2021 is just around the corner – we’re almost there! And for many runners, not only is there a new year to look forward to, it’s also the start of the cold-weather running season. To non-runners, winter running might seem like something that’s just not done, but a poll from Runner’s World reveals that not only do many runners like the cold – they prefer it! But before lacing up and hitting the chilly pavement, runners MUST prepare for the weather. Cold weather running basics include layering up and staying far, far away from cotton. Beyond that, here is Fitletic’s list of the top winter running gear must-haves.
Winter Running Gear Must-Haves
- Good shoes
- Layering pieces
- Hats, earbands, or running hood
- Running belt
For Your Feet
Winter poses two challenges for runners’ feet – cold and ice.
Merino wool is a great natural choice for running socks, as it’s lightweight, warm, and wicking. Synthetic materials such as nylon and lycra are often blended with merino wool to provide strength, support and help socks keep their shape. Whatever you do – stay away from cotton.
Running in the snow can be tricky, as a patch of black ice can creep up out of nowhere. Be extra cautious, even if it hasn’t snowed for a few days. We also recommend wearing shoes with additional traction, such as trail running shoes. Crampons or cleats can also help, but we always urge you to pay attention to your surroundings to prevent injury.
We highly recommend layering up for a winter run. Though it might feel cold at first, you’ll start to feel like it’s 10-20 degrees warmer once you’re a mile or two into your run. If you get too hot, remove a layer. If you get too cold, put it back on! Not only that, multiple layers help keep you warmer than one bulky article of clothing.
- Layer 1: Start by keeping your core warm with a wool or polyblend base layer.
- Layer 2: Next comes your insulating layer (which in some cases might be a second base layer). We recommend investing in both light and heavy-duty running shirts to account for various temperatures.
- Layer 3: Last will be your outer layer. Aim for a lightweight, breathable, windproof, and water-resistant jacket.
Protect Your Noggin
Though the myth about most of your body heat escaping from the head has been debunked, you do need to keep your head warm during your winter runs. Depending on the temperature and even your hairstyle, there are a few options.
- Hats: There are numerous running caps styles, but when choosing one for winter runs, keep fit and moisture control in mind. Avoid loose-fitting caps; select a hat with wicking or breathable material to keep your head dry and warm.
- Earband: A headband or earband is a popular option for warmer days and people who wear their hair in a ponytail or bun. Bonus: earbands help keep your earbuds in place!
- Running hood or balaclava: Full head coverings are generally best saved for the coldest of winter days. Since your mouth will be covered, choosing a moisture wicking fabric is essential.
For Your Stuff
- Phone, Keys, Wallet: Running belts, when worn close to the body, under your clothes, can help keep your phone from freezing up in the cold. This zipperless belt makes it easier to access your phone with gloves on.
- Hydration: It’s easy to ditch the water when it’s cold, but since winter air is typically drier, hydration is even more essential. This handheld hydration band makes it easy to access water when you’re bundled up!
Temperature Rules of Thumb
Once you’ve been running for about 20 minutes, you’ll start to feel like it’s much warmer outside. Avoid overdressing for a run, as it’s possible to overheat!
- 50s – Long or short sleeve tech shirt, shorts, or running tights
- 40s – Long sleeve tech shirt, shorts, or tights
- 30s – Long sleeve tech shirt, running tights, hand & head protection
- 20s – Double layer, running tights, hand & head protection
- 10s – Double layer, windbreaker, heavier duty tights or pants, hand, and head protection
- Single digits – Double layer, windbreaker/jacket, pants, hand protection, head protection, face protection
Pro-tip: Try doing a vigorous warmup near your home or car, shed a layer, and then start your run!
Winter Running Gear by Fitletic
Fitletic fitness belts make it easier to run, walk, hike, or simply run errands around town this winter. Learn more about which Fitletic product fits your lifestyle best. Join the Fitletic community today!