either.
Urban/Outdoor Versatility: Triple Aught Design Aeon CT Hoodie
- Fabric: Cordura Nylon 6.6, polyester and elastane jersey; jersey face and brushed back; Amphibious Cloth (100% nylon) reinforcement, DWR finish
- MSRP: $195
The Aeon CT Hoodie is a savvy blend of style and performance. Readily at home in urban settings with its understated styling, versatile and tough enough for a range of environments, and comfortable enough to wear all day long. The abrasion-resistant exterior is complemented by a brushed, soft lining, so you get active-ready performance with cozy comfort and warmth. You also benefit from Amphibious Cloth reinforcements along the forearms for added abrasion resistance. This hoodie works well across a variety of settings, from warmups/cooldowns to urban rambles and outdoor hikes. Fleece-lined hand pockets keep you comfy when the temperature drops and there’s also a quick-access drop pocket on the front of the right-hand pocket, useful for storing a phone or other items you want to keep close at hand.
If you want a mix of stealth-casual style and performance that can take you from city streets to mountain tops (and yep, I have taken this to the top of a mountain), keep the Aeon CT Hoodie in your sights.
Feature-Packed Sustainability: Coalatree Evolution Hoodie
- Fabric: Fair Wear® bluesign® 60% polyester, 40% recycled S-Cafe polyester
- MSRP: $109
A hoodie made from recycled coffee grounds? Curiosity suitably piqued, I was keen to see how Coalatree’s Evolution Hoodie would perform. Well, suffice it to say I’ve found my ideal cozy caffeine fix. The hoodie is sustainably made from a mix of used coffee grounds and recycled plastic bottles, representing the equivalent of 10 recycled plastic bottles and 3 cups of recycled coffee grounds. And what you get is a cozy, fleecy-feeling fabric that feels like getting wrapped in a blanket – a blanket that’s more than durable and flexible enough for activewear. The added benefit of this fabric is that it’s naturally odor-resistant, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying. A nifty added feature is the water-resistant coating, not the kind of feature you’d expect in a hoodie.
It’s got a large kangaroo pocket in the front and then arguably my favorite feature, a zippered pocket located above and behind the kangaroo pocket. This zippered pocket has its own internal organization too including two Velcro-secured pockets, a headphone port, and a loop for clipping keys. And for its next trick, it can be packed down into this zippered pocket to create a travel pillow. Add in the drawstring and thumbholes and you end up with an incredibly feature-packed hoodie that’s sustainably made, feels great to wear, performs well when you’re getting active, keeps you warm if it’s time to lounge, and doubles as a functional travel item too. What’s not to like?
One thing I will note, I’d say it runs large so if you like your hoodies baggy, go with your normal sizing but if you want a more close-fitting feel, size down. The Evolution Hoodie gets a big thumbs up from me and I think pretty much anyone (there’s a men’s option too!) would find this hoodie a useful addition to their wardrobe.
Cold-Weather Champ: Triple Aught Design Lynx Hoodie
- Fabric: Polartec® High Loft 100% polyester (9.80 oz), woven nylon reinforcements
- MSRP: $200
If one were to get hugged by a bear (and I can’t say I ever have), I imagine it might feel like wearing the Lynx Hoodie. This is plush performance, cranked up to keep you warm and ready to embrace active use. It’s made with Polartec® High Loft, so you get cozy warmth but breathability too when you’re on the go. Two zippered hand pockets securely store quick-access items, with two interior drop pockets for further storage. Additional features include thumbholes, a drop back hem, reinforced elbows for added durability, and even a small 1″x1″ loop swatch and logo patch that glows in the dark!
This is definitely a hoodie for colder weather and would work well as a standalone layer for spring/autumn, or as a mid-layer for winter if you’re venturing outdoors (though you’ll probably be okay wearing this with a base layer if you’re actively moving on a walk, hike or cycle). It’s also great for those days when you just want to snuggle into a ball of warmth at home. So for those colder days when facing a workout is just a little bit harder, turn to this cozy beast for a helping hand.
Comfortable Urban Style: Arc’teryx Momenta Centre Pullover Women’s
- Fabric: DryTech™ Stretch – 53% organically grown cotton, 39% polyester, 8% elastane
- MSRP: $99
Arc’teryx brings the style and the performance with this pullover. It’s made with DryTech™ Stretch, which combines moisture-wicking, stretch, and next-to-skin comfort in one. I can move freely in this pullover and it keeps me comfy without overheating for light to moderate activity such as warming up, walking, or stretching. It sits just above the hips and I think it’s got a nice urban-casual style to it as well, making it versatile for use beyond workouts too. I’ve reached for this on several occasions as an everyday layer. Little details like the clean neckline and gently curving seam lines on the forearms give it an elevated style you don’t often find in sweatshirts.
In terms of warmth and breathability, you could wear this as a standalone piece on cooler summer days or fresh spring/autumn days and still be comfortable. For colder winter months, you’ll want something a little warmer if you’re venturing outside (or use it as a mid-layer). If you want a pullover that gives you flexibility for warmups or cooldowns, feels really comfortable, and looks suitably stylish for everyday use too, I’d definitely recommend checking the Momenta pullover out.
Sustainable Versatility for Workouts and Everyday Wear: Houdini W’s Mono Air Crew
- Fabric: Polartec® Power Air Light – 73% recycled polyester, 27% elastrelle-polyester
- MSRP: $160
Houdini bring their sustainable approach to sweatshirts with the Mono Air Crew. It’s made with Polartec® Power Air Light, a four-way stretch fabric that’s constructed in a way to shed up to 80% less microfibers than other quality fleece fabrics. This is a solid step forwards for cutting down on plastic pollution and a great example for the textile and clothing industry to follow. The fabric is bluesign® certified and made from recycled and recyclable fibers. And when you’re eventually finished with it, hand the sweatshirt back to Houdini and they’ll recycle it.
The Mono Air Crew sits just above the hips and has a simple, understated aesthetic that suits lounging at home or taking care of day-to-day tasks about town if you want to pull it on as a casual go-to beyond workouts. I can move freely in this without any issues and it’s held up well so far in the durability department; so no issues to report there. Worth noting, it’s not as soft as the Arc’teryx Momenta for instance, but I’d say it plays better in more cross-over environments between urban and outdoor settings. Overall, if you’re looking for a simple, sustainably-made sweatshirt that can jump between warmups in urban settings or getting your steps in on the trails, this is one to check out.
All-Rounder Shorts: Vuori Halo Performance Short
- Fabric: DreamKnit™ fabric – 89% recycled polyester, 11% elastane
- MSRP: $56
Vuori have discovered the secret sauce to comfy shorts. The Halo Performance Short is ridiculously comfy; in fact, the comfiest shorts I’ve ever worn. They’re made with Vuori’s moisture-wicking, sustainable DreamKnit™ fabric that has a soft, cozy, brushed fabric feel to it. The four-way stretch fabric is also complemented by a very comfy stretch drawstring waistband. Plus, the pockets! I really like the pocket layout, which features two hand pockets, one of which has a secondary zippered pocket inside (so three pockets in total). Each one is large enough to hold a phone. I really like having the security of a zippered pocket for a phone, keys, earphones, or whatever else I’m carrying on my person. Runs, cycling, weightlifting, these shorts will do it all. They come in a range of colorways too. I’m struggling to think of any critiques for these shorts because they really are great.
If I was to make a suggestion to Vuori, it would be really good to see a longer version too! These shorts are mid-rise with a 2.25″ inseam, so they sit quite high up (around the waist rather than on the hips) and I’d class them as short shorts. If you prefer longer styles, these might not be to your tastes, and it’s a shame to miss out on their great design and comfort because the length isn’t quite right for you. So fingers crossed Vuori brings out a slightly longer option as well at some point in the future, so even more people will be enticed to enjoy these.
Supportive Booty Shorts: BAM Enduro Bamboo Sport Shorts
- Fabric: 64% Bamboo viscose, 24% organic cotton, 12% elastane
- MSRP: £29 (around $40)
If you’re after supportive booty-style shorts, these are a solid option. They’re made with BAM’s Enduro bamboo jersey that’s soft yet supportive, offering full range of motion in a comfy fit. The stretch waistband adds to the comfort, providing sufficient support without digging in. The hems are also tight enough to maintain the sleek fit without digging in uncomfortably. Plus, you’re getting the moisture-wicking benefit of bamboo too, which obviously comes in handy when you’re working up a sweat. I’ve used these across a range of activities including lifting weights, running, and cycling and they haven’t restricted me at all. However, if I could make a request, it would be great to add a slip pocket large enough to hold a phone. These shorts don’t have any pockets, so bear that in mind if you need to carry a phone/keys/etc.
Inbuilt Ventilation and Temperature Regulation: Smartwool Women’s Merino Sport Lined Short
- Fabric: Shell: 86% recycled polyester, 14% elastane; Lining: 56% merino wool, 44% polyester; Main Body: 100% nylon; Trim/Lining: 54% merino wool, 46% polyester.
- MSRP: $60
These shorts differ in two main ways from the options above. First, they have a quick-drying, odor-resistant merino blend liner built into the shorts that assists with temperature regulation too. Second, they have inbuilt ventilation gaps running across the width of the back. I personally haven’t experienced any exposure of the inner liner through these, though the design might not be to everyone’s tastes.
These are low-ride shorts and they sit comfortably on my hips. The waistband has some stretch to it (not a lot, but sufficient), with an interior drawcord to adjust the fit, so they’re easy to get on and off while staying secure when you’re moving about. I’ve used these for running, lifting weights, and cycling and they’ve performed well each time. I’ve felt cool and comfortable while wearing them and the lightweight design offers freedom of movement and hasn’t restricted me in any of the activities.
These shorts have two pockets: one small drop pocket at the front and one small zippered pocket at the back. I’d really like to see a bigger pocket that could accommodate a phone. I like to track my runs on a running app and if I’m wearing these, I need to find an alternative method for carrying my phone. Not the end of the world, but I would prefer to be able to carry my phone in the shorts.
Pared-Back Performance for Moving Fast: Rab Momentum Shorts
- Fabric: Matrix™, 85% nylon 6, 15% elastane, DWR finish
- MSRP: $50
As the name suggests, these shorts are all about helping you move effectively. They’re designed to be lightweight yet durable and to offer unrestricted freedom of movement for mountain running or hiking. They’re quick-drying and feature a DWR finish to resist light showers. Part of Rab’s Skyline range, these shorts are designed to offer technical performance without unnecessary weight. As such, the design is fairly minimalist.
The shorts have a stretch waistband with an adjustable drawcord, a small zippered back pocket integrated into the waistband, and reflective detailing. They do feel durable when you put them on and while they may have been designed with outdoor settings in mind, they will work just as well in urban settings too. I appreciate these are all about pared-back performance and they’ll happily venture into urban and outdoor environments with ease. I’d just love a bigger pocket to carry a phone in. The back pocket will fit small items like keys or earphones but you’re not going to get a phone in there, so just be aware and plan accordingly.
Tough Enough For Any Workout: GORUCK Women’s Tough Leggings – Pockets
- Fabric: ToughFlex Fabric (70% nylon, 30% Spandex)
- MSRP: $75
Tough by name, tough by nature. You wouldn’t expect anything less from GORUCK and these leggings do live up to their name. Tough but comfortable and flexible, they’ve handled bouldering, weight lifting, hikes, and rucking with no issues. They’ve got a high waist and a comfortable compression-like feel that holds you in but still offers full freedom of movement. And in case you’re wondering, yes, the material is squat-proof (i.e. not see-through), so carry on in confidence. There’s also a side pocket on each leg that securely holds a phone. These leggings aren’t showing any signs of wear and tear and I’m confident they’ll stand up to demanding active use for a long time to come. And if you fancy just wearing them for day-to-day, they’ll do that just fine too.
On a side note, I tested the full version but these leggings also come in a cropped version if you prefer a shorter option.
Responsibly-Made Comfort and Durability: Arc’teryx Oriel Legging 28
- Fabric: 6.5oz (220gsm) stretch nylon interlock – 71% nylon, 29% elastane
- MSRP: $89
Arc’teryx designed these leggings for rock climbing but with the versatility for use on the trails and daily wear too. Well, I can confirm they’ve performed as promised. They’re made in a Fair Trade Certified facility with an abrasion-resistant blend of nylon and elastane. This has held up really well on the bouldering wall (no signs of wear and tear so far). And they allow full freedom of movement (and are squat-proof), so no issues on that front either.
The leggings have a high waist that holds you in while remaining comfy, plus handy deep side pockets on either leg (plenty of space for a phone). All in, a very comfortable, flexible, durable, and responsibly made pair of leggings that can do double-duty for everyday use too.
Everyday Softness: Vuori Daily Legging
- Fabric: BreatheInterlock™ – 72% polyester, 28% elastane
- MSRP: $84
Remember those ridiculously comfy Vuori shorts I mentioned earlier? Well, their Daily Legging is clearly running with the comfort theme too. These 7/8 leggings feel wonderfully soft and smooth. Different from the GORUCK and Arc’teryx leggings, which I’d say have more of a technical feel, the Daily Legging embraces a really soft, airbrushed feel (if you run your fingers over them, you can feel the smoothly cozy brushed effect). They’ve got a high elastic waistband with an adjustable drawcord and four-way stretch that delivers as promised. Squat-proof, full range of motion, all good here. They’re good at wicking moisture too and stay in place perfectly.
The comfort is wonderful, I can’t fault it. But I would love to see a phone pocket just to elevate the design to the next level. These really are leggings you could comfortably wear every day, whether you’re working out or just out and about. And a slip pocket would be super handy. If everyday comfort with workout-ready flexibility sounds just right to you, get these. You won’t be disappointed.
Hardworking Hybrid: Triple Aught Design Schema SC Legging
- Fabric: Symbiote Cloth – 63% nylon, 26% polyester, 11% elastane
- MSRP: $115
Tactical leggings…is that a thing? Well, that’s what these feel like, so let’s roll with it. Since they’re referred to as leggings, I’ve put them in this section. But don’t expect the “traditional” legging look and feel. I’d say these are a pant-meets-legging hybrid. But whatever you want to call them, they’re awesome. They’re made with Symbiote Cloth, a 6.7 oz nylon, polyester, and elastane double weave fabric with four-way stretch and a C6 DWR coating for water resistance. They’re not waterproof but they work well for light showers and also resisting spray from water-based activities like kayaking. These leggings feel tough but comfortable, with an articulated knee overlay and gusseted crotch for movement. And drum roll…they offer six pockets (six! I’m in pocket heaven). Two hand pockets, two slip rear pockets, and two leg pockets that have a foldover piece of fabric securing them closed, making them a secure place to store a phone or other valuables. Suffice it to say, you’ve got plenty of options for stashing your phone and other small essentials you might want on your person.
I’d say the sweet spot for these leggings is more demanding workout environments where they may be subject to some rougher treatment. Think climbing settings or getting your cardio in with walks or hikes in more rugged terrain where you might come into contact with rocks or branches. The Schema SC Legging offers a flexible design too, so you can move freely if you’re squatting or needing to climb up or over something. The waistband is elastic but not snug. I’ve found it stays in place fine but it’s not snugly fitted the way many traditional leggings are, so you might experience a little bit of movement depending on what you’re doing. Since I think of these as a legging/pant hybrid, some belt loops might be a nice touch to add in a future version just to have the option available to hand if you wanted it.
Sustainble Performance With Fleece-Like Comfort: Coalatree Evolution Joggers
- Fabric: Fair Wear® approved bluesign® 60% polyester, 40% recycled S-Cafe polyester
- MSRP: $89
In addition to a hoodie, Coalatree have brought their sustainable Evolution construction and functional design to joggers. The Evolution Joggers feature the same super-comfy, odor-resistant, and DWR-coated fabric as the Evolution Hoodie. Each jogger represents the equivalent of 10 recycled plastic bottles and 3 cups of recycled coffee grounds. The jogger construction uses a waterless dye technique that saves 20 gallons of waste water per textile pound, as well as recycled CO2. How do they perform? Awesomely. They’re really comfortable and cozy, and the quick-drying design really is quick-drying and odor-resistant. I’ve run in these and they’re ready to go again with a simple overnight airing. The elastic waistband has an adjustable drawstring and you also get three zipped pockets! One on each side (big enough for a phone) and a pocket on the rear.
Like the hoodie, the joggers can pack down small in their own pocket too, making them a savvy addition to your travel bag. If versatile, sustainably made, and wonderfully comfortable activewear is your cup of tea (or coffee), these are hard to beat.
Jogger Comfort With All-Day Style: Public Rec All Day Jogger
- Fabric: 88% nylon, 12% Spandex
- MSRP: $98
Joggers you can wear to the gym and out to dinner? Let’s be honest, joggers aren’t generally associated with style. But Public Rec have served up something different here with their All Day Jogger. They’ve got a flattering high-rise fit that sits close to the body but still provides full range of motion. Bouldering? No problem. Squats and deadlifts? You’re good to go. They’re really comfy and they stay in place.
But their smart-casual style actually does transition into a piece you could wear all day. I’ve even been out to dinner in these. I’ll admit, it’s an odd feeling at first. You’re suspicious. How is this possible? But they just work. So kudos to the design team. Now I’m not saying you’re waltzing into a fancy restaurant in these. But pair them with some smart shoes and a smart top and you’re good to go in more smart-casual settings. I’d say these would be a great option for one-bag travel, you could definitely get your workouts in but dress them up if you need to as well. Rounding things out are two hand pockets, with a secondary interior mesh pocket (that’s large enough to hold a phone) in the right pocket.
Quality Comfort for Cooler Weather: Arc’teryx Momenta Jogger
- Fabric: DryTech™ Stretch – 53% organically grown cotton, 39% polyester, 8% elastane
- MSRP: $99
Looking for the ultimate lounge-to-get-up-and-go jogger? These might just be them. The Momenta Jogger feels really well made and very comfortable to wear. Fit-wise, they have a comfortable high elastic waistband, with a looser fit around the midsection and tapering down to the cuffs that bring them in close to the ankles. I’d say these run a little large, so if you like things loose you’ll be okay with your regular size, and if you like things tighter you may want to size down. The flexibility is excellent, I’ve had no issues whatsoever wearing these on the bouldering wall.
I’ve noted they can be quite warm once you get going, so if you’ll be active for a prolonged period of time indoors, you might want to wear these during the cooler months. If you’re outdoors, these will do great as walking/hiking joggers for autumn/winter or when mornings and evenings feel crisp. You also get two zippered side pockets that both hold a phone, so you’re all set if you want to carry smaller items on your person. If you’re looking for well-made joggers that feel high quality and offer the versatility to hop from lazy lounging or supremely comfortable working-from-home attire to hitting a workout session or venturing outdoors without skipping a beat, these are definitely ones to keep on your radar.
Adventure-Ready Active Jeans: Coalatree Decaf Denim Jeans
- Fabric: Decaf Denim, 89% cotton, 9% Ice Cafe Nylon, 2% Spandex, bluesign® approved
- MSRP: $109
Jeans in your workout wardrobe? Okay, it’s a curveball. But depending on what activity you’re doing, these could be the bee’s knees for your needs. These jeans are stretchy. Like knees-up-in-all-sorts-of-awkward-angles kind of stretchy. I’ve bouldered and cycled in these and they gave me all the flexibility I needed with all the casual urban style you expect from a pair of jeans. Even better? They step up in sustainability too. The Decaf Denim features recycled coffee grounds and recycled plastic, while also using a water-saving waterless dye method. These jeans are water/stain-resistant, antimicrobial, offer four-way stretch and UV protection, are sustainably made, and provide active performance with everyday urban styling.
Sure, you wouldn’t expect them in a traditional workout apparel setup. But these are all about challenging the expected. I mean, if you could have jeans that offered all of this, why wouldn’t you? Would I recommend you run a marathon in them? Heck, no. I wouldn’t recommend them for running in general. But you could hike or cycle in these. Just after you’ve hit the bouldering wall. And then proceed to venture into town without anyone batting an eyelid. And that kind of active versatility makes them a hard-working addition to your wardrobe (and your travel bag too).
Sustainable Sports Dress: BAM Dare Bamboo Active Dress
- Fabric: 68% Bamboo viscose, 28% organic cotton, 4% elastane
- MSRP: £59 (around $82)
At this point, I’d like to delve a little deeper into BAM. This British clothing brand focuses on sustainability throughout its business model and supply chain. Bamboo is at the core of their clothing because of how sustainable it is to produce, paired with its performance properties. BAM is also set on achieving a zero carbon footprint by 2030, with goals to have zero landfill waste, zero pollution, and zero water waste by 2030, all the way from raw materials to recycling end products. Even the product packaging is recyclable.
Suffice it to say, I was keen to see how BAM’s sustainably made gear would perform. As I mentioned above, their Enduro shorts are a solid option for your workout wardrobe, but what if you’re after something a little different? Enter the BAM Dare Bamboo Active Dress. It’s made from 200gsm bamboo jersey that feels nice and soft against the skin, while also absorbing moisture and offering good stretch so you can move around freely. It has a racer back design which helps to keep you cool, with an elasticated waistband so it’s drawn in at the waist. But it’s got a secret surprise too. Underneath the skirt you’ll find inbuilt concealed shorts! This offers a great blend of style and functionality, letting you move freely and confidently without worrying that the skirt might ride up and be too revealing (which it hasn’t done in my use, but just in case you’re worried). Even better? My beloved pockets. Two of them, one on each side of the shorts, and they’re large enough for a phone. I think this active dress is a great option if you want to switch things up in your workout wardrobe style. It’s also great for ready-at-a-moment’s-notice active outdoor use. You could hike in this but still look right at home in an urban setting. Just two things I’d note with this dress: there’s no inbuilt support at the top, so you’ll need to pair it with a sports bra or other support. Also, be aware that the shorts and dress are an all-in-one design (i.e. you can’t remove the shorts separately). This isn’t an issue performance-wise but something to consider when nature calls.
Short and Sweet: BAM Bamboo Trainer Socks
- Fabric: 76% Bamboo viscose, 23% polyamide, 1% elastane
- MSRP: £16.50 (around $23) for four pairs
Comfortable, functional socks make a big difference to your workouts. And that’s what BAM delivers with their Bamboo Trainer Socks. These pack a punch in a little package and are ideal for those who want ankle-length socks that feel soft, stay in place well, and provide practical features too. They’re moisture-wicking, feature footbed cushioning to absorb shocks, include arch support, and provide added durability through reinforcement at the toes and heel. Plus, they come in a pack of four pairs in a range of colors, which makes them excellent value for money too.
Smart Features Meet Snazzy Design: Smartwool Women’s PhD® Pro Endurance Print Crew
- Fabric: 49% merino wool, 44% nylon, 4% elastane, 3% polyester
- MSRP: $25.95
If you’re looking for a longer sock, these will provide some serious foot satisfaction. These socks pack a whole lot of technical features into a comfortable, adaptable design aimed at trail running. But I’m here to tell you that you’ll happily pull these on for a wide variety of activities and day-to-day wear too. The socks feature Indestructawool™ technology for enhanced durability, as well as Shred Shield™ technology that reduces wear caused by your toes. The socks also have cushioning in targeted areas including the ankle bone, Achilles, heel, and forefoot, as well as a 4 Degree™ elite fit system for a supportive, performance-driven fit. Plus, they look fun. And fun in fitness is always a good thing.
Adaptable All-Rounder: GORUCK Ballistic Trainers
- Fabric: Upper materials: Engineered Knit, 1680D CORDURA®
- MSRP: $125
These shoes surprised me. But in a good way. Heck, a great way. I didn’t expect them to be as versatile as they are. But I’ve run, cycled, rucked, hiked, and lifted weights in these. Not to mention regularly grabbing them for day-to-day use too. Consider me highly impressed by their versatility. I’ve found them nice and stable for weight training and they’ve performed well for shorter runs. And they really do provide excellent all-day comfort. If you want multifunctional footwear that will take you from town to the gym, on outdoor adventures and beyond, I think the Ballistic Trainers are an excellent choice. One-bag travel shoes? Definitely, pick these. They won’t perform to the same standards as specialized footwear (for instance, dedicated running shoes or hiking shoes), but that’s not their job. They’re designed to be tough, multifunctional, and comfortable. And they do all of that incredibly well.
So why are they so good at being so multifunctional? Fun fact: your foot has three arches. And these shoes are designed with 3X Support™ and 3X Stability, i.e. they’re specifically designed to support each arch so you can confidently embrace a range of different movements. The lace area, midfoot and heel are constructed from 1680D CORDURA® Ballistic Nylon for abrasion resistance and support, complemented by more breathable areas. The injection molded TPU heel counter helps provide stability, while the 8mm heel-to-toe drop finds a good middle ground for lifting weights or comfortably covering longer distances (think GORUCK rucking). And you benefit from a Gradient Density™ EVA midsole with flexible, high-rebound EVA in the forefoot for explosive movements and a firmer EVA in the heel for stable lifting. Even the outsole features three different rubber compounds to accommodate different use and movements.
In many ways, they embrace the GORUCK spirit of being ready to adapt wherever you find yourself. GORUCK have created the Ballistic Trainers as a go-to all-rounder that will comfortably handle a wide variety of environments and active needs. And they’ve done a darn fine job.