Best Cold Weather Running Gear of 2023

Here’s the best winter running gear for staying warm, dry, and happy in the winter.

By and on December 16, 2022 | Leave a reply

The best cold weather running gear facilitates the best wintertime running and any other time it’s chilly out!

When we think of running in the winter, we think of friends meeting on dark, cold mornings when our beds feel oh-so-warm. We think of the way the chilly air feels during those first 10 minutes and how softly yet suddenly the cold wanes, and we feel toasty.

We think of the way snow falls from a tree as we pass by and the sparkle of the snow as the sun rises. We think of empty sidewalks and muted roads. We think of the way the warmth of home hits my face, and the ice on my lashes melts when we walk in the door after a great winter run.

Running in the wintertime is magical, and the iRunFar team wants you to experience that joy! With this guide, we share some of our favorite winter pieces to help you run safely and comfortably through the winter.

We share not only our favorite gear but also our love for winter running. For example, when we recommend the Petzl Iko Core headlamp, we are sharing with you a dark evening run on a frozen dirt road in Northern Virginia while training for a spring marathon.

When we recommend the Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover, we’re thinking of a windy tempo run in Bend, Oregon, and remembering the inspirational quote about cows that our friend told us as we began our final and windiest mile: “Cows can’t cross a painted cattle guard — not because they aren’t physically able, but because they don’t believe they can.” (Thanks, Camelia Mayfield.)

These pieces have been tested by our team over multiple years and seasons, on variable terrain, around the world, and in diverse winter conditions. We are excited to share these recommendations, selected for their strengths as well as their versatility.

Best Winter Running Gear - Gossamer Gear Murmur 36 Hyperlight Backpack - winter fastpacking

iRunFar’s Meghan Hicks atop a peak during a winter running adventure. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Best Shoes for All-Winter Conditions: Salomon Speedcross 6 ($140) and Speedcross 6 Gore-Tex ($160)

Salomon Speedcross 6The Salomon Speedcross 6 and the Salomon Speedcross 6 Gore-Tex are our top picks for general, all-around, variable-terrain winter running. For most winter conditions and sometimes during the shoulder seasons — hello, mud! — runners prioritize shoes with lugs and the traction they provide. The Salomon Speedcross 6 is the best trail running shoe we’ve found for these conditions, and the Gore-Tex version provides the additional benefit of being waterproof.

These shoes not only have Salomon’s notoriously grippy outsole that helps with traction on nearly every surface but they are also built with five-millimeter multidirectional lugs to help dig into and generate grip in soft snow. They also adapt well to variable conditions where you may encounter a mix of soft snow, mud, or generally wet ground.

They aren’t the lightest shoes, though version 6 shaved off about an ounce in weight from the previous Speedcross 5. However, these shoes are very protective thanks to their tightly woven ripstop upper and hardy outsole, and we think that’s more important in a winter running shoe. Salomon shoes tend to be on the firm side with a nimble footprint. This is a definite strength when navigating sloshy, slippery terrain.

See why we also named the Salomon Speedcross one of our favorite shoes in our best trail running shoes guide.

Shop the Women's Salomon Speedcross 6Shop the Men's Salomon Speedcross 6Shop the Women's Speedcross 6 Gore-TexShop the Men's Speedcross 6 Gore-Tex

Best Shoes for Packed Snow: Hoka Speedgoat 5 ($155) and Hoka Speedgoat 4 GTX ($160)

HOKA Speedgoat 5

The Hoka Speedgoat 5 made a big splash when it was introduced in 2022. Its predecessor, the Speedgoat 4, was already one of our trail favorites for its grippy outsole, stability, and ability to perform on aggressive terrain. The newest version kept what we loved while overhauling the upper and replacing it with a better-fitting and more durable knit mesh fabric, shaving weight from the midsole and making the outsole even grippier.

We’ve found that the Speedgoat 5 also holds its own in snowy conditions. We recommend this shoe and its Gore-Tex counterpart, the Hoka Speedgoat 4 GTX, on packed snow — think groomed trails where foot travel is permitted and urban singletrack that gets packed down by trail users. Note, rumor has it that a Hoka Speedgoat 5 GTX is due out this winter, but we haven’t seen it yet.

Like the Salomon Speedcross 6 reviewed above, the Speedgoat 5 has five-millimeter lugs for traction but carries a slightly larger snowshoe-esque footprint and some increased cushion. As a result, its fit isn’t quite as precise, and that’s why we recommend it for more packed snow over slush or icy conditions.

Hoka describes the Speedgoat 5 as a shoe with neutral stability and a balanced cushion, but we have found the shoe to be very plush indeed. The standard version is also a pretty standard weight.

See why we also named it one of our favorite shoes in our best trail running shoes guide, and read our in-depth Hoka Speedgoat 5 review.

Shop the Women's Hoka Speedgoat 5Shop the Men's Hoka Speedgoat 5Shop the Women's Hoka Speedgoat 4 GTXShop the Men's Hoka Speedgoat 4 GTX

Best Winter Running Gear - Hoka Speedgoat 5

The Hoka Speedgoat 5. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Best Shoes for Ice: Salomon Spikecross 5 Gore-Tex ($185)

Best Winter Running Gear - Salomon Spikecross 5 Goretex - product image

The Salomon Spikecross 5 Gore-Tex is a specialist when it comes to running in icy winter conditions. Not only do they feature the same five-millimeter lugs as the Speedcross above, but they also include small but very effective tungsten carbide spikes that help with grip on ice.

One of our team members has owned a single pair of Spikecross shoes for years. They’ve gotten her through multiple winters across the Western U.S., in Bellingham, Washington; Missoula, Montana; Flagstaff, Arizona; and Bend, Oregon. If you want confidence on the ice, we cannot recommend these enough. Taking a corner on ice can be unpredictable and risky, and after multiple winters running in these shoes, we’re impressed by the immediate confidence we have in keeping the rubber (and tungsten) side down — and keeping our bodies bruise-free.

What sets these apart when considering a shoe with built-in spikes versus a separate running traction device is the comfort on runs where we encounter a mix of both ice and clear roads. We found the Salomon Spikecross 5 Gore-Tex to be relatively comfortable on hard, non-ice-covered pavement. And, even after several winters of running on ice/pavement mix, the spikes have held up.

The lugs perform really well on trails where you anticipate ice but may also spend a lot of time trudging through snow. We love wearing these shoes on winter singletrack, where we anticipate areas of packed trail that have converted to ice. At an actual weight of 12.9 ounces, this is a heavy shoe, but that weight all goes to added traction and protection from snow, and for us, it’s well worth it.

Shop the Salomon Spikecross 5 Gore-Tex

Best Traction for Off-Road Running: Black Diamond Distance Spike ($100)

Best Winter Running Gear - Black Diamond Distance Spike Traction Device - product photo

Not long after this traction device hit the market, the Black Diamond Distance Spike became the go-to choice for the iRunFar team. The design is reminiscent of a mountaineering crampon, with a rubber wrap around the back and sides of the shoes, a fabric toe cap, and a pull tab at the heel to make it easy to put on.

Considering the amount of traction and toe coverage they provide, with 14 spikes at 8 millimeters long, the Distance Spike is extremely light. This design cuts the weight nearly in half compared to other traditional full-spikes traction devices on the market today. The spikes are made of stainless steel and are heat-treated for strength, corrosion, and wear resistance.

To learn more about why the iRunFar team loves this traction device, read our in-depth Black Diamond Distance Spike review, as well as what we said about it in our best winter running traction devices guide.

Shop the Black Diamond Distance Spike
Best Winter Running Gear - Black Diamond Distance Spike - lateral view

A view of the Black Diamond Distance Spike with its innovative and weight-saving fabric toe cap. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Best Traction for Road Running in Mixed Conditions: Kahtoola EXOspikes ($63)

Best Winter Running Gear - Kahtoola Exospike - product photo

With tungsten carbide tips atop five-millimeter lugs, the Kahtoola EXOspikes have a profile similar to the Salomon Spikecross 5 Gore-Tex running shoes highlighted above. The key difference is that these traction devices can be placed on any shoe and removed when needed. The EXOspikes have a low profile with tiny metal nubs and a rubber wrap that easily goes over the sole of any shoe. If you’re running over slush, a bit of ice, or crusty forest roads, these are a great option.

These traction devices are very light, despite their 12 spikes that are 10 millimeters long, and they afford stability on all kinds of road-running terrain. To learn more about these traction devices, check out iRunFar’s in-depth Kahtoola EXOspikes review and our best winter running traction devices guide.

Shop the Kahtoola EXOSpikes

Best Pack: Salomon Adv Skin 12 ($160)

Best Winter Running Gear - Salomon Adv Skin 12 - product photo

The Salomon Adv Skin 12 is one of Salomon’s larger vests, with 12 liters of space to fit many layers and all the essential gear you need for long, cold outings. It even includes multiple carry options for collapsible trekking poles, and it’s compatible with Salomon’s Quiver (sold separately). However, despite the capacity, it is a light and low-profile pack that fits the body well even when it’s nearly empty. This relatively sleek design allows you to wear the pack both over and under a shell jacket in the winter. The latter will help keep your water, food, and phone from freezing.

One complaint with this pack is that the two front pockets meant to hold soft flasks for hydration are tall and narrow and only really accommodate Salomon-specific HydraPak soft flasks. However, I think for winter outings, soft flasks can be preferable over a bladder, as I find that bladder hoses tend to freeze fairly quickly. Overall, this is a versatile pack that works well for mid-winter endurance races and adventures.

Be sure to check out our best hydration packs for running guide to see why we named this pack the best large-capacity hydration pack.

Shop the Salomon Adv Skin 12 Unisex Running VestShop the Salomon Adv Skin 12 Women's Running Vest

Best Waistbelt: Naked Running Band ($55)

Best Winter Running Gear - Naked Running Band - product photoWhen you need some additional space to carry smaller items, a waistbelt can be a nice way to add another mini-base layer of warmth and storage where your shirt and tights meet. And despite being only a running waistbelt, the Naked Running Band will accommodate different-sized hydration soft flasks from a variety of brands, as well as other gear, including a headlamp, sunglasses, phone, and nutrition. It also includes silicone grip loops to help carry larger items like poles or a jacket.

Obviously, the more stuff you put in it, the bulkier it will be, but if you only need to carry a few things, this is a great option that fits well under a jacket — which is crucial for winter running as it helps keep food warm enough to not chip your teeth!

All of Naked’s products are billed as extremely light, and this running band is no exception. That’s pretty incredible when you consider it can hold up to two liters of storage.

Click over to our best running belts guide to see why we named this one of the best running belts.

Shop the Naked Running Band

Best Light Jacket: Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell ($140)

Best Winter Running Gear - Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell - product photo

The Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell is very lightweight and optimal for milder winter days or for outings where you may need some extra wind protection. The material of the jacket is permeable, allowing it to breathe better than a more rain-oriented jacket. That said, it has a water-repellent finish and will provide some protection from the elements. The jacket itself is made of 100% nylon and 15-denier ripstop material, which helps it strike the perfect balance between sufficient wind protection and a featherlight item for your running quiver.

The Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell has a roomy fit, which is great for wearing over a pack or waistbelt to keep your food, water, and gear adequately thawed in winter weather.

This jacket also includes a hood large enough to accommodate a winter beanie, a headlamp, or a swishing ponytail; a chest pocket that also doubles as a stow pocket when the jacket needs to be packed away; and elastic cuffs at the wrists to help keep warmth in.

The iRunFar team named this one of the best wind jackets in our best running wind jackets guide.

Shop the Women's Black Diamond Distance Wind ShellShop the Men's Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell

Best Winter Running Gear - Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell - mountain running

The Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell is protective and fits well over a pack too. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Best Rain/Shell Jacket: Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket ($159)

Best Winter Running Gear - Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket - product photoWe love the Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket for its lightweight and small footprint when packed away, despite being a fully waterproof jacket. When not in use, it will take up minimal space in your running pack or tied around your waist. Other elements of the jacket include an adjustable hood, a drawcord hem, elastic cuffs, and a chest pocket that doubles as a stuff sack. And it’s available in sizes from extra small to 4X in women’s and small to 3X in men’s, which is more size-inclusive than we see in a lot of outdoor gear.

Made of 30-denier ripstop, this jacket is exceptionally lightweight while being extremely durable. However, since it’s waterproof, it’s also less breathable than a water-resistant jacket like the Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell above, so it can get a little warm if it’s just raining and not very cold.

iRunFar’s Alex Potter owns this jacket and runs in it often when the element to beat is either sleet or rain. She found this is a great lightweight option and attests that the hood is easily adjustable around the face and easily tucked behind the head if you don’t want it close by.

We chose the Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket as a top jacket in our best running rain jackets guide.

Shop the Women's Outdoor Research Helium Rain JacketShop the Men's Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket

Best Winter Running Gear - Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket - Moab running

The Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket being put to use during a chilly run in Moab, Utah. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Best Insulated Jacket: Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody ($299)

Best Winter Running Gear - Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody - product photo

When we asked our team for recommendations on jackets for this category, several people quickly replied with the Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody. Since it’s insulated, this was recommended for the very coldest days: 20 degrees Fahrenheit down to -20 degreesF. Two people noted that although it would be easy to get too warm while running in this jacket in any weather above these temperatures, the jacket has excellent wicking qualities that help prevent sweat from staying against your skin.

This jacket features a hood with a halo drawstring and elasticity to fit snugly around your head and face. The cuffs are soft and stretchy, which helps contain warmth around your hands and wrists. When not used for the coldest of cold running adventures, our team said it’s thin enough to fit under a shell for additional warmth while winter biking, hiking, or casual around-town wear.

It easily squishes down into a backpack and can also fit into a larger hydration vest, like the Salomon Adv Skin 12 above. The durable water-repellent finish ensures you won’t get absolutely soaked if it starts to sprinkle.

iRunFar’s Alex Potter owns this jacket, which she purchased while working as a wildland firefighter. While she doesn’t run in it often because it truly is too warm for running in weather above 20F, she wears it almost every day out of the house for going about town, hiking, biking, and anything in between in temperatures from 30 to 50 degreesF.

Shop the Women's Patagonia Nano-Air HoodyShop the Men's Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody

Best Insulated Jacket: Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody ($259)

The Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody garnered similar recommendations from the iRunFar team as the Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody above. Like that jacket, this one will keep you warm while running in very, very cold temperatures, though it’ll be too warm for milder days. This jacket is hip length around the hem, meaning it will keep the top of your bottom warm throughout a run. The hood tightness is adjustable via an elastic pull tab at the back of the head, and the wrist cuffs keep the snow and wind out.

According to the Arc’teryx layering guide, this falls at a three, just about in the middle of five different levels of thickness: meaning this can work well as a midlayer for really cold days (more for skiing or biking than running) or as a jacket on its own. The outer shell is 20-denier nylon, making it pretty darn durable, and the durable water-repellent treatment protects you from a bit of precipitation.

Shop the Women's Arc'teryx Atom LT HoodyShop the Men's Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody

Best Base Layer Shirt: Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Base Layer 1/4 Zip ($90)

Best Winter Running Gear - Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Base Layer quarter Zip - product photoSmartwool has a variety of layers for pretty much any activity upon which you embark, and the Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Base Layer 1/4 Zip is a versatile base layer that can be worn alone when it’s not super chilly or underneath a more substantial layer when the weather warrants. It’s a great option when you need that extra layer of comfort immediately out the door but know you’re likely to warm up. This base layer also works really well under a rain or wind jacket on late fall days when you have a protective layer on top to help combat rain or wind, but you don’t want to overheat.

Wool base layers are ideal for a range of weather and temperatures because they pull moisture away from your body, retain warmth even when wet, are light on the skin, and dry quickly. The quarter-zip is the winning feature of this shirt because it’ll help you thermoregulate quickly — unzip, and you’ll quickly lose heat or zip it up all the way for those truly cold first miles of your run.

See iRunFar’s best wool running apparel guide to learn more about this shirt, which we named the best lightweight long-sleeve shirt.

Shop the Women's Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Base Layer 1/4 ZipShop the Men's Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Base Layer 1/4 Zip

Best Midlayer Shirt: Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody ($159)

Best Winter Running Gear - Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody - product photoOne member of the iRunFar team came to wear the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody via an out-of-the-blue text recommendation from a friend they hadn’t heard from in over a year. She took their advice, and this shirt is now their go-to on medium-cold winter days.

The lightweight and breathable sweater-like knit of this shirt may mislead you to think it is a light base layer. Not so. When paired with a vest, it keeps us surprisingly toasty on 20- to 30-degreeF days. It’s very soft, with nice stretch and longer arms to provide extra coverage around your wrists and hands. Note its fabric is delicate and will snag or tear at the seams if you’re not careful.

The hood is minimal, with very little movement when not in use, and when pulled up, it fits snugly on your head and allows for good peripheral vision and the ability to hear your surroundings. The hood has Patagonia’s signature high neck that will come up over your mouth and nose for extra protection from the wind if needed but also tucks nicely under your chin and functions as a balaclava when you need a little less coverage.

Because of its open knit, this shirt could benefit from a windproof layer on blustery cold days, but it’s a gem that our team has used successfully on both mountain adventures and speedy road tempo workouts in brisk conditions. An additional benefit is that this top looks nice enough to transition to the office if you’re running short on time or space in your run-commute pack. Since it’s 59% merino wool and made with an open knit, you can wear this thing for days, and it won’t get stinky — trust us, we do this on our fastpacking trips.

Shop the Women's Patagonia Capilene Air HoodyShop the Men's Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody

Best Hybrid Layer: Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover ($139)

Best Winter Running Gear - Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover - product imageFor year-round shoulder season conditions, the Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover stands out as another hybrid layer that’s super versatile. It functions well in rain, wind, snow, a wide range of temperatures, or the classic all-seasons-in-one-day type of weather. This ultralight, thin “shacket” (shirt/jacket) has a combination of fabrics and features that are perfectly suited to the weather and temperature swings that runners frequently encounter.

The jacket body consists of light, wind-blocking, and water-resistant polyester, while the sleeves and hood are made with thin, stretchy, and breathable nylon. The front zipper reaches halfway down and opens two ways — zipping up from the bottom or down from the top — letting you dump heat if you get too warm, though it also breathes well enough that overheating is rare. Like many of our favorite Patagonia layers, this one packs down small and stashes into its own pocket if you need to stow it away.

This jacket’s sleeves are nice and long for chilly winter mornings, and its hood stays on decently well, especially if you’re wearing a hat. Gusty winds will knock it down, but that’s to be expected. Otherwise, we love the balance of warmth, wind and rain protection, and breathability that this layer offers for any conditions that winter (or spring, summer, and fall) can throw our way.

Shop the Women's Patagonia Airshed Pro PulloverShop the Men's Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover

Best Tights: Patagonia Endless Run Tights ($119)

Best Winter Running Gear - Patagonia Endless Run Tights - product image

While they’re known for being breathable and moisture-wicking, we appreciate the Patagonia Endless Run Tights for their mid-rise fit, which moves well and doesn’t shift while you’re running.

These tights are sufficient for a wide range of cool to cold days. They are made of material designed to keep you warm and dry, with mesh panels behind the knees for breathability. The tights have two side pockets for a phone, snacks, or other small essentials, as well as an elastic waistband with a drawcord. The women’s tights are sized to fit waist sizes ranging from 24.5 inches to 41.5 inches, and the men’s version will fit waist sizes ranging from 28 inches to 45 inches. Finally, these pants are Fair Trade Certified.

Shop the Women's Patagonia Endless Run TightsShop the Men's Patagonia Endless Run Tights

Best Insulated Tights: Gorewear R3 Thermo Tights ($100)

Best Winter Running Gear - Gorewear R3 Thermo Tights - product photo

Don’t let the most challenging winter weather keep you from running! When it’s really cold and/or stormy, the iRunFar team turns to the Gorewear R3 Thermo Tights to get out the door for a run and stay protected and comfortable while we’re out there.

These tights are the warmest in the Gorewear running collection, with a brushed fleece lining for warmth and comfort. They are designed for cross-country skiing and running and therefore move well with your body and include panels of breathable poly-elastane to allow for natural venting.

These tights zip at the lower leg for easier donning and doffing. There is an easy-access side pocket on the thigh, as well as a small zippered rear pocket for keys and other small valuables. Their sizing is a bit more limited that the Patagonia tights above, however. The women’s sizes fit waists measuring from 23.5 inches to 32.25 inches, and the men’s tights fit waist sizes from 27.5 to 40.25 inches.

Shop the Women's Gorewear R3 Thermo Tights Shop the Men's Gorewear R3 Thermo Tights

Best Headband: Buff Dryflx Headband ($17)

Best Winter Running Gear - Buff Dryflx Headband - product photoBuff neck gaiters are so widely popular among runners and outdoor enthusiasts for their year-round versatility that neck gaiters are commonly referred to as “Buffs” in the way that tissues are often called “Kleenex.” While the standard Buff neck gaiter may not be your top choice for the coldest, windiest, and snowiest of days, the Buff Dryflx Headband is on the advanced end of the brand’s offerings, touting an ultralight, breathable, and quick-drying fabric.

The special feature of this Buff is that it has 360 degrees of reflectivity. Winter isn’t just cold, it’s dark, and any additional visibility increases your safety. Lighter than a feather, this thing will squish up and store anywhere, too.

Shop the Buff Dryflx Headband

Best Beanie: Sauce Swift Toque ($32)

Best Winter Running Gear - Sauce Swift Toque - product photoWhen the weather is such that a headband just won’t suffice, we reach for the Sauce Swift Toque, a fleece-lined beanie that’s designed for high-output activities in cold weather. The Bozeman, Montana-based brand was started by a former Canadian cross-country ski racer (hence the word toque and not beanie in the product’s name). Offering a range of headwear and fun patterns for folks who like to be active in cold weather, Sauce uses soft, performance fabrics that are comfy, breathable, and cozy.

We like the versatility of this hat for running. It’s lightweight, stretchy, provides good coverage over the ears, and machine washable. Sauce offers lots of color and print options, from a muted solid black to vibrant patterns and mountain prints. Additionally, you have the option of adding a pom or tassel to the top at no additional cost — how fun is that?

Shop the Sauce Swift Toque

Best Brimmed Hat: Buff Pack Merino Fleece Cap ($39)

Best Winter Running Gear - Buff Pack Merino Fleece Cap - product photoFleece and merino wool pair together perfectly in the Buff Pack Merino Fleece Cap to help keep you warm on colder days. This cap includes an adjustable fit and a hidden ponytail hole to ensure a secure fit and maximum coverage in winter’s nastiest weather. An additional perk is the added brim — which is unique for a winter hat — to keep your eyes and skin shielded from the elements.

This is a really unique product and the first of its kind that we’ve used — the combination of brimmed hat, winter hat, and headband makes this the ideal topper for winter days that are also sunny and could have light snow as well — keeping your head warm and dry, but also keeping the light and snow showers out of your eyes.

To learn more, check out our best running hats guide, where we named this the best hat for winter running.

Shop the Buff Pack Merino Wool Fleece Cap

Best Gloves: Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip Glove ($50)

Best Winter Running Gear - Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip Glove - product photoThe glove-to-mitten combination is no longer a unique design, but the Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip Glove has been a favorite of iRunFar’s managing editor, Meghan Hicks, for several years. It was chosen in our best running gloves guide and reviewed thoroughly in our Ultimate Direction Apparel Review.

The convertible glove is a great design for variable temperatures — think a long run started in the morning where it warms up over time — for those who have circulation issues like Raynaud’s syndrome (when you don’t get enough circulation to your fingers), or for those who want a pair just for reassurance if the weather might turn while out on a daily adventure.

The inner glove is grid fleece, and the over-mitt is a silicone-coated Cordura ripstop. The mitten part of the glove folds up into the wrist section, which is a nice touch as this keeps the unused mitten portion from flopping about or getting in the way.

Shop the Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip Glove

Best Gloves for Very Cold Conditions: Trailheads Convertible Zip Mitts ($52)

Best Winter Running Gear - Trailheads Convertible Zip Mitts - product photoWe recently added the Trailheads Convertible Zip Mitts to our best running gloves guide after discovering the benefits last winter of their Primaloft recycled polyester insulation, extended cuffs, and wrist straps that seal in warmth.

These mitts are great for super-cold weather, which we consider to be temperatures that drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. So far, we’ve tested them in temperatures down to -15 degrees Fahrenheit, and they are still plenty warm for our team.

We love how these mitts make no compromises when it comes to keeping our digits warm in the depths of winter. At the same time, if we need to dig a car key out of our pocket, turn our headlamp off, or snap a photo of an epic sunrise, the mitts have a zipper that frees our hands for a brief moment. The only drawback of these supremely warm mitts is that they’re rather heavy and not easily packable, so they’re not the best choice if you anticipate needing to shed layers when the day warms.

That said, when it comes to running in frigid temperatures, it’s all about keeping your appendages warm and dry for safety purposes, and these mittens do just that.

Shop the Women's Trailheads Convertible Zip MittsShop the Men's Trailheads Convertible Zip Mitts

Best Sports Bra: Smartwool Merino Sport Seamless Racerback Bra ($60)

Best Winter Running Gear - Smartwool Merino Sport Seamless Racerback Bra - product photo

Bras are a specialized category, and it’s challenging to appeal to all shapes and sizes, but when discussing comfort for winter running, we like the Smartwool Merino Sport Seamless Racerback Bra. It has a fairly simple, slim design — seamless to help reduce chafe, with wide straps that provide stability and support.

It has molded padding, which some people love and some hate. The good news is the pads are removable, so if you don’t like them, toss them. Most importantly, this bra has a merino wool liner for next-to-skin comfort that helps keep you dry and warm.

This bra is made of a mix of merino wool, nylon, and elastane, meaning it keeps you warm and dry while retaining a good bounce-back stretch. The seamless design isn’t the most stylish or engineered, but for winter activities, it’s the perfect item to keep your top half warm, dry, and comfortable.

See our best wool running apparel guide to see why we chose this as one of the best wool sports bras for running.

Shop the Smartwool Seamless Racerback Bra

Best Wool Socks: Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Crew Socks ($23)

Best Winter Running Gear - Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Crew Socks - product photoDesigned just for running, the Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Crew Socks are made with a merino blend — with nylon and elastane mixed in — with mesh zones to help keep your feet both warm and dry in colder weather.

The mid-crew style is the perfect length for running in winter — it keeps your ankles covered and protected in a cold breeze, snow, and/or slush. Targeted cushions at the toe and heel help keep those areas blister-free, especially when the feet get wet. The toe is virtually seamless, so you don’t have to worry about blisters in that area, either.

Even though our team has given this sock the Goldilocks description of “not too thick, but not too thin,” they are a true winter sock. We found them to be a little on the thicker side.

We covered these socks and all of our favorites thoroughly in our best running socks guide.

Shop the Women's Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Crew SocksShop the Men's Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Crew Socks

Best Synthetic Socks: Drymax Cold Weather Running Crew ($19)

Best Winter Running Gear - Drymax Cold Weather Running Crew - product photoDrymax tends to design slimmer products for almost all their running socks, so if you have narrower feet or like things to fit a bit tighter with a slightly higher ankle (almost to shin height), we like the Drymax Cold Weather Running Crew.

They have a very good thermal conductivity rating, helping keep the skin warmer by drawing less heat away from the skin than socks made with other fibers. The material is a mix of Drymax-specific blend, polyester, and nylon.

Shop the Drymax Cold Weather Running Crew

Best Headlamp: Petzl Iko Core ($90)

Best Winter Running Gear - Petzl Iko Core - product photoWe particularly like the Petzl Iko Core headlamp for winter running because of the unique structure that allows it to easily fit over a hat or buff, or even a helmet. The headlamp is designed with a silicone band rather than the traditional stretchy headband common to most headlamps. Because it has a more solid skeleton, it also helps reduce pressure headaches and sore spots that can occur with other types of headlamps.

The Petzl Iko Core puts out a maximum of 500 lumens (which can reach 100 meters), has a minimalist design, and is super lightweight. It is rechargeable but is also compatible with three AAA batteries. If you’re in a pinch, it will run for 100 hours on the lowest six-lumen setting or 2.5 hours at the highest setting, 500 lumens.

You might want to read our best running headlamps guide, where we rate this as the best headlamp for trail running.

Shop the Petzl Iko Core
Best Winter Running Gear - Petzl Iko Core - side view

The Petzl Iko Core. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Best Headlamp: Fenix HL18R-T Rechargeable Headlamp ($55)

Best Winter Running Gear - Fenix HL18R-T Rechargeable Headlamp - product photo

While we were initially a bit skeptical of its BOA-style dial adjustment, the Fenix HL18R-T Rechargeable Headlamp quickly won us over, and we ranked it highly in our best running headlamps guide. We’ve been super impressed with Fenix’s innovative approach to literally dialing the perfect fit for a headlamp, eliminating those pesky pressure headaches or the annoying experience of a headlamp that slides down the forehead as it gets jostled. We would actually go as far as to say that this headlamp is even more comfortable than the Petzl Iko Core.

In addition to supreme comfort, we appreciate the Fenix HL18R-T headlamp’s 500-lumen brightness on those dark wintertime trails and the ability to easily swap its batteries in the field. That said, we do question the durability of the click-and-twist adjustment and wonder how well it will hold up in super cold temperatures or in the gnarliest of winter conditions.

Shop the Fenix HL18R-T Rechargeable Headlamp
Best Winter Running Gear - Fenix HL18R-T - displayed in the field

The Fenix HL18R-T. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Best Sunglasses: Julbo Aero ($220)

Best Winter Running Gear - Julbo Aero - product photo

Sunglasses are an important piece of winter gear, as they not only help protect from the bright reflectivity of light glancing off snow but also shield your eyes from the cold winter wind and sleet. For winter running, we like the Julbo Aero with the Reactiv lens.

Reactiv photochromic lenses get darker or lighter to match changing light conditions. At their darkest, the lens is dark enough for bright days on snow. Meanwhile, they’re absolutely clear during the dark of night. Julbo Aero sunglasses were designed with running and mountain biking in mind and allow for more breathability (and therefore minimal fogging) on slower uphill slogs.

While these look a little bit more technical than other running-specific sunglasses, we’ve found their sturdiness, durability, and eye protection to far outweigh any drawbacks in style.

In our best running sunglasses guide, we named the Julbo Aero one of the top running sunglasses.

Shop the Julbo Aero

Call for Comments

  • What do you use to keep warm in the winter?
  • Do you live in a climate or have hobbies that necessitate very specific winter gear?
  • Use the comments section to share your favorite gear for winter running, too!
Best Winter Running Gear - San Juan Mountains - early winter

The San Juan Mountains of Colorado in early winter. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Sarah Bard
Sarah Bard is a road runner at heart, but spends most of the time on trails with her dog, Sue. She enjoys racing 50-mile to 100k distances, but her real love of running comes from time spent outdoors and with the running community. She is based in Bend, Oregon.
Sarah Bard

Alli Hartz is a member of the gear review team at iRunFar. She’s been writing about outdoor gear, outdoor adventure, and adventure travel for 10 years. Aside from iRunFar, Alli contributes gear reviews and adventure stories to Switchback Travel, Travel Oregon, and other outlets. She also works as a ski guide during the winter season and has dabbled in run-skiing on the Cascade volcanoes. Alli is based in Bend, Oregon, where she loves to run from her front door up into the Three Sisters Wilderness.