What You Need To Know
- Or, how we learned to stop worrying and love the cold
- We’ve picked out a few must-have items to help you get by
- There’s plenty of time to stock up before GRIT kicks off
This review is sponsored by Bombas socks, which we’ve been using to keep us warm and comfortable this winter (like the men’s Merino wool ankle sock shown below). You buy one, they give one to someone in need. Use code BITR20 to save 20% off your first order!
Bombas Merino wool ankle sock
Winter is coming. We’re still not talking about Game of Thrones after season 8 ended the way it did, but the words of House Stark still apply. It ain’t the warm days of summer or the crisp days of fall anymore. The mercury is dropping, and it’s time to layer up. With that in mind, we’ve decided to follow our summer running guide with its cold weather companion. Here’s the best winter running gear to keep you warm.
We’ve grabbed a few favorites from the entire spectrum of running products. That means we’ve got clothing and accessories, and we’ve split it all up based on temperature. We’ll start each section with an explanation of what you probably need and then jump right into some picks. Although none of our selections are bound to shave minutes off your PR, we can at least help you add some style points, which is all that matters, right?
Anyway, style points or not, we base our gear picks on our own experiences here at Believe in the Run. We’ve either tested our picks or know someone who has, and we stick with options that you can actually buy. Otherwise, we’d probably recommend you become friends with Heat Miser in a hurry.
Winter Running Gear (40-50°F)
This is what we like to call no man’s land. Going from 40F degrees to 50F degrees is a pretty wide range, especially as you warm up over the course of your run. Some might turn to a t-shirt for temps at the higher end, while almost everyone will reach for a light long sleeve shirt at the lower end. Either way, you want to keep your core warm, no matter the temperature.
- Roark Run Amok – Travis Weller Mathis Short-Sleeve Knit ($59) Our lone short-sleeve pick on the list is a good option before it gets too cold out. The DriRelease knit helps to regulate skin temperature and wick moisture, which is important at any temperature. Oh, and there are about a dozen different colors and prints to choose from — you can have a Roark shirt for every day of the week.
- Tracksmith – Brighton Base Layer ($88 – Men, $88 – Women) At this temperature range, the Brighton is probably the only layer you need. It’s one of our all-time favorite tops, and it just keeps finding its way onto our Best in Gear lists. The merino knit is odor resistant, and the open mesh body helps to regulate heat, while a tighter knit keeps your arms cozy and warm.
- Janji – Merino Tech Long Sleeve ($88 – Men, $88 – Women) If you take a shot every time you see merino wool mentioned in our winter running gear roundup, you probably won’t make it to the end. Janji’s answer to the Brighton base layer is just as comfortable, and it even adds thumbholes to keep your sleeves locked in place. It also incorporates volcanic ash to give merino’s natural odor resistance a further boost.
- La Sportiva – Tour Long Sleeve ($75) La Sportiva is no stranger to the trail fans out there, and this is an easy pick for a winter base layer. It’s soft and stretchy, and it’s just heavy enough to stand as your only shirt in the fall. Mix in some flatlock seams, and you’ll probably never want to take the Tour Long Sleeve off.
Again, dealer’s choice here. We’ll fluctuate between shorts at the higher end of this range and light, unlined tights at the lower end. Heck, it’s the perfect spot to rock a pair of half tights, kinda like the best of both worlds.
- Tracksmith – Half Tight ($78 – Men’s Reggie, $78 – Women’s Allston) Tracksmith likes to switch up the names between men’s and women’s apparel, but we won’t hold it against them. You can’t go wrong with either pair of half tights, though they have slight differences in their inseams. Either way, you have quite a few colors to choose from.
- Roark Run Amok – Alta 5-inch ($85) I know, it’s weird to see two pairs of shorts on a winter running gear roundup, but hear us out. The rest of our picks for colder weather are all full-length, so you can always dip down there for more recommendations. In the meantime, the Alta 5-inch short is just right for those chilly but not cold days. It thrives on a simple, four-way stretch design and a few well-placed pockets.
- Bandit Superbeam Side Pocket Half Tight ($118) – Yeah, they’re pretty pricey. But they’re made with “Italian wicking compression SuperBeam fabric for a cool, smooth, chafe-free experience.” And it’s true. The compression style both keeps warmth in and makes you quite aerodynamic, while giving you coverage down to the knees. We especially enjoy the side pocket, perfect for holding an iPhone safe and secure. The women’s version ($78) is only 3″, so may not be suitable for winter running, but it’s pretty great whenever a warm spell comes along.
We’re big hat people, but we’re not always going for a beanie at 50 degrees. Instead, you can probably get away with your favorite running cap, at least if it’s sunny and not too windy. You should also check out a light pair of gloves, which can keep your hands warm well into the next temperature range. Socks are important, too, so you can probably guess what we’ve picked…
- Bombas – Ankle Socks (Price varies) What were we gonna do, not pick our favorite socks? A good pair of ankle socks will serve you well at warmer temperatures, but Bombas has something for everyone. We particularly enjoy the merino ankle sock with our running tights, but for colder temps you can grab some crew socks and stay covered in any weather.
- Believe in the Run x Ciele – Cap ($45) Yes, it’s sold out at the moment, but never say never. We’re pretty proud of our collaboration, and we’ve heard there might be a chance of a restock in the future…
- Rabbit – EZ Gloves ($30) Rabbit treats its EZ fabric like Frank’s Red Hot — that shit goes on everything. Shirts, tights, underwear, and even gloves come in the famously soft and smooth fabric. You can choose from two different colors, and these gloves work well for all warmer temperature ranges.
Winter Running Gear (25-40°F)
If you thought 40 degrees to 50 degrees was tricky, this is even tougher. It’s easy to want to overdress when it gets this cold, but it’s better to plan carefully — especially for long runs. We’re usually set up with a light base layer, which we sometimes pair with a running vest. As above, the goal is to keep your core warm without overheating your extremities, which is exactly what a vest is good for.
- Nike – Run Division Miler Jacket ($120) The Miler might not be thick enough to serve as your only winter jacket, but it’s a great top layer for those mid-cold days. It’s water resistant and covered in reflective details, which is helpful since it’s pitch black by about 5:30 these days.
- Rabbit – Cold Front ($65 – Men, $65 – Women) Rabbit’s Cold Front is an enigma of a top layer. It’s warm enough to serve as your only layer, yet thin enough that you can easily fit something over it. The compression fabric locks in your warmth, while the slight mock neck offers just enough overlap with a neck gaiter.
- Brooks – Shield Hybrid Vest ($104) Winter isn’t really the time for the gun show, but don’t tell Brooks. We love a vest that keeps our core nice and cozy while letting heat and moisture vent from the arms. Even better, the Shield Hybrid Vest packs insulated front panels to keep the wind out and the warmth in.
- Arc’teryx – Trino SL Hoody ($219) The Trino SL is a little tricky. It says it’s a hoody, but it’s really more of a coat. Either way, Robbe lived in his all winter last year, so it’s worth a look. The freedom of movement is great for trail running, but the superlight and breathable design will work for just about anyone.
- Soar – Windbreaker ($200) This windbreaker ain’t cheap, but it’s worth it. Soar’s strategic panel placement keeps the top in place, while the tight fit ensures maximum running mobility. It comes rated for gentle to strong winds, which should cover just about everything, but we haven’t tried it in a blizzard.
Only the bold wear shorts in this range so most will be in the market for tights or running pants. You should be fine with an unlined pair, especially if it’s windproof. Not much else to say, just find some tights and double up so you don’t have to do as much laundry.
- Tracksmith – Turnover Tight ($128 – Men, $128 – Women) Do you know how many times we’ve used this exact image to show the Tracksmith Turnover Tight? We don’t either because it’s just that popular. These have been our top tights for several years, and they’re aging like fine wine.
- Path Projects – Tahoe CL Base Liner ($40) Sometimes, the secret to a great full-length base layer is to stretch a beloved short base layer to the ankles. That’s what Path Projects did, and we can’t argue with them. It might be a good option for the warmer days when you still want full coverage, as it’s recommended for 30 to 50 degrees. Wear it under shorts or pair it up with the pants right below here.
- Path Projects – Killam PX Pant ($82) Path Projects works on a base liner system, so while you can pair any of their base liners with shorts, you can also wear them underneath their running pants, like the Killam PX. Built with stretch and durable Toray Primeflex, these pants are perfect for those not ready to let their junk look like Han Solo in carbonite. A perfect combo of good mobility and breathability on the run (or even off the run).
- Asics – Thermopolis Winter Tight (On sale for $25) With a name like Thermopolis, it has to be warm. These tights keep things pretty simple with one large rear pocket and some reflective hits to keep you visible in the dark.
Alright, it’s time to get serious about winter running accessories. Neck warmers and beanies (or headbands) are a lot more popular once you dip into the 30s and below, and you might want to think about midweight gloves, too. If you live in a windier area, sunglasses aren’t a bad idea for protecting your eyes.
- Decathlon – Kalenji Tactile Running Glove ($10) You might not know the name Decathlon, but you can bet we know a value. $10 is never too much to spend to keep your hands warm, especially when the gloves have touch-sensitive thumbs and index fingertips. Even better, they come in six different sizes.
- Smartwool – Merino Reversible Headband ($30) Merino, take a shot! Honestly, headbands can work for just about anyone, even though the link says “women’s.” All you gotta do is get it around your head and run with confidence.
- Smartwool – Merino 250 Neck Gaiter ($32) More merino, take another shot! A happy neck is a warm neck, after all. This gaiter is made with 100% merino fabric, so you already know it’s gonna be cozy and odor resistant. There are a few different color to check out, and it should stretch to fit any head.
Winter Running Gear (10-25°F)
Layering becomes increasingly important as the temperature drops. A single long sleeve is usually not enough at this point, but you don’t want two heavy layers, either. Instead, we like to go with a mid or heavyweight merino layer and a well-ventilated jacket. The two combine to wick moisture off your body and keep you dry, which is really what it’s all about.
- Artilect – Flatiron 185 Quarter Zip ($150 – Men, $150 – Women) It’s a little heavier than Tracksmith’s Brighton, but not to the point that it’ll roast you alive. Artilect made all the right design choices — flatlock seams, gusseted underarms, and an easy loop for hang-drying.
- Rabbit – Cocoon 2.0 ($125 – Men, $125 – Women) We just featured the Cocoon 2.0 in a recent review, and we stand by our praise. It’s warm and offers almost full coverage for your upper body. The built-in face covering might not be a top feature if you get claustrophobic, but it’s soft and warm for the rest of us.
- Brooks – Notch Thermal Hoodie ($95) The Brooks Notch Thermal Hoodie is a do-it-all layer for winter running. It has a high neck and a tight hood to keep heat in, while a watch window and thumb holes make it easy to check on your reps and control your workout.
- Nike – StormFit Run Division Jacket ($350) This is about as high-end of a winter running jacket as you can get from Nike, and it offers a little of everything. It’s wind and rain-resistant but ventilated to keep you breathing and regulating easily. The hood has a slight brim to it to keep drops out of your eyes, and the jacket packs away into a handy pouch when you’re done.
Tights, tights, and more tights. Layering is important for your bottom half at this point, too. If you don’t have heavy or lined tights, you can pair a lightweight pair with a thin base layer for double coverage.
- Rabbit – Pocket Tightz Fleece ($115) The most important feature of these tights is right there in the name — Pocketz. Well, pockets, but we’ll forgive the spelling. It’s just nice to have somewhere to stock your phone, keys, and whatever nutrition you might need for a long run. The elastic ankle locks aren’t our favorites, but we’re learning to position them carefully.
- Path Projects – Shasta Base Liner ($46) Think of the Shasta as a thicker version of the Tahoe CL. It’s slightly heavier, making it a better bet for even colder weather, but it comes in far below the price of most tights. You’ll probably want another layer on top of the Shasta, but you’ll be glad you have the soft, wicking fabric right up against your skin.
- Tracksmith – NDO Tights ($198 – Men, $198 – Women) You won’t find too many tights more expensive than these, but Tracksmith knows how to prep for the elements. The NDO tights shift their pockets to the back side to keep them out of the wind, while 360-degree hits of 3M keep you visible when the light is low.
We might be starting to sound like broken records, but as it gets colder, your winter running gear should get heavier. This is the time for heavier hats and gloves, as well as neck warmers and thicker socks. Basically, if it’s on your extremities, make sure it’s cozy and warm.
- Brooks – Midweight Arm Warmer ($34) You might not think of arm warmers as an accessory for anything other than race day, but they can fit perfectly under long sleeves for some extra warmth. Heck, even if it’s not all that cold, you can pair them with a singlet because it’ll make you look faster.
- Smartwool – Sport Fleece Wind Mitten ($50) Can’t make up your mind between gloves or mittens? Why not both? Smartwool already makes some of the best accessories around, and these flexible hand coverings are worth every penny. you can switch to the gloves if you need to use your phone, while the mitten cover locks in just a bit more heat.
Winter Running Gear (Below 10°F)
Take everything we’ve told you up to this point and add it all up. This is the temperature range where you’ll want a little bit of everything in terms of winter running gear. Grab a heavier base layer and pair it with a warmer jacket — insulated if possible. You still want to make sure that your layers will wick sweat, though, because nobody wants to have frozen sweat built up under their clothes. If you can find a layer that takes out two birds with one stone, like a long sleeve shirt that goes right into a neck wrap, even better.
- Tracksmith – Franklin Fleece ($148 – Men, $158 – Women) The Franklin Fleece might not be cozy enough to stand up to the elements by itself, but it pairs perfectly with a base layer and maybe a windproof layer if needed. It’s one of the best layers for lounging around if you’re taking a much-needed rest day.
- La Sportiva – Session Tech Hoody ($139) La Sportiva’s Session Tech Hoody is more of a jacket than a hoodie, but it blends comfortable fleece panels and recycled materials to block wind and keep the warmth in. As usual, you’ll probably want a base layer underneath.
Grab your cozy lined tights and slap a base layer underneath. Heck, maybe this is the point where you put lighter windproof pants on top of your tights. Either way, it’s about keeping the elements out and the warmth in. Invest in some good base layering and you should do just fine.
- Sugoi – Midzero Tights ($125) Thermal tights ain’t cheap, but they’re a must-have. Sugoi’s tights are named for their warm midzero fabric, complete with flat seams and a comfortable crotch gusset. There’s only one rear pocket, but you probably won’t be fishing around for too much in temperatures this cold.
- Daehlie – Winter pants 2.0 ($140 – Men, $140 – Women) Daehlie was a new brand for us last year, but it’s grown out of a love for skiing. These winter pants are fleece-lined and sport contrasting colorful panels on the calves to keep you visible.
Man, how many ways can we say find warm stuff and wear it? Mittens, hats, maybe double up on gloves? Anything below 10 degrees is pretty damn cold. We had to call in the big guns (folks from the midwest) for some of these recommendations, and they vouched for some of these hats and accessories in subzero temperatures. If it’s good enough for them, we believe it — we don’t get this weather in Baltimore too often.
- Nathan – Headband ($18) A headband won’t always be enough to keep you warm in the midwestern winter, but it’s a good accessory to have. It will keep your hair in place and provide a little bit of warmth, even if it doesn’t wrap your entire head. The reflective hits are just the icing on top.
- Patagonia – Micro D Fleece Gaiter ($29) Who would have thought that a Patagonia gaiter would be one of the most affordable recommendations on the list? This microfleece gaiter gets our vote because it creates a cozy air pocket without feeling too tight against our faces.
- Mountain Hardware – Dome Perignon ($40) Well, props to Mountain Hardware for the pun. Our cold-weather crew survived and thrived in the Dome Perignon in subzero temperatures, sometimes as low as -20.
- Warmskin ($27) Honestly, we’d never heard of Warmskin until now, so maybe it’s only available in the plains states. It’s a heating balm that’s sold by the pound, and it helps to moisturize and insulate against the frigid cold.
If you’ve got other winter running gear favorites, we’d love to hear about them. We’ve run in a lot of gear, but we haven’t done it all, so leave other recommendations down below.