Here Is the Best Cold Weather Running Gear, Tested by Our Experts

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Running in the cold can be downright miserable. Numb hands, cold and wet feet, and howling wind can lead the most ambitious runners to question their daily run—or cause them to retreat to the treadmill. At the same time, there’s something special about going for a run in arctic-like temperatures. After finishing, there’s a sense of accomplishment and an oddly refreshing feeling—the more horrible the conditions, the greater the satisfaction. However, there is a fine line between enjoying wintery runs and cursing your way through them. 

Having the right cold-weather running gear and knowing how to use it is essential for surviving the long winter months. I’ve been running and coaching for more than 25 years, and I can’t tell you how many people don’t know how to dress appropriately for cold-weather running. This means wearing the correct fabric in the right weather conditions and not over or underdressing, which is not an easy task by any means. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s the best cold-weather running gear you can buy to keep your hands toasty, feet dry and warm, and a smile on your face even through the worst winter conditions.

Best Winter Running Shoes

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 GTX Trail-Running Shoes

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 GTX Trail-Running Shoes


What We Like
  • Superb cushioning

  • On/off-road hybrid performance

What We Don't Like
  • Stiff feeling upper

Two things make one shoe more suitable for winter running than another: The first is a weather-resistant upper; the second, and perhaps more important if you deal with snow and slush, is a grippy outsole. The Hoka Challenger ATR 6 Gore-Tex has both. While technically a trail shoe, the ATR 6 performs like a hybrid trail/road shoe and is just as competent on roads as on trails. The ride is what you’ve come to expect from the classic Hoka pillow-like cushioning. Modest 4-millimeter lugs, which you don’t get on road shoes, give some added security in slick conditions. 

I’ve been running in the Hoka Challenger ATR since the first edition and it’s one of the best all-around trail/road hybrid shoes I’ve tested. For running over snow and sleet, I’m a huge fan of trail shoes because the grippier outsole gives better traction than a dedicated road shoe. The Challenger ATR 6 has just enough lug depth to grip on the snow but is mild enough so it’s not harsh on concrete, making it an ideal shoe for all-weather running. Personally, I feel waterproof shoes are somewhat of a gimmick. If it’s raining, your feet are going to get wet whether the upper is waterproof or not. However, in the winter (as long as it’s not raining) I find waterproof shoes to be a godsend. A waterproof upper is just enough protection from damp snow to keep your feet dry.

If you’re just not into maximum cushioning shoes or don’t have to deal with snow, ice, or slush and want a straight road shoe for winter use, I recommend the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 Shield. Perfect for easy miles to tempo runs, the winterized storm-tread outsole gets superb traction in wet conditions, while a water repellent upper keeps your feet warm and dry.

Price at time of publish: $150

Best Running Shoes for Snow & Ice

La Sportiva Blizzard GTX Trail Running Shoe

La Sportiva Blizzard GTX Trail Running Shoe


What We Like
  • Outstanding grip on ice 

  • Ankle-high gaiter keeps snow out

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult to get on

As a running coach, I have at least one runner get an injury every year from slipping on ice or snow that could have been prevented with proper footwear. My solution? The La Sportiva Blizzard GTX. It’s hands down the best running shoe for snow and ice-covered terrain I’ve ever tested. Last year I spent a few months in Mammoth Lakes, California. During that time, we got over 10 feet of snow and the La Sportiva Blizzard GTX was a lifesaver. These puppies are amazing. Not once did I fall or slip, even over sheer ice.

Classified as a trail running shoe, the toothy 7-millimeter lugs with tungsten alloy spikes grip the ice like a pair of crampons (spikes ice climbers use to climb sheer ice). While it’s best to keep these on all snow and ice runs, when I had to run over dry concrete the spikes were manageable, much like a pair of cross-country spikes. The grippy outsole keeps you surefooted on slick surfaces and the Gore-Tex upper with a four-way stretch ankle-high water-resistant gaiter keeps your feet dry and warm, even when post-holing through ankle-deep snow.

Price at time of publish: $235

Best Tights

New Balance Men's Impact Run Heat Tight

New Balance Men's Impact Run Heat Tight

New Balance

What We Like
  • Zippered ankles

  • Tons of pockets

  • Liner is comfortable against the skin

What We Don't Like
  • Long inseam

  • Can be too warm for some

For those downright cold days when the wind cuts right through most fabrics, reach for these thick warm tights. Designed for especially frigid days when normal tights won’t do, they’re made from a soft poly-knit construction with warm brushed fleece inside. Two side drop-in pockets and a zippered side pocket keep your phone, fuel, or whatever you need to carry secure and bounce-free. The one feature these have that most tights these days don’t is the zippered ankles. I’ll often warm up in tights and do my workout in shorts. The zippered ankles allow me to remove my tights without having to take off my shoes.

I heat up extremely fast, so these tights are a bit too warm for me in anything over 20 degrees F. My go-to tights are the non-heat edition, New Balance’s Impact Run Tight or Smartwool's Run Tight.

Best Cold Weather Running Pants

Janji Transit Tech Pants

Janji Transit Tech Pants


What We Like
  • Trim fit

  • Shorter inseam

  • Durable, weather-resistant

What We Don't Like
  • Lack of ankle zippers

For those that prefer a looser fit, as opposed to skin-tight, Janji’s Transit Tech pants are perfect for dodgy wintery weather conditions. The cut is slim and tapered through the leg, making it the perfect medium between skin-tight and a relaxed fit. They’re ideal for adding a base layer on those downright frigid days or wearing as everyday athletic pants. They are made with a recycled polyester and spandex blend with plenty of stretch built-in for unencumbered mobility. While they aren’t fully waterproof, they are DWR treated to shed light rain and shield from mild to moderate wind gusts. There are two standard zip side pockets and another small one designed for phones, wallets, and keys.

During the winter I practically live in these pants. They go way beyond a pair of running pants and function as everyday activewear for me. I’ve got a 29-inch inseam and most pants bunch up around my ankles, which I can’t stand. Men’s size small is the perfect length and sits comfortably at my ankles. I found the polyester and spandex blend with DWR treatment to block the wind better than most pants and tights and also ward off light precipitation. If there was one thing I wish they had, it's zipper ankles, so I wouldn’t have to take off my shoes to remove them. Other than that, they are the perfect pair of activewear pants.

Price at time of publish: $94

Best Base Layer

Ibex Journey Long Sleeve

Ibex Journey Long Sleeve


What We Like
  • Super soft

  • Wicks sweat and moisture like other wool products

  • Odor resistance for less washing

What We Don't Like
  • None

I’ll admit I have a problem. I’m addicted to wool. I just haven’t found a better-performing fabric. Wool keeps you warm, yet allows heat to escape so you don’t sweat, making it one of the warmest, moisture-wicking fabrics. When you do sweat, it pulls the moisture off your skin so you don’t feel clammy. The Ibex Journey Long Sleeve is one of the softest wool layers I’ve tested and felt less itchy than other wool shirts. It’s made with 89 percent merino wool with an 11 percent nylon core for added durability. As an added bonus, wool also has a natural odor resistance, so that means less washing between runs.

Until this test, I hadn’t tried any of Ibex's wool products and now it’s my go-to. Even though I love wool, it does have a rough texture to it. The Ibex Journey Long Sleeve has a smoother feel than most of the wool shirts I’ve worn, making it much more comfortable. In terms of wicking and warmth, it’s on par with all other wool shirts I’ve tested such as the Smartwool Merino 250 and Voormi Merino Tech Tee.

Price at time of publish: $98

Best Warm Running Jacket

Jack Wolfskin Men's Tasman Jacket

Jack Wolfskin Men's Tasman Jacket

Jack Wolfskin

What We Like
  • Excellent freedom of movement

  • Warm, yet breaths where it needs to

What We Don't Like
  • Relaxed fit

  • Lack of thumb holes

Part down jacket, part breathable outer layer, the Jack Wolfskin Tasman Jacket is best suited for the harshest winter environments. This hybrid high-output jacket features a windproof STORMLOCK fabric that’s 700 down-filled on the front to block those bone-chilling winter headwinds, while the rest of the jacket is a soft stretchy breathable polyester. Hats off to Jack Wolfskin—between the stretchy nature that allows free movement in all directions and placement of down insulation along the front, wearing the Tasman Jacket is truly a uniquely pleasurable experience.

Or, here's how another tester put it: "I admit I chuckled to myself when I first pulled the Tasman out of its packaging. The 700-fill down combined with tighter fleece on the arms and back looked—and felt—a bit goofy. But that initial amusement has since turned into appreciation for a truly unique winter-running garment. I'm a big vest person for winter running, but the down-filled front basically eliminates the need for that layer. The stretch in the arms and back is unlike any other cold-weather running jacket I've worn. And while I don't wear a hood while running, I like having one just in case I wear a jacket for other outdoor pursuits, which I have for this one. If you're running in a storm or on a particularly gusty day, I'd layer with a hardshell jacket. But for those sunny, cold days—like when this jacket was tested on Colorado's Front Range—the Tasman is the perfect outer."

Another fantastic but rather expensive warm jacket is the Voormi High-E Hoody.

Price at time of publish: $152

Best Waterproof Running Jacket

Mammut Kento Light HS Hooded

Mammut Kento Light HS Hooded


What We Like
  • Thin and lightweight

  • Reliable waterproof protection 

What We Don't Like
  • Separate stuff sack 

The problem with most waterproof jackets is they lack adequate breathability for high-output activities such as running. Mammut’s Kento Light HS Hooded is uniquely situated as carrying the highest waterproofing rating (20,000mm) with the highest breathability rating (20,000mm), giving you the best of both worlds. Made with 100 percent Polyamide with a 100 percent Polyurethane membrane, the minimalist design is incredibly lightweight but keeps you well-protected against precipitation, whether it be rain or snow. It’s worth noting there’s little in terms of insulation, as it’s purely an outer shell, but with a proper base layer, like the Ibex Journey Long Sleeve, it’s one of the best.

Depending on where you live, cold weather running can often be accompanied by snow and rain. Testing rainwear can be a bit challenging when you live in California. However, I was able to test this jacket in some abnormally wet and cold weather, giving me an opportunity to put it through the wringer. I’m impressed. I have yet to find a truly waterproof jacket I can wear without overheating, and while I still overheated, it’s the best I’ve tested, thanks to the breathability rating mentioned above. In terms of being waterproof, this is sure to keep you 100 percent dry (thanks to the waterproofing rating listed above). I found it quite impressive how thin it is. The one flaw I’ll say is I wish it stuffed into its chest pocket. It comes with a separate stuff sack that I already lost.

Price at time of publish: $219

Best Gloves

TrailHeads Convertible Running Gloves

TrailHeads Convertible Running Gloves


What We Like
  • Extended wrist cuffs

  • Touchscreen capable

  • Stowable weather-proof mitten

What We Don't Like
  • None

There’s nothing like a warm pair of mittens to keep your fingers from freezing. However, when it comes to tasks that require any bit of dexterity, there’s nothing like a pair of gloves. Trailheads Convertible Running Gloves solve that problem by giving you both—a soft, warm pair of gloves with a waterproof mitten shell that can be tucked into the wrist when you don’t want it. They’re packed with thoughtful features like a fleece-covered thumb to wipe your brow or glasses, extended wrist cuffs to ensure your wrists aren’t exposed, and neon and reflective stitching to stay visible and safe in the dark.

We took these gloves into some frigid temperatures in the Midwest and Colorado and are pleased to report they held up well. There are definitely burlier gloves on the market, but for runs in temps 20 degrees F and below, they worked. "The obvious bonus of these hybrid gloves/mittens is just that—there's the mitten layer when you need it and the ability to tuck it away when you don't," one tester noted. "I've also found that the touchscreen fabric on the thumb and forefinger is about as good as it gets when it comes to touchscreen-compatible fabric."

Price at time of publish: $38

Best Winter Running Hat

Buff Merino Lightweight Beanie

Buff Merino Lightweight Beanie


What We Like
  • Thin and lightweight

  • Wicks moisture well

What We Don't Like
  • Loses shape quickly

  • Could be too thin for some

If you haven’t figured out how much I like wool as a performance fabric, let me reiterate that now—wool is hands down one of the best thermoregulating materials you can buy. There’s no better place to employ the power of wool than your noggin. But, for someone who overheats very easily, a beanie can still be a bit too much. My solution is usually a headband to allow heat to freely escape from the top of my head. That is, until I tested the Buff Merino Lightweight Beanie. It’s paper-thin and provides just enough warmth without causing me to overheat. 

The Buff Merino Lightweight Beanie gives you just enough warmth without feeling stuffy. The 100 percent eco-friendly merino wool is sourced from non-mulesed sheep and retains warmth, even when damp. Because it’s merino wool (which you know how much I love), it doesn’t soak up any snow or moisture like fleece or polyester. With that being said, if you tend to get cold easily—even while running—this may be too thin. So if your head gets particularly cold I suggest something a little thicker like the Buff Dryflx Beanie, my go-to for super cold days.

Price at time of publish: $27

Best Headlamp

BioLite 750 Lumen No-Bounce Headlamp

BioLite HeadLamp 750


What We Like
  • Extremely bright

  • Rear visibility beam

  • Great battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Confusing to operate

  • Rather heavy and bulky

Running during the colder months will most likely involve some time spent in the dark. Having a bright headlamp can not only make running in the dark more enjoyable but also safer. The BioLite Headlamp 750 is the Cadillac of headlamps—so much so that some may find it too complicated to operate. However, once you figure out its rich feature set, no other headlamp will do.

"To me, running with a headlamp is a necessary annoyance. More annoying? Not getting my daily runs in," one tester put it. "And in the winter months, getting those daily runs in can often require running before dawn or after dusk. And while there are certainly slimmer and lighter headlamps on the market—the Petzl Bindi has been a go-to of mine—there is probably not a safer one with longer battery life. The BioLite 750 has been solid navigating my local trails after dark while running and on a mountain bike."

It puts out a bright 750 lumens with dimmable red, white, strobe, and burst modes and has a dimmable rear red visibility light with solid and strobe—required in many ultras and a nice safety feature on the roads. The 3000 mAh lithium-ion battery recharges via micro USB and lasts 150 hours on low and 7 hours on high. It is on the larger side of the spectrum. If you prefer a slimmer headlamp and are willing to forgo some brightness, the Black Diamond Sprint 225 is a great alternative.

Price at time of publish: $75

Final Verdict

Finding the best running gear is all about experimentation. What works for some will not work for all. But these items are the best we've tested. The technology in materials and features in outdoor gear has escalated quickly and high-performing cold-weather gear is a big piece of that. When in doubt, a piece of wool—particularly merino wool—clothing is ideal for cold-weather running, and something for outer weatherproofing is also recommended.

What to Look for in Cold-Weather Running Gear

Everyone will have slightly different requirements when it comes to winter running gear. However, there are a few universal characteristics to consider when shopping for winter gear. 


Materials matter when it comes to the harsh conditions winter bestows on runners. Some materials are better at keeping you warm, while others are targeted at keeping you dry. Knowing which materials are best for particular weather situations can help you make the right clothing decisions based on the weather you’ll encounter. Gore-Tex, for example, is the leading material for wind and water protection. Another fantastic material for winter running is wool. Wool is a naturally warm material that has outstanding wicking and breathing properties. Other performance materials suitable for winter running include polyester, nylon, and polypropylene. 


Breathability is a measure of how much heat can escape through the fabric. Generally speaking, as material becomes more weatherproof (cold, wind, snow, rain), it also becomes less breathable. While everyone’s tolerance for the cold will vary, it’s important to allow some heat to escape through your layers to avoid overheating and sweating. 

Wind and Water Protection: Resistant vs Proof 

There’s no doubt that at some point during your winter running you’ll encounter precipitation—either in the form of snow, sleet, or rain—and wind. This is where a proper outer layer (aka a jacket) comes in. Jackets typically come in four weather-proofing types: water-resistant, waterproof, wind-resistant, and windproof. Waterproof and windproof generally mean it’s 100 percent protected against that respective element. On the other hand, resistance means it is mostly protected and in extreme weather conditions, will not provide coverage. The main advantage of resistant jackets is they tend to have better breathability. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What should I wear for winter running?

    Figuring out what to wear during winter can be a tricky task. If you underdress, you’ll be cold, and if you overdress, you’ll sweat too much, which can also lead to being cold. The best way to dress for cold weather running is to use a layering system. This is where you’ll use different layers depending on the temperature, wind, or precipitation.

    A three-layer system would be a base-layer, mid-layer, and jacket. A good rule of thumb is to dress for 10 to 20 degrees F warmer than the actual temperature. While you may be cold for the first 10 minutes or so, you’ll be more comfortable and avoid overheating as you warm up throughout your run.

  • Can it get too cold to run?

    According to the American College of Sports Medicine, “exercise can be performed safely in most cold-weather environments without incurring cold-weather injuries.” Toleration levels to running in the cold are highly personal, and everyone has different comfort levels. Running in the cold can be an exhilarating experience if you dress appropriately.

  • Should I change my training during cold weather?

    As a running coach, the two instances in which I recommended adjusting your training are during snow and wind. This is especially true if you have a speed session planned. Running fast over snow and ice can be a recipe for slipping and possibly hurting yourself. I recommend either opting for the treadmill or moving your speed session to another day.

    While wind doesn’t carry the same danger as snow and ice, it does affect your pace. If you’re running into the wind, adjust your pace slower to account for the extra effort it takes to fight the wind.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Cory Smith is a freelance journalist specializing in running, climbing, and fitness-related content and gear review. He’s been an elite-level runner for more than 25 years and a full-time running coach since 2014.

All of the gear in this roundup was tested collectively over hundreds of miles by Smith and Nathan Allen, TripSavvy's outdoor gear editor in California, the Midwest, and Colorado. While both Smith and Allen are now based near California's coast, they have both spent decades combined training in harsh mid-Atlantic, Midwestern, and Rocky Mountain winters.

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