What to Wear for Cold Weather Running (Complete Guide)

It’s that time of year again folks. The mornings are getting colder and darker with the changing of the season, and many places are already getting snow that sticks to the ground.

Being the stubborn athletes that we are, runners will often refuse to be deterred by the cold weather outside, but staying warm and comfortable is not just important for getting out the door, but also staying healthy and safe in the colder and darker months to come.

Keeping your muscles warm is one of the most important tips to keep in mind through the winter months, this can be done through properly warming up before getting out the door, and then staying warm with the proper clothing for the weather outside.

Sometimes all you need is a long sleeve t-shirt, but other times more specific clothing is needed.

What to wear when running in winter. We break down what you should wear for each temperature in this nifty infographic.

The changing of the weather also means shorter days and less sunlight, which increases the chances of running in the dark. This causes other safety issues, so it's a good idea to be equipped with reflective clothing, and a headlamp or flashlight.

With all of this in mind, let's take a look at some of the best items to wear for cold weather running from top to bottom.

What to wear cold weather running: It’s that time of year again folks. The mornings are getting colder and darker with the changing of the season, and many places are already getting snow that sticks to the ground.

Headgear For Cold Weather Running

How Do I Keep My Ears Warm While Running?

The easiest way to keep your ears warm on a cold run is to use an ear muff or headband. These fit snug over your ears and keep the cool air out and the warm air in. View my favorite four ear muffs here.  

When it comes to cold weather, conserving body warmth is everything. You will lose most of your body heat through your head if you don't have a good way to lock it in.

Some people like beanies and some runners like a full facial covering. If you opt for the beanie, continue to read on. If you prefer the full-face, here is my recommended list of face coverings

This is where beanies are an amazing and functional choice to assist you on your run. There are plenty of options out there from some “high-performance” beanies to some more generic and reliable ones too.

They will both work well, but ultimately it will be up to you to decide what will best suit your needs. We have included some of my favorite options with links so you can check them out for yourself.

Under Armour Women's Men's Storm Run Beanie, Black, One Size Fits All
  • UA Storm technology repels water without sacrificing breathability
  • Soft ColdGear fabric delivers an ultra warm feel, with no extra weight
  • All over reflective print

The UA Storm beanie is an excellent option for those seeking a more streamline and specific running or active beanie. It will lock in heat, repel water to keep your head dry, and also allow for some breathability to account for when you are heating up near the middle and end of your run.

This was specifically built to enhance your performance and comfort on a cold and wet winter run, so you can be confident in its reliability when you take it out on those cold morning or evening runs.

 Finally, there are some built in front and rear reflective details so you will have some extra safety and visibility on those dark mornings and evenings on the road. This is an often-overlooked concern in winter running, so this detail some add to the value of this beanie.
Carhartt Men's Knit Cuffed Beanie, Black, One Size
  • Carhartt Company Gear Collection
  • Carhartt label sewn on front
  • Stretchable;The crown length is 13 1/4 inches

While a beanie with all the latest bells and whistles are great, they can often be expensive for most. You can get 85-90% of the value with a simpler beanie at half the cost.

The Carhartt brand constructs reliable, comfortable, and warm beanies that will get you through the winter season and provide a great daily option for your life as well.

When it comes to a great value-oriented beanie, look no further.

 The only detail is that it will hold onto sweat a little bit more than a high-performance beanie, so you will have to wash it from time to time to keep the smell and sweat stains out.
500 Lumens USB Rechargeable Headlamp,Lightweight,Super Bright LED Running Headlamp for Runner,Rainstorm Waterproof,Hoxida LED Headlight Flashlight With Sensor Switch - Built-in Battery
  • [Super bright and 5 Mode] --- CREE LED (100,000 hours lifespan) with a super bright 500 lumen light your way up to 500ft on the brightest modes ; 5 Modes:High / Medium / Low /SOS Strobe /Sensor,Two switch separate control different mode, you don’t need to go through all modes to turn it off .

We did mention safety earlier, but having some extra light to see the ground and let others know you are there is never a bad thing. Headlamps have become a staple for many runners in the winter because they offer far more flexibility for your runs.

You will no longer be a slave to sunlight, streetlights, and indoor treadmills because you can safely navigate in the dark without having to hold onto a flashlight.

This LED headlamp offers a bright 500 lumens and will hold onto a charge for 4 hours straight, which will offer a perfect option for you to take out the door and enhance your safety.

Tops For Cold Weather Running

The most important part about winter running is to layer up with a base, a mid-layer (if cold enough), and an outer layer to keep out cold rain, snow, or wind. Wind chill makes for a terrible run. 

Oftentimes this will be accomplished with a long sleeve shirt and a jacket that will keep the elements out but still offer some breathability for when things start to heat up.

Here are my top pick for cold weather running tops.

Nike Women's Long Sleeve Legend Shirt, Black, Medium
  • Dri-FIT fabric to wick away sweat and help keep you dry and comfortable
  • Rib crew neck with interior taping for a comfortable fit
  • Lightweight, breathable fabric for super ventilation

When it comes to a base layer, you’ll find few as reliable as the Nike long legend long sleeve. This will wick away moisture and keep your body warm throughout your entire run.

It’s a shirt that you can wear alone, or place a couple of layers on top of it to enhance your warmth and comfort throughout your run. The versatility is unmatched and it can even be purposed as a top layer in the spring when you want something warm to start your runs with.

In the end, you will be getting a lot for your money with this one, so mixed with other good cold running gear you’ll have an enjoyable winter of training.

BALEAF Women's Windproof Thermal Softshell Cycling Running Winter Jacket Biking Cold Weather Waterproof Warm Black Size XL
  • According to our customer's feedback, these women's cycling running jackets may run a little smaller. If you prefer a loose fit, please choose one size up
  • Three-layer composite material with soft fleece interior retains body heat
  • Full length zipper for easy venting, internal draft flap with zipper garage seals in warmth

Jackets are often needed for those very cold runs, it's also quite common to start with a jacket and then take it off as the run goes on and your body heats up.

It’s important to get out the door feeling warmed up though, this is because your muscle’s chance of injury will decrease when they are warm and receiving proper blood flow starting out.

You’re going to find far better success in your winter training if you are feeling comfortable on your runs. It's far easier to look forward to your runs in the winter if you know you won’t be starting your first 15-20 minutes cold.

Craft Men's Lumen Subz Padded Reflective Cold Weather Jacket, Black, Medium

With the Craft Lumen Subz Jacket, you will get a boat of features including Reflective perforated fabric on top of the yoke, heat-bonded light quilting at the front, light padding at the front, brushed jersey at sleeves and back, thumb grip at sleeve endings, and reflective details to keep you safe and visible to others.

The range of amenities provided by this jacket means it will provide reliable and comfortable quality for multiple winter seasons, and it will make sure you can get out of the door feeling good about what's ahead.

Running Tights For Cold Weather Running

While some still prefer shorts on their winter runs, tights are becoming more and more popular among men and women because they cover skin that is normally exposed, but they also maintain a level of high performance that sweats don’t offer as well.

Tights come in many brands, and most offer very similar amenities. Some will offer extra compression features, which are awesome, but you don’t really need it.

Once again, tights will allow you to get out of the door feeling warm and comfortable so you can start on a high note, and if you warm up they will maintain a higher performance element that sweats.

 Here is my favorite running tights for winter running
Under Armour Men's ColdGear Run Tights, Black (001)/Reflective, Small
  • Dual-layer ColdGear construction combines a smooth, fast-drying exterior with a brushed, heat-trapping interior
  • Under Armour’s mission is to make all athletes better through passion, design and the relentless pursuit of innovation
  • Where we started? It all started with an idea to build a superior T-shirt

The Under Armour ColdGear Run Tights are a great option for your daily and workout winter runs. They offer a dual-layer construction to shield your legs from the outside elements while wicking away moisture and trapping in heat from the inside.

On top of that, these tights are constructed with a quick-drying anti-odor material and have a 4-way stretch construction so you can move freely.

Overall you will be getting a solid and affordable tight that can get you through it all with comfort and ease.

If you would like a little more selection, here is my top 5 list of winter running tights

What to Wear Running in the Cold - a Quick Guide

So now that you have a list of my favorite winter running items, you may be wondering how to dress regarding actual temperature outside, so we have put together a general list on how to dress for varying cold temperatures.

Here is my recommended rule of thumb:

  • 60+ degrees: real easy…a t-shirt or tank top and shorts
  • 50–59 degrees: long sleeve or short sleeve tech shirt and shorts.
  • 30-49 degrees: long sleeve tech shirt, shorts or tights, gloves, and a beanie.
  • 10-29 degrees: two shirts layered—a long sleeve tech shirt and a short sleeve tech shirt or long sleeve shirt and jacket—tights, gloves, and a beanie.
  • 0–9 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, windbreaker jacket, tights and/or sweaters, gloves or mittens, beanie, ski mask, or buff.

For the 49 and below, here is my recommended list of running gloves


Cold weather running often gets a bad reputation, but the truth is if you dress sensibly for the weather you will be able to handle nearly any temperature within reason.

Some personal preference and body temperature difference among individuals will change the minor details on how you dress for certain temperatures, but in general, you will find success with layering, beanies, and using moisture-wicking and quick-drying fabrics to keep dry this includes keeping your feet dry. 

If you follow these general principles, then you will find a lot of success in training throughout the winter months, and as the old adage goes:

“Winter miles bring spring smiles”

 So get out there and get going with the confidence that you will be well prepared, warm, and safe!

Last update on 2021-07-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API