Winter Running Shoes and Gear
As cold and snow arrive in many parts of the world, runners are shifting to winter running shoes and gear to continue running through the cold months. We collected some tips and recommendations for winter running below.
Winter running shoes:
Shoes for winter running range from regular shoes with warm merino wool or waterproof socks to switching to waterproof GoreTex shoes, winter specific shoes with spikes and adding gaiters to avoid water and snow coming in at the ankles.
For traction in snow and icy conditions slip on microspikes, shoes with built in spikes or a DIY version of adding screws to the sole of an older pair of shoes for traction are all popular solutions.
Below is a list of popular winter running shoe options. For regular trail running shoes, take a look at our list of The Best Trail Shoes of 2019.
Waterproof GoreTex shoes:
- Salomon SpeedCross GTX: the Speedcross have good traction in snow with their big lugs and the GoreTex version is popular for winter mud, slush and snow. Salomon tends to have a narrower fit.
- Hoka Speedgoat 4 GTX: the popular Hoka Speedgoat now comes as a waterproof GoreTex version as well and is a well cushioned option with the same great Vibram outsole people like on the regular Speedgoat.
- Inov-8 Roclite 315 GTX: Another sturdy waterproof winter running option. These are a medium to wide fit.
Traction for running in icy conditions:
- YakTrax Run Shoe Crampons: Popular slip-on micro spikes for various conditions.
- Kathoola MICROspikes: burly stainless steel cleats that fit on most shoes for snowy and icy trails or Kathoola NANOspikes with tungsten carbide spikes more suitable for icy city streets and paths.
- Icespike: a DIY option to add spikes to your shoes. Regular ⅜ screws can be used for DIY traction control as well.
- Shoes with built in micro spikes: several brands sell winter shoes with spikes. Popular ones include Icebug running shoes, Inov-8 Arctic Talon or Oroc and Salomon Snowspike, a waterproof winter trail running shoe with tungsten spikes and ankle high gaiters.
Clothing for winter running
The choices vary depending on temperatures, but warm socks, gloves, a buff or beanie and layers with a wind or waterproof jacket should make a winter run possible in most conditions. Below are some popular choices for winter running clothes.
- Merino wool socks: merino wool options of varying length and thickness are a good breathable winter running sock option. Example: Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew Sock
- Waterproof socks: some people like waterproof socks, but they won’t be very breathable and if your feet sweat they might get wet from the inside. Sealskinz is a popular option.
Tights and Skirts:
- Tights with wind proof material in the front to keep cold winds out. XC skiing tights can be a good option.
- Thick fleece lined tights for extra warmth
- Windproof extra layer can make sense if tights are not windproof already. e.g. Patagonia Houdini Pants or a skirt on top of tights
Shirts and Tops:
- Synthetic sweat wicking or Merino wool base layers
- Zip neck merino or synthetic midlayer
- Windproof or waterproof breathable jacket as a top layer that can come off if you warm up enough during the run.
For some people thin breathable liner gloves or merino wool gloves are enough to keep their hands warm on winter runs. Windproof gloves offer more protection for colder temperatures and if that is not enough, insulated mittens tend to be the warmest option. Some popular examples include:
- Icebreaker Quantum Gloves: versatile breathable merino gloves popular for fall and winter running
- Patagonia Windshield Gloves: windproof gloves for colder weather
Head and ear cover:
Beanies, headbands or buffs are popular to keep ears and head warm. Preferences vary widely and the options include:
- Thin breathable merino beanies, e.g. Icebreaker Chase Beanie or Smartwool
- Thin breathable and wicking synthetic beanies, e.g. Salomon Active Beanie
- Windproof beanies or headbands
We hope this list is a starting point for those new to winter running in cold conditions. If you have some favorite winter gear or tips, please let us know in the comments!