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As the saying goes: There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.

When you’re properly dressed for the conditions, nothing can stop you from crushing an outdoor workout. And since it’s perfectly safe to exercise outside all winter long, you can keep logging those miles even when the mercury drops.

Learn to love a cold-weather run by layering up with these 14 cold-weather running essentials.

We spoke with Marco Anzures, an elite-level running coach, to get ALL the deets on keeping your cool while running in the cold. Here’s what he recommends looking for when gear shopping:

  • Keep it light. Choose items that insulate well without adding lots of weight to bog you down. No matter how chilly it’s gonna be, wearing a parka during a run just ain’t it.
  • Look for layers. Related to the above, you’ll want to choose relatively thin pieces that layer well and that you can easily mix and match based on the weather conditions. Again, park that parka.
  • Avoid cotton. Several materials will work just fine, but cotton is not your friend. “Cotton will just soak up your sweat and keep you cold,” advises Anzures. He adds that any moisture-wicking material is always a good choice.

With these tips in mind, we included light, noncotton layers, with amazing customer reviews. We also put all of our picks through a thorough vetting process that checks for unsupported health claims, shady business practices, and lawsuits involving the company’s products.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $30
  • $$ = $30–$80
  • $$$ = over $80

Get decked out and hit the block.

Best base layer for winter running

Under Armour ColdGear Authentics Mock Neck

  • Price: $$
  • Features: double-layer, moisture wicking fabric
  • Pros: lightweight, sweat-wicking, warm
  • Cons: runs small, according to some reviews

You can’t go wrong with a base layer from the company that pretty much invented them.

This basic long-sleeve shirt is actually not so basic. It features Under Armour’s exclusive ColdGear technology, a double-layer fabric that’s designed to wick moisture away from your skin while maintaining body heat.

The special lightweight construction keeps you warm and comfortable without any extra bulk that might slow you down. But some reviewers say it runs a bit small.

Best windbreaker for winter running


  • Price: $$$
  • Features: 100 percent polymide (aka nylon) jacket that’s lightweight and easy to pack
  • Pros: lightweight, provides wind protection, portable
  • Cons: expensive for its limited functionality (best for serious outdoor runners)

This windbreaker is lightweight but provides extra protection for your upper body in windy conditions. And let’s be real here — you gotta keep those lungs warm to power through the brutal cold AND wind.

It’s made from waterproof-but-still-breathable nylon to protect you from the elements without intensifying your sweat.

This jacket is also easy to carry with you JIC. It folds up small enough to fit in a pocket, so you can whip it out if the wind starts whippin’.

Best mid layer for winter running

The North Face Wayroute Pullover Hoodie

  • Price: $$$
  • Features: slim-fit fleece keeps you warm without adding bulk
  • Pros: thin, great for layering
  • Cons: runs slightly large, not warm enough for below-freezing temps

Here’s a pro tip: When looking for gear for inclement weather, turn to specialist outdoor brands like The North Face.

The company’s products get tested in the toughest conditions and have a lifetime guarantee (yes, the duration of your entire life). This slim-fit pullover — made with warm and cozy (but not bulky) fleece — wicks away sweat to keep you warm and dry.

It makes for a great top or mid-layer on a chilly (but not freezing) run.

Best winter jacket for winter running

Sugoi Alpha Hybrid Jacket

  • Price: $$$
  • Features: synthetic insulation keeps you warm and dry
  • Pros: wind- and water-resistant, lightweight but insulated
  • Cons: on the expensive side

You only need one really good outer layer for cold runs, and this one is it. It’s made from a synthetic fabric that insulates and protects from wind and rain.

The wind-resistant panel along the front keeps your torso protected, and the stretchy knit fabric on the sleeves and sides won’t limit your range of motion.

We’ve been running in freezing, snowy, and bitter cold temps in this for four winters and counting!

Best running tights for winter running

Craft Sports Adv Subz Warm Running Tights 2

  • Price: $$$
  • Features: warm jersey-polyester lining
  • Pros: windproof, designed to keep you warm
  • Cons: run small and long

These classic tights come from a brand known for Nordic ski gear (no doubt they’re all about keeping you warm) and are windproof to keep that icy wind from slowing you down.

The brushed jersey and polyester interior feels like butter when you slip them on and offers a little extra insulation too. The front of the leggings is made from 100% polyester, which helps improve wind resistance. (Note: Size up if you’re between sizes because these leggings are made for long legs and lean frames.)

Best running pants for winter running

Craft Sports Adv Subz Running Wind Pants 2

  • Price: $$$
  • Features: wind and waterproof front
  • Pros: lightweight, warm
  • Cons: expensive, made for long and lean frames, don’t come in women’s sizes

Prefer pants over tights? We feel that.

These pants — the pants version of the tights listed just above — come with Anzures’ seal of approval. They are lightweight, water-resistant, and windproof, but made of a jersey-polyester blend that provides sweatpant-level coziness.

They’re also trimmed with reflective details, so you’ll be seen no matter what kind of winter wonderland you’re walking running in.

The annoying part? They don’t come in women’s sizes. So you’ll either need to try them in men’s sizes or go for Craft Sports Women’s ADV Pursuit Insulate XC Ski Pants, which are similar but a little heavier duty.

Best running socks for winter running

Darn Tough Run 1/4 Ultra-Lightweight Sock

  • Price: $
  • Features: merino wool blend that provides excellent thermal insulation and wicks away moisture
  • Pros: moisture-wicking, dries quickly, no bunching
  • Cons: too narrow for wide feet, according to some reviewers

On a warm day, you might just grab any old pair of socks. But when you exercise in the cold, your body sends blood straight to your major muscle groups, leaving body parts like your fingers, toes, ears, and nose to get extra cold.

You might think wearing multiple pairs of socks will do the trick, but experts believe that this can actually restrict blood flow even more.

So, grab a merino wool-blend sock like this one. Wool is known for being an excellent thermal insulator — more so than other fabrics like cotton and polyester. Wool doesn’t wick away moisture on its own (though it can absorb it and still retain heat when wet), but this sock contains nylon to help wick away sweat.

Anzures recommends wool for running socks all the time. It also has a special construction that hugs the curves of your foot and stays put, so there’s no loose material to rub you the wrong way.

(Wait, does that mean… no blisters? Sign us up!)

Best gaiter for winter running

Smartwool Merino 150 Pattern Neck Gaiter

  • Price: $
  • Features: merino wool keeps you warm, but not sweaty
  • Pros: lightweight, quick-drying, moisture-wicking
  • Cons: kinda pricey

The quickest way to make every shirt in your arsenal more versatile: add a gaiter. Top a tank, tee, or long-sleeve with one of these to transform it into a turtleneck-style top. Scrunch it down for scarf-level warmth or pull it up over your nose for bitter cold, windy conditions.

Reviewers say it’s the perfect gaiter for active folks — the wool keeps you warm without overheating, and it’s odor-resistant, so you don’t need to wash it after every wear.

Best ear warmer for winter running

Atneato Ear Warmer Headband

  • Price: $
  • Features: polyester fleece is warm and windproof
  • Pros: inexpensive, doubles as a sweatband, warm
  • Cons: very thin

Your winter kit is not complete without an ear warmer. That horrible stinging you get in your ears after a run in chilly weather can become a thing of the past.

This polyester fleece creation from Atneato doubles as a sweatband, and it strikes a great balance of lightness and flexibility while providing enough fabric to keep the wind chill out.

Reviewers say it’s super comfy and fits well over headphones — but some say it’s too thin for really frigid temps.

Best winter hat for winter running

Salomon RS Unisex Beanie

  • Price: $$
  • Features: full-coverage hat that’s wind and waterproof with built-in sweatband and sunglasses
  • Pros: moisture-wicking, windproof
  • Cons: not a lot of stretch for bigger heads

On some days, a headband just won’t cut it. That means it’s time to reach for a full-coverage hat. This one is made with moisture-wicking 100 percent polyester and features a windproof front, as well as an integrated sweatband and a slot for sunglasses.

It keeps your head warm without giving you a case of sweaty hair, and it’s fitted enough to wear under ear warmers or a bulkier beanie for extra warmth too.

But you might need to look elsewhere if you’ve got a big noggin — this beanie doesn’t have a whole lot of give.

Best gloves for winter running

Brooks Running Fusion Midweight Gloves

  • Price: $$
  • Features: warm, but still tech-friendly
  • Pros: tech-friendly, magnetized cuffs
  • Cons: a bit expensive

Run glove, run glove, let’s… get… together and… feel alright. 🎤

The most important feature for running gloves (other than warmth, of course) is a tech-tipped thumb and index finger, so you can keep your music and run-tracking apps in play at all times.

This pair has that covered, along with magnetized cuffs to keep the happy couple snuggled up together when not in use. They’re also Bluesign approved for sustainability.

Best sunglasses for winter running

Oakley Radar EV Path

  • Price: $$$
  • Features: Prizm lenses that enhance color and contrast so you can see better in bright light
  • Pros: filter out white light
  • Cons: frequently sold out due to high demand

Do you really need a winter-specific pair of sunglasses? Truthfully, no. Any pair will do. But trust us when we tell you this pair is worth consideration.

You know how bright the sun gets on a winter day when it reflects off the snow? Well, these lenses specifically filter white tones, so you can see more clearly without being blinded by the glare.

If you’re into snow sports, they’ll do double duty on the slopes, so they’re worth the investment. Still not sure? Just try on a pair and you’ll instantly understand.

Best hand warmers for winter running

Hot Hands Hand Warmers

  • Price: $–$$
  • Features: can instantly warm your hands
  • Pros: keep your hands warm
  • Cons: may cause burns

These bad boys aren’t just for your parents during tailgate season.

It’s a good idea to stash a box of these near your gloves for below-freezing days. Slip a pair into your gloves to keep your hands toasty through every mile.

But take note: If you wear them right next to your skin (without a layer between, like a glove pocket), they can burn your skin.

Best lip protectant for winter running

Aquaphor Lip Protectant + Sunscreen

  • Price: $
  • Features: offers sun protection and locks in moisture
  • Pros: protects and moisturizes lips
  • Cons: tastes terrible and may be drying, according to reviewers

We fall squarely in the can’t-leave-home-without-lip-balm camp — especially during dry conditions. The post-run burn, we can handle. Cracked lips? Not so much.

This balm locks in moisture and prevents water loss from your lips but can also be used around your nose and as an anti-chafing body balm for long runs.

Bonus: It’s got SPF 30, which is a must for outdoor workouts. On bright, snowy days, sunburn can still get you.

Caution, though: Some reviewers report that — although the SPF worked — the lip balm tasted like a mouthful of sunscreen.

Ready to shop? Make sure you know exactly what you need first with these helpful tips based on the latest research and from Anzures.

Base layer: leggings, long-sleeve shirt

Moisture-wicking fabric is a must for your base layer because it’s the first to get wet when you sweat. Look for well-known moisture-wicking materials like polyester, nylon, acrylic, and polypropylene. Synthetic wool and wool blends work well too.

Natural fabrics like cotton, bamboo, and 100 percent wool, on the other hand, absorb moisture. That means you’ll have cold, wet clothes clinging to your skin in low temps. No thanks!

You can even opt for cotton, bamboo, and wool blends. As long as the fabric also features a synthetic, moisture-wicking fabric, you should be good to go.

Mid-layer: pants, shorts, tee, or tank

Your mid-layer is for insulation. But because we’re less worried about wicking moisture, you have more options:

  • Wool is known for its excellent thermal insulation properties.
  • Fleece is usually made from polyester, but can also be made from cotton or wool. It’s also a good insulator.
  • Microfiber is similar to fleece and also made from polyester. It’s super soft and provides insulation without feeling super heavy.

Outerwear: vests, jackets

Your outermost layer is for protection from the elements. Look for waterproof and windproof materials that still allow for some sort of breathability, like polyester and nylon.

Some brands also use polyurethane (basically plastic) for parts of waterproof coats but leave panels of more breathable fabrics on the sides so you’re not suffocating yourself.

Breathability is key, people. Without it, you’re more likely to get wet from your own sweat, which is counterproductive.

Accessories: hats, face coverings, gloves/mittens, socks

When it comes to accessories, you’re no longer working with layers. In fact, wearing multiple layers of socks can restrict blood flow and make it harder to warm up your little toes. So pls avoid that if you can.

Instead, look for blends of insulating (wool, fleece) and moisture-wicking (polyester, nylon, etc.) fabrics. These give you the best of both worlds, which is a must for staying dry and warm.


For the most part, you’re looking for polyester or merino wool. And make sure that your base and mid-layers are fitted and not bulky, so they can be layered without making you look like a cross between the Michelin Man and Pillsbury Doughboy.

Note: lots of brands will feature blends of these or other materials and give them a silly name like “InsuWear XT Plus” or something similar. Just check the specs to see exactly what it’s made from.

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Layering is definitely the key to a successful cold-weather run. Says Anzures, “There are a variety of jackets, pants, and tights that you can layer to match the type of protection you are looking for from the elements.”

Here’s his layering cheat sheet, based on the outdoor temp at the time of your run:

  • 50 to 59°F (10 to 15° C): T-shirt and shorts
  • 40 to 49°F (4 to 9° C): long-sleeve shirt, shorts or tights, optional thin gloves and ear warmers
  • 30 to 39°F (-1 to 3° C): long-sleeve shirt, light vest or tee, shorts, tights, gloves, and a beanie
  • 20 to 29°F (-7 to -2° C): long-sleeve shirt, light vest or tee, jacket or windbreaker, shorts or pants, tights (for extra warmth, layer short tights over long tights), gloves, beanie
  • Less than 20°F (-7° C): long-sleeve shirt, light vest or tee, jacket or windbreaker, pants, tights (for extra warmth, layer short tights over long tights), thick mittens (for extra warmth, layer over gloves), beanie

You might check the forecast during the winter months and shudder at the thought of getting in some road work.

Why couldn’t you just pay for a gym membership, save yourself some dollars on protective gear, and stay even warmer?

Well, running outside has some unique benefits notable for those who are hell-bent on reaching their stamina, cardio, and leg strength goals:

  • Improved bone growth. Running outside puts more impact on your bones and joints and the tissues that connect them. As a result, your bones replenish more over time than when you use a treadmill, which has a softer surface that moves as you run. This can help keep osteoporosis at bay as you age.
  • A super butt. Running on a stationary surface means your hamstrings and glutes come into play more than they would on an already-moving platform. Cue a hench butt.
  • A mental boost. The power of feeling the wind in your hair and seeing the scenery change can reduce anger, depression, and stress more than indoor exercise, according to a study from 2017.
  • Improved stability. Running in a straight line means your stabilizing muscles don’t work as hard. Exercising outside means you may have to adjust your course and avoid obstacles, so you’ll give those stabilizers a bit more of a push.
  • Improved focus. Especially if you’re training for a big race, practicing outdoors to prepare your body to maneuver around people and obstacles (which you won’t encounter on the treadmill) is essential for keeping a clear headspace on the day.

We take a closer look at indoor and outdoor running here.

Here are some tips to make your run just as fun as one in the sun.

Warm up inside

So, we all know that warming up before a workout is e s s e n t i a l. But warming up inside before you head outside for a run in the cold offers the additional benefit of getting you and your muscles extra-toasty.

Kinda like when you preheat your car in the middle of January and crank up the heat so it’s warm and comfy before leaving your driveway.

Consider rain and wind

Rain and wind will make it feel colder than it actually is — by as much as 10 to 20°F, according to Anzures.

And keep in mind that waterproof clothing isn’t the solution: “Clothing designed to be waterproof won’t breathe well, and your sweat will stay trapped to your inner layers if there is not good ventilation,” he says.

Account for your body warming up

Be careful not to overdress for your dash through the snow. “A general rule of thumb,” explains Anzures, “is to take the outside temperature and add 10 to 20°F (-12 to -6°C) to account for your body warming up while you run.”

He says you should also consider your personal hot/cool preferences — if you’re always cold, bundle up a bit more than recommended, and vice versa if you’re a walking furnace.

When is it too cold to go running?

Honestly, this varies a lot depending on your fitness level, cold tolerance, and (big one) the weather conditions.

0°F (-17°C), bright and sunny, no wind? If you’re dressed right, it might be a nice run.

30°F (-1°C), cold and drizzly, cloudy, and windy? Mis-er-a-ble.

Remember that frostbite is a very real possibility in the cold, so if it’s extra chilly or you don’t have the right gear to keep your extremities protected, then it’s time to hit the treadmill (or if there’s black ice or no room on the side of the roads after a snowplow has gone by).

How many layers should you wear to run in the cold?

It depends on the temp. To recap, here’s Anzures’ cheat sheet:

  • 50 to 59°F (10 to 15° C): T-shirt and shorts
  • 40 to 49°F (4 to 9° C):long-sleeve shirt, shorts or tights, optional thin gloves and ear warmers
  • 30 to 39°F (-1 to 3° C): long-sleeve shirt, light vest or tee, shorts, tights, gloves, and a beanie
  • 20 to 29°F (-7 to -2° C): long-sleeve shirt, light vest or tee, jacket or windbreaker, shorts or pants, tights (for extra warmth, layer short tights over long tights), gloves, beanie
  • Less than 20°F (-7° C): long-sleeve shirt, light vest or tee, jacket or windbreaker, pants, tights (for extra warmth, layer short tights over long tights), thick mittens (for extra warmth, layer over gloves), beanie

Why is it harder to run in the cold?

Running in the cold is more difficult for a few reasons, according to a 2021 study:

  • Your muscles can’t get as warm as usual, which actually reduces their functional capacity.
  • You overdress and get too warm to continue (in that case, you need to focus on layering thinner, moisture-wicking materials rather than seeking out bulky-but-warm stuff you might wear outside if you’re not working out).
  • Your body needs more oxygen in the cold.

Does running in the cold burn more calories?

Yes, actually! You’re using more oxygen, which requires more calories, and if you’re shivering that burns extra calories too. It’s actually got a name: cold-induced thermogenesis.

Keep in mind it’s not gonna be a drastic difference, but a cold run will burn slightly more calories.

Winter feels like a time to curl up and turn your back on your workout — but it’s important that you do anything but.

Think about it. If you can keep your motivation strong during hostile weather, imagine what you can achieve when it’s actually mild or even (whisper it) warm outside.

Outdoor workouts are safe as can be — in all weather. So, don your fancy hat, thermal tights, and ear warmers and stomp the sidewalk today.