Best Gear for Running in the Cold
By Tanner Garrity / January 9, 2020 1:49 pm

Earlier this week, we extolled the surprising benefits of running in the cold. Putting in miles when the days are short and dark aids in performance (heart rate and hydration are easier to manage in lower temps), and helps rid your body of white fat (the inflammatory lipid linked to heart disease), while offering a spiritually-pleasing, SAD-defeating alternative to the treadmill.

Before you head out, though, it’s imperative that you’ve got the right garments. Below, we’ve assembled all the gear you could possibly need for an icy afternoon on the roads, from winterized Nikes to waterproof mittens to a headlamp prepared to shine through a bomb cyclone.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Shield

Nike often “remixes” its most popular running shoes to combat wintry elements. The shielded version of the Pegasus adds some heft, with a water-repellant armor and a grippier rubber outsole.

Tracksmith Crew

The Platonic ideal of cold-weather running layering: base-layer (tee or long-sleeve tee), crew sweatshirt (cotton, fleece, performance wool), and a water-resistant running jacket. Boston-based Tracksmith perfected the crewneck silhouette here, and we’d recommend wearing it as your middle layer.

Brooks LSD Thermal Glove

Your fingers generate more heat when they’re bunched together than stretched apart, so unless you need to hold something on your runs, aim for a pair of mittens. Thankfully, if you change your mind, this pair from Brooks moonlight as a pair of gloves. Just pull the mitten hood back.

Under Armor ColdGear Legging

For a stretch in the early 2000s, Under Armour reached near-genericized trademark status, as brands like Nike and Adidas scrambled to create their own versions of skintight, UA base-layers. These days you’ll find great options across the map, including from New Balance and The North Face, but we’re still fans of UA’s dual-layer leggings, which utilize four-way stretch to prevent resistance while on the go.

Black Diamond Spring 225 Headlamp

This headlamp fits snug on the noggin and beams flood-style up to 42 meters ahead of your path. It’s one of the lightest on the market, charges via USB, and allows you to adjust the brightness with just a swipe.

Janji Rainrunner Pack Jacket

Janji is a “nomadic” apparel brand. For each of its collections, the label chooses a country as muse, and partners with local talent to A) design hardy, technical running apparel inspired by the nation’s terrain, and with non-profits B) to help conserve water. We’ve been wearing this all-elements jackets for the last month (through some cranky weather days) and are super impressed. It doesn’t get better than this for a top layer during this time of year.

Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew Socks

If your only exposure to Smartwool is their furry lounge socks, check out some of their technical apparel. They make our Executive Editor’s favorite base layer, and offer a variety of technical socks in warm-but-not-too-warm Merino blends.

The North Face Nite Flare Beanie

A U.S. Army survival field guide in the 1970s perpetuated the myth that over half one’s body heat is lost from the head; that’s not true (the number is closer to 7-10%) but it’s still your head, and you should keep it warm and protected during a wintry run, if only to feel a little less miserable. Most athletic brands make one, but we’d suggest going to those that now the outdoors best. The North Face just dropped this beanie, which is made from an acrylic-Thermolite blend.

Brooks Ghost 12 GTX

A neutral, highly cushioned sneaker with a completely waterproof, 3D-printed exterior. Its calling card, though, is that Gore-Tex lining, which makes these things airtight even on the slushiest of sidewalks. They’re not much to look at, but if the weather’s bad enough that you have to wear these, no one’s watching you out the car window anyway.

Yaktrax Traction Cleats

In case you need even more grip — Yaktrax is basically snow chains for running shoes. Loop these cleats on before a big run in the snow, to prevent slipping on icy surfaces. They’ll work just fine in the city or suburbs (those are coils, not spikes) but perform best on a trail. Drive up/down-state a bit and find some backcountry where you can really let loose.

Icebreaker Apex Chute Neck Gaiter

It’s tempting, when running into cold wind, to pull the top of you jacket or sweatshirt up over the neck and chin, or even your mouth and nose. But those garments aren’t designed for that purpose, and can cause rashes or discomfort, especially at the end of a long run. This neck gaiter from Icebreaker, on the other hand, will do the job just fine.

Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo Shield

Nike just tarped one of its most beloved running sneakers. These could legitimately be taken for hiking boots from the back, but they are indeed meant for running, and specifically for snow, with grippy soles, a “shroud” on the top layer, and an inner mesh bootie meant to feel like a sock and insulate the whole operation.

On Comfort T

The Swiss folks at up-and-comer On test their products in the Alps, which is all the confirmation we need that they can handle Ma Nature’s worst moods. We like this tee as a base layer, below a crewneck and rain jacket. If you’re looking for a long-sleeve, Lululemon and Rhone have some great options.

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