Buyer’s Guide to Fitness and Workout Clothes for Travel

Megan Lee

Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean that you have to give up the momentum you’ve built within your regular workout routine. Take your exercise goals abroad with you!

If you plan to be committed to an exercise regimen amidst your travels, it is essential that you incorporate top-notch travel work out clothes into your regular packing strategy. And since you’re going carry-on only, and probably hate stuffing sweaty clothes into your travel backpack, Shawn and I are here to give you our best advice for on-the-go exercise and the clothes you need to pack.

The Best Travel Workout Clothes

Prana: Revere Short Sleeve Tee ($39)

Prana is a premium lifestyle brand that also offers great exercise apparel that you can feel good about (read their commitment to sustainability). They have an incredible collection of yoga tops and bras for women.

The Revere Short Sleeve Tee is moisture wicking, has an anti-odor technology, and a scoop neck with sleeves that won’t have sweating over cultural insensitivity.

Athleta: Fully Focused Bra ($44)

It’s hard to beat Athleta for travel friendly workout clothes for women. Jenn, Tortuga’s Content Manager, has been packing them on adventures for years.

This bra is perfection if you plan to sweat. Incredibly lightweight and gently compressive, with mesh lined (removable) cups for extra coverage and an X-back that gives you freedom to move. This bra will provide the best fit for ladies with an A-C cup bust. Medium, wireless, support with medium coverage, the mid-rise neckline strikes the balance between concealed and revealed.

Lululemon: Pace Rival Skirt ($50)

This skirt might be designed for running, but it’s also made for touring. Why? Because it’s cut just a little bit longer than your average running skirt, at 15″ it can pull double duty on the trail and cafe hopping all afternoon.

The built in shorts mean that you’re never worried about a gust of wind and you can confidently adventure away. The sweat wicking liner and four way stretch let you know that the designers of this skirt expect you to push the limits. The hidden pockets on the waistband and backside are the kind of attention to detail we’ve come to expect from Lululemon.  Pack this skirt on your next trip, it’s winner, even if your run time is slower than at home.

Uniqlo: Airism Tank Top ($9)

The Airism tank top is the ultimate travel-friendly workout shirt. Insanely lightweight, it wicks sweat like a champ, and actually looks good. Plus, it’s only $9.

It makes an awesome undershirt for layering, and doubles up your wardrobe without adding any bulk. The Airism line of lightweight performance fabrics is pretty solid, but this tank top is the standout piece. Also: totally unisex.

Ryu: Vapor Neck Crew ($57)

Ryu, aka “Respect Your Universe,” is fairly new to the workout apparel landscape—even so, they’re absolutely making a memorable splash.

The Vapor Neck Crew  utilizes the best of their clothing technology—the TecLayr™ Seamless (70% Nylon, 30% Polyester with Polygiene®). That’s a lot of trademarks and registrations, no? Find out what all of the fuss is about and pack this workhorse training shirt.

Nordstrom’s: Travis Mathew Chambers Shorts ($75)

Stay fit and hit those squats with Nordstrom’s Travis Mathew Chambers Shorts for men. They’re built with ventilation in mind—not to mention stretch—which can help keep you going harder, better, faster, stronger.

With an elastic waist, pockets, and enough spandex to allow 4-way stretch, traveling men may end up sneaking these on as their regular daywear, too!

H&M: Sweat Shorts ($13)

If you’re looking to add a little swag to your workout gear (as well as a little warmth), the H&M sweat shorts are for you. They’re super affordable, comfy as heck, and come in a crazy range of 80’s inspired pastel colors.

Rock these after your workout and be the kind of the common room. Seriously, these shorts are fresh.

Manduka: Yoga Pants ($88)

If your idea of a “workout” involves lighting up your chakras, the Manduka line of men’s yoga pants are a great way to workout on the road.

The Manduka Utility Knit Pants  is the lighter weight pair of yoga pants from the line. They feature 4-way stretch with a 92% poly blend with 8% spandex for ultimate comfort, as well as an elastic waistband (with drawstrings) and cuffed hems so you can hike it up if you get hot.

Devon Maryn: Pocket Yoga Leggings ($47)

If you’ve yet to venture into yoga leggings with pockets, you’re in for a real treat.

Devon Maryn’s Pocket Yoga Leggings are ankle-length compression pants with pockets large enough to carry workout essentials cell phone, keys, and whatever else you need carry with you. They’re made with moisture-wicking, quick-dry, breathable 4-way stretch fabric (perfect for not sliding down your belly mid-run).

Under Armour: Fly By Shorts ($25)  

Very Well Fit recommends these, and it’s no wonder: strategic mesh, multiple pockets, and reflective tape make these babies perfect for getting your sweat on, indoors or out, day or night.

The fit is loose and relaxed with a nice wide waistband. The fabric is comfortable and lightweight but also durable and quick drying. Front pockets for your hands, a hidden back pocket for little stuff, and a built in brief so there’s no chance of your underwear chafing. Shh. Let that be our little secret.

Prana: Path Top ($50)

What I love about this top is that it handles a workout without looking like “workout clothes.” Dual duty versatility is one of the primary qualities I look for in great travel clothing; Prana nails it.

This top doesn’t look like it’s got a built in shelf bra, but it does. Pair it with a cute skirt and it says, “city touring.” Pair it with running shorts and it says, “get out of my way or I’ll pass you like you’re standing still.”

Made of 100% recycled polyester (that’s cool), this top is not only cute, it’s moisture wicking, with just enough spandex blended into the lining to make sure it keeps its shape. Check out the color selections, they have one to match your style.

Patagonia: Active Hipster ($12)

If you want to stay ultra-fresh, think about your travel workout clothes plan from your head to your… underroos. According to WireCutter, the best underwear for travel are Patagonia’s Active Hipster for the ladies. 

Angela, on team Tortuga, agrees; she packs Patagonia panties too, and she’s a hardcore dancer. Sometimes it’s worth trusting the experts and enjoying the benefits of their odor-control technology and high quality materials.

Outlier: Ultrafine Merino T-Shirt ($110)

This is more than a t-shirt. Merino wool is quite possibly the best performance fabric in the world. Seriously. Naturally odor-resistant, it keeps you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold, and dries so much faster than cotton.

The ultrafine merino t-shirt is a bit on the pricier side, but you get what you pay for. It’s awesome to have a workout t-shirt that doubles as a sweat proof (and super stylish) shirt to go exploring during the day or happy hour at night. Invest in a shirt that can take whatever workout you throw at it, and that will last as long as you live life on the road.

Tracksmith: Session Shorts ($58)

Tracksmith might have made the perfect pair of stylish men’s workout shorts. The Session Shorts patented “Veloce Blend” is a lightweight Italian stretch knit with a soft feel, ample stretch, and high performance features like an anti-odor liner, UV protection, and max breathability designed for running.

The Session Shorts dry fast, pack well, and look awesome. These aren’t your Dad’s pair of running shorts.

Outlier: OG Climber Travel Pants ($110)

Versatile and comfy, these travel pants are literally made for rock climbers. While they’re technically not “workout” clothes, these pants are ideal for climbing, cycling, and crushing those non-conventional workouts. The 4-way stretch, rugged durability, and waterproofing (aka sweat proofing) make these pants a rare stylish workout hybrid.

If your idea of staying in shape is a brisk 20-mile bike to the bar or getting onto some boulders in the great outdoors, pick up a pair of the Outlier OG climbers.

Saxx: Quest 2.0 Travel Underwear ($34)

Sorry to be crass, but ball sweat is real. Saxx Quest 2.0 underwear were designed with that in mind. The “Ballpark pouch” keeps everything… where it should be, and minimizes skin to skin contact below the belt. This reduces sweating, friction, and chafing (which is a big deal when you’re working out).

Saxx underwear is built to keep guys dry on the road or in the gym. And that’s kind of amazing. Invest in one pair and up your travel workout gear with a pair of underwear you can count on.

Tips for a “Travel Gym”

Pack Essential Travel Fitness Equipment

If your go-to work out is a run, your favorite exercise shoes should do the trick. But, if you’re like me, and you sometimes like to mix up your workout routine, invest in a few pieces of travel fitness equipment that are small and compact.

Jump ropes and resistance bands are great for this, as is a travel yoga mat (I love JadeYoga). You know your preferred gym kit essentials—don’t bring the whole shebang, but don’t leave your faves behind if you have serious travel workout goals.

Digital Resources

Your smart phone, laptop, and iPad can connect you to thousands of online workout programs—and many times they can be found for free! Youtube search for videos such as “travel workout” or “no equipment 10 minute arm workout.”

Get as detailed or vague as you prefer, and trust the masses for fitness tips while traveling—I tend to enjoy videos with millions of views (they got there for a reason!) or an old stand-by like Yoga with Adriene.

Find Gym Buddies

Whether it’s your travel partner or the result of a meetup you find in country, working out with friends rather than with your go-to podcast every now and then can be fun.

Great examples of funky, nomad-friendly workout communities  include the Hash House Harriers or Heyrobics. Check out Meet Up, Couchsurfing, or a local coworking space for even more ways to connect with folks who like to have fun while they get their heart rates up!

Don’t Overpack

Since your travel backpack space is precious, be sure to bring enough tops and bottoms to keep you moving, but not so much that they take up more than a quarter of your bag (your gym shoes are bulky enough!).

Get into the mindset that you’ll be washing these items more regularly than usual (prioritize quick drying fabrics) and that they should be functional for multiple kinds of exercise—from running, to gym visits, to hiking that big mountain you never thought you could.

How to Pack Sweaty Clothes

No one wants their travel backpack to start smelling more like a gym bag. Here are a few tips to follow when it comes to packing sweaty or damp clothes in your travel bag.

Buy Better Clothes

Brands like Lululemon and Athleta create entire lines of clothes with anti-microbial and anti-bacterial fabrics. If you don’t want to make the jump to these types of materials, stick to quick dry fabrics, like nylon, spandex, and lycra, or naturally stink resistant, moisture wicking fibers like merino wool (especially for socks!).

In my opinion, sweat wicking items are no longer an option—they’re a must, especially if you plan to work out while traveling. #SayNoToCotton

Use a Wet/Dry Bag

One of the best ways to save your everyday clothes items from being tainted by the funk from your exercise clothes after your latest sweat sesh is not to let them touch. The Outbreaker Wet/Dry bag is the perfect compact solution.

No one likes traveling with wet or dirty clothes—let your sweaty items air dry whenever possible, but when time and space don’t allow for it, a wet/dry bag will absolutely come in handy.

Makes a great post-workout-stinky-shoe bag too.

Have an Anti-Odor Game Plan

Essential oils can help, as can dryer sheets. There are plenty of travel hacks to help your clothes stay fresh against the odds. Be ready to squash the stink—it always finds you!

A Quick Travel Workout for Anywhere

Here’s a 20 minute, no equipment, travel workout that does the trick.

  • 60 seconds mountain climbers
  • 10 burpees
  • 25 jumping jacks
  • 12 push ups
  • 60 seconds jump lunges
  • Rest one minute/water break!
  • 60 seconds plank jacks
  • 15 jump squats
  • 60 seconds high knees
  • 60 seconds butt kicks
  • 60 second plank

Do the whole list twice—three times if you’re hitting happy hour a little harder than usual later!

TL;DR

If you want to to work out while you travel, more power to you. Literally. Stock up on these great travel clothes, make a travel workout plan that requires little equipment and is still a blast, and find your new groove. Have your cake/croissant/dumpling/empanada and eat it too—crush workout goals and look great while doing it. Our favorite travel workout clothes in summary:

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