Running in the cold is no joke. It can affect your pace, make you more prone to injury, disrupt your breathing patterns, and—honestly—is just not comfortable. Unfortunately, staying in shape for running is no easy feat, since you can’t just decide to skip training a couple weeks due to extra-chilly weather Sure, there are indoor treadmill workouts, but those are absolute torture. I need to be out in the wilderness, running young wild, and free.
At this point, I would deem myself a cold weather running expert. I’ve run in snow, slippery slush, and have probably almost gotten hypothermia from my antics. But, does the training stop? No, sir. Instead, I’ve just gained endless knowledge on what does and doesn’t work. If you’re going to commit to running in the cold, learn from my wintry weather woes: here is the best running gear for the cold weather. Let it snow, bish.
Cold weather running gear: Base layer
If you’re a sweater (and, to be clear, we’re not talking about knitwear), it’s necessary that this specific layer is moisture-wicking so sweat will be pulled away from your body. It’s more important in winter running because sweat-wicking clothing is designed to draw moisture off the body (duh) and, as a result, can help prevent hypothermia. Your blood vessels constrict, causing blood flow to decrease and sweat to regulate your body temperature. This can cause your body temperature to drop and for you to shiver. I’ve been there, done that, and learned my lesson. This long sleeve technical base layer by Nike is by far my favorite with its Dri-Fit technology, a sleeve window for checking your smartwatch, quarter-zip for adjusting airflow, pockets, and thumbholes for hand coverage.
Cold weather running gear: Middle layer
The purpose of a middle layer is to trap body heat for warmth, with merino wool and thermals being a popular go-to fabric. I’ve heard so many great things about Smartwool, and this thermal merino hoodie checks all my boxes for a great middle layer to keep you the perfect amount of toasty. It’s 100% merino wool, which promotes breathability, temperature control, and chafing reduction to give your nips a rest. No chapped nips allowed.
Cold weather running gear: Outer layer
Sometimes an outer layer may be overdoing it, but I swear, it’s fantastic to tie around your waist just in case. The weather and body temperature is unpredictable, so a lightweight, waterproof jacket should be among your regular running garb rotation. The Winter Warm Jacket by The North Face is designed for running and trail running with Heatseeker Eco Insulation and FlashDry moisture management. If that’s too aggro for your current climate, a lightweight puffer vest is the move, with my personal favorite being the Ultra Light Down Vest by Uniqlo. It’s water-repellant and keeps your torso warm without going overboard.
Cold weather running gear: Running tights
Tights are not just for the ladies, bois. Swallow your pride to keep warm, because frostbite isn’t cute on anybody. If your legs are cold during a run, this will cause your muscles to tighten, increasing the likelihood of injury. Runner’s knee isn’t worth saving some face (ouch). The Impact Run Tight by New Balance features moisture-wicking fabric, pockets to easily store energy gels for a long run, and a large pocket in the back to store an extra layer.
Cold weather running gear: Running gloves
Numb hands are a huge buzzkill, not to mention extremely uncomfortable. When I’m running in chilly weather, my hands can get so cold sometimes that I feel like I can barely move them. Is that normal? I’m not sure I want to know, so I just wear gloves to bring me some peace. The North Face has always been my go-to for gloves, and it’s hard to top the Etip Recycled Gloves. Features include four-way stretch fleece, touchscreen functionality (vital for fiddling with your playlist mid-run), and silicone grips. If you’re the type who only wears Lululemon to workout (trust us, these people exist), that brand also has pretty good solutions on sale at the moment.
Cold weather running gear: Running headband
Many people tend to forget that body heat escapes through your head, so there’s value in covering your dome while working on your mile time outdoors in the cold. I personally prefer fleece headbands instead of hats while running, such as this very affordable unisex one from Amazon. It’s nothing fancy, but it keeps my ears and head warm, stays in place with its snug fit, and wicks away moisture while also retaining heat.
Cold weather running gear: Neck gaiter
Make breathing in the frosty temps easier by covering your mouth with a neck gaiter. This particular one block out wind chill with flat-locked seams.
Lace up your Hokas, we’re going running.
Cold weather running gear: Head lamp
With the winter days getting darker, a head lamp is essential if you’re the crazy type to go running in the pitch black. With multiple brightness settings, you can feel a little better about sneaking in a post-workday run long after the sun has set.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.