Being properly kitted out for running in cold weather goes a long way in the fight for motivation to get out and actually run. Keeping as dry, comfortable, and warm as possible is key out on the trails. In this post I’ll cover my personal choices in trail running gear for Winter.
As a note, this list is likely to change a fair bit if you’re in an area that gets extreme Winter conditions. I’m based in the UK, and it quite rarely snows where I live. Winter conditions do regularly get to just below zero and there is often a lot of cold, wet weather to deal with.
Three Winter Conditions To Contend With
There are three main areas I focus on when choosing my trail running gear for Winter.
- Light conditions (i.e. running in the dark)
The first eureka moment I had was using light, moisture wicking fabrics for all seasons of running. This helps prevent chafing and keeps you dry.
In Winter this becomes even more important as the cold and wet really don’t go well together.
I have a few different “base layers” that I use (top and bottom). The top baselayer is always long-sleeved. A tight fit is also important to me, as I find it restricts the fabric’s movement, which in turn helps prevent nipple chafe.
Baselayer / Top
My baselayer and top choices for Winter are now the following:
- Odlo performance light long-sleeve baselayer top + any old t-shirt for extra cover/warmth.
- A generic long-sleeve baselayer top + any old t-shirt for extra cover/warmth.
- A few different golf t-shirts that are made from 100% polyester (combined with long arm-warming sleeves which keep my arms warm with just the t-shirts).
For extra warmth instead of throwing a t-shirt over the baselayer, I’ll add a long-sleeve (mostly polyester) top.
The polyester stuff is best to avoid moisture retention. It dries a lot quicker in the wind than what cotton does, and is better to avoid chafing.
For the bottom, I actually switch between running shorts and full-length polyester bottoms depending on how cold it is. Most of the time I can actually run in shorts as I don’t get too many issues with cold legs when running.
- Asics running shorts (polyester/elastane). Sometimes combined with full-length compression socks for longer, colder runs
- Full-length polyester running bottoms, with loops at the bottom end for holding them under my feet (keeps them from riding up)
- Odlo Element Warm tights (full-length)
Trail Running Gear For Winter – Rain Jacket and Gadgets
I use a very cheap and cheerful running rain jacket for now. It’s lightweight, wind resistant, and has a hood that can be pulled tight to cover up most of my face if needed.
Admittedly, this is one area I could do with an upgrade on though as it’s not the best in terms of water resistance! I’ve got my eyes on something from Odlo like this zeroweight pro warm reflect running jacket.
The important points to consider here are of course water and wind resistance, as well as keeping it as lightweight as possible.
To cope with low-light and night running, I’ve got a couple of different head torches, as well as a small handheld torch.
The head torch gives me a wider, directional arc of light, and I sometimes use a small handheld LED torch to give me specific pointable direct light that I use to help avoid sudden holes, tree roots, ditches, etc…
I used a Petzl Tikkina Headlamp which has around 150-200 lumens of brightness and a wide beam. The handheld LED torch is really small, and takes a single AAA battery. It’s perfect for pointing right out in front of me, or ahead for a bit of extra brightness.
Hands / Gloves / Underwear
For gloves, I use thin polyester fabric types with grippy palm/fingers. Trying to hold things or tie shoelaces with thick gloves in an almost impossible task. Thin gloves help here to retain as much agility in the fingers as possible.
The main objective here is to make sure that they’re reasonably waterproof and don’t let too much air through. An extra bonus is they are capacitive touch ‘enabled’. That is they work with touchscreen devices. Very useful if you need to use a smartphone or capacitive touchscreen watch during a run.
I can only comment on men’s underwear for running, but the two that I’ve taken a liking to are Runderwear and Danish Endurance. The Danish Endurance briefs are more cotton, but they’ve not given me any chafing issues.
The Runderwear briefs have a grippy inner lining that prevent them from riding up your legs. I use these for longer runs, but in terms of general comfort I prefer the Danish Endurance ones.
Using layers in Winter is key, as is keeping the layers air tight and of a material that is as moisture wicking as possible.