The Gear You Need for Running in the Snow

These items products give you the best shot at not eating shit this winter

February 4, 2021 11:07 am
running in the snow
Jakob Helbig/Getty Images

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It’s that time of year again. When we can all sit back and watch an overconfident Portland couple eat shit on live television, mere seconds after they’ve runner-splained to a reporter how snowstorms create the “perfect texture” for running. I would’ve enjoyed my viewing more had that not been exactly me, just yesterday, wiping out in front of my local dog run. My knee still hurts.

I likely wasn’t the only one who went down this week. Quarantine’s made runners of many of us, as a reliable option for getting outside each day. But outside is currently a labyrinth of half-shoveled sidewalks. Many new runners — ill-prepared for their first winter, yet eager to keep the activity going — are looking at a stretch of sloppy, potentially injurious weeks.

That’s unless — you’re properly outfitted for snowy runs. We’re not talking about a cold-weather kit, though that’s important too. What you need is gear for your feet. The “Runner-in-Chief” over at Runner’s World, Jeff Dengate, has a hack for defeating wintry terrain: insert a bunch of hex head screws into the bottom of your running shoes with a magnetic drill driver.

That’ll get the job done, but it’s unlikely you have a pair of running shoes to spare. Fortunately, there are plenty of non-DIY options out there. We’ve rounded up a few of your best below. Happy snow running. Try not to talk to any local news crews.

yaktrax run

Yaktrax Run Traction Cleats

A turn-key method for gaining some traction on snowy surfaces. The system comes in S-XL — with each size corresponding to a few shoe sizes — and latches in over your running shoes. Trail runners love ’em for the Velcro straps (cheaper cleat systems have a habit of falling off), and for the coils, which Yaktrax opted for instead of spikes. That’s to say, you can actually run over pavement with these on. Just try not to make a habit of it.


Kahtoola NANOspikes Traction System

Kahtoola also makes a medieval-looking version of this system, which resembles the snow chains you’d put on a tire. But runners appreciate the elegance of this model. It features 10 subtle spikes underneath each harness and a built-in spring designed to release snow. Unlike the Yaktrax, you wouldn’t exactly run with these around the neighborhood. They’d pair perfectly with a jog through the park or woods, though. And they work especially well on glare ice.

Adidas winter running

Adidas Terrex Agravic TR GORE-TEX

Most runners aren’t looking to set any records the day after a big snow. They just want to get their legs moving and avoid getting too wet or injured while doing so. These heavy-duty trail runners from Adidas are ideal for that vibe. They’re affordable — as running shoes go — but constructed with heavy-duty materials, including a Gore-Tex membrane and a Continental Tires rubber outsole. Plus, you can use them year-round for hikes.

hoka winter running

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6

This one’s for the folks out here already thinking about marathon season. Hoka’s Challenger ATR 6 is an extremely fast “bad weather shoe.” You wouldn’t expect that over-sized heel to provide much balance in mud or snow, but it’s grippy and strong enough to handle sketchy curbs. If you want to be certain your socks stay dry the whole run, consider the GTX version, just now it’s heavier and $10 more expensive.

swiftwick running socks

Swiftwick PURSUIT Four Ultralight

Speaking of socks — you’ll need a good pair, no matter what footwear or spiked apparatus you opt for. They’re the last line of defense in case water breaks through, and they should be able to handle a more herjy-jerky, lateral run, without giving you blisters. The answer is always Merino wool, and Swiftwick uses it to make a fantastic, lightweight pair.

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