Best Winter Running Gear
While many of us begin to settle into our flannels, Netflix routine and start sipping on hot cocoa like it’s our job during the colder winter months, there are those special outdoor enthusiasts who keep their work out routine going strong and enjoy the beauties of nature during the winter. Just because the weather outside has become colder and the clouds begin to drop down beautiful white snowflakes, does not mean that you should pack your gear away and quit running for the year. In fact, as long as you invest in the correct type of gear, you will barely even notice that you are running in colder and wetter climates. So before you pack up your gear to avoid dropping temperatures, remember, you can definitely keep up your running routine with the proper equipment.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 18 hrs of research
- Baleaf Thermal Fleece Tights
- Smartwool 250 Zip T
- Icebug DTS2 Shoe
- Patagonia Torrentshell Pants
- Ibex Merino Woolies
- Degreed Ear Warmers
- North Face Apex Bionic Soft Shell Jacket
- Smartwool Crew Socks
- Everything Black Skull Cap
- Smartwool Merino Neck Gaiter
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Baleaf Thermal Fleece Tights
Some complain that they are loose in the ankles
These Baleaf Thermal Fleece Tights are fantastic winter running pants. They work well for layering for extra warmth, or you can wear them by themselves if you are feeling up to it. The best part of them is that they will keep you warm and well ventilated.Read more
These pants are made with soft fleece inside so that they are very warm; however, they are also very breathable and sweat-wicking.
To keep you comfortable, the soft lining feels great against your skin. The fabric materials are 90 percent polyester and 10 percent spandex, and this means that they are sweat wicking and still stretchy at the same time.
These pants come in XS-XXL, so there are a lot of options for you to choose from.
Only a few color options are available and they include balsam, green grass, and cayenne. As an added bonus, these pants have reflective elements to keep you seen in the dark.
These pants will keep you warm, comfortable, and still cool enough to run through any winter weather. The bonus factor with these pants is that they can be worn as a layer or alone if that is enough for you. They also have leg zippers that allow for easy on and off.
2. Smartwool 250 Zip T
It will work as a base layer or a standalone garment
It was knit in Vietnam with 100 percent Merino wool
The wool has a natural ability to wick away moisture and resist odors
The size can be too tight
Over time, small holes may develop around the waist area
The outer layer is merely one portion of covering your torso, as you need a base layer to go underneath of it. It is hard to think of a better one than the NTS Mid 250 Zip T from Smartwool. In fact, this provides so much warmth that in cooler weather, you could wear it by itself.Read more
As a base layer, this fits next-to-your-skin. Because of the material utilized, Merino wool, this will not only provide you with warmth but also wick away moisture from your body. To top it off, this will also regulate its core temperature.
Chafing can be one of the main reasons for discomfort when wearing clothes for extended periods of time during physical activity. But, this layer minimizes chafing with its flatlock seam construction.
Size options are available from small to XX-large. However, note that the shirt is designed to fit close to your skin. If you do not pick the right size, it may fit too snug.
Every single person out there should find a color that suits them with options for olive heather, black, charcoal, dark blue steel heather, orange, light gray, among others. Additionally, to eliminate the need for seams on the top of your shoulders, integrated into the base layer are shoulder panels. Plus, there is a center zipper that measures 10” that can be unzipped at your leisure.
This will be a perfect base layer to keep your torso comfortable and warm while running in the frigid weather. Remember, though, be wary of the sizes as you may want to go up one.
3. Icebug DTS2 Shoe
Has outstanding traction on slippery surfaces
The midsole is fully cushioned for comfort
Impressively water resistant
You may need to go up half a size as some have claimed they run small
Arguably, the most important gear for runners is their shoes. On long runs, your feet will be the first body part to inform you that they are in pain. Naturally, in the winter, when it rains ice can then form. Thus, you need to have a special set of sneakers that add more traction against ice. Enter in the DTS2 Running Shoe from Icebug.Read more
These shoes will protect you from the rain and snow on the ground. The ripstop nylon upper, in addition, adds a further layer of durability and water-repellence.
Besides traction and waterproofness, this shoe is aimed for comfort. With a fully cushioned midsole, soft padding in the collar and a wide-foot shaped design, it delivers comfort for hours.
Options are available for 8 to 13, with increments of 0.5. Although, some have claimed that they run small so it may be wise to go up half a size.
On slippery surfaces, these will provide additional traction for you. Plus, with its 19 integrated steel studs, it provides you with even further grip and traction.
Although there is only one color option available, the lone color (black and charcoal) will suffice for most people’s needs.
The chance is there that you may end up needing a different size but once you get through that hassle, you will never look back. In frigid conditions with ice everywhere you turn, these shoes will instantly become your favorite accomplice.
4. Patagonia Torrentshell Pants
The fabric is waterproof, durable, light and tough
Easily pulls over your boots
They can be easily stored away and occupy little space
A fly would have been a nice touch
It is possible that some of you may not feel the need to concern yourself with wearing a special pair of pants tailored for winter running. But, you would be wise to do so and once you see what these Torrentshell pants are all about, you will see why.Read more
Being crafted from a 2.5-layer H2Ho Performance Shell, these pants are both waterproof and highly breathable. In addition to this, the 2-way side zippers are welted and easily pull-over your boots and double as vents.
Besides the fabric providing a sufficient amount of breathability, the knees have also been articulated to allow you greater freedom of movement. Also, these pants are loaded with convenient features. This includes two zippered pockets with mesh pocket bags, a carabiner clip-in loop, storm flaps, and the ability to stuff itself into its own left pocket.
Sizes are available from S to XXL. These pants are known to fit true to size.
The lone color option here, being true black, may not be flashy but everyone should be able to live with it.
Look, there is no way to sugarcoat this, these are expensive pants. But, you truly get what you pay for with these. The amount of sheer quality will outweigh the sadness of watching your wallet become lighter.
5. Ibex Merino Woolies
The 100% Merino wool is machine washable
Features a gusseted crotch for comfort and ease of movement
They work great as a base layer or a pair of sweatpants
The fabric could be more substantial
Could have also been a touch clingier
As with your torso, the lower section of your body is going to need more than just the outer layer. Thermal underwear is a terrific and sufficient way to keep your legs comfortable, no matter the length of your run. The only minor flaw with this specific base layer is they could have been a little thicker.Read more
These are crafted from an 18.5 superfine wool yarn, which offers a superb amount of warmth and a close-to-the-body fit. While you run, they will also move with you while retaining their shape.
Even though it will hold up in all sorts of rugged conditions, does not mean it sacrifices comfort to do so. In fact, the Rib construction provides enough space for air permeability and the crotch is gusseted for maximum movement and comfort.
Ibex provides enough sizing variations to adapt for most people. This includes every size from extra-small to extra-large. As with the other base layer that landed on this list, these woolies work great not only as a base layer but also on their own. For example, you can use them to substitute for your sweatpants or pajamas.
A strong selection of colors includes artic bay, black, black and heather gray, dahlia, and a few others.
It is worth noting, as was in the beginning, that while the fabric is terrific, it could have been a little thicker. But, do not be fooled, pairing this with an outer layer will be more than sufficient enough for your winter running needs.
6. Degreed Ear Warmers
When you are not using them, simply collapse them for easy storage
Not only will your ears stay warm, but a messy hair-dew will not result
The patented behind-the-head design fits perfectly on your head
For prolonged periods, they may start bothering your ears
May not expand as much as you want
Your ears can be very sensitive when they are exposed to cold weather. As such, a top-quality pair of ear warmers should be in order for your winter running gear.Read more
With its unique fabric construction, the Degrees by 180s manage to balance thermal insulation and breathability. In times when the wind is howling and the snow is falling, these will provide ultimate protection for your ears.
Besides the warmth it provides in cold climates, it integrates a patented behind-the-head design that will fit comfortably over your head. In addition, the warmers are crafted from soft polyester fleece, making them extremely comfortable.
Again, these are adjustable so one size will fit most here. Although they are designed for men, there is no reason why women can’t enjoy them.
When you are not using these ear warmers, they can be easily collapsed down for easy storage. As they are adjustable, they also can easily fit with hats, glasses, and helmets alike.
There are only a few color options that you can choose from and this includes black, gray and java.
These are perfect when you do not want to wear a hat that covers your full head. Be aware, however, for men with bigger heads, these may fit a little snug. They are adjustable but do have a maximum length that they can go.
7. North Face Apex Bionic Soft Shell Jacket
Has a zip-poicket to store devices and needed items
Has a hem cinch-cord
Running in winter wouldn't be complete without great upper body protection, and a fantastic place to start is with the North Face Apex Bionic Soft Shell Jacket. It is stretchy and sweat wicking, so sweat won't cool down and begin to make you feel cold.Read more
This North Face Apex Bionic Soft Shell Jacket is warm and is also water-resistant. It zips up to just under the chin and has long sleeves. It can easily be layered with other items underneath so that it acts a bit more like a winter coat.
Because the fabric it is crafted with is incredibly stretchy and breathable, your skin will not overheat and will remain content. As this jacket zips from bottom to top, it is easy to remove and put on.
This jacket comes in sizes XS to XXXL.
This jacket comes in a wide range of colors, such as black, grey, red, blue, green, and the list continues.
If you are looking for a jacket that is water resistant, warm, can be layered, and comes in a lot of colors, this is your jacket.
8. Smartwool Crew Socks
Wool has a natural ability to resist odors and wick away moisture
Even in freezing temperatures of below-zero, these socks will keep you warm
The wool is also extremely soft and comfortable
They tend to be a little baggy
Over time, the elasticity will moderately fade
Sure, your feet are probably going to sweat on your run but that does not mean they will not get cold. On bitterly cold runs, casual socks may not be sufficient enough. This is where the Smartwool Extra-Heavy Crew Socks come into play.Read more
No matter the condition that awaits you, even temperatures that go below zero degrees, the wool material will keep your feet warm and dry. As wool has a natural ability to wick away moisture, perspiration will not be an issue.
Innovative and smart design features are at work here; such as a flat knit toe seam and extra-heavy cushion for the ultimate protection against absorption.
While it can’t be promised that all size options will be available at all times, there are selections for small, medium, large and extra-large. To provide a secure fit, these socks integrate arch braces and a Fit System Ankle design. However, these socks have been said to be moderately baggy so if this is an issue, you may want to go a size down.
There are a few color options, but they do resemble each other quite a bit. Still, you have options for charcoal heather, navy, and taupe.
For warmth and comfort, it is hard to do better than what Smartwool has provided for you. Although it is difficult to point out its best design feature, the natural ability of wool to wick away moisture and resist odors may be the most notable.
9. Everything Black Skull Cap
It is backed by Everything Black’s lifetime warranty
It is lightweight, compact and comfortable
When need be, it can be washed in a machine
After a while, it tends to stretch out a bit
For larger heads, it may fit too tight
Skull cap beanies are more than just a fashion statement for skaters and hipsters. In fact, this particular version from Everything Black actually works terrific on winter runs. Even though it is thin, it will provide your head with a great balance of warmth and breathability.Read more
When you are running in winter, you never know when Mother Nature will unleash a bucket of snow. With this beanie and its double-layered knit design, it will not only keep the snow off your skull but also provide enough warmth to get you through the run.
The fabric utilized for this beanie is 60 percent cotton and 40 percent acrylic. This is not only comfortable in its own right but also highly-breathable. In addition, with the lack of seams, there is no unbearable itchiness to deal with.
As with most beanies that you will find, this implements a one-size-fits-most design with enough stretching to fit over most heads. When you are wearing glasses, though, if you have a large noggin this may prove to be a little snug.
Outside of the traditional black color, you can select from royal blue, navy blue, maroon, gray, and brown.
It may not so on the surface, but this skull cap beanie is a terrific addition to anyone’s collection of winter running gear. In ridiculously cold temperatures, you may want something more substantial. Of course, you could also pair this with 180s Degrees ear warmers for maximum heat.
10. Smartwool Merino Neck Gaiter
The length ensures maximum wearability and versatility
The fabric is ultralightweight and soft
For added durability, the Merino fibers are wrapped around a nylon core
Less useful in extreme temperatures
Last, but not least, you may deem it necessary to add further protection for your neck in frigid conditions. If you do not believe a base layer and jacket will be enough, you can add a neck gaiter for additional warmth. Once again, its Smartwool that presents you with the best one out there.Read more
Again, Smartwool uses Merino wool to ensure that this gaiter delivers an exceptional amount of insulation for your neck. The extended length is able to guarantee that every inch of your neck will be covered.
With its Merino wool fabric, it is as soft and cozy as you could possibly ask for. In addition, as you already know, this type of wool will mick away moisture preventing perspiration from building up and causing discomfort.
The neck gaiter measures 17.5” and it is designed to fit most people.
The only three colors that you can select from are light gray, mineral pink and taupe. While it is not a terrific lineup of options, it should suffice.
Trust us, you may not think this specific garment is necessary but when you want to run in temperatures below-zero, this will be more substantial than you realize.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When the weather begins to shift outside and you begin to develop goosebumps when you step outdoors, you know that winter is here. For running enthusiasts, this is not going to be enough to deny you the satisfaction and pleasure in going for your daily run. But, normal running gear is not going to suffice as midway through, you will be freezing your tail off and unable to continue. So, you must switch out all your normal gear with gear intended for winter use. This accounts for everything from your shoes all the way up to the top of your skull.
However, what makes gear suitable for winter running? First off, the obvious answer, the warmth. Even though you will be sweating while you run, the cold air will require you to have warm gear. Past warmth, gear that has a natural resistance to both water and the wind are also ideally suited for winter. Howling winds can transform a cold day into an unbearably freezing climate. Blocking as much of the wind as possible is essential, but water-resistance is just as. When the snow melts, it turns into water and if your gear does not have a resistance to it, it will begin to absorb the water and become damp.
Size and warmth are not the only aspects you must analyze when it comes to comfort, as there are plenty of others. As a whole, comfort ends up being the most important aspect to look for in running gear (let alone winter running gear). In addition to what has already been said and addressed, add these two to the list: breathability and the fabric.
The single most important factor to address for a fabric to be breathable is its ability to wick away moisture. It does not matter how cold the air is outdoors, after running for a while you will begin to work up a sweat. If the fabric wicks away this moisture, it will not build up inside and decrease the breathability. But, the fabric itself is also important. Fabrics such as wool and cotton have a coziness and comfort factor that can’t be ignored.
Running can be difficult enough as it is, as it requires a great deal of stamina and fitness. As such, there is no reason to make the activity harder by running in gear that does not properly fit you. Improper clothing can add a great deal of discomfort and make the run less enjoyable than you wanted. Of course, you already know this as you have been wearing garments your entire life. Whether it is a base layer, hat, pair of pants, shoes, or gloves, size is everything and even the slightest tightness or looseness can bother you.
With some gear, manufacturers will design their product to run small or large. Whether they do this purposely or not is irrelevant, as your normal size may not be what you actually want. The best step you can take is to glance over customer feedback to see if there are any issues with size. This also comes into play with gear that is designed to be one-size-fits-all. Unfortunately, this is a little misleading as bigger and smaller people may not find that it fits properly.
No matter if you are sufficient at running or even enjoy doing it, as long as you look good while you do it then you are good to go, right? Okay, so maybe this is not your primary concern when you are running. But, it is not arbitrary to say that you probably are fond of gear that you find visually appealing. Or, if nothing else, a design that you do not think is appalling. As you have seen with the products on this list, typically, sellers will create their product in a variety of colors. Thus, satisfying their consumers as not everyone enjoys the same color design and color schemes.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Knowing the temperature before you head out is incredibly useful. Your body heats up as you exercise and you may end up with too warm of an outfit or too many layers. If you know the outdoor temperature, it is recommended to dress for temperatures about 15-20 degrees warmer.
It is easy to forget about staying hydrated when the sun isn't making you sweat. Running in cold weather can almost feel refreshing at times and you may not feel thirsty. Either way, you must remember to drink water.
Other Factors to Consider
It does not really matter what you are shopping for when products offer you additional conveniences it is always a huge bonus. A lot of the convenience that running gear provides, at least on this list, are directly associated with adjustability, portability, freedom of movement, and additional uses. When the topic of clothes comes up, for example, jackets, base layers, and pants, all these factors come to the forefront. With this type of gear, it is nice when they provide you with zippers or drawstrings for adjustability, the ability to use them in winter or fall runs, or simply design integrations that allow for freedom of movement.
Even past this, with other gear such as shoes, socks, ear warmers, gloves, and hats, there can be additional convenience such as how easily they can be packed in the instance the temperature heats up or the traction and dexterity provided. From gear to gear, this will vary slightly. Basically, if you can read a product description and you stop to say, “that would be nifty or helpful” you got yourself a convenient feature.
Frequently Asked Questions
There is a reason why runners have specific shoes dedicated to their craft. Running shoes offer distinct advantages over regular sneakers when it comes to running and athletics. As such, there should be a specific way that your running shoe needs to fit. You can actually use this guide to determine if you need to go up or down the size you traditionally would.
First off, ensure that you have enough wiggle room to keep your toes from being squished. From the end of your longest toe to the shoe, there should be a thumb’s width worth of room. Then, check your heel and see if it slips at all. If it does a tad you may be okay, but if it is slipping uncontrollably than they are too large for your feet.
Shoes are not the only gear that requires a special fit to work at its utmost efficiently, gloves are as well. Unfortunately, when it comes to gloves (just like shoes), there is little to no room for error. Ideally, you want a glove that fits snug to your hand; aka a feel that resembles a second layer of skin. However, the tricky aspect is you do not want them to be too small. If so, they will cut off the circulation to your fingers, resulting in numbness.
As you do not want them too small, you would think that as long as they were not you would be in the all clear. But, gloves that are too big can be just as detrimental, in a different way. Gloves that fit like this will flop around everywhere and eventually lead to chafing of your skin. Also, they will prevent you from having and dexterity whatsoever.
In extremely frigid conditions, base layers can provide a vital, extra level of warmth and comfort. But, they are not going to prevent you from sweating. The ones that wick away moisture may provide the illusion that you are not sweating, but there is no way to prevent the human body from sweating when you begin to overheat. When this sweat is combined with bacteria, it will then begin to give off a pungent scent.
Hence, manufacturers will focus the concentration of a base layer to use anti-microbial properties to break down the bacteria and prevent the awful scent. Without a base layer underneath that wicks away moisture, not only are you doing yourself a disserve by not adding an additional layer of warmth, there is no sufficient way to rid your body of moisture. Thus, it will build up and start smelling and providing discomfort. But, no, base layers will not prevent this from happening.
This is a great question, not only for running shoes, but any type of shoe in general. What is great about this question is that there is not one lone answer. In fact, there is more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to washing shoes. If your shoes happen to be machine washable, you can opt to simply allow a machine to do all the work. But, you must take care in this situation as they can easily be ruined. If you are going to do so, wash them on a gentle cycle, with cold water, a sport-specific laundry detergent, and with extra protection surrounding it (for example a pillowcase).
But, you may want to stay on the safe side and choose the “old-fashioned” way to clean them. For shoes that are beginning to acquire odors, fill them with baking soda and lay them out overnight. More serious situations may call for a full-shoe wash and if so, you can soak them in warm water with gentle soap. After which, simply rinse them off and allow them to dry.
Whether a base layer or a regulation set of tights, why do runners feel the need to wear them? In the winter, they are better suited for a base layer and the two primary reasons why runners wear them are for warmth and protection. As a base layer, tights can possess the ability to not only double as another layer but wick away moisture to keep your legs dry.
However, perhaps the bigger reason is the protection and comfort they provide. As these particular garments are designed to fit next-to-your-skin, they eliminate any chance of skin irritation and chafing. With baggier clothing, they can relentlessly move around your waist and thigh areas. Eventually, they will start irritating your skin and affect your running performance. Specifically, in the winter, as the weather is cold outside, to begin with, they are even more critical.
Earmuffs offer your ears a superb amount of protection and coziness when they are fitted properly. It is safe to say that you may be wondering how you can incorrectly wear a pair of earmuffs. If you dig a little deeper, though, it will become inherently clear that it is possible to wear them incorrectly.
You need to ensure that the earmuffs are completely engulfing and sealing your ears. If you feel a draft, then they need to be tighter. The headband portion also needs to rest tightly on the crown of your head. Either adjust them up or down to fit these criteria and then you are good to go.
- The 20 Best Pieces Of Winter Running Gear For Seriously Frigid Temps, Magazine Article, Nov 27, 2018 ,
- 15 Great Pieces Of Essential Winter Running Gear To Help Keep You Fit And Warm, Buying Guide, Jan 10, 2018 ,