Let’s be honest, running anywhere at any time is hard. But running outside in the winter? That’s some next-level dedication right there.
Of course, that task becomes a lot easier when you have the right winter running gear to get you through the frigid weather. But what exactly do you need to throw on when temps start to dip below 50 degrees–and what the heck do you wear when it’s 20 degrees?
Outdoor workout pros have some strong opinions when it comes to choosing outfits for clocking long runs in the cold. Use this quick reference guide, courtesy of Hollis Tuttle, senior coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City, to layer up:
40-49 degrees: A long sleeve shirt with shorts or leggings
30-39 degrees: A long sleeve shirt with leggings, gloves (optional), and a headband or hat to cover your ears (optional)
20-29 degrees: A long sleeve running shirt layered with a jacket, leggings (potentially thermal), gloves, and a headband or hat to cover your ears
10-19 degrees: A long sleeve running shirt layered with a jacket, thick or fleece-lined leggings, gloves, a headband or hat to cover your ears, and winter running shoes.
0-9 degrees: Two layered workout shirts, a windbreaker jacket, thermal leggings, gloves, a headband or hat, a ski mask or layer to cover your face
Now that you know exactly what the ideal wardrobe for logging miles in the chilliest of temps looks like, use this list of the best winter running gear to make sure your layer game is on-point. Every hat, glove, and more on this list is tested and trusted by top running experts and Women’s Health editors themselves. You’re guaranteed to feel toasty and motivated, even as temperatures drop way, way down.
“This is my go-to outer layer,” says Zina Bougri, a gear tester who has experimented with tons of fitness products. “Its Polartec Power Grid technology traps body heat while still wicking away excess moisture, and the Polartec Alpha synthetic insulation along the chest adds the perfect amount of warmth.” Translation: It’s the ultimate combo for a winter workout jacket.
Made of 100-percent merino wool and beloved by WH editors, the targeted insulation of this base layer will keep you warm without overheating during chilly outdoor workouts.
Fleece-lined leggings are a must-have for surviving winter workouts. While these running pants provide plenty of warmth thanks to that extra-thick lining, they still wick away wetness and feel light, says Bougri.
Thick, warm workout pants are ESSENTIAL for winter outdoor runs. This sleek pair (hand-selected by WH editors) totally fits the bill, with thermal lining, and super-soft fabric.
WH eds love that this streamlined hoodie is made with a four-way stretch terry knit material for total ease of movement. Plus, even though it’s thin, this cozy pullover will keep you warm during cold-weather workouts.
You won’t have to worry about chafing thanks to the flatlock seams on these winter-weight workout pants. Plus, special panelling adds an extra layer of warmth where you need it most, like at your core.
Editor’s pick alert! The fleece-lined, sun-proof gaiter can cover any exposed skin on your neck or head.
“Because your hands are consistently driving forward through the cold air, warm, wind-resistant gloves are a necessity,” says Tuttle. She says this pair stands out from the crowd, courtesy of their durable shell and soft lining, along with touchscreen capabilities, which allowing you to use your smartphone without needing to take ’em off.
A merino-based beanie, this hat will keep your head nice and toasty–the number-one priority when striding outside in winter. Bougri says it’s her favorite to wear on the road.
There’s a reason this jacket was a big winner in WH’s 2019 Fitness Awards.Using unique nannospinning tech (it creates tiny holes that keep air moving, but water out), FUTURELIGHT waterproof fabric is airy, effective, and actually enjoyable to wear during a run. Bonus: It’s made almost entirely from recycled material.
“I’m a huge fan of merino wool–it’s naturally lightweight, soft, non-itchy, moisture-wicking, and keeps feet dry and warm even while sweating,” says Tuttle. She likes this sock in particular because of how perfectly it fits her foot, and it adds a little extra layer around the ankle under tights, thanks to the higher cut.
“If it’s icy, I don’t leave home without these,” says Bougri. The lightweight, cage-like construction goes right over any running shoe, adding little metal spikes underfoot to keep you from slipping on slippery surfaces while you’re hoofing it.
A wind- and water-resistant jacket, this one is designed specifically with runners in mind. It offers a zippered pocket to stash your belongings, thumbholes, and reflective details. Tuttle loves it for chilly days.
“There is enough volume in the pack to carry a variety of layers,” says Kelly Halpin, a mountain endurance athlete who competes in triathlon and climbing events. She loves this one because of how durable it is outdoors, too. “It’s built to last,” she says.
This jacket is perfect for all your outdoor fitness pursuits. Stay warm without overheating, thanks to breathable back and underarm panels with insulation around the core.
When it’s really chilly outside, reach for this knit balaclava that fully covers your neck and head. It features an insulated fabric to help keep you feeling warm and ready for your workout.
Clip these LED lights to your hat, jacket, or shoes for added “Hey, I’m running here!” safety when visibility is low. They’re tried-and-trusted by the WH team.
Keep your footing on wet, slippery ground or through snow-dusted trails with the help of these durable, editor-tested sneakers. Bonus: They’re 100-percent vegan, which is rare amongst winter running shoes.
Deena Kastor, Olympic medalist and American record holder in the marathon, loves wearing these tights in any weather. “They have a wide comfort range in temperature, keeping the winter guessing game of ‘what to wear’ out of the equation,” she says. “With these, I can just head out and get in the work.”