Best Winter Running Gear of 2024 to Clock Those Icy Miles


If winter’s chilling temperatures have already put a damper on your 2024 fitness goals, fear not: The best winter running gear is more than capable of defending you against the freezing cold, unpredictable precipitation, and low-light conditions we’re experiencing. Whether you’re adding some winter miles to your workout routine as an aspirational new year thing or gearing up for spring’s marathon season, sub-optimal weather unfortunately comes with the territory. So, brace yourself for some of the worst conditions you can face as a runner: slick roads, black ice, trails lined with snow and full of slushy, muddy puddles, and toe-numbing temperatures.

You don’t have to let Jack Frost win this battle, though. There are a ton of excellent running brands churning out gear that will keep you on your toes even in the single digits. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to get you fitted for the season by rounding up the best running gloves, jackets, beanies, tights, shoes and everything else you need to show winter who’s boss. You may even find yourself looking forward to getting out in the wet and muck to see what you’re really made of. Read up more below on how to choose the right layers for your expedition, and then peep our top picks for the best winter running gear of all from brands we know and trust.


The Best Winter Running Gear, At a Glance



Running Shells and Jackets

The outermost layer of your winter running apparel, your shell or jacket, will be the first line of defense against the dropping temperatures. It’s the most important layer for weatherproofing yourself against the wind, rain, snow. Ideally, you’ll want something lightweight enough that it doesn’t feel like an albatross around your neck on mile 10, and with some Gore-Tex material or other hardy rainshell to keep you dry and protected against the wind. Because as any runner knows, the worst part of winter running is more so the gusts and less so the actual chill.

Nike

Division Aerogami Running Jacket

For cold, misty runs in the city, Nike is still one of the best in the ‘biz when it comes to apparel. The Aerogami jacket from the brand’s top-end Running Division blends incredibly lightweight waterproof fabric, high-visibility details, and an impeccable fit to keep you focused on getting in a great workout. Bungees on the hood and the hem make it easy to dial in the fit, while perfectly sized pockets protect your hands at stoplights.

Tracksmith

There are jackets for when the weather gets iffy and there are jackets for when the weather gets downright nasty. The NDO (“No Days Off”) jacket from Tracksmith is the latter. This softshell jacket is completely windproof and cleverly insulated, protecting you from the non-stop barrage of wind you find on a dirt road or the searing wind gusts that pipe between city avenues. The NDO uses a merino-bonded fabric instead of down to maximize warmth while minimizing bulk, meaning even when things get a little wet, the jacket will keep its thermoregulating properties.

District Vision

Three layers are better than one. District Vision’s triple-layer shell utilizes a breathable waterproof membrane fabric to keep you absolutely bone-dry on the trails. The two waterproof zippers on the front allow for easy access to a running pack and the fit is generous enough to layer over a hydration pack without feeling frumpy or excessively oversized. Once the rain dissipates, the jacket bundles up neatly for stowing away.

Salomon

Bonatti Waterproof Jacket

Salomon is more than just your favorite pair of XT-6s. While sport style may have been the French brand’s standout category for the past few years, it’s still exceptional at crafting technical sportswear. The Bonatti waterproof shell is a sterling example of streamlined tech—it’s light as hell, minimally branded with helpful reflective details, and will keep you from overheating when the sun eventually decides to peek through the clouds.

Fleece and Midlayers

Midlayers are going to be your second-string defenders. Performance fleece will work wonders in this department, as will thicker merino wool crewnecks or even a cotton hoodie. Some of these options are thick enough to wear on their own, but if you can see your breath in the air when you step outside, you might want to layer up with some jackets from above.

The North Face

Sunriser Quarter-Zip Pullover

This quarter-zip from The North Face is the perfect combination of affordability and technical prowess. The value you get from the 100% recycled Sunriser is unmatched, considering that you can find it for well under $100 on sale. The North Face’s FlashDry-Pro material pulls sweat away from your skin, unlike other humid-leaning fleeces we’ve seen in this price category, while the thumb holes and long zipper in the front allow for maximum versatility in varying temperatures.

Satisfy

We’ve waxed poetic about Satisfy before: It’s easily one of the most stylish and technologically advanced brands in the running world. While you’d think a fleece would be straightforward, Satisfy has managed to kick it up a notch, using a cozy Polartec Power Grid material that keeps you warm but prevents overheating so you don’t fling this off when you’re a few laps in.

District Vision

Half-Zip Merino Grid Fleece

District Vision is another name at the cutting edge of style and function. Utilizing a soft, comfy grid material, this fleece is anti-microbial and keeps your body temperature regulated through a huge swath of temperatures—pair it with a thick wool base layer on the coldest days or just throw it on over a tee for brisk jogs mornings on the trail. Thumb holes and a hidden rear pocket add extra utility while the chest pocket is a nice pop of contrast that keeps extra storage for credit cards or cash close at hand.

Patagonia

If you’d prefer a stripped back, no-nonsense layer, opt for the Patagonia Capilene Thermal Hoody, which fits like a t-shirt but keeps you warm like your favorite cotton hoodie. And as always with Patagonia, the garment is made of a smattering of clever fabrics, including Polartec fleece and the brand’s ​​HeiQ odor-preventing technology.

Base Layers and Tees

Just like a rock-solid foundation, starting off your winter fit with a great base layer or comfortable tee is absolutely essential. Ideally, it will absorb your sweat, lock out the cold, and keep you comfortable in all kinds of weather. Keep in mind that this will be the only layer directly sitting up against your skin, so peruse our guide below on how to find the right fabrics for the job. If you love wool, stick with wool. If you want something more cool to the touch, check out mesh and other similarly silky options.

Satisfy

Taupe Base Layer Long Sleeve T-Shirt

The CoffeeThermal base layer from Satisfy is one of our absolute favorites. It’s not buttery smooth like merino or the brand’s TechSilk, but for the weight of the garment, you’re getting more warmth than just about any other layer we’ve tested. The material is tight against the skin without being too restricting, and the fit is perfect for pairing with a cotton tee or heavier fleece mid-layer.

Tracksmith

No matter where you go, you can’t get away from merino. Made with a seamless merino mesh, the Brighton base layer is part of Tracksmith’s three-season lineup that excels on the track or in the woods. Put to the test in races, on the track, and in the hills near Boston, this base layer is soft and form-fitting but won’t suffocate you if you just want to throw it on by itself for a quick morning run.

Bandit

One of the coolest brands to emerge in the running world over the last few years, New York City’s Bandit has fostered one of the best communities for runners in the city. Its apparel is also super thoughtful, like this wool base layer made from a double-knit fabric that sits close to the body and even comes with thumbholes for added warmth. It pairs well as a base, or thrives on its own in temperate weather.

Smartwool

Intraknit Thermal Merino Colorblock Crew Base Layer Top

If you’ve been around the block in the outdoor world, you know just how good Smartwool’s gear is. While every brand seems to be using merino now (with good reason), Smartwool is one of the OGs, dedicating itself to the mastery of the natural fiber. This base layer is ideal for running, but also excels at the ski resort or just underneath your favorite long-sleeve tee on a cold day.

Running Pants and Tights

When the mercury drops below 45 degrees or so, we always lean on running tights and running pants to get the job done. Sure, wearing shorts is probably the optimal choice for mobility, but if you’re going for a longer trek, you don’t want to lose your range of movement or efficiency because you’re absolutely shivering.

Saysky

The winter weather in Copenhagen is no joke, and it’s inspired Danish brand Saysky to make some of the best tights you can buy for the cold. “Combat” may seem like a strong word to describe running gear, but if you’ve been outside in subzero temperatures with a thick blanket of clouds overhead, you won’t think twice.

Janji

Some of the first cold weather tights we ever tested, Janji’s Trail Tights are still some of our favorites to pull out of the closet on chilly days. Optimized for off-road endurance thanks to the optimal compression and clever pockets, they also boast a nearly perfect fit, something that cannot be said about most running tights, which tend to be either too tight or too frumpy.

District Vision

9-Inch Recycled Half Tights

On the other side of the cold-weather spectrum is LA’s District Vision. If you’re used to sunny SoCal, then a day when the mercury hits 40 is enough to have the goosebumps flocking to the surface of your skin. When a chill hits the air but doesn’t require full-length tights, you’ll find us reaching for these. They’re the perfect length and provide just enough coverage if you want to wear them on their own, but you can easily throw a pair of shorts on over them for the two-in-one look.

Lululemon

Fast and Free Running Pant

Once just a yoga brand that made good pants for CE-Bros, Luluemon is now one of the most reputable brands in running. Its Fast and Free running pants are an excellent alternative to the compression of running tights. These are lightweight and have cleverly-placed vents to keep your gams breathing when things get a little too cold for shorts. Plus, they’re a little more at home on a Sunday morning coffee run than your tights that leave little to the imagination.

Winter Running Hats

Ever been running in the winter and noticed steam coming off of your head? A proper hat will keep all of that warmth up top to ensure your dome doesn’t start to freeze when you start sweating. We love a standard beanie, maybe one with a fleece headband sewn in, but there are also a number of caps, headbands, and earflap caps that will also do the trick.

Melin

Coronado Brick Thermal Baseball Cap

If you’d prefer a running hat that doesn’t look like a running hat, Melin is on the job. Their mid-crown cap looks just as good at brunch or on the golf course as it does on the trail, but don’t let that give you pause: This thing is comfy, warm and keeps the low winter sun out of your eyes with the best of ‘em.

Arc’teryx

Could you really get to the end of this list without seeing the dead bird? No, you couldn’t. The Bird Head Toque is a street staple, but the fleece lining around the ears and lightweight upper portion makes this cap perfect for heavy activity in the winter—it’s warm but won’t leave your head quite as sweaty as a standard beanie.

Ciele

CRWCap WND SC Running Hat

Winter running cap, meet Elmer Fudd. An earflap hat might not be where your mind goes when you think of fitness gear, but it’s actually one of the most versatile pieces you can have in your winter running kit. We love this hi-vis one from Ciele, a Montreal-based brand that has somewhat of a cult following among runners.

On Running

You’re probably starting to see a theme here: Brands based in alpine environments make some of the best running gear for winter. Swiss brand On Running is no stranger at this point, but don’t forget, you can’t spell alpine without Alp[s]. This merino headband is perfect for hot heads—all that sweat needs to vent somewhere, after all. We’ll rock this on the trail, on the mountain, in the streets, or under a bike helmet.

Winter Running Gloves

The best running gloves utilize modern materials to keep your hands warm without trapping sweat, go on (and pull off) easily, and—ideally—let you use whatever phone, smartwatch, or fitness tracker is keeping tabs on all those miles.

Smartwool

These are the platonic ideal of a winter running glove: They come in five sizes, meaning anyone can find the right fit, they’re dexterous and have tech-friendly tips on the thumb and pointer finger, making a quick song change no problem at all.

Nathan

HyperNight Reflective Gloves

Part of running in the winter is being seen. If you tend to veer toward dark colors and earth tones for your apparel, throw on these reflective gloves (also available in highlighter yellow) and nobody will miss your chugging elbows as you sprint toward home after dusk.

Satisfy

Justice CoffeeThermal Gloves

These super lightweight gloves might feel more like a pair of latex gloves than winter woolies, but that’s why we love them. Pull these on and you basically forget you have gloves on, even when you need to play with your phone, move wayward tree branches out of the way or scale a steep rocky trail.

Arc’teryx

For the worst days of winter, your gloves can be upgraded to mittens. The Ventas from Arc’teryx are more streamlined than most, so you won’t feel like your hands are useless paddles with them on. The high-loft fleece will keep your hands from getting too sweaty and the thumbs are touchscreen compatible. They’re made with three-layer Gore-Tex Infinium, a four-way stretch material that keeps wind, rain, and snow at bay while still letting hot air escape.

Winter Running Accessories

Part of running in the winter is seeing and being seen in low-light conditions. Whether that means you’re running at dawn or dusk, in the pitch black or just on a cloudy day, having some hi-vis gear and light-lens sunglasses will greatly improve your experience.

FlipBelt

If a safety vest seems a bit too cumbersome, we recommend a running belt. This one helps you stay visible and also takes the burden off the pockets of your apparel, which can easily get weighed down with winter accessories. While a belt is optimal for lightweight items like cards and keys, it can also fit a small water flask, a light, and a first aid kit.

Black Diamond

Another product essential to staying safe on the road and on the trails, the Black Diamond Deploy light is an extremely lightweight option for running in low light conditions. The Deploy features 325-lumen output and a variable-angle lens that will illuminate any path. It has a quick-charging USB-C compatible battery and is made to fit either on or under the brim of a hat.

Nathan

HyperNight Reflective Stash Vest

Another must-have if you prefer darker colors (or just like to be seen), this reflective vest from Nathan fits over any amount of layers and it has a handy clear front pocket ideal for smartphones. At under $40, you’ll never regret spending a little extra cash on valuable winter safety.

District Vision

DV started out with frames and if you’re looking for some techy sport frames, there are still few brands that do it better. They are incredibly lightweight at just 24 grams, wrap close to your face for maximum protection from the wind and have nearly indestructible titanium core temple tips.


How to shop for winter running gear

Get to know your materials: Our favorite material for running in the winter has always been, and always will be, merino wool. Thanks to its inherent moisture-wicking properties and superior temperature regulation, the natural fiber is probably the best material you can buy for cold-weather runs. This writer keeps a long-sleeved merino base layer at the ready for almost all winter conditions and temperatures. Wear it alone on warmer days or use it as the foundation for layering when things get bleak. Beyond merino, there are a number of materials that absolutely dominate the cold, so don’t think you have to shell out the big bucks and only cop merino apparel.

Fleece is an excellent material for all of your outdoor adventures throughout the winter, but for running we’d suggest steering clear of fluffy, plush fleece. It’s not the most natural of moisture-wicking materials and if you’re not careful, can leave you feeling cold, damp, and clammy as all that sweat and humidity clam up close to your body. Instead, focus on performance grid fleece and buy from brands that specialize in running gear. This way, you’ll get all of the warmth fleece can provide without feeling like you’re running in a sauna. Just remember to wear a base layer underneath, especially in windy conditions.

Speaking of wind, even the slightest of breezes can cut through cotton, wool, and fleece. Consider buying some wind-blocking gear, even if you don’t go out on super blustery days. This can be as simple as a lightweight, packable windbreaker, but can also be a jacket or tights outfitted with paneling that keeps gusts out and prevents your sweat from hardening into thousands of little icicles.



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