Best Functional Fitness Equipment 2021
Functional fitness is huge. Many people are eschewing traditional strength training for activities like CrossFit, Metcon, high intensity interval training (HIIT), and rucking. Our Best Functional Fitness Equipment highlights some of the best shoes, apparel, and sporting goods for those pursuits. Whether you’re getting the gear for yourself or others, this list can be a nice starting point to find well made, comfortable, and durable gear.
We’ve rigorously tested all the items on the list and know they perform well. Our team includes several testers who regularly cycle through various functional fitness activities. We know what’s most important for each type of functional fitness. If you have follow up questions about any product on the list, ask us on Twitter.
We’ve also reviewed a ton of workout and cross training shoes this year and many other products not featured on this page. With that said, let’s unveil our list of the best functional fitness equipment for 2021.
Best Functional Fitness Equipment
Best Compression Tights: Hylete Apex II 3/4 Light Compression Tight
A breathable base layer is a necessity for all types of functional fitness.
The Hylete Apex II 3/4 Light Compression Tight has a really long name that’s also an accurate description. The 90% polyester, 10% spandex mix is very light but not sheer. It’s also comfortable when lifting, running, and doing various movements. The crotch design avoids the vicious hair pulling that other tights are prone to. The only thing some people won’t like are the seams included on the lower leg (they’re just there for extra styling). But for $46, it’s a good value for the quality and comfort.
Best Mask: adidas Face Cover
Working out during an ongoing pandemic often requires a versatile face cover (mask).
The adidas Face Cover is light, breathable, and fits well. Just the right amount of elastic allows it to sit comfortably on your ears and stay in place while working out all without pulling too hard. It can be thrown in both the washer and dryer without issue. It also drys quickly when soaked with sweat. And to top it off, it’s made with recycled polyester and only costs $20 for a 3-pack.
Best Foam Roller: TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
Everyone needs a foam roller in their recovery toolbox to release muscle pain and tightness.
Foam rollers are now ubiquitous at gyms around the world. The key to buying a foam roller is finding one that’s durable enough to last for years.
The TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller is the most durable foam roller you’ll find. The GRID has multi-density EVA foam layered on top of a rigid, hollow TPU core. The hollow core makes it perfect for travel as you can stuff clothes inside it when you place it in your suitcase.
The GRID foam roller is also half the size of a typical foam roller which comes in handy for both travel and storage. It’s got the best foam roller form factor and will last a long time.
Best Sandbags: GORUCK Sandbags
Dumbbells are traditional and balanced. Sandbags are less stable and involve more planes of motion.
GORUCK Sandbags, available in weights ranging from 20 to 120 pounds, are decidedly low tech. They’re also made of sturdy 1000D Cordura, have a bunch of handles, and include filler bags to protect the internals of the bag. They’re basically everything proof and better than other sandbags we’ve tried. And it’s not just us, the internet is full of positive reviews for these things. They’re also more readily available than any dumbbell or barbell after the pandemic-induced run on fitness equipment. GORUCK Sandbags are setup perfectly for durability, portability, and workout scalability. You’ll love what they add to your at-home workouts.
Best Sleeveless Tank Top: Balance Athletica Zone Tank
Functional fitness often needs sleeveless t-shirts for freedom of arm movement. We’re always looking for the best.
The Balance Athletica Zone Tank is the softest sleeveless tank top we’ve ever tested. The 95% Modal and 5% Spandex blend feels softer than cotton but still wicks sweat, feels lightweight, and stretches as good or better than polyester. I’m not really sure how they do it, but the fabric feels great on your skin. True, it’s got an upscale, high end t-shirt feel and look, but it’s 100% ready for anything you throw at it in the gym or the great outdoors. The fabric does attract wrinkles but is safe in the dryer so that helps. The minimal branding (just a small reflective triangle) is a nice bonus. As far as fit, it’s tapered, but long enough to fit tall guys and stretchy enough to accommodate various body types. It’s the sort of fitness wear that’s classy in and out of the gym.
Best Compression T-Shirt: UA Rush HeatGear 2.0 Compression Short Sleeve
A stretchy compression t-shirt is a necessity.
Under Armour has been making really good compression shirts since Kevin Plank was selling them out of his trunk. The UA Rush HeatGear 2.0 is just the latest iteration in a really good line. The compression is perfect for a short sleeve shirt (not too tight), has hexagonal mesh panels for breathability, and the seams aren’t in places where they could cause chafing. The Rush fabric is mostly marketing, but it’s comfortable. This is also a great workout shirt for tall guys as it comes in tall sizes. No more showing that belly button during overhead presses.
Best Functional Fitness Shoe: GORUCK Ballistic Trainer
Most workout shoes aren’t built this tough.
Designed by the inventor of the Reebok Pump, the GORUCK Ballistic Trainer is my current favorite cross training shoe. Why? Its unique construction/materials, great comfort, and the extra tech packed into an unassuming package. The Ballistic Trainer is both great for hard workouts in the gym and a casual night out (remember those?). Plus, at the $125 price point, you’re getting your money’s worth. It’s one of those rare shoes where I didn’t have complaints and the shoe delivered more performance than I was promised. Read the full review for more details.
Best All Around Shorts: UA Motivator Vented Coach's Shorts
Under Armour markets these as coach’s shorts but they can do anything.
Over many years of testing products I’ve learned the material mixes that can often create great apparel products. The 87% polyester, 13% elastane mix of the UA Motivator Vented Coach’s Shorts uses an extremely performance-oriented mix for a coach’s short. And when I tested them, I knew these shorts were good for more than just walking the sideline. They do work for coaching and daily wear but they’re stretchy and comfortable with a perfect length for functional fitness. Yoga, weightlifting, running, you name it…they handle it The only negative is they have a sort of ripstop pattern to them that’s hard to see on the product images. However, performance-wise, they’re great.
Best Long Sleeve Top: Hylete Activ Half-Zip
More than ever, fitness is moving outdoors, here’s a great top to help with the cooler outdoor temps.
The Hylete Activ Half-Zip’s only real flaw is Hylete dropped the “e” in the product name. As a product reviewer trying to spell this stuff, it’s annoying. But when you need a long sleeve layer just warm enough for working out, running, and lifting outdoors, it’s the half-zip you need. The polyester/spandex blend is soft and stretchy and the fit is accommodating enough for taller wearers who don’t want to show their midriff on overhead lifts. The best features of all may be 1) the well-designed sleeve thumb hole that protects almost the entire thumb and 2) the slick zip pocket on the right side that can securely hold phones, keys, or cards. Hylete made these for getting your fitness on in outdoor environments and nailed the design.
Lightest Shorts: Curry Elevated Performance Shorts
Our readers in warmer climates always need lightweight shorts
The Curry Brand Elevated Performance Shorts are some of the lightest, sweat-wicking shorts we’ve tried. And they’re on sale because it’s winter and most the country doesn’t need lightweight shorts. If you live in a warm climate, these are great shorts for lifting and playing sports. They’re a little long for running so keep that in mind. The scalloped bottom hem is also great for freedom of movement. Scoop them up to get ready for the summer heat.
Best Weighted Backpack: GORUCK Rucker 3.0
A new (well, actually pretty old) fitness routine called Rucking is the perfect thing for desk sitting humans.
The GORUCK Rucker 3.0 is a backpack built for Rucking. Rucking is simply walking with a weighted backpack. It’s cardio that sits somewhere between walking and running. It also improves your posture by pulling your shoulders back over your hips…perfect for anyone who sits at a desk all day. The Rucker 3.0 is built with 1000D Cordura so its basically bombproof, has compartments built specifically for weight plates, and multiple handles so you can do other exercises with your ruck. The idea that part of your fitness routine involves walking around with a heavy backpack may take some getting used to (and may invoke memories of lugging heavy books around a college campus) but once you try it, you’ll understand. It’s the kind of fitness routine that makes you feel stronger physically and mentally.
Best After Workout Zip Hoodie: Hylete Linear Tech Hoodie
Even if you’re not a software developer, a good zip hoodie is key.
After your workouts, all you want is comfort and warmth. That’s why these last two items are focused on after. This one is the most comfortable zip up hoodie I own, the Hylete Linear Tech Hoodie. So soft your significant other will still want to snuggle…even if you’re sweaty. The cut of the hoodie is great and it’s stretchy enough to accommodate most body types. Though, if you like your hoodies more loose fitting, go up a size. And I haven’t even mentioned the hidden pockets. Two zippered hidden pockets inside the kangaroo pockets on the belly are perfect for all those little things like wallets you constantly worry will fall out of your hoodie’s pockets. There’s also another zip pocket on the left sleeve that can fit a phone. Oh, and they’re currently on sale for $40. It’s a no brainer comfort move.
Best After Workout Hoodie: UA Rival Fleece Hoodie
You can never have enough comfortable hoodies.
The UA Rival Fleece Hoodie is a basic pullover hoodie with a fleecy interior. It’s warm and soft and perfect for wearing while lounging or hanging out. It also gets restocked regularly by Under Armour meaning you can rebuy it when your significant other steals it. And as a bonus for the tall among us, it comes in tall sizes in most of the colors.