Best Exercise Accessories — Shape Best In Fitness Awards 2023

Whether you're running, lifting, or boxing, these little exercise accessories will make a big difference in your workout.

Undeniably, the fitness equipment you utilize during your workout, such as resistance bands, yoga mats, and kettlebells significantly impacts your performance. However, it's equally crucial to invest in the right workout accessories like running belts for keeping your essentials, sunglasses for safeguarding your eyes, and headbands to keep your hair off your face. These elements can substantially enhance your workout experience. The subsequent recommendations are from Shape experts and editors on the must-have items you should consider for your next biking, jogging, lifting or boxing session.

Best Belt Bag: Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag

This cult-favorite bag has a roomy interior pocket to stash your must-haves, plus an exterior zippered pocket that rests against your body so you can safely store valuables such as your phone and ID. Thanks to the water-repellent fabric, your essentials will stay dry even when you get caught in a rainstorm.

Here's an experienced perspective: "The Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag is just the right size to hold your essentials like phone, keys, credit cards, and lip gloss. It features inside pockets for easy organization. Its design allows for wearing it as a traditional waist pouch or slung over the shoulder. Whether you're going for a walk, embarking on a hike, or simply roaming around town, this belt bag makes an ideal companion." — Kira Stokes, CEO and NASM-certified personal trainer of Kira Stokes Fitness, also the brain behind the KiraStokesFit app.

Best Running Hat: Lululemon Race Kit Hat

This lightweight running hat has reflective details for safety and perforation for extra breathability. Bonus: Clip it to your bag or running belt with the adjustable back closure.

Professional Opinion: "As an African American woman who runs while sporting braids, I find this hat to be not only a perfect fit for my hairstyle but also excellent in terms of ventilation. Typically, I wear my hats in reverse, and the adjustable fixtures rest smoothly on my forehead. The fact that Lululemon releases unique colors in limited edition each season, adds a touch of exclusivity to the product." — Kayla Jeter, certified personal trainer by NASM and functional strength coach.

Best Handheld Water Bottle for Runners: Nathan Sports SpeedShot Plus Insulated Flask

This 12-ounce flask is insulated to keep cold beverages cool (perfect for hot summer long runs), and the hand strap has an expandable zippered pocket for keys, IDs, and energy gels.

Expert Review: "I've always been extremely annoyed by holding anything while I run, but the SpeedShot is the exception to this rule. I actually find it comfortable to run with and the chafe-resistant fabric doesn't irritate my skin at all. Plus, extra room for gels? That's a win." — Kristen Geil, NASM-certified personal trainer and Shape senior fitness editor

Best Hydration Backpack/Vest: Salomon Sense Pro 10

This hydration vest prioritizes minimalism for a precise, friction-free fit. It includes two 500mL flasks that fit snugly into the front pockets, and its elastic fabric moves with you.

Expert Review: "The Salomon Sense Pro 10 packs a lot of water without feeling heavy. The vest fabric is durable, and I haven't experienced much chafing. Additionally, the bladders inside of the vest are great to carry solo and there is tons of storage throughout the vest." — Jeter

Best Running Belt: Ponray Running Belt

Lightweight and water-resistant, this running belt bag can easily stash all your cardio essentials — including phones up to 7 inches — and has a soft texture that won’t irritate your skin. The reflective details help increase visibility during your late-night jogs. 

Expert Review: “It’s compact and stays out of the way, and it’s stretchy so you can hold your keys, wallet, and phone while running.” Laura Su, NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and strength coach

Best Workout Headband: Alo Yoga Airlift Headband

Alo Yoga's Airlift Headband can be worn anywhere. Its pretty, ruched center elevates the design a bit, while the sweat-wicking fabric and no-slip grips keep hair in place. It's breathable, so you don't have to worry about a sweaty forehead and messy hair after wearing it to a workout. 

Expert Review: "I have alopecia, so I'm very particular about what kinds of accessories I use on my hair. This headband gently keeps my hair out of my face without pulling or tugging, as some other workout headbands can do. I truly can't tell you how frequently I wear this, it's my go-to accessory for almost everything I do (and it's thick enough to hide my thinning hair!)" — Christina Oehler, Shape beauty commerce editor

Best Weight Lifting Tape: Goat Tape Scary Sticky Premium Athletic Tape

Designed for wrist, finger, and thumb taping, this cotton-based tape is soft enough for comfort but tough enough to protect your hands (and improve your grip) during heavy AF lifts.

Are you an Olympic lifter, CrossFit athlete, or powerlifter considering investing in weightlifting gloves? There's an alternative you may want to explore: Goat Tape. This tape is crafted from robust, woven cotton and features a potent adhesive on one side, making it more versatile than your conventional weightlifting gloves. For instance, you could use this durable tape to wrap around your thumbs prior to performing snatches or cleans with a barbell, providing a shield for your skin against the abrasive effects of hook gripping. Additionally, Goat Tape can be utilized to create gymnastic grips that offer protection for your palms while executing deadlifts, pull-ups, rope climbs, and beyond." — Gabrielle Kassel, contributor at Shape Magazine and CrossFit coach.

Best Running Backpack: The North Face Mini Borealis Backpack

This backpack may be tiny, but it does the job — and does so with style. Its sleek, compact design makes it perfect for running, especially if you're distance running out in nature. It's lightweight and has straps that tighten to fit the curve of your body so it doesn't bounce around during wear. 

Expert Review: "I use this backpack to travel and any time I go camping. It fits everything you need for a day out, whether you're running errands or exercising. It's my favorite to run with because it doesn't feel like I have a ton of extra weight on my back." — Oehler

Best Running Gloves: Lululemon Women's Run for It All Hooded Gloves

A cozy combo of gloves and mittens, these hand coverings are designed with a water-repellent and windproof exterior that fends off the winter elements and a soft fleece fabric on the inside to keep your hands toasty. The silicone grips ensure you won’t accidentally drop your phone as you jog, and the tech-friendly fingers allow you to answer a call or snap a mid-race selfie with ease.

Expert Review: “The added protection the hood provides is key for cold days, and I love having the option of whipping it off if I’m just feeling a touch of chill. The gloves have reflective details and tech-friendly fingers. And if you’re like me and find yourself losing one sock or mitten often, the snap feature rocks so you can avoid a rogue glove." — Stokes

Best Running Sunglasses: Goodr Flamingos On a Booze Cruise OG Sunglasses

Goodr sunnies are cult favorites in the running community, and for good reason: They're no-slip, no-bounce, 100-percent polarized, and — wait for it — just $25. The OG line of sunglasses are a classic shape and style, but the bright colors give the sunglasses a pop of personality.

Expert Review: "Goodr sunglasses may be cheap (a major pro for someone like me who loses sunglasses regularly), but they're exactly what I need for running. I've never once felt them slipping down my nose on sweaty summer days, nor do they fog up in humidity. I'm obsessed." — Geil

Best Running Arm Band: Tribe Fitness Armband

The armband is designed to fit all standard-size smartphones and allows for touchscreen use through the protective cover. Its non-slip material keeps it in place for a comfortable, hands-free way to listen to music, track activity, or stay connected during a workout.

Expert Review: "I use this armband on all of my runs and some of my walks. It fits my iPhone, has a secure pocket for keys, and has an adjustable velcro strap for a custom fit. It’s quite comfortable to wear and is water-resistant." — Christie Calucchia, Shape news editor

Best Multi-Sport Sunglasses: Oakley Sutro

Serious athletes need serious shades, and the Oakley Sutro sunglasses stand up to the test. They're made with durable yet lightweight material, and they feature nose grips that resist sweat. The brightly colored lenses aren't just for show: They enhance color, contrast, and detail for extra visibility.

Expert Review: "I love a statement accessory, and the Oakley Sutro sunglasses create an energy that says, 'I'm about my business.' Whether running or biking, these sunglasses have become an extension of my athletic persona and just made me feel like that girl. They're also super lightweight and durable." — Jeter

Best Bike Helmet: Trek Bontrager Solstice MIPS Bike Helmet

Equipped with a Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), this bike helmet is designed to better protect the brain against angled impacts. Along with this key safety feature, the helmet has moisture-wicking pads that can easily be removed for cleaning, reflective details that boost visibility, and a fit system that can be adjusted with just one hand.

Expert Review: “There’s nothing worse than a hot, sweaty helmet head during a long bike ride, but this helmet takes breathability seriously — the airflow is awesome, and I can feel the breeze coming through the channels. It’s lightweight, the magnetic strap closure means no pinched skin when putting the helmet on, and MIPS technology lets me know I’m protected if I take a tumble.” — Maggie Peikon, Shape assistant social media editor

Best Gym Bag: MZ Wallace Small Metro Tote Deluxe

This multi-use bag is water- and stain-resistant and filled with plenty of pockets and compartments to separate your sweaty clothes with ease. To say hands-free on your commute from the studio to the office, attach the removable, adjustable crossbody strap.

Expert Opinion: "The MZ Wallace Small Metro Tote Deluxe stands out from other gym bags due to its unique comfort and durability. It has ample space to accommodate my work laptop, my boxing gloves for training sessions, and toiletries for freshening up afterward. Besides functioning as a gym bag, it's also perfect for weekend getaways and works excellently as a carry-on option with a compartment designed to fit onto a wheelie bag. Another compelling reason to consider this bag is the fact that it's trusted by Jennifer Garner for her holiday road trips." - Marietta Alessi, Director of Social Media at Shape.

Best Boxing Gloves: Craft Boxing Legacy Leather Strap Gloves

These hand-crafted leather boxing gloves are furnished with three layers of foam padding to keep your knuckles protected and double-stitched seams that ensure the mitts will last for countless punches to come. You can also choose between three different weight options (12, 14, and 16 ounces) to ensure your gloves match your individual weight class. 

Expert Review: “These high-quality gloves are just as durable as they are gorgeous. Another reason to back them up? Professional boxer George Foreman III (you may recognize his dad, whom he's named after) is the founder of the brand.” — Alessi

Best Deadlift Accessory: Equip Products Aldridge Arm Harness and Strap

Developed by Peloton’s Logan Aldridge, this strength-training accessory enables athletes with impaired arms to perform not only deadlifts but also pull-ups, farmer's carries, toes-to-bars, and other CrossFit-style exercises. The heavy-duty harness wraps around the shoulder and the chest, while the accompanying strap attaches to the harness’s mighty D-ring and the barbell or pull-up bar to give you two points of contact with your equipment. 

Adaptive CrossFit competitor, Maggie Rath, shares her personal experience of using the Aldridge Arm Harness and Strap. Due to a lack of gripping ability in both hands, she sought an alternative to ordinary lifting hooks that often resulted in discomfort and skin irritation from velcro. She found that the Aldridge Arm Harness provided her with excellent leverage, enabling her to handle weights much heavier than she was accustomed to.

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