While it’s a balmy 70 degrees here in Florida today, I know that, in many other parts of the country, it’s cold. A quick check on weather.com tells me it’s only 7 degrees in Denver, Colorado right now. And it’s -9 in Minneapolis! 🥶 Brrrr!!! If you have the “pleasure” of living somewhere other than the South during the winter, you might just talk yourself out of heading outside for a run. But you don’t have to skip that run or move it inside to the treadmill, because there’s plenty of winter running gear on the market!
How should I dress to run in the cold?
Ok, so let me be honest. The coldest weather I’ve run in is 32 degrees. Super chilly for us Florida folk, but nothing compared to you “below zero” people. However, even with that, I do know one important piece of information: the best way to dress for winter running is by layering.
As you start running, your body temperature will increase, causing you to feel hot if you’re wearing too much clothing. With layers, you can remove one or more as you begin to feel uncomfortably warm. It’s also helpful to remember to dress as if the temperature is 5-10 degrees cooler than it actually is.
Here are some general recommendations, based on various temperatures:
*Keep in mind that wind and rain, as well as what type of a run you’re doing (long run, speedwork, easy run, etc.) are going to have an effect on how the temperature feels.
Let’s start with a Florida winter.
60 degrees and above
Comfortable shorts (or a running skirt if that’s your thing) and a technical sweat-wicking short-sleeve shirt.
Shorts or capris and a long sleeve shirt. Look for technical fabrics. You could also do a short sleeve shirt + arm sleeves. Arm sleeves are easy to slide down if you get too hot. If it’s closer to 45, and especially if it’s cloudy or dark, running gloves would be a great addition at this point as well.
Leggings (or capris if you know you run hot) and a long-sleeve tech shirt. A short-sleeve shirt and arm sleeves could still work in this temperature range. Gloves help to keep your fingers warm so they don’t feel numb. As the temp gets closer to 40 degrees, you may want to consider adding a light running jacket and a headband that covers your ears. If you own a Buff, that’s a great way to keep your ears and neck covered and still be able to remove it if you get too hot.
Leggings, long-sleeve tech shirt, running gloves, and a Buff/neck gaiter or headband to cover your ears. Add a light jacket or second-layer long sleeve shirt or choose a running vest instead if you know you run hot.
Leggings, long-sleeve tech shirt, running gloves, Buff/neck gaiter, headband, or beanie-style hat to cover ears and keep heat in. Add a light jacket or long sleeve shirt/half-zip as a second-layer. A thicker running vest could also do the trick here.
Below 30 degrees
Thicker leggings, possibly fleece-lined (or a second layer), depending on how much colder than 30 degrees it is, long sleeve shirt (the colder it is, the thicker it can be), jacket (the colder it is, the heavier it should be), beanie, and heavier gloves or mittens. You might also want a mid-layer long-sleeve shirt between the base layer and jacket, especially if it’s less than 10 degrees.
Winter Running Gear: Add these to your running bag
In addition to the apparel I just mentioned, there are some other items you may find useful to add to your winter running gear bag. You’ll find them, as well as some of the apparel I already talked about, in the images and list below.
- Mind Over Miles Sweatshirt (Ok, technically not running gear, but a fun sweatshirt to lounge around in on your rest days 😉)
- Nathan Streak Reflective Vest (Winter days are shorter, which often means running in the dark. Make sure cars can see you with this reflective vest.)
- Merino Wool Neck Gaiter (Can be worn in multiple ways to keep your head, ears, and neck warm)
- Patagonia Houdini Jacket (This scrunchable/foldable, packable jacket converts into a small pouch, making it easy to take off and carry if you get hot.)
- Darn Tough Graduated Compression Socks (perfect for turning a pair of shorts into a slightly “warmer” bottom or for layering over leggings to add extra warmth)
- Clip-on Running Lights (Again, winter days are shorter, which often means running in the dark. Make yourself visible with these clip-on lights.)
- Nathan Zipster Lite Lumbar Pack (Whatever the weather, it’s always nice to have a spot for your phone, key, gel…whatever small items you like to carry on a run.)
- Goodr OG Polarized Sunglasses (Don’t forget to protect your eyes from the sun, even in the winter months!)
- Moisturizing SPF Lip Balm (Prevent chapped lips from cold, dry winter weather.)
Let’s wrap it up…
So, there you have it. Some general guidelines for what to wear running in the winter months, along with some extra running gear that will serve you well when it’s cold (or hot) outside.
Tell me, how cold is it where you live right now? Do you have a favorite winter running item?
For more running gear ideas, check out Trail Running Gear You Can Find on Amazon.