What to Wear for Cold Weather Running

Cold and warm weather running are two very different beasts. Cold weather running requires extra gear and the ability to monitor your body temperature throughout your run. And then there’s the fact that cold weather makes most of us want to use the treadmill rather than going outside for our run. But as anyone who’s run both outside and on a treadmill can attest, they’re not the same. There are a variety of benefits of running outdoors which you simply don’t get on a treadmill. So to help get you running outside, here are some tips for staying safe and warm during cold weather runs.

Safety First

The biggest problem with cold weather running isn’t actually the cold — it’s the dark. Daylight hours are shorter in the winter months, and that means most of us are out for our runs in the dark or during dusk. Whether you choose to run before or after school or work, chances are you won’t be running when it’s light out. And for this reason, it’s important to wear reflective clothing when running in cold weather. Though reflective clothing is a good idea regardless of when you run.

Luckily, a lot of cold weather running clothing comes with built-in reflective patches. Unfortunately, a lot of cold weather running clothing also comes in dark colors such as black. This is why we recommend wearing bright colors and investing in a reflective vest if you plan to run during the winter. Bright colors and reflective vests will make you much more visible to passing vehicles, exponentially improving your safety.

Additionally, flashing lights can be worn on various parts of the body to make it easier for drivers to see you. Flashing chest harnesses, wristbands, and anklets are all popular options. Even headlamps will make you more visible and have the added bonus of illuminating the path in front of you as well.


runner without headgear

The majority of your body heat is lost from your extremities — your head, hands, and feet. Because of this, it’s important to keep these body parts covered whenever running in cold weather. And there are four main pieces of headgear you can wear to help you retain varying degrees of warmth.

Headbands are good options because not only can they keep your ears warm, but they still allow your head to breath. However, when it gets extra cold out, we suggest swapping to one of the other options.

Hats are the next step up and cover your ears as well as the top of your head. These are great for extra cold days, but when it’s a bit warmer they can make you overheat if you aren’t careful.

Neck warmers are another option which can be worn in conjunction with a headband or hat when the temperatures really take a dive. They cover your neck and can be pulled up over the lower half of your face where hats and headbands provide no protection from the cold.

Balaclavas, also known as ski masks, are the final piece of headgear for those extremely cold days. They cover your entire head and neck, keeping the low temperatures at bay.

Layers, Layers, Layers

jogger wearing layers

When you first begin running in cold weather it can be tempting to bundle up in the largest, warmest clothing you own, but this is actually a bad idea. Your “running temperature,” the temperature you’ll feel when running, is generally 10-20 degrees higher than the actual temperature. This means that over-insulating your body and overheating is actually a problem to be aware of. Luckily, generations of cold weather runners have come up with a solution: layers!

The base layer is the innermost layer of clothing. This layer should generally be tight-fitting and made of a sweat-whisking material. Sweat isn’t good in the cold as it can lead to hypothermia, so clothing which will keep your body dry is a must.

An insulating layer is the next layer overtop of the base layer. As the name implies, this layer is your main source of insulation. A light jacket or fleece is a good option for this layer. You don’t want anything too heavy.

The outer layer is the final layer which protects you against wind and the elements. This can be a light winter jacket, or even a vest if it isn’t too cold out. The important thing to keep in mind here is that your outer layer doesn’t need to be heavy-duty because the other layers are helping to retain your body heat.

As you run, you may find that your body gets a bit too warm and you begin to sweat. In cases such as this, the layering system comes in handy. You can simply take off your outermost layer and tie it around your waist until you finish your run or your body temperature begins to drop.

Keep Your Hands Warm

Just like your head, your hands are where a large amount of body heat escapes from. But unlike headgear, there are really only two options when it comes to keeping your hands warm. There are gloves and there are mittens — and there are hybrids. Gloves provide more dexterity, but mittens provide more warmth. For extra cold days we suggest mittens, but other than that wear whichever you prefer.

Lower Body

sneakers and leggings

Your lower body doesn’t require the same layering technique as your upper body. Instead, a single, base layer should be enough to keep you warm. Tight-fitting pants such as leggings are the best option here. However, since some men might not be into wearing leggings, other thermal exercise pants will also work.

For your feet it’s important to have a pair of warm socks to keep your feet warm. Again, your feet are one of the places the majority of your body heat escapes from. A good pair of socks will also help prevent blistering, and despite how they look, toe socks are a great option if this is a concern. As for your shoes, unless you’re running in the snow you shouldn’t need a different pair from what you would normally run in. Shoe spikes are also an option if you plan to run in slippery conditions. These can be attached to your existing pair of running shoes.

Wayne Sporting Goods has all Your Winter Running Gear

Although cold weather running can be a daunting task for those used to running in warm weather, the transition isn’t all that hard to make. As long as you layer up; cover your head, hands, and feet; and control your body temperature you’ll have no problem. Wayne Sporting Goods has all the cold weather running gear you need for this winter season. Stop by today to check out our selection so you can get out and stay active all winter long!

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