These 17 pieces of clothing will keep you warm when running in the winter. Everything from leggings to jackets to hats to gloves!
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Living in New York means I’m no stranger to a harsh climate. Once winter sets in (and sometimes that happens before the calendar hits December 21st), I settle in for a long, cold and dark season. But even though the conditions are less than ideal, I continue to run outside all winter long.
The key to having an enjoyable run when the temperature is well below freezing is using the right gear. There is a very fine line between overdressing and sweating through your thermals and underdressing and cutting your run short because you can’t feel your fingers.
But the good news is that sporting good companies have figured out what runners need to stay warm in cold weather conditions, and I’m rounding up my favorite pieces of winter running gear.
But first, here are a few of my tips for dressing properly for frigid runs.
How to choose cold weather running gear
Below is a list of the best cold weather running gear I’ve compiled over the years. But before you dive into that, keep these tips in mind.
Do not wear cotton! Although cotton feels soft, it does not dry quickly once it gets wet. If you sweat (which will happen even though it’s freezing outside), your clothes will stay wet and give you a chill. Instead, wear wicking fabric that moves sweat to the outer surface of the garment and dries easily.
Dress in layers. If you aren’t sure how warm or cold you will be, wear multiple layers. Make sure the base layer is made from wicking fabric, so it will dry quickly if it gets wet. As you warm up, take off a layer and tie it around your waist.
Add 10-20 degrees to the “feels like” temperature. If the temperature “feels like” 32, that will actually seem like 42 while running.
Pay attention to sun and wind. A sunny chilly day feels much warmer than a cloudy windy day with the same temperature. This can affect what you decide to wear out on your run.
Practice with different amounts of clothing. I’m cold all the time, even in air conditioning in the summer! But I do get really warm when running, so it’s a fine line to balance. I’ve run outside in the winter enough times to know how to dress for what temperature, but it may take some experimentation on your part to figure out what works best for you. Don’t be afraid of doing some trial and error with your gear, especially if you’re planning for a winter race.
What to wear when running in the cold
There are so many different body types out there, so it’s difficult to recommend a pant that will work for everyone. For that reason, I’m sharing a few of my favorite pairs of winter running pants.
I’ve worn these running tights on the coldest of days and they stand up to the elements. They are a snug fit, but they never fall down. They have a cozy inner layer that has kept me warm on the coldest of days.
These pants are a close runner up to the Nike legging. They wick sweat, have a soft interior and don’t pinch at your belly.
Although these tights are a bit more expensive, they have a pocket for carrying your belongings and will keep you warm in the lowest of temperatures. Like the other options, they won’t creep up when you’re running!
I’m definitely a bargain shopper, but I do believe that you get what you pay for when it comes to running gear. A good winter running jacket is not exactly cheap, but I’m willing to pay the price for warmth.
That said, I can’t live without my lululemon jacket. It is warm, but you can still move in it. The hood helps protect against harsh wind, and there are plenty of pockets for carrying all your stuff– phone, chapstick, tissues, etc.
For people who tend to get hot easily, a vest may be a better option than a jacket. This lululemon vest keeps heat in and has pockets for carrying all your stuff.
Smartwool is a brand built on one simple pricinple– they use merino wool to make gear that is warm, wicking and durable. For a running coat, you can’t really ask for more!
For the days when it’s not quite cold enough to warrant a jacket or vest, you’ll want a warm wicking shirt. This UnderArmour one wicks water quickly and has a comfortable turtleneck to keep your neck warm.
Once again, you can’t go wrong with Lululemon gear. It’s snug, so it doesn’t creep up, yet it keeps you incredibly warm. Plus, it feels lightweight and comes in fun colors!
I’ve tried many different running beanies. Some don’t cover my ears, some are too hot, and this Asics one is just right. It is lightweight so you don’t get too warm, and it’s big enough to nicely fit over your ears and forehead.
Besides the fact that the logo is rather large on this headband, it’s a really great option. It’s lightweight, making it perfect for the days when you need something but don’t want a full hat. And it’s easy to take off and carry if you get too hot!
Once again, you can’t go wrong with Smartwool. This beanie keeps you warm and stays in place. For the coldest of days, you’ll be happy to have wool on your head!
I got these amazing convertible mittens for my birthday, and I don’t know how I ever lived without them. They keep you fingers warm on the coldest of days and you can even tuck your thumbs into the mitten compartment. If you plan on running outside this winer, these are a must.
I love mittens. As someone who always has cold hands, I rely on mittens to keep my fingers warm on the coldest of days. TrailHead makes running mittens that convert to fingerless gloves. They withstand the elements and let you use your phone (if you really must subject your fingers to that).
13. Thermonet Buff
Believe it or not, my chin and neck get really really chilly! To protect my face from the elements, I wear a buff around my neck.
I’m also able to pull it up to cover my face and ears if needed. It’s also nice that I don’t overheat when wearing it because the last thing you want to do while running is start taking off something over your head. Not to mention that is doubles as a mask!
It’s probably a given that everyone hates cold feet, but I think runners hate cold feet even more than the average person. That’s why it’s important to wear warm wicking socks that won’t stay wet when your feet sweat. Belaga makes awesome cushioned wicking running socks. They don’t slip and are super comfortable. I also wear these in the spring and fall.
For those cold days when you need a bit more, the Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather combines merino wool with wicking technology. They will keep your feet warm on the harshest of days!
No matter the time of the year, I always wear sunglasses to protect my eyes. Many people don’t bother with protective lenses in the winter, but keeping your peepers safe from the harsh sunlight and dry air is critical for good eye health.
I have two pair of goodr glasses, and I can’t imagine buying another brand. I’ve tried other more expensive brands, and these are so much better because they never move while running. And they look cool are polarized and start at just $25.
I’ll admit that these aren’t an everyday necessity, but these warmers will save your life during winter races. Buy a bulk pack and keep them on hand for standing in freezing temperature corrals.