How to Dress for Winter Running

A quick guide to essential winter running gear

When the weather turns chilly and snow starts to fall, some runners might argue that exercising outside is unbearable.  

But the truth is, running outside when it’s cold is only unenjoyable if you don’t suit up with the right gear. If you really hate winter weather, there’s nothing wrong with taking your workouts inside to the treadmill, but if you want to continue training outside during the winter months dressing properly and with the right gear will ensure that you finish all your workouts with a smile.

General rule of the thumb says you should dress for 10 degrees warmer than the actual outdoor temperature. Ultimately, your ideal winter running outfit will come down to preference, but here’s a detailed breakdown of everything you’ll need to keep you warm while you run through even the coldest of winter weather.

-How to Dress for Winter Running-

The Essentials—

Hat or Headband: Keeping your head and ears warm is an absolute must. This will help to regulate the temperature of your entire body. A headband that covers your ears will ensure a snug fit while allowing the rest of your head to stay cool (ideal for temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit) and a thermal or fleece hat will provide total warmth on extra cold days (ideal for temperatures below 40 degrees and/or while it’s snowing).

Gloves: Keeping your hands warm will also help to regulate your overall body temperature. Gloves made with a moisture-wicking, polyester blend material are ideal for winter running. You might also consider a pair designed with “tech tip fingers” so you can easily access touch screen accessories.

Base Layer: Dressing for winter running involves gearing up with a few layers. For your base layer you’ll want to go with a light moisture-wicking tank or tee-shirt. Moisture-wicking material is a must because fabric like cotton will only absorb your sweat, and of course it’s never a good idea to run around in cold, wet clothes.

Insulating Layer:  This top layer will depend on your personal preference as well as the temperature outside. When the temperatures fall between 40 and 50 degrees a light, long-sleeved tech tee will typically be ideal.  When the temperatures drop below 40 degrees, a heavier piece like a polyester/fleece blend half-zip or insulated jacket will be your best bet. When it's below freezing outside, you'll likely want to wear a base layer, insulating layer and a heavier outer layer (like a jacket or vest) as well. 

Pants: Again, your choice for a bottom piece will depend on the temperature range. For days when it’s chilly but not exceedingly cold, moisture-wicking crops will be ideal. You may even feel comfortable running in shorts so long as the rest of your body is covered and warm. However, for temperatures below 40 degrees, full moisture-wicking leggings or pants will be most ideal.

Socks: Comfy socks are always a must for running, no matter what time of year. But when it starts to get cold outside you’ll want to opt for a pair that provide extra warmth too. The cotton rule that applies to your base layer also applies to your socks, so make sure to look for a pair that’s specifically designed for exercise and made with moisture-wicking material.