The Best Winter Running Gear of 2023

Brooks’ Ghost 14 GTX is our favorite road runner, and the Altra Lone Peak All-WTHR Low is the best winter trail shoe.

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The Best Winter Running Gear of 2022

Zappos / REI / Amazon

Some fair-weather runners may feel like it’s time to transition to the treadmill when the mercury starts to drop, and it’s easy to understand that philosophy. Winter brings with it not only lower temps and shorter days, but also the myriad challenges of running on snow and ice, enduring freezing rains and blizzards, and navigating the muddy slush that piles up post-storm. But if you approach the sport the right way — acquiring the right gear, executing a smart layering strategy, and knowing which products help keep you warm and sure-footed — winter running can be a delight.

In selecting the best winter running gear, we focused on products that provide versatility so that they can be used within a range of temperatures and conditions. The best shoes, Brooks Ghost 14 GTX for road running and the trail-specific Altra Lone Peak All-WTHR Low, afford great grip and waterproof, breathable protection to seal out the elements. Meanwhile, the best attire employs merino wool, synthetic fabrics, and other smart tech that regulate your temperature throughout your run. In researching the best gear, we also consulted with Adam Chase, a Boulder, CO-based, lifelong runner who regularly competes in international ultra trail runs.

From shoes to base layers, jackets, and accessories, this is the best winter running gear for ideal temperature, visibility, and traction.

Best Road Shoes

Brooks Men's Ghost 14 GTX Running Shoes

Brooks Ghost 14 GTX

REI

Why We Love It
  • Ready for the worst winter can give, the Ghost 14 GTX offers breathable weatherproof protection and ample cushioning.

What to Consider
  • Running in deep snow or slush may require a gaiter to avoid getting moisture inside the shoe, and your feet may get hot in milder temps.

Winter can quickly transform your typical running surface into a mess of dirty snow, slush, and mud, but the Ghost 14 GTX from Brooks is ready for it. A breathable, waterproof Gore-tex upper membrane has been bonded directly with the uppers to block out the elements, while a new soft midsole works with a Segmented Crash Pad to provide cushioning and smooth flow from toe-off to foot-strike. Brooks has also designed the midsole to react to your unique stride, providing a soft but not squishy feel that helps propel you forward. Also available for women.

Price at time of publish: $160

The Details: Gore-tex, DNA Cushioning | Men’s full and half sizes from 7-13, full sizes 14, 15; Women’s full and half sizes from 5-12

Best Trail Shoes

ALTRA Men's AL0A4VQG Lone Peak All-WTHR Low Trail Running Shoe

ALTRA Men's AL0A4VQG Lone Peak All-WTHR Low Trail Running Shoe

Amazon

Why We Love It
  • The Lone Peak All-WTHR Low provides ample traction, a wide toe-box, and a weather-resistant bootie — and it pairs with Altra’s gaiters if you want the added coverage.

What to Consider
  • The zero-drop construction best benefits runners who have mastered the midsole running style.

In milder, drier temps, provided you wear an insulating, moisture-wicking pair of socks, most trail runners will keep you warm and comfortable. But if the trails are covered in snow and mud, go with the Lone Peak All-WTHR Low trail runners from Altra. These shoes provide ample grip on wet terrain via their MaxTrax outsole, with a cushioning platform that places your heel and forefoot at the same distance to the ground (also known as zero-drop), which improves performance. And the brand’s signature “FootShape” design adds extra space to the forefoot, which allows your toes to splay out to provide a better feel and improve your balance. Best of all, the shoe comes with a weather-resistant eVent bootie to block out the elements without overheating. It’s also available for women.

Price at time of publish:  $128

The Details: eVent bootie | Men’s full and half sizes from 7 to 13, full sizes 14 and 15; Women’s full and half sizes from 5.5-12

Best Ice Spikes

Kahtoola NANOspikes Traction System

4.8
 Kahtoola NANOspikes

REI

Why We Love It
  • With ten tungsten carbide spikes, and easy on/off application, the NANOspikes are a godsend when trying to navigate snow and ice.

What to Consider
  • Deeper, loose snow can get stuck between the spike and the bottom of your shoe, adding a touch of extra weight.

Get assured traction on snow, ice, and muddy slush with Kahtoola’s NANOspikes, which come with ten tungsten carbide spikes spread across the heel and forefoot. The flexible rubber plates disperse the impact, and the ergonomic shape fits most footwear. A raised heel tab makes it easy to get them on. Just stick the toe of your shoe into the harness and then pull that tab to stretch them over your shoe’s outsole, and when you’re done, pull down on the tab to remove them. The toe also has an ample opening to keep the spikes in place during steep descents.

Price at time of publish: $49

The Details: Tungsten carbide, rubber | XS-XL

Best Base Layer Top

Smartwool Merino Sport Tech Tee

Smartwool Merino Sport Tech Tee

Amazon

Why We Love It
  • A streamlined — but not tight — fit works well with layering, and the all-natural sweat-wicking, breathable vents, and warm-when-wet comfort makes the Merino Sport Tech Tee a winner in any condition.

What to Consider
  • As with all merino wool apparel, it’s a bit pricey.

It may seem counterintuitive to wear a short-sleeved base layer in winter, but going with the Smartwool Merino Sport Tech Tee provides ample insulation and warmth to your core while reducing the overall bulk on your arms, which are typically moving mid-run and don’t get too cold. The merino wool material naturally wicks away sweat to keep you comfortable, keeps you warm even if it wets out, and doesn’t retain body odor (unlike synthetic fabrics). The fit is loose but not baggy, making it easy to layer, and a bit of mesh in key areas increases breathability, which works with top vents to help regulate your temperature. But if you want full-length coverage, Smartwool also offers the Sport Tech in long-sleeve.  Also available for women.

Price at time of publish: $65

The Details: Merino wool, polyester | S-XXL

Best Base Layer Bottom

Saxx Quest Tights

Saxx Quest Tights

REI

Why We Love It
  • The Quest Tights provide 100 percent protection against chafing at the upper thighs.

What to Consider
  • Saxx focuses exclusively on men’s products.

Even in the best conditions, chafing can be an issue while running, and the risks escalate in the cold, when dry skin can start to feel like sandpaper. For men, the solution to staying warm, comfortable, and chafe-free is the Quest Tights from Saxx, which uses their proprietary BallPark Pouch to secure your boys so they don’t rub up against your upper thighs. The slim-fitting tights provide moisture-wicking via nylon, along with a mix of stretchy elastane and durable polyester to keep you sweat-free, warm, and comfortable, with a slight tapering at the ankles to work with your socks, gaiters, and outer layers.

Price at time of publish: $58

The Details: Nylon, elastane, polyester | S-XXL

Best Crewneck

Tracksmith Harrier Long Sleeve

Tracksmith Harrier Long Sleeve

Tracksmith

Why We Love It
  • A touch of synthetic materials within its mostly merino wool construction lets the Harrier Long-sleeve dry quickly, and the all-natural fabric wicks sweat, fends off odor, and keeps you comfortable in variable conditions.

What to Consider
  • You do need to line dry after washing it on the gentle cycle.

A mix of nylon and merino wool makes the Tracksmith Harrier Long-sleeve the ideal mid- or base layer to wear for days on end without washing thanks to its natural and synthetic bacterial management — in other words, it won’t get stinky after multiple uses. The Merino adds softness, natural wicking, and consistent warmth when wet (and also keeps you cool on hotter days), while the synthetic material lets it dry quickly. Go with the Harrier solo on milder days, or pair it with your base layer for comfortable runs in the mid-30s.  Also available for women.

Price at time of publish: $84

The Details: Merino wool, nylon | XS-XXL

Best Fleece

Jack Wolfskin Men's Hydro Grid Fleece

Jack Wolfskin Hydro Grid Fleece

Jack Wolfskin

Why We Love It
  • The Hydro Grid Fleece provides the right touch of extra insulation, with a high zippered collar and a hood.

What to Consider
  • The lifestyle-focused features like hand pockets may add bulk.

When the temps plummet, reach for the Jack Wolfskin Hydro Grid Fleece, a cozy mid-layer that can also work as an outer thanks to the DWR treatment that will shrug off snow and freezing rain. The bi-elastic fleece material provides stretch to move with you, working with a nylon stretch jersey that dries quickly. Unlike heavier fleeces, it provides a modest degree of heat retention, ideal for when you start to heat up, to help regulate your internal temp. It also comes with a fixed hood, two hand pockets, and chest pocket. Also available for women.

Price at time of publish: $150

The Details: Fleece, nylon | S-XXL

Best Turtleneck

Craft Adv Subz Wool Running Tee 2

Craft Adv Subz Wool Running Tee 2

Amazon

Why We Love It
  • The Adv Subz Wool Running Tee 2 provides ample insulation along with key breathable elements to help regulate your temperature.

What to Consider
  • Craft’s apparel typically runs “long and lean,” so if you’re between sizes, size up.

Wearing a full turtleneck while running can quickly make things uncomfortable as you heat up, but the mock turtleneck design in the Craft Adv Subz Wool Running Tee 2 hits the sweet spot by adding insulation and breathability. The collar helps lock in heat, while poly mesh at the sides and under the sleeve help regulate your internal temperature. The base fabric — a mix of merino wool and polyester — wicks sweat, drie quickly, and fends off odors, and the thumb loops add a touch of extra insulation between your arm and the cuff of your running gloves. Touches of reflective detailing at the sleeve provides visibility. Also available for women.

Price at time of publish: $75

The Details: Polyester, merino wool | S-XL

Best Quarter-zip

Ibex Woolies Tech Long-sleeve Quarter Zip

Ibex Woolies Tech Long-sleeve Quarter Zip

Ibex

Why We Love It
  • The Woolies Tech Long Sleeve ¼ Zip makes it easy to heat up or cool off mid stride, and you also benefit from all the performance features of merino wool.

What to Consider
  • It’s a bit pricey.

Though Ibex markets their Woolies Tech Long Sleeve ¼ Zip as a base layer, this piece also makes a killer mid- or outer layer, especially on windless days in the mid-30s. The reason? That quarter-length zip that runs from the high-collar turtleneck down to your sternum lets you start off zipped up and cozy and then quickly adjust by pulling down the zipper to let in cooler air when you heat up. The merino wool has a durable nylon core to enhance durability while still providing sweat-wicking, warm-when-wet protection.  Also available for men.

Price at time of publish: $135

The Details: Merino wool, nylon | S-XXL

Best Leggings

Brooks Men's Momentum Thermal Running Tights

Brooks Momentum Thermal Running Tights

Brooks Running

Why We Love It
  • The streamlined profile of the Momentum Thermal Running Tights means the layer will move with you, providing ample insulation on colder days.

What to Consider
  • The synthetic fabric may carry odors after steady use.

The use of stretch fabric assures that the Brooks Momentum Thermal Running Tights will move with every stride, providing unencumbered warmth on colder runs. A narrow waistband pairs nicely with your upper layers, so that you’re always covered, and twin zippered hand pockets are sleek and small enough to hold your smartphone without it getting jostled around mid-run. Also available for women.

Price at time of publish: $87

The Details: Recycled polyester, spandex | XS-XXL

Best Compression Leggings

Under Armour ColdGear Compression Leggings

Under Armour Men's ColdGear Compression Leggings

Amazon

Why We Love It
  • You get ample insulation, a bit of breathability, and a seamless fit with the ColdGear Compression Leggings.

What to Consider
  • The all-synthetic material is likely to carry odors after sustained use.

Wearing compression tights like Under Armour’s ColdGear Compression Leggings helps fight off that inevitable feeling of stiff legs while running in the cold. The dual-layer fabric provides warmth, with a comfortable brushed interior and a fast-drying outer and four-way stretch for total freedom of movement. It wicks sweat, the flat seam construction avoids chafing, a bit of mesh at the gusset and inseam improves breathability, and a slim overall profile works well with running shorts or pants.  Also available for women.

Price at time of publish: $25

The Details: Polyester, elastane | S-XXL

Best Pants

Patagonia Trail Pacer Joggers

 Patagonia Trail Pacer Joggers

 Patagonia 

Why We Love It
  • Baggier than tights but still providing a svelte fit, the Trail Pacer Joggers keep you warm on colder days, with sweat-wicking, quick-drying fabric and a nice touch of reflective material at the back-right hip.

What to Consider
  • They’re only available for men.

Looser than tights but still slim-fitting enough to provide a clutter-free streamlined profile, the Trail Pacer Joggers from Patagonia use a mix of stretchy, quick-drying polyester and spandex for an optimal fit, along with a vented faux fly to add a touch of breathability. Articulated knees reinforce that freedom of movement, while the low-bulk waistband secures with an elastic drawcord so it’s easy to get the perfect fit. Bonus: The two zippered hand pockets have glued seams to cut down on bulk and chafing.

Price at time of publish: $119

The Details: Polyester, spandex | XS-XXL

Best Windbreaker

Adidas Own the Run Running Jacket

Adidas Own the Run Running Jacket

Amazon

Why We Love It
  • Get complete protection from winter wind with the Own the Run Jacket, which comes with DWR to handle light snow or rain, and you'll also enjoy 360-degree reflectivity for visibility.

What to Consider
  • It doesn’t breathe that well.

Block the biting wind of winter by donning the Own the Run Running Jacket from Adidas. Made from 100 percent recycled polyester, it boasts a slight drop-tail hem to extend coverage below your waist and an adjustable hood to help block out the elements, with a DWR treatment that can handle light snow or rain. Otherwise, it keeps things refreshingly simple, with twin hand pockets and two generous drop pockets on the inside that are great for stashing your hat or headband if things heat up.  Also available for women.

Price at time of publish: $70

The Details: Polyester | XS-XXL

Best Waterproof Jacket

Arc'teryx Men's Norvan LT Hoody

Norvan LT Hoodie - Men's

Arc'teryx

Why We Love It
  • Built for running in any condition, the Norvan LT Hoody offers breathable, lightweight protection against the worst of winter weather.

What to Consider
  • It’s expensive, and the single hip pocket is suitable to carry a few small items but nothing too large.

If you’re the type of runner who heads out regardless of how nasty the weather might be, arm yourself with Arc’teryx’s Norvan LT Hoody, the premier all-weather running shell. Weighing in at a feathery 6.7 ounces, it’s constructed from Gore-tex fabric with a C-KNIT backer technology that’s quiet, highly breathable, and fully weatherproof. A streamlined fit provides a sleek, bulk-free profile with articulation to help movement and a fitted hood with a brim that doesn’t reduce the streamlined profile you want. Also available for women.

Price at time of publish: $400

The Details: Gore-tex with C-KNIT Backing | XS-XXL

Best Vest

Brooks Shield Hybrid Vest 2.0

Brooks Shield Hybrid Vest 2.0

Brooks

Why We Love It
  • The Shield Hybrid Vest 2.0 provides the right dose of core insulation while freeing your arms from excess bulk.

What to Consider
  • It’s limited to two color options.

The Shield Hybrid Vest 2.0 from Books is the perfect solution for when temps are cold but not bone-chilling, providing insulation for your core while freeing up your arms of excess bulk. The semi-fitted profile provides a sleek, no-bunching feel, with a high collar that can be zipped up to turtle in heat and stretch elements at the waist so that the vest doesn’t ride up as you start to move. Critical zones throughout the garment are laced with wind-resistant paneling to block frigid gusts, and twin zippered hand pockets provide a spot for your gloves or hat and headband.  Also available for women.

Price at time of publish: $110

The Details: Polyester | XS-XXL

Best Insulated Jacket

The North Face Winter Warm Jacket

The North Face Winter Warm Jacket - Men's

The North Face

Why We Love It
  • The Winter Warm Jacket provides the optimal blend of insulation, along with drop-hand pockets and subtle reflective details.

What to Consider
  • In milder climates, it probably has too much insulation.

Most insulated jackets are overkill while running – they simply add too much warmth, which might be welcome at the start, but can quickly overheat mid-run. The North Face solves this with their Winter Warm Jacket by adding variable degrees of insulation – 33 grams at the front, top of the sleeves, and upper and lower back; 65 grams at the bottom of the sleeves and middle back panel; and 40 grams in the collar and the front body – to provide the optimal warmth without increasing bulk or risking excessive overheating. The proprietary insulation materials work even if things wet out, which is unlikely thanks to a DWR finish and FlashDry tech that breathes well to help fend off moisture.  Also available for women.

Price at time of publish: $129

The Details: Polyester, elastane, Heatseeker Eco | S-XXL

Best Hoodie

Icebreaker Merino Quantum III Long-sleeve Zip Hoodie

 Icebreaker Merino Quantum III Long-sleeve Zip Hoodie

Amazon

Why We Love It
  • The Quantum III Long-sleeve may be one of the most versatile mid- and outer layer for runners who like to adjust their insulation levels mid run.

What to Consider
  • The many pockets – zippered hands and chest pockets, as well as dump pockets inside – may be overkill on a run.

Running in a zippered hoodie like Icebreaker’s Merino Quantum III Long Sleeve provides ample ability to customize your comfort level. When you’re cold, zip the high collar up and shrug on the fitted hood, and as you start to heat up mid run, remove the hood and adjust the two-way zipper to dump heat. The slim-fitting product works well as a mid- or outer layer, with a dropped-tail hem for added protection and a chin guard to prevent friction. The merino wool fabric naturally adjusts to regulate your internal temperature by wicking sweat and keeping you warm if it happens to get wet, and the thumb loops keep your sleeves in place and add another layer of warmth at the wrist. Also available for women.

Price at time of publish: $213

The Details: Merino wool | S-XXL

Best Headband

Dale of Norway Moritz Headband

Dale of Norway Moritz Headband

Zappos

Why We Love It
  • The Moritz Headband provides the right touch of merino wool insulation for your ears without the bulk and excess heat of a hat, and on really cold days it can be worn with a hat for added warmth.

What to Consider
  • Some may prefer a narrower headband.

The Moritz Headband from Dale of Norway is ideal for when the weather is brisk enough to make your ears cold but not cold enough for a hat, letting the bulk of your body’s heat escape through the top of your head. The all-merino wool material provides exterior insulation and warmth, along with a soft lightweight wool liner that wicks sweat and keeps you warm even if it wets out. The four color options are all refreshingly retro.

Price at time of publish: $30

The Details: Merino wool | One size

Best Beanie

Smartwool Intraknit Merino Tech Beanie

Smartwool Intraknit Merino Tech Beanie

Zappos

Why We Love It
  • Built with a mixture of wind protective elements and mesh panels, the Intrakinit Merino Tech Beanie will keep you at your optimal temperature thanks to the use of merino wool and elastane.

What to Consider
  • It only comes in one size.

The optimal winter running hat works with you as you start to heat up by regulating your temperature to hit the right degree of breathable insulation. And that’s where the Smartwool Intraknit Merino Tech Beanie wins out, with knit-in wind protection around the ears and head, targeted mesh for breathability, and a performance fit that wraps comfortably around your ears and the back of the head. It also works well as a warm layer when wearing a helmet for skiing, snowboarding, or bike riding.

Price at time of publish: $45

The Details: Merino wool, polyamide, polyester, and elastane | One size

Best Gloves

Brooks Draft Hybrid Glove

4.9
Brooks Draft Hybrid Gloves

Amazon

Why We Love It
  • The Draft Hybrid Glove provides the dexterity and slight insulation of a breathable glove with the ability to seal in the heat and block out wind and rain via the integrated pull-over mitten.

What to Consider
  • Truly cold temps may require more insulation.

Brooks’ Draft Hybrid Glove provides the best of both worlds: the dexterity and slight insulation of a breathable glove along with the warm, weather-proof protection of a mitten. The lightweight, breathable gloves are great for mild conditions, but if the wind starts blowing, it’s easy to pull over the shell to block out the elements. Mesh inserts at the palm help regulate the temp, and the glove fingers and thumb are touchscreen-compatible.

Price at time of publish: $50

The Details: Polyester | S-XL

Best Balaclava

Icebreaker Unisex Merino Oasis Balaclava

Icebreaker Oasis Wool Winter Unisex Balaclava

Amazon

Why We Love It
  • Running-specific features like the use of breathable merino wool insulation and ample venting helps the Merino Oasis Balaclava perfectly regulate your internal temp.

What to Consider
  • If wind is a serious issue, you may want something with wind-blocking panels.

Standard balaclavas do a fantastic job of providing bomber insulation for your head, face, and neck, but they can also overheat as you get into your run. Icebreaker’s Unisex Merino Oasis Balaclava clears this hurdle in two ways. First, the 200-gram merino jersey fabric helps regulate your internal temperature by wicking away sweat, provides ample ventilation, and keeps you warm as you start to sweat. And second, it has a narrow vent slit just below the nose to help expel hot air, preventing any moisture from collecting on the extremity, which could run the risk of freezing.

Price at time of publish: $35

The Details: Merino wool | One six

Best Socks

Darn Tough Run Micro Crew Ultra-lightweight Running Sock

Darn Tough Run Micro Crew Ultra-lightweight Running Sock

Amazon

Why We Love It
  • Streamlined to marry to the contours of your feet, the Run Micro Crew Ultra-lightweight Running Sock is constructed of temp-regulating merino wool, pairs perfectly with weatherproof footwear, and comes with a lifetime guarantee.

What to Consider
  • If you suffer from poor circulation or cold toes, go with more insulation.

It might seem counterintuitive to not go with a thicker, more insulated sock, but Darn Tough’s Micro Crew Ultra-lightweight Running Socks are ideal for winter running when you’re wearing weatherproof footwear that typically don’t breathe well and can lead to overheating. Built from thermal-regulating merino wool, it boasts a reinforced heel, sole, and toe-box for a touch of cushioning and ample durability, along with fatigue-reducing arch support and mesh zones in the forefoot to maintain the optimal temp. The high cuff adds protection at the ankles to work well with your go-to running pants or tights, and the low-profile design creates zero bulk and no chance of chafing.

Price at time of publish: $20

The Details: Nylon, merino wool, lycra spandex | S-XXL

Best Reflective Item

Nathan Nightfall Visibility Vest

Nathan Nightfall Vest

Dick's Sporting Goods

Why We Love It
  • It keeps you visible up to 1,200 feet in all directions.

What to Consider
  • Some runners may prefer a vest that casts its own light rather than merely reflects oncoming traffic.

Winter often means that dawn-patrol runs or outings after the work day will be done in the dark, which is why the Nathan Nightfall Vest is essential.  The lightweight vest provides 360-degree visibility from up to 1,200 feet, with adjustable side buckles to adhere the vest to your torso and a breathable mesh construction that won’t impact your layering strategy.

Price at time of publish: $23

The Details: Mesh, reflective material | One size

Best Neck Gaiter

Patagonia Micro D Fleece Gaiter

Patagonia Micro D Fleece Gaiter

Patagonia

Why We Love It
  • The Micro D Fleece Gaiter provides a simple way to bottle in heat at the neck and to add extra insulation up to your nose and around your ears.

What to Consider
  • If you run hot, a thinner gaiter may be a better option to cut down on the insulation while still benefiting from a touch of extra weather protections.

Anyone who’s worn a neck gaiter can testify to the surprising versatility afforded by such a simple piece of fabric. Witness the Micro D Fleece Gaiter from Patagonia. Made of 100 percent recycled polyester, it insulates, wicks away sweat, and dries quickly. You can pull it high to cover your nose and ears when needed, or wear it around the neck — a looser overall fit allows for all-day comfort. And the doubled fabric construction also allows you to turn the gaiter inside out if one side starts to get wet.

Price at time of publish: $29

The Details: Polyester fleece | One size

Tips for Buying Winter Running Gear

Start off a bit cold

If you start off fully insulated on your run, you’ll quickly overheat. Instead, most winter runners start off chilly – say, dressing for a temperature that’s about 20 degrees above ambient temp to create a bit of a buffer to let you heat up while running without overheating, which can lead to excessive sweating and wet clothes.

Layer strategically

As Chase notes, “It’s all about layering. Be sure that your mid-layer and base layer vent well because the accumulation of water vapor from sweat can quickly freeze and become a liability.” For base layers, go with merino wool, which wicks sweat naturally, doesn’t retain body odor, and, perhaps most importantly, keeps you warm even when it’s wet. But if you suffer from sticker shock when exploring the more expensive merino wool clothing, a synthetic base layer works to wick away sweat and keep you dry. Either way, avoid cotton at all costs as that fabric doesn’t dry quickly and won’t provide insulation when wet. Go with a thinner-than-average base layer (long or short-sleeved, depending on the temps), and layer that with a thicker mid-layer made of merino or synthetic fibers. In milder conditions, that may suffice, and features on the mid-layer like a mock turtleneck or a quarter-zip can help you regulate your insulation mid-run.

In harsher climates, go with a shell, which helps insulate your upper body and blocks out the elements like harsh wind, snow, or rain. “Windproofing is an important factor,” says Chase. But in milder conditions, you risk overheating. And if you tend to run in really cold weather, an insulated layer – a jacket, fleece, or vest – can add some much-needed warmth. Just be sure they can vent and breathe well to keep your internal conditions comfortable and dry.

For the lower layers, go with a full-length synthetic or merino wool pair of tights or pants, and layer as is appropriate. Given your legs are moving during your run, lots of insulation may not be necessary. “And you don’t want to overlook wearing a windproof liner to shield the private parts,” says Chase. “This is not a mistake many repeat.”

Don’t forget your head, neck, and hands

“A hat or at least fleece headband is key, because you can adjust your temperature easily by donning or doffing it,” advises Chase. “As such, be sure it tucks in a pocket or the liner of your pants or tights.” Most of your heat escapes from your head, but having a hat that breathes well (say, made of merino wool) helps regulate your temp and can help you avoid overheating. You can always layer that with a headband to keep your ears warm without adding extra layers to the top of your head.

A neck gaiter can also provide ample coverage over your neck, and can be pulled up to cover your mouth and nose (and sometimes cover your ears) if you get a chill mid run, though you don’t need loads of insulation, which can add bulk.

As for your hands, gloves are essential. “I highly recommend mittens over gloves,” says Adam. “And make sure the back of the hand fabric is soft on the nose skin. I once wore terry cloth mittens and when the snot swipe area got frozen it tore my nose to a bloody knob.”

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What gear do I need to run in winter?

    Depending on the temp, you’ll need a wicking base layer (long- or short-sleeved), as well as a wicking lower layer, or a system of lower layers like an insulating, wicking base layer/underwear paired with a pair of running tights or pants. Protect your extremities by wearing a pair of wicking socks, a pair of gloves or mittens, and a hat that covers your ears. Colder climates require more insulation up top as well as wind- and weather-protecting jackets/shells. A vest often hits the sweet spot between adding some additional warmth to your core without adding bulk.

  • What temperature is too cold to run in?

    The answer to that question will largely depend on your own comfort levels. Folks in Minnesota might be comfortable hitting the snow-covered trails in sub-zero temps, while other mild-mannered runners don’t head out when the temps dip below 20 degrees. It’s all about proper layering, and taking other conditions into account like wearing ice spikes to navigate on slick surfaces and snow. But there’s also a slight side-benefit to running when it’s cold (or feeling cold mid-run): As Chase notes, “If you’re getting cold, that’s a great opportunity to pick up the pace and get home!”

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

In addition to rating and reviewing outdoor gear for decades, Nathan Borchelt is a life-long runner, and has logged miles on both pavement and trails throughout the world and in all seasons. He prides himself on being able to always run, no matter how cold, windy, or snowy it might be, and has spent years perfecting his winter running kit. He also consulted several serious runners who love to brave the elements in winter and tested several products to confirm that they perform as advertised. For example, he spoke to Boulder, CO-based, lifelong competitive ultra trail runner Adam Chase.

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