What to wear running in cold weather: Best clothes for winter running gear. Tips for beginners.


So you are motivated to keep on running through the winter!

Good for you! 😉

Signing up for a winter or early spring race can be one of the best ways to stay motivated!

You may even check to see if there’s a snowshoeing race near you so you can mix up your winter running too.


I think I can say that my proudest winter running season was when I completed 100 runs in 100 days.

This doesn’t mean that I ran for 100 days straight with 0 rest days. I’m a believer in rest days and I did have rest days. And that means on some days I doubled up. On at least one day I even ran 3 times.

There’s a winter running challenge for 100 runs in 100 days as a way to keep you running through the cold winter days.

This challenge isn’t for everyone as you should have some sort of base built up before doing it.

But for some people, it can be the right motivation to keep you running through the winter!

And while that specific challenge isn’t for beginners, you can adapt it in a way to make it work for where you are in your running journey.


Now, when it comes to running in the winter…


The best things to wear when running will depend on a few different things:

  • The temperature – running in 30, 40, or 50 degree temps can make a difference in the best clothes to wear. But that’s where layers for cold weather come in!
  • The weather – aside from the temperature, you’ll want to pay attention to the weather in terms of whether it’s sunny, cloudy, or windy. These things can make a big difference in how hot you’ll get when running.
  • The length of your run – in general, the longer you run, the more


One more thing:

You don’t want to be so overdressed that you are hot from the moment you step out of the door.

Remember that you’ll be running!

That means that your body temperature is going to rise and you’re just going to get hotter as you keep running.

This mean that it’s okay (and maybe even GOOD) for you to be cold the first 5 minutes or so of your run.

You’ll warm up as you keep running!



What running clothes to wear in cold weather?!


Since different people have a different amount of tolerance to cold, so just like hiking in cold weather, it might take a few times of running out in the cold to figure out what will work for you, and what you like best for running.

As you are experimenting, it could be good to wear extra, since it’s easier to deal with being hot than it is being cold.

You can always take off clothes, but when you’re out on a run, you can’t magically make more layers appear!


So here’s some running gear that you may want to put on your winter running clothes list.


There are affiliate links below. Because you should totally check out some of these things on Amazon.


1. Moisture-wicking base layer shirt

When you’re running, this might be one of the most important pieces of clothing.

You WILL be sweating when you run, and you want to minimize the impact of that sweat as much as possible.

That means you definitely want to AVOID wearing cotton.


Because cotton just soaks up your sweat.

Wearing a moisture-wicking shirt means that you’ll help to keep the sweat to the minimum. This also means less sweat will soak through your clothes to other layers.

You can make this a short sleeve or long sleeve base layer.

Base layer shirt for women and for men


2. Fleece insulating layer

Each layer you wear for cold weather will serve a purpose.

For the base layer, the biggest thing is to minimize the sweat.

The goal of the insulting layer is to trap the warm air, while also being breathable.

A fleece jacket be a good choice for running, as you’ll find fleece jackets that are designed to be breathable.

If it’s not cold enough to warrant running with a fleece jacket, your insulating layer could also just be another loose long sleeve shirt.

Or, you might skip this layer altogether and just go with the outer layer.

Fleece jacket for women and for men


3. Running vest or running jacket

Whether you choose to wear a running vest or a running jacket can come down to personal preference.

A running vest can also be better in “warmer” temperatures. (That would be warmer for winter temperatures.)

If it’s really windy, you might like the jacket better since it will block the cold air more.

Running vest for women and for men
Running jacket for women and for men


4. Moisture-wicking base layer tights

Although your legs tend to not get as sweaty as your upper body, ideally you’ll also want to wear some moisture-wicking pants as well for the same reason as the top.

Base layer tights for women and for men


5. Running tights or pants

If it’s really cold, you’ll want to wear at least 2 layers of pants.

This second layer can be a bit more loose. Once again, this can serve as an insulating layer to trap warm air and keep it close to your body.


6. Moisture-wicking underwear

Well, you want to minimize the impact of sweat on all parts of your body!

Moisture-wicking underwear for women and for men


7. Wool socks

Wool socks can be good in general not only for the warmth, but they are also good for preventing blisters too.

Sweaty feet can lead to blisters with the friction that’s caused, and merino wool socks have been known to minimize this.

The thing about running shoes is that since they are designed to be more breathable, they allow for more air to come through.

And if you’re running in cold weather, that’s cold air!

So then if you’re running in really cold weather, say below 30, then your feet might really start to feel this.

So you might consider adding a second pair of socks, your normal moisture-wicking athletic socks, to act as a “liner” under the wool socks.

If you do wear wool socks or multiple pairs of socks, you’ll probably have to adjust the laces on your running shoes because of the thickness of the socks.

And make sure you end up with enough room in your shoes that your feet don’t feel too constricted.

If you have a pair of trail running shoes, those might work out better since they are generally a little less holey than regular running shoes. (Also they will give you more traction if you’re running on roads and sidewalks with some packed snow remaining.)

Or, winter can be an excuse to take up trail running – on snow-packed trails!

Merino wool socks
Trail running shoes for women and for men


8. Beanie or ear warmers

Whether you want a hat or just something to cover your ears can depend on just how cold it is.

If it’s in the 40s, your head might start to get a little hot if it’s a long run and you’re wearing a winter hat.

For this reason, if you feel your head needs a little bit of wind protection, maybe your breathable mesh hat could go well for a thin layer of protection, along with ear warmers.

You definitely want to protect the ears somehow though, because they can get cold a lot quicker when exposed to wind.

Remember that when you’re running you’re creating a little bit of wind too.


9. Running gloves

You can wear gloves or mittens to protect your fingers from the elements. Or if your jacket or shirt sleeves are long enough, you can protect them from the wind that way!


10. Neck warmer

Depending on what else you wear, your neck might be more exposed. (For example, if you wear a jacket, you might find that the jacket is adequate protection.)

So if the temperatures are dipping below the 30s, you might consider wearing a neck warmer when you run.

If you’re running with wind in really cold temperatures, you might even consider going for a balaclava.

Neck warmer or balaclava


11. Traction for shoes

If you’re running on roads or sidewalks with potentially icy conditions, some traction for your running shoes can be safer.

There are types that you just slip over your running shoes so you don’t have to be so concerned about running over an icy patch and slipping

Traction cleats for ice


BONUS: Snowshoes!

And yeah, look into those snowshoes!

Beginner-friendly snowshoes make a great gift too!

There are national snowshoeing races, and check with your local running store to see if they know of any local races.


What to wear running in cold weather: Best clothes for winter running gear. Tips for beginners.



How to layer clothes for cold weather