8 Cold Weather Running Gear Essentials6 min read

Winter Running

There are plenty of people who take up running when the weather is fine. When the sun is shining, the parks, trails and roadways are full of runners, getting fit and pushing for personal bests. But running in cold weather? That’s quite another matter.

Running when the weather is cold has its challenges. You need to learn how to dress so you’re warm enough in the early stages, without overheating once you’re a few miles in. Even if you live in a mild climate, it takes some trial and error to get it right, but what if you want to run in extreme cold? That’s another question.

In this article, we’re going to take you through eight winter running essentials. Starting from the top of your head and working down to your toes, we’ll recommend the best gear to let you get out and run on even the coldest day.

Winter Jogging Hats

When you run, your head gets hot and sweaty. Damp hair and cold weather are the perfect combination to start shivers, and that way lies a miserable run. What you want from a cold weather running hat, is a breathable layer that will wick moisture away from your skin to keep you dry and neither too hot or too cool. Here are our recommendations (note: mobile devices can scroll left/right for each product description):

Touch Headwear Skullcap

This one size fits all skullcap will protect your head from rain and wind, but the breathable fabric will make sure you don’t get chilled. And if you’re a biker? You can wear this skullcap under your helmet. If you’re running in cooler temperatures this is a great choice.

What we liked:

  • Compact when folded, which was helpful if you needed to take it off.
  • It can be used as a base layer under other hats.
  • Very comfortable and covers the ears.

What we didn’t like:

  • The dye may run when washed, so handwash separately.

Available on Amazon

Smartwool 250 Merino Beanie

Merino wool is a popular choice for cold weather running gear. It’s a naturally breathable fabric, and wool is known for its wicking capabilities. The beauty of merino is that the fine fibres can be knit into thin layers, and that makes for a lightweight running hat that will keep your head at just the right temperature.

What we liked:

  • Merino wool is non-itchy.
  • Great at repelling rain.

What we didn’t like:

  • We heard that some customers found the sizing to be small.

Available on Amazon

Running Balaclavas for Extreme Cold

If you’re running in extreme cold, you’ll also want to protect your face from the cold. While some runners use mufflers, to help warm up the air, they can feel stifling when you get warmed up. We think the best option for protecting the delicate skin of your face from the cold weather is a balaclava.

Under Armour UA Reactor Run Balaclava

Made from 100% polyester, this form fitting balaclava keeps you protected from the elements. While it only comes in black, it does have a ponytail hole at the back for women, or men with long hair. The extra ventilation around the mouth will help you breathe easily while you run.

Available on Amazon

Kingbike Balaclava

This balaclava is made from polar fleece to keep you warm in colder climates. It will help protect against wind and rain, with mesh panels to help with breathability. Suitable for men or women, the real bonus of this balaclava is its versatility. You can wear it in 6 different ways, including a full-face balaclava, neck gaiter and a hat.

Available on Amazon

Base Layers for Cold Weather

Perhaps the most important item of clothing to buy for winter jogging is a base layer. This is the shirt that is closest to your skin as you exercise, which means it has the biggest impact on the comfort of your cold weather running experience.

You are looking for a shirt that can wick moisture away from the skin, so you don’t get chilled by your sweat evaporating, and it should also be breathable to help you stay cool throughout your run. Choosing a compression base layer will also help delay muscle fatigue, helping you to run for longer.

Icebreaker Women’s 175 Base Layer

Designed for women, this base layer is knit from merino wool which offers great breathability and a natural wicking action.With long sleeves that can be pushed back as you warm up, this base layer has a slim fit and is low bulk so its perfect for combining with other layers to keep your temperature even.

Available on Amazon

Icebreaker Zone Heavyweight Base Layer

For serious cold weather running, this base layer has been broken down into zones that give the perfect amount of protection for that body part. That does mean that this base layer has more seams than the average, but they’re flat-locked to prevent chafing.

Available on Amazon

Icebreaker Women’s 175 Base Layer

Designed for women, this base layer is knit from merino wool which offers great breathability and a natural wicking action.With long sleeves that can be pushed back as you warm up, this base layer has a slim fit and is low bulk so its perfect for combining with other layers to keep your temperature even.


Check Price & Reviews on Amazon

Icebreaker Zone Heavyweight Base Layer

For serious cold weather running, this base layer has been broken down into zones that give the perfect amount of protection for that body part. That does mean that this base layer has more seams than the average, but they’re flat-locked to prevent chafing.


Check Price & Reviews on Amazon

Winter Running Jackets

Once the running bug has bitten you, you’ll want to get out for a run no matter what the weather is doing. When you get to the point where you’re heading out in wind, rain and snow, you’ll need to invest in a running jacket. You’re looking for something waterproof and breathable.

Nike Aeroshield Running Jacket

Made from three layers of fabric, this jacket has fully sealed seams to prevent wind and water from spoiling your run. Coming from one of the biggest names in sportswear, this jacket is also available for men.


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New Balance Windcheater

As the name implies, this jacket focuses on keeping the wind away. With sealed seams, this jacket will keep you toasty, but don’t worry there are eyelets in the under arms to help with breathability. Also available for women.


Check Price & Reviews on Amazon

Cold Weather Running Gloves

Your extremities suffer when you first head out in cold weather and none more than your fingers. Those first few miles before you get fully warmed up can be painful, if you don’t have the right gloves for running in extreme cold. To help you choose the right gloves for you, here are our top picks from the marketplace today.

The North Face Unisex Etip Gloves

These unisex gloves come in both black and grey, so they can coordinate with whatever winter gear you may have. They’re designed to keep your fingers warm but have an ‘etip’ which lets you use a touch screen without removing them first. They also have radiometric articulation, which is the long way of saying that they keep your hands in their natural, relaxed position.


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Under Armour Men’s Storm Repellent Gloves

If your local weather brings you cold and wet, then you’ll appreciate these storm repellent gloves. More than just waterproof, they repel snow and rain to keep you dry while staying breathable.These gloves can be worn as a base layer, under other gloves for running in extreme cold.


Check Price & Reviews on Amazon

Running Tights for Cold Weather

When you’re running in winter, you need to cover up from head to toe. Running tights are the solution that more runners reach for. Not only do they help control your temperature, but the offer compression which helps keep your muscles performing for longer.

Gore Wear C3 Thermo Tights


From the manufacturers of Gore Tex, these running tights have a thermal lining to help keep you warm in colder weather. The men’s version comes with a Gore Windstopper cup to keep you comfortable. Also available in women's


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Under Armour Run Cold Tights

Under Armour has developed three different versions of their running tights, for different weather conditions. These reflective run tights are their cold weather solution.


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Winter Running Socks

Although sometimes overlooked when choosing what to wear, the right socks are an important part of your running kit. Offering support in the right places, they can help keep you running for longer, and in the case of the choices below will keep you warm while you’re doing it.

Drymax Cold Weather Running Socks

With breathable mesh stripes, these socks will help moisture escape while maintaining a comfortable temperature. The Y heel and flat seams will help prevent blisters.


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Darn Tough Vermont Light Cushion Socks

Marketed at hikers, these socks make a great cold weather solution for runners, too. Made from Merino wool, they’re thin and breathable. They’ve been designed to prevent blisters, and they’re anti-microbial which will help control odor.


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Stay Hydrated

Although you don’t work up as much of a sweat running in winter, if you’re going to be covering any distance you will need to think about staying hydrated. Water bottles get heavy over time, so the best solution for any season is a hydration backpack or vest, such as one of these.

Camelbak SnoBlast

An excellent hydration backpack that provides more water per sip which will save you a few breaths when drinking from the hose. This item is extremely comfortable and lightweight and perfect for the hardcore distance runner. Like other hydration packs, the hose freezes in extreme cold but this is manageable if you keep water out of the hose by blowing it back into the bladder.


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TETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0 Hydration Pack

A lightweight hydration backpack perfect for long runs. A snug fit yet comfortable for any run. It also has a tiny storage compartment that can fit gels and keys. Like most hydration packs, the hose freezes in extreme temperatures.


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Wrap Up and Go!

In years gone by, dedicated runners had to hit the treadmill on bad weather days, but advances in modern technology now make it possible to train outdoors all year round. Modern fabrics are lightweight and breathable, wicking the sweat away from your body to avoid the chill factor. These items are often engineered to help performance too, whether that’s through compression, or offering extra support to parts of the body that need it.

We hope this guide has given you all the inspiration you need to get out and run on even the bleakest of days. If you wear the right gear, every run can be a good run.