Favorite Winter Running Gear

January 16, 2014

I’ve definitely done my fair share of running during the winter—probably more than any other season while living in Alaska. So I thought I’d highlight some of my favorite articles of clothing for these bone-chilling cold winter runs. I am not made of money, so I’m sure there are better products out there. Most of my items were found at the Nike Outlet store, on sale at the end of the season, or while shopping online. Despite this, I think I’ve found some pretty decent items, so check them out.

Head

If it it in the upper 20s or warmer, I prefer to wear a headband/ear warmer versus a hat—less bulk. But once it dips below that, I have to make the switch to a hat or my head freezes.

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I’m not picky about the type of hat I wear while running. As long as it stays put and keeps my head warm, I’m good to go. I have a variety of hats from this really cheap fleece one I picked up at Wal-Mart eons ago to a newer one from Target with sweat-wicking properties. Both have served me well.

I bought this hat several years ago at Wal-Mart and paid $1 for it. There’s nothing fancy about it; it is simply a fleece hat, so you don’t have to spend much to keep your head warm.

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Neck

I swear by something around my neck when the temps drop below about 20 degrees. During those frigid runs, the neck warmer always ends up over my nose, cheeks, and chin. I don’t know how people can have their skin exposed to those extreme temperatures. I notice a huge difference when my neck is covered.

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I have three different fleece neck warmers I rotate between for my winter runs. One is extra long but tighter when I pull it up over my nose. The other two are shorter—and sometimes causes the back of my neck to be exposed, but they aren’t as restrictive around my face. I have not tried any other face masks because I’m cheap and keep using what works reasonably well.

Core

I wear two to three layers on top during winter runs. I always start with a sweat-wicking top. My favorite are the turtleneck style ones with a soft fleece lining on the inside and ample length in the core and arms. My second layer is either another sweat-wicking layer or a thin fleece layer when it is really cold.

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I have several jackets I rotate between depending upon the conditions. My heaviest jacket is this one from Asics. I’m not sure they even make or sell it anymore; I got it several years ago. It is much thicker than any other jackets I have, which is nice for those sub zero days.

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I recently found this Brooks Nightlift Essential Run Jacket, and I’m in love with it. It is so bright, fun, and comfortable that I have found myself wearing it again and again for my winter runs. There are a lot of reflective areas (the opposite of many of my other jackets), and the fit is great.

Hands

For those really cold days I use these Saucony mittens. They really help to keep my hands warm since I can easily ball up my fingers inside. I also appreciate the soft fleece on the outside for wiping my nose or snow off my face.

I have several gloves depending upon the temperature. I do really like these Zensah gloves. The inside is soft and the fingers slots are nice and long. Plus the reflective areas and finger tips for operating electronics are added bonuses.

Legs

By far the hardest part of my body to keep warm. I don’t know what it is but my thighs get so red and cold, especially when the temperature drops below 20*F. I have tried wearing 3 pairs of pants, sticking those foot warmers to my pants, wearing snowpants, but nothing seems to keep my legs warm. Okay, the snowpants probably would have worked, but I wasn’t really able to run, which defeats the purpose.

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My favorite pair of running pants for the winter are a new pair of Brooks pants that I picked up at REI just a few weeks ago. This is only the third Brooks item I’ve owned, and I’m quickly becoming a fan of their clothes. The fit is a little bit different with a smaller leg opening, but they don’t get in the way when running. I also love the extra reflective areas since 95% of my runs are done while it is dark here.

Brooks Utopia Thermal Pant

My second favorite pair of running pants are a pair of Nike tights I found at the Nike Outlet. They have a reinforced and extra layer of material on the thighs to help keep my tights a little warmer during the winter. I really like running in tights because there is no extra material that gets in the way when my legs are moving back and forth.

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Feet

Thankfully I’ve never had a hard time keeping my feet warm. I can get by with wearing one pair of socks and not had a problem with cold feet. I will avoid wearing my super thin socks when the temperatures are super cold though.

DSC_0182And as far as my shoes, I am still loving the Wave Mizuno Rider 16s. I am onto my third pair and have no complaints about them. However, I hear the 17s are pretty sweet—can’t wait to try them.

For the winter, I do put studs in my shoes to help with traction. They really help when the roads are covered in snow.

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Question

Share your favorite winter running gear.

15 Comments
    1. i love this post! being a new englander, i’m on the hunt for some winter running tights that have a reinforced thigh panel for warmth (because that’s the part that always freezes on me.) Do the brooks utopias have that?
      The nike outlet pants you mentioned – any idea what the model name of the pant is?

      1. It appears the Nike tights I have are the Nike Women’s Element Windless Running Tights. No the Brooks pant do not, but they are thicker than your standard tights material.

    1. Thank you for this post. We just moved here, to Anchorage, and we’re slowly adding our winter gear. This is very helpful. I really enjoy your website.

    1. Since moving to TN I haven’t really had to wear my winter running gear that often… which is nice. But I just wanted to say that Brooks apparel is my new favorite too! I have two pairs of their infiniti ii shorts. They’re so nice for long runs because they have 3 pockets–on each hip and the normal inside key pocket. I have a tank top and another pair of (really old) shorts that I love too! I’ll have to check out their winter gear.

      1. Definitely jealous that you haven’t had to wear much winter running apparel. I don’t mind one layer–it is when I have to add two or three layers that it just gets too bulky! I’ll have to check out those shorts. I always like lots of pockets for keeping gels in.

    1. When I had to run in winter I had a similar setup to you, so I found myself nodding through this whole post. Something to cover my neck always made a HUGE difference and I added it at about 15-20F too.

      Now that I’m running more in 45F and rain, I like things that don’t have heavy seams. Seams=chafing when you’re running in the rain. I also like running in wool socks when I know my feet are going to get soaked. Again, it’s more about avoiding the chafing. 🙂

    1. This was super helpful! I have found I love the studded shoes, but hate that my feet do get wet especially when the temp is hovering around 32 like it has been.

    1. I am such a winter running wuss, but I would like to get out more than in previous years! I do snowboard and have found Under Armour’s coldgear works really well as base layers! I am in the market for good running gloves, so I’ll give those Zensah ones a peak! 🙂

    1. i can also recommend using cycling winter shoes. i’ve been using something from the northwave…these are indeed kinda expensive but i do recommend this product based on the thermic comfort and impermeability as well…they are good for running as well 🙂

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