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A woman wearing a running jacket and leggings to run in the cold weather

Cold Weather Running Gear and Clothes

Winter 2020

Some people say there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

For those cold weather days when running might seem impossible, the right clothing strategy can make it possible. Pick up the right winter and cold-weather running gear and clothes to stay toasty until the spring.

Layering Clothes for Cold-Weather Running

A runner wearing a warm base layer for winter running

Wick, Wick, Wick

Understanding the art of layering your clothes for cold-weather running is more important than each individual piece of gear itself. No layer is more important than the other—they all work together to provide you with the most efficient warmth.

The Base Layer is the first layer to touch the skin, so its purpose is to manage moisture, wick away sweat and regulate your body temperature. This is essential. If your skin stays moist in freezing temperatures, you won't be able to warm up completely and you put yourself at risk for becoming hypothermic.

Pro Tip: Stay away from cotton as a base layer in winter weather. Cotton soaks up moisture and dries slowly instead of evaporating or wicking it away, which can make you colder. Clothes made of merino wool and polyester are ideal to wear when running in cold weather, and some brands have even created their own proprietary synthetic blends, such as Mizuno’s Breath Thermo.

A woman wearing a warm vest, long sleeves and gloves for running in the winter

The Heat Trap

While the base layer creates warmth, your Middle Layer helps retain the heat that is naturally generated from the body. The more efficient your middle layer is at trapping heat, the warmer you'll be while running in the cold.

Just as with base layers, you have a broad range of synthetic and natural options. In general, thicker (or puffier) equals warmer since it can trap air. Winter running clothes designed with natural down feathers or synthetic fill create loft, which translates into more warm air—read: heat—next to your body.

A runner wearing warm running clothes during the winter

Protected From The Elements

Finally, the Outer Layer is your protection from rain, wind and snow during the winter. They keep you dry so your other layers work functionally.

Most outer layers are wind resistant, water resistant and coated with a durable water-repellant (DWR) finish, while others use a waterproof membrane that breathes while keeping water out. When deciding what outer layer to wear when you're running in the cold, check the weather—consistently wet weather calls for a waterproof jacket, while dry conditions offer the opportunity to wear a softer, water-resistant jacket.

Shop Winter Running Tights & Pants

Give your legs all the warmth and breathing room they need, no matter the elements. Longer running tights and running pants will give you coverage on chilly days without restricting your movement. Shop our favorite winter tights and pants here.

Winter Running Shoes That Shield

From weather-resistant to fully waterproof, these running shoes were made to combat all that winter can throw at you—while still allowing for superior performance and providing thorough comfort, of course.

Cold-Weather Gear Designed To Protect

Socks: Avoid cotton socks when you're running in the winter as they absorb moisture and dry slowly. Choose a synthetic material or Merino wool to keep your feet warm and dry.

Gloves: Your hands are often the first thing to get cold. Running gloves with a snug fit will keep a tight seal against the cold.

Headwear: In cold temperatures, cover exposed ears with a headband. When it dips below freezing, switch to a beanie to trap even more heat. In freezing temperatures, look into wearing multi-purpose balaclava-style headwear to protect everything north of your shoulders.

Visibility: Running lights and reflective gear isn't just nice to have when daylight hours run short—they’re a necessity. Lights, reflective vests and accessories are all designed to keep you safe while you’re outside in low or non-existent light.