You might recall I did a post on winter running last year (you can read the full post here) and yet another winter is going by with me running every day and while most of my tips are the same, I have even more gear recs than last year that you guys might find helpful.
So, I would consider myself an athlete-level runner, I run about 40 miles a week (and then probably Nordic ski another 40 but that’s another post, cross-country skiing and running are really two completely different things as far as dressing goes). My firm cutoff on temperature is 10 degrees, I ignore “feels like” temps and windchill, it’s below a hard 10 for me not to run and that’s that.
So I still have all my same basics, for the top I wear a lightweight long sleeve top (cotton or nylon is fine but just be prepared to take it off immediately once you get home), a NorthFace zipper fleece and then my trusty lightweight down jacket. Love that down jacket!
But a few new great things I found this year. The first is this Sitka Stratus beanie.
Sitka is actually a hunting gear company, but this hat is Goretex, and it has deep ear flaps that cover your ears. It’s men’s sizing and I had to get mine taken in by a seamstress here, but it is so, so warm and it fits great now! Also I love that it’s blaze orange, so it’s really good for those dark early mornings. Well worth the $59, get yours here.
I’ve stuck with my same balaclava from last year, it works well as a mask for group runs, but I wear it often even when I’m alone with the mask part pulled down because it keeps my neck warm without too much weight. I got mine from Amazon here, all of them seem about the same to me though, if you pull it up, your face will be warm because your breath goes up to your eyes and keeps your lashes from freezing. Just FYI.
Last year I had a huge problem with my hands and gloves. I think I had noted that I got frostbite in Chicago back about 20 years ago (minor frostbite but still), and my fingers have not been the same since. However, I love to listen to music when I run and I want to have dexterity to switch songs on my iphone, etc. So this year instead of bulky gloves, I did my research and came up with a solution that works for me. First of all, I wear an inexpensive pair of glove liners, I honestly bought a pair of gloves at Walmart, and I cut a hole in the index and middle finger. Just a slit with scissors, and then it stretches out a bit. And then I bought these Outdoor Research Gripper Convertible Gloves to go over them:
Love these! You really can’t go wrong with Outdoor Research anyway, but these work great with the thinner gloves with finger holes cut out underneath. They are also Goretex and I haven’t had any problems with my hands getting cold, plus it’s easy to pop the mitten part off when I want to text or change a song. The little tab at the bottom makes them easy to get on, and they also have magnets so if you want to keep the mittens off, they don’t flap around. High quality!
On that note, I was worried about cross-country skiing because you don’t sweat as much, and my husband gave me heated gloves for Christmas. These heated gloves have saved the day for skiing, they are too bulky and hot for running, but I’m here to tell you, if you need heated gloves, these are worth the price because they heat all the way to your fingertips. These are by Snowdeer on Amazon, and they are fantastic. They plug into the wall in a regular outlet, no USB needed, and the Low setting is plenty warm, I usually turn them off about halfway up the mountain. Seriously, they really do work and I’ll buy a pair every year if I have to.
For leggings, I just wear 2 pairs of like Cuddl Duds if it’s cold, I also like Reebok PlayWarm leggings though I think they don’t make them anymore but I keep my eye out for them on eBay and Poshmark and if they come up, I buy them. I got 2 pairs of LL Bean PrimaLoft fleece tights this year, honestly they are too nice to run in lol but they are super warm and comfortable for wearing at home or out and about. I also am too afraid to ski in them bc I know I’ll fall and rip them ha ha but like, they’re really nice and warm leggings! If your legs get cold (mine don’t), they will work.
And then lastly, while I’m always loyal to Smartwool socks (the best!) these 80% merino blend from Enerwear on Amazon actually work almost just as well for a quarter of the price. I’ve worn them on all but the coldest days and I definitely ski in them with zero problems. So if you’re looking for a good and warm sock bargain, these are a great choice. Seriously, such a good deal compared to Darn Tough and Smartwool, and they hold up great in the wash too.
Why spend money you don’t have to? And lastly, hands down THE most important thing I use all winter long is my YakTrax Running cleats. I go through a couple pairs a season (my current ones are literally duct taped to my shoes lol), but icy conditions are non-negotiable. I feel 100% confident in these no matter what shape the roads are in. To make it easy on myself, I just use them on whatever pair of running shoes I’ve used in the fall, since the cleats are taking the impact not your shoe bottoms, a good shoe I’ve found is not as important. And then you don’t have to take them on and off all the time, so I keep one pair of old running shoes with the YakTrax on all the time, and then my good running shoes for days when the streets are clear. One fall on ice can ruin your whole season, so feel safe and confident with ice cleats. Unless you live in Alaska lol, you can run in pretty much any regular snowy conditions with these babies, they are a lifesaver.
I hope all of this is helpful! As a hardcore runner, I was really worried when we moved to Vermont, but it turns out, with a small investment in the proper gear, you can so easily run year ’round here. I actually prefer cold weather running, I find it very invigorating, and I actually miss it in the dead of summer. Everyone has specific things that work for them, but I’m not some fly by night hobby runner, so I hope if you’re a serious runner that you will feel like you can trust me, everything I have listed here is tried and true. So think of me when you’re out there pounding the pavement, just you and the snowplows, and I’ll think about you!