What to Wear for Cold Weather Running

Written By: Jeremy N

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.

What to Wear for Cold Weather Running

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.

How to layer for winter running?

Layering is key when it comes to winter running. Start with a base layer made of synthetic fabric that wicks sweat away from your skin and helps regulate body temperature.

For the middle layer, opt for something warm and insulating like fleece or wool fabric—avoid thick cotton as it can trap moisture and make you cold.

The outer layer should be wind- and water-resistant, preferably with a hood or other head covering. Wear gloves and a hat that covers your ears to keep you even warmer.

Make sure to dress for the conditions—if it's particularly cold out, consider adding another layer like insulated running tights or a reflective jacket. Finally, don't forget to wear light-colored clothes so you're visible on the roads in low light.

The biggest piece is that you want to keep your core warm. 

Put on Your Gloves before Sleeves before Pants

Cold weather gear should start with gloves. This helps keep your hands warm without restricting them from doing their job of helping you run. It also prevents you from over-heating and sweating too much when you start running, as the gloves will help regulate your body temperature. 

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 UA Storm Run Beanie OSFA Black
  • UA Storm technology repels water without sacrificing breathability Soft ColdGear fabric delivers an ultra-warm feel, with no extra weight All-over reflective print Reflective details on front & back for increased visibility Built-in ponytail hole for enhanced comfort Ribbed cuff

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 label sewn on front
  • Prev. Name: Acrylic Watch Hat
  • English (Publication Language)

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.
Hoxida Rechargeable LED Headlamp - 500 Lumen Super Bright, 1.48 Ounce Lightweight, IPX7 Waterproof, Long Lasting, USB Rechargeable, 60 Degree Adjustable Beam, Sensor Modes, Hand-Free, Green
4,472 Reviews
Hoxida Rechargeable LED Headlamp - 500 Lumen Super Bright, 1.48 Ounce Lightweight, IPX7 Waterproof, Long Lasting, USB Rechargeable, 60 Degree Adjustable Beam, Sensor Modes, Hand-Free, Green
  • [Super bright and 5 Mode] --- C-REE LED (100,000 hours lifespan) with a super bright 500 lumen light your way up to 500ft on the brightest modes ; This Rechargeable Headlamp 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 this headband light 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 Cycling Jacket Windproof Thermal Winter Running Cold Weather Gear Waterproof Softshell Warm Black Size XL
  • These women's cycling jackets are made of three-layer composite material with a soft fleece interior retains body heat
  • Full length zipper for easy venting, internal draft flap with zipper garage seals in warmth, high cut double layer collar for warmth and comfort
  • Women's winter running jacket with two hand pockets and one back pocket with zippers securely store your items like 5.5 "mobile phone

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.

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 SM Black
61 Reviews
Under Armour Men's ColdGear Run Tights SM Black
  • Dual-layer ColdGear construction combines a smooth, fast-drying exterior with a brushed, heat-trapping interior|Material wicks sweat & dries really fast|4-way stretch construction moves better in every direction|Anti-odor technology prevents the growth of odor-causing microbes|Encased elastic waistband with internal drawcord for a perfect stay-put fit|Built-in brief for enhanced coverage & support|Center back secure, zip storage pocket|Reflective details for low-light runs

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

What temperature is too cold for jogging?

The temperature range for jogging is broad, but generally speaking it's recommended to avoid running in temperatures below 30°F.

At this point, the body begins to struggle to keep itself warm and you start losing heat faster than you can generate it. 

In addition, running on cold days makes your muscles work harder, increasing the risk of strain or injury. If a winter run is necessary despite the cold temperatures, take precautions like wearing extra layers and covering exposed skin.

What if I get too hot while running?

If you find yourself getting too hot while running in winter, remove a layer and tie it around your waist. This will help cool down your core temperature without having to stop and take off all of your clothing.

If you're still feeling overheated, slow down or take a break to allow your body to cool off. With these tips and some practice, winter running can be both safe and enjoyable! 

What to Wear for Cold Weather Running: Conclusion

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 2023-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journeyAbout Jeremy. 

I have run over 250 races including the California International Marathon, Clarksburg Country Run, and various other 5K & 10K races throughout the United States. I am a former Athletics department employee at University of the Pacific and Shoe Consultant with Dicks Sporting Goods

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