How to Dress for Winter Running with the Best Gear

How-to Dress for Winter Runs
Running outside in the winter may seem daunting, but with the right gear, it can break the hibernation like a breath of fresh air. Follow these guidelines for dressing for winter runs.

Less is more

It’s tempting to dress to be warm when you head out the door, but when you do, you’ll be overdressed and shedding layers in the first mile. Instead, aim to dress for temperatures that are 15-20 degrees warmer to allow for your body temperature increase while running. You should feel chilled when you walk out the door.

Dress in layers

Having the right apparel makes all the difference in the world. Your winter running wardrobe should include:
  • A running jacket that is windproof, waterproof and breathable is a must for winter runners.
  • Long sleeve base layer or two made from technical materials like Nike’s Dri Fit to wick the moisture away from the skin to keep you warm and dry.
  • Running tights made from technical materials. Tights come in many different thicknesses. Purchase a pair that best suits your body temperature and the weather conditions you run in most frequently. Avoid tights that have zippers that run down the back of your lower leg as they can put stress on your Achilles and cause problems rubbing against the skin.
  • Wicking socks, some lightweight, some heavier weight for the colder runs.
  • Wicking lightweight and heavy gloves.
  • Wicking hat.


For colder and snowy, icy days add these accessories:
  • Shoe traction device like Yak Trax for better footing.
  • Shell pants to wear over your tights to block the wind, trap warm air between the two layers, and keep your legs warm.
  • A mid-layer on top that fits loosely and wicks moisture, like a fleece top or vest.
  • Add a shell mitten over your gloves to create a pocket of warm air in between the two layers. If you’ve got cold hands like mine, add an air-activated heat pack for longer runs.
  • Balaclava or neck scarf to keep your face warm, and generate moisture as you breathe to help reduce cough, chest tightness and shortness of breath due to bronchoconstriction from the dry air.

Be Seen

Always think about visibility when running in dark or snowy conditions. Wear brightly colored clothes. Reflectivity is added to most apparel, but it’s wise to add a reflective vest for extra caution. Add flashing lights and a headlamp to be even more visible to traffic, and always carry an I.D. just in case.

Keep an apparel log

Everybody’s body temperature varies so apparel our needs will be different person to person, and based on the elements. It’s wise to keep track of what works for you in various temperatures and conditions. Eventually, you’ll have a go-to system for whatever Old Man Winter throws your way. Coach Jenny Hadfield is a published author, writer, coach, public speaker and endurance athlete. To find out more, visit our Meet Our Writers page or visit Coach Jenny’s website.