The best gear for cold-weather running

A man running in the snow
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Hardcore runners are a tough breed. So it may not be easy to admit this, but the fact remains that snowstorms and single-digit wind chills are not exactly nature’s motivators. Even when the weather outside is frightful, you can still make your run delightful. The right apparel and the right gear can make all the difference in your running life.

Outfitters are fully aware of these realities, given that it’s pretty much been this way since the dawn of man. But unlike our cave-dwelling ancestors, we modern humans have access to clothing and tools that literally insulate us from winter’s bitter elements. This is particularly true in the current moment, when running and other back-to-basics routines are gaining popularity over spin classes, gym visits, and other group activities.

So bust out of your rut with this cold-weather running gear. We’ve scoured the internet for the best apparel and gear to help you get you all set up and ready for the road without breaking your budget.

Apparel

When it comes to cold-weather running, apparel happens from the inside out. The right thermal leggings and shirts form an effective base layer, trapping and holding your body heat close to the skin.

But that’s only the beginning. A runner’s full cold-weather wardrobe should include:

Base layer

Layering is so much more than cakes and bricks. A good base layer is the foundation on which your entire ensemble is built. Base layers (available both as shirts and pants) can serve multiple purposes, but the main objective is keeping you as warm as possible.

The garment should fit tightly against the skin. The more snugly it fits, the easier it is to add additional layers. The best base layers also help by wicking moisture away from the skin to keep you drier.

The most common fabrics for base layers are cotton, polyester, and even wool, all of which are effective for trapping warmth.

The Hanes Men’s Long Sleeve Cool Dri T-Shirt is a solid, reliable, and affordable option. Experienced runners may choose to make bigger investments in their base layers, but in most cases, this no-frills, 100% polyester shirt is built to get the job done, mile after mile.

A woman runs in the winter

Mid-layers

When it comes to staying warm during cold-weather running, the mid-layer does the heavy lifting. Fleece tops, sweatshirts, long-sleeve T-shirts, and other options come in a broad range of synthetic and natural materials. As a rule, thicker means warmer when it comes to mid-layers.

If you’re looking for a tried-and-true staple, check out the Columbia Women’s Benton Springs Full Zip Fleece Jacket, made from 100% polyester fleece.

For someone looking for the top of the line, the Icebreaker Nature Dye Helliers Long-Sleeve Hooded Zip Jacket is made from 88% super-soft merino wool. In addition to warmth, wool also is naturally moisture- and odor-resistant.

Outer layers

For many cold days, a base and a mid-layer will be all you need. It’s only once you start dealing with those razor-sharp wind gusts or icy precipitation that you’ll want an outer layer.

Even in freezing weather, an outer layer should be more of a windbreaker than a coat. The base and mid-layers are designed to keep you warm, while the outer layer creates a kind of shell to shield you from the elements.

One of the bestselling outer layers on the market today is the Winter Warm UP Thermal Softshell Cycling Jacket from Arsuxeo. It’s made from a polyester-spandex blend that resists wind and moisture, and it’s pretty affordable to boot.

Woman runner swings from a tree

Gear

Clothing is the first order of business when it comes to protecting oneself during cold-weather running, but accessories are the icing on the proverbial cake, especially when thermometers really take a nosedive.

Here are our picks for some of the best cold-weather running gear available on the web. As with apparel, most of the items we selected were done with the budget-conscious runner in mind.

  • Gloves: Aegend Lightweight Running Gloves

  • Face and neck warmer: EXski Winter Drawstring Neck Gaiter

  • Headband and ear warmer: Isnowood Ear Warmer 2 pack for Men or Women

  • Beanie: Fortree 2 Pack Multifunction Slouchy Beanie

  • Flexible headwear: Buff Original Unisex Adult Multifunctional Headwear

  • Socks: Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew Socks

If you still need motivation, just remember that cold-weather running gives your workouts an extra boost compared with running in warmer weather. This is because the body needs more energy — and so burns extra calories — to keep your body temp on the level.

Now that you have the right cold-weather running gear and apparel, winter workouts just got a whole lot more achievable.

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