Cold Weather Running Gear Guide

Cold Weather Running Gear Guide

Learn about the components of a winter running wardrobe, read tips for layering based on the weather outside, and hear our recommendations for best cold-weather running gear for men and women.
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As the days get shorter, the leaves slowly disappear from the trees, and the temperatures creep ever colder, our dreams of crisp fall running slowly fade away. The best running weather is behind us, so it’s understandable if it takes a little more effort to get out the door for a run. For these times, good cold weather running gear will do wonders for keeping you motivated to do just that.

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How to Assemble a Winter Running Wardrobe

Unlike what you run in in warmer months, cold weather running gear and apparel can be dauntingly expensive, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Here’s some simple advice to help you home in on what you may need to get through the winter.

Start close to the skin

No matter how cold the temperature, your body is going to generate heat when you run, and as result, you’re going to sweat.

As you likely know, moisture and the cold don’t mix, so you want to get that sweat away from your skin. That’s why the best investment you can make to start is in a good moisture-wicking base layer top that will keep you warm and dry. 

The same goes for pants/tights, a hat, and gloves. You can always layer less technical clothing on top as the temperature drops.

Layer, Layer, Layer

That brings us to our next point: layering is your friend.

You’re going to get warmer as your run goes along either because you’re running early in the morning and the air around you is, in fact, getting warmer, or because your body is generating heat from exercising.

It’s much better to have multiple layers you can strip off midway through your run and carry or tie around your waist than to be trapped overheating in one single, giant, overly warm layer.

Dress as if it is 10 degrees warmer than it actually is

You’re not walking the dog or standing in the stands at a football game. You’re going for a run, so you don’t want to dress the same as you would for less exerting activities.

As you run, your body is going to heat up more than you expect.

You want to feel a little chilly (but not freezing) during the first mile since that means you’ll heat up and feel comfortable for the bulk of your run.


The Best Cold-Weather Running Gear

With those tips in mind, here is the best gear you can get for running in the cold. We’ve broken down each category into items for “cold” and “really cold” weather.

Roughly speaking, “cold” refers to temperatures between 35 and 50 degrees. Think late fall and early winter.

"Really cold” is for temperatures colder than 35 degrees. You might make adjustments for things like wind, sunlight, and your personal body heat and tolerance for the cold, but that’s generally what we’re talking about.

Gloves for Cold Weather: Smartwool Active Fleece Glove

Unless you live in the tundra, Smartwool Active Fleece Gloves are perfect cold weather running gloves

Made from Merino wool, they feel soft and luxurious against the skin while wicking moisture to keep your hands dry even when you break into a sweat.

Smartwool Active Fleece Gloves are also smartphone friendly, as the thumb and index fingers are touchscreen compatible so you can easily change tracks or answer that call without taking off your gloves.

Smartwool Fleece Active Gloves

Gloves for Really Cold Weather: Janji Vortex Wind Block Gloves

At their most basic level, the Janji Wind Block Gloves are the simple stretchy fleece glove that is a staple for all winter runners.

Looking deeper, they are so much more.

In addition to that soft, stretchy fleece, Janji Vortex Wind Block Gloves come with a mitten hood that your hands can hunker down in for protection against rain, wind, and snow.

And, again, the thumb and index fingers are touchscreen compatible so you don’t have to remove your gloves to change tracks or respond to an urgent text message.

Most importantly, longer cuffs ensure complete coverage for those sleeves that always seem an inch or two too short.

Janji Vortex Wind Block Gloves

Hat: Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible Cuffed Beanie

There’s nothing groundbreaking with this cold weather running hat, but there doesn’t need to be.

Merino wool will keep you warm in nearly any temperature while wicking moisture so you don’t end up with a layer of frost around your skull after a hard effort in the cold.

Despite how warm it is, it is super thin so you won’t feel like you’re overheating at any point. This is a simple Merino wool hat that will get you through temps from the chilly to the frigid.

Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible Cuffed Beanie

Headband: Smartwool Thermal Merino 250 Reversible Headband

With a double-layer band of 250 Merino wool, this headband will keep your ears warm in any temperature.

It’s thin enough that you can even layer a hat or beanie on top of it for the rain or arctic temperatures.

Anecdotally, it also fits perfectly under a bike helmet, making this a versatile piece that you can wear this headband all winter long—even if you’re not running.

Smartwool Thermal Merino 250 Reversible Headband

Socks: Feetures Merino 10 Cushion Quarter Socks

If you’re planning on braving a harsh winter of running, you probably have a favorite running sock that you’re loathe to leave on the shelf for the next few months.

While we can't change the weather, we can recommend Feetures Merino 10 Cushion Quarter Socks as your go-to cold weather running socks. These come with everything that earned Feetures socks a spot on our Hot Weather Running Gear recommendations.

Feetures Merino 10 Cushion Quarter Socks hug the foot perfectly, wick moisture, and feel great on your feet. Plus, they come with the extra warmth and odor management of Merino wool.

These socks are also available in the no-show tab style, but the quarters are our favorite to plug that inevitable gap around your ankle between your winter running tights and your shoes.

Feetures Merino 10 Cushion Quarter Socks


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The Best Women’s Cold Weather Running Apparel

Skip to Women's Cold Weather Base Layer Tops

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Women's Cold-Weather Base Layer Tops 

When the temperature falls below 40 degrees, it's time to think about layering up. Here are our recommendations for cold weather base layer apparel for women.


Cold: Women's Rabbit EZ Tee LS

We’ve described the long-sleeve Rabbit EZ Tee as the softest running shirt you’ll ever own, and that’s exactly what you want out of a cold weather running top layer.

The Rabbit EZ Tee LS is a thin, moisture-wicking long-sleeve running shirt that is great on its own for crisp fall weather and even better as a base layer when the temperature calls for layering up.


Women's Rabbit EZ Tee Long Sleeve


Really Cold: Women's Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer Crew

This 100% Merino wool base layer will keep you warm, dry, and odor-free throughout the winter months.

If you’ve never tried Merino wool, you’re missing a key element of assembling a winter running wardrobe. Flatlock stitching in the seams reduces chafing, and a back body seam wraps to the front for an enhanced fit for all body types. 

Women's Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer Crew

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Women's Quarter Zip Running Tops

Cold: Women's Nike Dri-Fit Swift Element UV ¼-Zip

This versatile and loose-fitting quarter-zip is ideal for layering up during cold weather runs.

Throw it on top of a short or long sleeve tee shirt when you need a bit of extra warmth, or wear it on its own when the temperatures aren’t quite so cold.

You’ll love the thumbholes that allow you add a bit of warmth to your hands and ensure the sleeves stay in place while you run.

If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself wearing this nearly every day during the winter.

Women's Nike Dri-Fit Swift Element UV ¼-Zip


Really Cold: Women's Craft ADV SubZ LS 2

You’ll feel cozy in this turtleneck quarter-zip no matter how low the temperature gets.

When it's really cold out, the SubZ LS 2's fold-over mittens and thumbholes provide extra warmth and polyester mesh in high-heat areas like the armpits and neck enhance breathability and moisture management.

An envelope pocket on the left sleeve is perfect for carrying a few gels and is also large enough to hold most phones so you won’t have to dig through five layers of clothing to access what you need.

Women's Craft ADV SubZ Long Sleeve 2

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Women's Running Jackets & Outer Layers 

These outer layers will keep you warm and safe, as they're built for the cold and also feature reflective material to keep you visible when running on roads during the darker winter months.


Cold: Women's Nike Dri-Fit Jacket

With a reflective print covering the whole jacket, you can feel safe and comfortable on early-morning or evening runs.

Smooth sweat-wicking fabric will manage moisture and keep you dry as you start to sweat. This jacket is perfect for layering as it offers a loose fit which comfortably accommodates a layer or two underneath. A cinching hood locks it in place to keep it on your head and the wind and rain out.

Women's Nike Dri-Fit Jacket



Really Cold: Women's Craft ADV SubZ Jacket 3

Conquer all the elements with the Craft ADV SubZ Jacket 3.

A Ventair front body keeps the wind out and your core warm. A brushed recycled polyester liner adds warmth and feels soft and comfortable with every stride. Whenever the winter weather feels too daunting for a run, turn to this jacket and feel daunted no more.

Lastly, reflective details on the sleeves help you stand out against your surroundings.

Women's Craft ADV SubZ Jacket 3


Vest: Women's Smartwool Smartloft Vest

If we were to design the perfect outer layer for the winter, it would probably look a lot like the Smartwool Smartloft Vest.

First, you’ve got Merino wool to keep you warm, wick moisture, and control odor. Then, a recycled nylon front panel provides wind and water protection when the weather calls for it.

Lastly, Smartwool’s regular fit is slightly tailored for a sleek look that accommodates layering. 

Women's Smartwool Smartloft Vest

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Women's Running Tights

Cold: Women's On Performance Tights 7/8

The On Performance Tights ⅞ are ready for cold-weather performance.

An adjustable wide waistband accommodates a range of body types and can adapt to your chosen layers. 

A zippered back pocket can hold keys, cards, and other valuables, while large side pockets are perfect for gels and your phone. Moisture-wicking flexible fabric will keep you dry and moving in chilly temps.

On Performance Tights 7/8


Really Cold: Women's Smartwool Merino Active Fleece Tights

When the weather gets truly cold, there’s nothing more comforting than a soft, fleece-lined running tight.

That brushed Merino wool in these Smartwool tights will keep you feeling warm when the elements are battling against you. That luxurious feeling is balanced with recycled synthetic material on the outside that will help keep the elements out and your legs warm and ready to attack the miles ahead of you.

Smartwool Merino Active Fleece Tights


Women's Cold-Weather Running Pants

Cold: Women's Saucony Boston Pants

The beauty of Saucony Boston Pants is in their simplicity.

These classic women's running pants come with a tapered, jogger-style fit that will look as good on the run as they will at the coffee shop for brunch after.

They're super soft and feel great against the skin and their relaxed fit makes them an ideal choice to wear over tights when you need an extra layer.

Saucony Boston Pants are the perfect fit for any outfit and can be a part of any chilly to super-cold running wardrobe.

Women's Saucony Boston Pants


Really Cold: Women's Craft Pro Hydro Pants

If you’re looking for the perfect running pant for really cold weather, stop here.

Windproof and waterproof on the front and with moisture and temperature management and venting on the back, Craft Pro Hydro Pants allow you to stay warm and dry in virtually any weather conditions.

A wide waistband fits comfortably above the hip to ensure there won’t be any slipping or sagging.

Zip closures on the legs allow for easy on and off for when you’re shedding layers mid-workout or slipping them off for the comfort of a warm cup of hot chocolate afterward at home.

Women's Craft Pro Hydro Pants

The Best Men’s Cold Weather Running Apparel

Skip to Men's Cold Weather Base Layer Tops

Skip to Men's Quarter Zip Running Tops

Skip to Men's Running Jackets & Outer Layers

Skip to Men's Running Tights

Skip to Men's Running Pants

If you've skipped to this point, we've defined "cold" as temperatures between 35 and 50 degrees, while "really cold" is any temperature below 35 degrees. 

That being said, here are our cold weather running gear and apparel recommendations for men.


Men's Cold-Weather Base Layer Tops

Below 40 degrees are when base layers should start coming into play. Here are our recommendations for men's cold weather base layers to add for winter runs.


Cold: Men's Long Sleeve Janji Run All Day Tech

This technical long sleeve tee is made with cling-free, moisture-wicking, and odor-resistant fabric to keep you dry.

The Janji Run All Day Tech Long Sleeve is perfect without layering on a crisp fall day and thin enough that you can easily layer additional items on top of it when things get frigid.

Men's Long Sleeve Janji Run All Day Tech


Really Cold: Men's Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer Crew

You’re going to see merino wool more than a few times in this guide and for good reason: the merino wool in this base layer does everything you need when running in the cold.

It wool wicks moisture.

It regulates temperature.

It controls odor exceptionally well.

It feels really good against your skin.

The Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer is 100% merino wool and is way warmer than it appears.

I can get away with it as my only upper body layer on most winter days here in Washington, DC.

Men's Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer Crew

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Men's Quarter-Zip Running Tops

Cold: Men's Rabbit EZ Zip 2.0

The Rabbit EZ Zip 2.0 is basically a quarter-zip version of the aforementioned Janji Run All Day long sleeve base layer.

This super soft EZ Zip is a little looser fitting, making it perfect to throw on top of a short or long sleeve tee on chillier days.

It also has thumb holes to keep the tops of your hand warm on those days that aren’t quite cold enough for gloves, but not warm enough to let your hands just hang out there.

Men's Rabbit EZ Zip 2.0


Really Cold: Men's Craft ADV SubZ Long Sleeve 2

This quarter-zip is thicker than the Rabbit EZ Zip 2.0 above, and, more importantly, comes up higher at the neck for more of a turtleneck fit if you zip it up all the way. In addition to thumb holes, it also has roll over sleeve ends that can create a makeshift mitten for you in the cold. Ventilation in the armpits ensures you won’t overheat.

To top it off, it even has a sleeve pocket that can fit a phone for easy access.

Men's Craft ADV SubZ Long Sleeve 2

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Men's Running Jackets & Outer Layers

Cold: Men's On Weather Jacket

On rainy or windy days, you want cold weather running gear that offers a little bit of protection from the elements without adding much bulk. The On Weather Jacket is lightweight, windproof, and water-resistant with a cap-constructed hood that actually stays up while you run.

With a water-resistant front chest pocket for your phone and 360-degree ventilation in the torso, you can run comfortably and with peace of mind that your device is dry. And, if you no longer need it mid-run, the On Weather Jacket rolls up into its own pocket for easy carrying!

Men's On Weather Jacket Lumos


Really Cold: Men's Craft ADV SubZ Jacket 3

Each winter, there are a handful of days where you just don’t want to go outside. It’s windy. It’s cold. And, man, it’s so cozy under this blanket. With the Craft ADV SubZ Jacket 3, you at least won’t have the cold and wind to fear.

This is a cold weather running jacket that will save your workout routine on freezing days when you can't get to the gym.

A Ventair front panel features a three-layer design that will protect you from the wind and keep your core warm. Thumb holes on the sleeves are clutch on those days when your gloves can’t keep your hands warm on their own.

Men's Craft ADV SubZ Jacket 3


Vest: Men's Pacers Performance Vest

The Pacers Performance Vest is a cold-weather running vest that's perfect for those in-between mornings where it’s too cold for a single base layer but not cold enough to bring in the heavy hitters.

Warm and lightweight down paneling keeps the core warm while tech fabric on the sides provides ventilation while keeping the fit light.

Three zip pockets – two hip, one breast – offer plenty of storage for keys, gels, and phone.

Pacers Running Performance Vest

Men's Running Tights

Cold: Men's Rabbit EZ Tights

Rabbit EZ Tights are cold weather running tights that are perfect for mid-Atlantic winters.

Rabbit’s Quick N’ Fit fabric does everything you want from a performance material – it wicks moisture, prevents chafing, keeps you warm, and feels exceptionally soft on the skin.

You may find yourself hanging around in them longer after runs because you just won’t want to take them off!

Men's Rabbit EZ Tight


Really Cold: Men's Brooks Momentum Thermal Tights

When the winds are howling and the temperature drops, you need more than a thin tight out on the roads.

The Brooks Momentum Thermal Tight has a lightly brushed thermal interior to add an additional layer of warmth when you need it. These warm tights will help you get the mileage in when the weather doesn’t seem to want you to.

Men's Brooks Momentum Thermal Tight

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Men's Running Pants

Cold: Men's Nike Phenom Elite Knit Pants

Phenom Elite Knit Pants are slim-fit, tapered running pants allow for free movement on your winter runs.

Mesh ventilation in high-heat areas guarantees that you won’t overheat as your body temperature rises. With plenty of pockets for storing your essentials and a flattering fit, you’ll want to wear these even when you’re not running.

Men's Nike Phenom Elite Knit Pant


Really Cold: Men's Craft ADV Essence Wind Pants

Even the warmest fabrics can’t keep out the chill of a cold gust of wind or many miles in freezing rain.

The Craft ADV Essence Wind Pant comes with waterproof and windproof panels in the front and lower backside to keep you dry, draft-free, and warm in the worst conditions.

The inside is brushed for a soft feel that keeps you even warmer. Your essentials will be protected from the elements as well with two zippered side pockets.

Men's Craft ADV Essence Wind Pant

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