14 Winter Running Essentials


If you live in a region with a warmer climate and fairly mild winter (think lows in the 40s or occasionally 30s), you likely don't have to put too much thought into the winter gear to buy for colder runs, as a tech long-sleeve and standard pair of tights will usually do the trick. But if you live somewhere that veers well into below-freezing territory, you definitely have to take more into consideration if you're still planning to run outdoors.

Fortunately, we rounded up 14 must-have items from runners who currently or have previously lived in colder climates. Read on to learn what you'll need if you decide to brave the dark and snowy streets or trails this winter. 

Lululemon Down For It All Vest, $148
"I overheat easily, even when it's super cold, so layering with a vest is ideal. It keeps my upper body warm without lots of bulky sleeves, and I love that it also has pockets." – Ali Feller, runner in Weehawken, New Jersey

686 Women's Strap Face Mask, $24.95
"When it's 'why does my face hurt?' cold, I wear this mask. I don't like running with a traditional gaiter that completely covers my nose and mouth because I feel like I can't breath in them, but this has a vented area for the nose and mouth. It's fleece lined, so it's awesome at keeping my face warm." – Julie Verone Boles, runner in Long Beach, New York

Oiselle Super Puff Insulated Mittens, $42
"These are the only mittens/gloves that actually keep my hands warm/hot while running in the winter. It takes me a really long time to warm up, especially my hands, so these are perfect for me!" – Abby McGill, runner in New York City

Smartwool Merino 250 Neck Gaiter, $30
"This is not a scarf, yet also not a turtleneck, but the best of both worlds. There are no ends to tuck like a scarf and it also seals up any way air could reach your neck like a turtleneck. It also tucks into your jacket and can be pulled up over your nose and mouth if it's REALLY cold. I could not survive winter without swathing my neck in this gaiter." – Lela Moore, runner in Brooklyn, New York

Night Runner 270 Lights, $49.95
"These are great for seeing the ground in front of you, which often includes icy patches in winter." – Laura Jackson, runner in Denver 

D.berite Bandless Fleece Ear Warmers, $7.59
"My ears get cold first, and I love these ear caps. I used to run in Massachusetts and now live in Corpus Christi, Texas, and I've actually found these useful in both places. For really cold, windy days you can layer a light merino hat over them, and that's a great combo of protecting while not overheating." – Alissa Mejia, runner in Corpus Christi, Texas

Noxgear Tracer 360 Vest, $39.95
"I'm a college coach in Wisconsin, and we run after 4 p.m. every day. I wear this vest when I run with the team. It's the most visible thing I've found and makes me feel a lot safer running on cold winter nights." – Ellie Waddle, runner in Beloit, Wisconsin

Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System, $55.96
"These are great for running on packed mountain trails and snowmobile trails." – Leslie O'Dell, runner in Albany, New Hampshire

MORE: The Best Weighted Vests on the Market

Sugoi MidZero Bun Toaster, $50
"These are great if worn under your tights, when there is a nasty wind chill, and will keep your butt and thighs from freezing." – Jeannie Sullivan, runner in Chicago

UnderArmour ColdGear Authentic Leggings, $49.99
"I've been running in these classic cold-gear tights for the last 15 years. There's nothing fancy about them (they're not even pocketed), but they keep me warm (even when I lived in Chicago), are reasonably priced and last forever." –Susan Pass, runner in New York City

Ultimate Direction Women's Ultra Jacket V2, $189.95
"This shell was my go-to piece of winter running gear when I was recently living in Pittsburgh because of how incredibly warm it is for how light it is. You don't feel like you are weighed down and yet, on occasion I find myself venting it because I get too warm! It's also packable, so there is never as excuse not to have a water/wind proof layer. It also has hand covers that tuck away that are a godsend if it's raining. Lastly, you can also keep your hands dry and warm by pulling out the extra covers." – Heather Foley, runner in Houston

Oiselle Vim Jacket, $134
"I've tested this jacket on 20-degree runs, and it's definitely the warmest one I've ever owned." – Jen Bigham, runner in Pittsburgh

CEP Women's Athletic Compression Run Socks, $48
"I wear compression socks for most runs in the winter, and I love how thin and comfortable these are. I race in them too, when it's chilly or when I want a little something extra on my lower legs." – Becky Wade, runner in Boulder, Colorado

YakTrax Run Traction Cleats, $40
"These are easy to pull onto regular shoes and keep me from slipping on snow or ice, even while doing speedwork on hills." – Tracy Larson, runner in Breckenridge, Colorado

READ THIS NEXT: 7 Tips for Running Outside in Winter

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