In theory, winter running is easy: It’s just normal running with extra layers. But sometimes it’s tough to find exactly what layers you need. Fortunately, a bunch of cold-dwelling redditors have come through with their recommendations to keep you toasty all winter long.
Before we get to the specifics, a rundown of 101-level winter running advice: Here’s our guide to what to wear for each temperature, some tips on running in the dark, and a little PSA that if you wheeze when you run in the cold, you may have a form of asthma, in which case you could benefit from an inhaler. Now then, on to the gear.
You’ll need to layer up, but don’t just think about what you can put over your normal running clothes. There’s a whole world of options when it comes to long underwear, which most sporting goods stores will call “base layers.”
Merino wool is a popular suggestion, and I can wholeheartedly endorse this one. (Before I developed my tragic wool allergy, I loved my L.L. Bean merino turtleneck base layer, and was eyeing Smartwool’s version. These days, I have a synthetic one.)
“I’m a fan of fleece-lined everything,” says u/magicbumblebee. “Fleece-lined running tights, fleece-lined tops, fleece-lined quarter zips.” (A quarter zip being a top with a zipper at the neck.) In particular, they like Under Armour but have had good experiences with cheaper options from Amazon.
As you continue layering, u/AgentUpright has another recommendation: “In addition to the gear already suggested, a wind and waterproof vest over your other layers is a great way to help keep your core warm without adding too much bulk or making you sweat. I have the original version of this one from Mountain Hardwear and really love it.”
In a pinch, your regular running shoes can work for winter running. But if you’re serious about running through ice and snow, it’s nice to have a dedicated pair with features like a grippy sole, waterproof upper, and extra room for a pair of thick wool socks. Winter-specific shoes tend to be more expensive than their summer counterparts, but if they keep your feet comfy, they may be worth it.
Gloves and mittens
The gear recommendation thread was kicked off by a runner who was wondering about heated gloves. Experienced folks didn’t like that idea, noting that their hands tend to stay decently warm if they’re moving and their core is adequately insulated. As u/812many wisely states: “If your hands are cold, put on a hat.”
Mittens come more highly recommended than gloves, since your fingers can warm each other up if they’re all in the same compartment together. The crowd was split on whether convertible mittens are any good — these are the type that fold back to function as fingerless gloves. Some people find them to be drafty; others love them.
The most important feature of hand coverings is not so much that they’re warm (although that helps), but that they’re windproof. “I’d rather run in lightly insulated windproof gloves than heavily insulated regular gloves,” says u/AutomationBias. You can also add glove liners to any gloves that aren’t quite warm enough.
The glove and mitten recommendations were diverse, but a few notable brands include Primaloft mittens, Cannondale windproof gloves, and Montane mittens. And then there’s the Alaskan (u/AkHiker46) with a practical, budget-friendly, versatile option: they use “a pair of old school wool socks as gloves.”
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