Running gear for the winter
September 17, 2009 8:55 AM   Subscribe

I need product recommendations for winter running. Hats, gloves, socks, tights, etc.

I've recently taken up running, and doing about 3-4 miles each session outoors. I'm looking for recommendations from other runners for gear you wear on outdoor runs during cold winter months like January, when the temps will be in the teens and a good amount of snow will be on the ground.

I'm looking for links to places to buy your favorite:

Face masks
Running tights
Shoes for running in the snow

And another gear recommendations. I read two other askmes from 05&07 but I figure there has to be some better new stuff on the market that I should pick up. Winter running experience "don'ts" are welcome also.
posted by cashman to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
How cold is it where you will be running? In northern Florida we'll run in the winter with basically nothing more than regular running clothes. This in 50f weather.

After a mile or two your body warms up to the point were you don't even notice the cold anymore.
posted by oddman at 9:00 AM on September 17, 2009

I haven't run in the teens and in snow much because I live in the south, but I have run in the 20s and 30s a lot.

For gloves the cheapo stretchy little wool gloves that are like, $5 at walmart or target are what I like and I've seen lots of other people use them. For a hat I have a thin wool-blend hat I saw cheap on

I think the most important thing in dressing for winter running is that you have to strike a balance between enough and too much. Even if its super cold when you start you will warm up pretty quick. Into the 20s I usually run in shorts, a long sleeve tech t-shirt, above-mentioned hat and gloves. I usually end up taking the hat off about halfway through and pushing my sleeves up. For socks I use smartwool or Asics ankle-height running socks.

Make sure you don't wear any cotton though, especially if you're getting wet in the snow.
posted by ghharr at 9:24 AM on September 17, 2009

Sierra Trading post Has some good deals, but they don't always beat the prices I can find locally when shipping is considered. I personally find that running in anything below 20 F with a little wind is just too cold. My lips and nose start to get frostbitten, and putting on a mask is too uncomfortable.
posted by 517 at 9:27 AM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: -Under Armor running tights ("ColdGear")
-Under Armor running shirt (also ColdGear)
-Under Armor sports bra
-Smartwool base layer (long-sleeved), if it's really REALLY cold (0-10 F), or an ancient winter vest that was given to me when I was 7 if it's moderately cold (NO idea where it came from, but in general I think any mid-weight vest would do, as long as it stays on you when it's unzipped so you don't overheat)
-REI windbreaker - extremely lightweight, made for running
-Smartwool liner gloves, or if it's really freezing, my Marmot Warmest Mitts
-Smartwool socks (I have 1 pair of official Smartwool running socks, but in my experience it doesn't really matter what kind you use as long as they're not the super-padded hiking socks - I've found that after a few years of running in Smartwool socks, the prospect of running in cotton socks is really disgusting)
-I run in a pair of New Balance 1022s
-I almost always wear a Buff (a microfiber "tube" that can be worn as a hat, earwarmer, balaclava, neckwarmer, etc - super lightweight, blocks wind surprisingly well, very warm, doesn't get in the way - at the beginning of the run I wear it as a mask, but by the end it's only a headband)
-I have a pair of Native sunglasses that don't fall off and are polarized

Personally, I find that if the temperature is less than 15 F I feel much, much more tired when running - the cold really "gets" me. If the temp is above 15 F I just make sure that my fingers don't freeze and my nose doesn't get frostbitten, and I usually warm right up within 10 minutes.
posted by Cygnet at 9:39 AM on September 17, 2009 [5 favorites]

Eider Hutchinson- shoes.

The North Face - everything else.

or Nike Thermafit or Climafit - note: this is NOT the crappy Nike they sell in the (U.S.) chain stores. Go to a running shop like this one for the better Nike running clothing.
posted by Zambrano at 9:39 AM on September 17, 2009

Cygnet has some pretty good ideas. Down to about 30 degrees F, your regular running gear will work just fine as long as you have long sleeves (and maybe a thin nylon windbreaker), and a pair of light gloves/headband or ear bags if your fingers/ears get cold easily. Between 10 and 30, consider two layers of light or medium weight stuff, add a light hat if you want. Much below 10, running is optional for me, but doable in a comfortable way down to about 0- but fleece mittens instead of gloves, thick tights or heavier long underwear under thin pants etc.

It is really, really easy to overdress and make yourself miserable quickly during winter running. Layers are good and give you more flexibility if you're too hot a few miles out.

10 degrees finds me dressed like this:
trail runners if roads aren't clear or if I'm on top of packed snow
ear bags
thin or midweight long underwear on top with
x-country ski jacket
Smartwool-type socks
mid- or light-weight running pants with
thin long underwear on bottom

Of, course, I live in Alaska, so my perspective is skewed. People up here get so desperate to get out in the winter that they'll stud an older pair of running shoes with drywall screws if it looks like we're going to have more than a week of ice...
posted by charmedimsure at 11:45 AM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: I have recently gotten into WinterSilks.

For a foundation layer, they have long underwear that are great at wicking moisture. Comes in three weights that are good for cool days, then colder and coldest.

To cover your head, and other accessories, they have spunsilk balaclava and cowl hoods.

Individually the pieces aren't too expensive, although if you get into buying several shirts, pants, headgear, gloves, etc. it can run into some moolah.
posted by netbros at 12:02 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: I walk or bike to/from work every day in the dark in Michigan, plus I go for 3-4 mile runs every other day. I'm a firm believer that the stuff you choose isn't all that important AS LONG AS YOU STAY AWAY FROM COTTON. Although, you can have my Arcteryx hard shell when you pry it off my cold, frozen body.

Down to -5F I'm ok with thick wool socks, two thin balaclavas (wool and/or silk) or one balaclava and a beanie, those fingerless gloves with the mitten flap, two sets of thin long underwear under nylon wind resistant pants, a coolmax/synthetic t-shirt and up to three thin merino wool sweaters from target. The sweaters are cheap and thin enough to be layerable. Running, I don't want windproof stuff on my head/torso...even good gore tex over fancy synthetics gets way too sweaty to be comfortable.

Wool is unbeatable, IMO, and layering really is key. Trial and error will help you figure out how many layers you need. Staying warm feeling isn't the problem, usually. It's mostly about wearing enough just to protect your skin. I can be perfectly warm and still get home with really uncomfortable itchy frostnipped patches on the windward side of my body.
posted by paanta at 12:12 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and yak trax work OK on the running shoes, though they're a bit better for walking than running.
posted by paanta at 12:12 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: I swear that this facemask from Underarmor was hands-down the best purchase I made for winter running. I can withstand any level of cold so long as my ears, neck and head are covered. I liked this mask because it's easy to adjust; you can pull it over your mouth and nose if you choose, or pull it down to warm only your neck.
posted by archofatlas at 1:49 PM on September 17, 2009

Yak Trax work kind of okay for running, but even the ones billed as useful for running are *much* better for walking and, in my experience, won't last you through a winter or even close if you use them regularly...I've had the rubber in two different sets (sized appropriately for my feet) snap. My STABILicers have held up and worked much better for running on serious pavement + ice than the Yaks I used to use.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:10 AM on September 18, 2009

I just cycled in to work this morning wearing Sealskinz thermal glove liners for the first time. They're very warm and breathable - I bet they'd be good for running too. Made of Merino wool, apparently. Oh, this was in a temperature of 5 degrees (which google tells me is about 40 Farenheit).
posted by primer_dimer at 4:04 AM on September 18, 2009

Best answer: I have run daily, and I mean daily, for over 35 years in Northwester Ohio--Temperatures in early AM from 75 degrees to minus 17 degrees. I run all winter--most important is to run outside on a regular basis as you move into winter--acclimatization is a great help. My clothing is extremely functional and I have never had a problem--from 10 degrees to 30 degrees I wear lined training pants, a long sleeved cotton turtle/crew neck.a Tee shirt over that and a wind breaker or another long sleeved cotton shirt if it is not windy--I wear a stocking cap, and two pair of cotton/synthetic socks. No special shoe is required--just go around icy corners with caution. When it is below ten degrees and sub zero the only things I add or cotton briefs ( or running shorts ) and I am sure to wear a wind breaker. Always use mittens, never gloves. I either wear leather mittens with fleece lining ( farm supply stores) or two socks on each hand. Don't laugh--socks make gear mittens and can easily be adjusted to weather based on type of sock. My wife gives me a bad time about my multiple use of garments but I have never had frostbite and never missed running. The only accommodation I make in really cold weather (10 or more below and windy) is I will run in the 5 story multilevel parking garage at the local university. Multilevel garages are great wind breaks and provide both gentle uphill and downhill work with no snow.
posted by rmhsinc at 11:56 AM on September 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you for all the help and advice! Hopefully I last through the winter.
posted by cashman at 8:48 PM on September 25, 2009

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