What Gear To Wear For Winter Running (When It’s Below Freezing)
Founder of None to Run
January 24, 2023
I live in the great white north - a place called Canada.We have harsh winters so, if you want to run outside, you need to dress appropriately.
Let's take a look at what gear you should wear to stay warm and dry throughout the winter running season.
My recommendations are based on my experiences running in below freezing temperatures.
We're talking -10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) and below!
And if you're wondering, yes, it is possible to run when it's below zero!
Below the Waist
One pair of winter running tights with another looser fitting pair over top.If it's right around 0 degrees Celsius, I'll make a judgement call before the run - if it's not too windy, I'll wear just one layer.What I wear:
Running in cold weather and on snow, ice or slush are different things. If you're running on bare pavement with no threat of ice, your normal running shoes will work well.Running in snow, slush and ice may require more traction. Trail running shoes are often built to be more resistant to water and provide a bit more traction that road shoes. If there is ice, slow down and shorten your strides. If it's really bad, perhaps hitting the treadmill will provide a safer and more effective workout that day.
I have been running in harsh Canadian winters for years and have been able to successfully adapt my running to some pretty brutal winter conditions. I wear the same running shoes I wear all year round.Only once did I take a spill on some ice (a stupid move to change directions on ice - luckily my toque (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toque) provided some padding for my head).If you feel like you need some more traction, look for a trail running shoe that's similar to what you normally run in. For help buying running shoes, check out this article.
Above the waist
What you wear on top is all about layers.At -10 degrees Celsius and below, three layers will likely be needed.Your first layer should be a short or long-sleeved technical running shirt that will not get weighted down by your sweat. The more form fitting the better.
Layer two should be something long-sleeved and warmer. Good second layers will again (see a theme here?) wick sweat away and help keep you dry and comfortable.It will also button or zip up just below the chin so that your neck stays warm. Also check the fabric - a touch of spandex in the material will make it stretchy and form-fitting.
Your outer layer will be a jacket that is made for running.Don't cheap out here.You'll want something that will block out the wind, keep you warm and not be too bulky. Lots of pockets to hold stuff like your phone, wallet and keys are helpful. Something that zips up right under your chin will help keep your neck warm.
When it's really cold (and windy), mittens will keep your hand the warmest (gloves put more surface area in contact with the cold air). The downside of mittens of course, is that you will need to take them off to adjust your sport watch, or change a song on your iPhone. But, for pure warmth go with a pair of running mittens.
A warm head is a happy head. You'll want something that will reduce moisture as your run progresses, but retains heat and keeps your ears warm. Stay away from wool and fleece - stick with a polyester/spandex blend.
Wearing a neck warmer or balaclava is reserved for real cold weather. The kind of cold that feels too cold to be breathing much air in.A balaclava is nice because it serves three functions - a hat, neck warmer and covers your mouth to warm the air you breathe.A neck warmer does as advertised and can be pulled over your mouth to warm up the air you breathe.