This guide on the best winter running shoes has been updated. Please visit this page to see our selections for 2015.
Tis the season of calorie intake, so keeping one’s running regimen going strong should be a priority. Thing is, winter weather — the snow, slush and cold — is prohibitive at best, especially when freezing, wet feet are almost a certainty. It’s all too tempting to hibernate — or perhaps worse yet, spend an entire season of plodding on a treadmill — instead of hitting the trails.
But, gentlemen, we have options. Waterproofing materials, durable uppers, heavily lugged soles and cold-temperature-fighting tech run rampant in the running shoe world, meaning your feet won’t be dismayed at the prospect of abandoning slippers; in fact, they’ll relish the opportunity. These are the best winter running shoes for facing the cold on pavement, trails and mountains.
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Salomon Speedcross 3 CS
Salomon’s original Speedcross is known for its swagger on the trails, and the Speedcross 3 CS keeps with tradition. It’s outfitted with a Climashield upper that keeps feet dry in more inclement conditions; the ultra-rugged chevron tread ensures good purchase; and the tie-less Quicklace system provides a snug fit with one-handed tightening. Two bold colorways are perfect for showboating on the trails, while an olive look would be at home in boot camp.
La Sportiva Crossover GTX
The Crossover GTX is a beast in harsh conditions: The integrated gaiter features an asymmetrical zipper for comfort and total coverage; a drawcord up top keeps debris and slush from making it inside; and a Gore-Tex lining does additional moisture barrier duty. Coupled with a heavily lugged sole and plenty of shoe all over — but at a relatively modest weight of about 13 ounces — the Crossover GTX is ideal for people who use the word “avid” to describe their trail running.
Montrail Bajada Outdry
Montrail’s Outdry technology involves bonding a waterproof inner membrane directly to the external material, which means no buildup of water or debris in between the two, i.e., what happens in some less-sophisticated waterproof footwear. That translates to a constant weight in all conditions. A tri-lug sole pattern clamps onto terrain while the articulated lacing eyelets grip feet from many directions and provide form-fitting security.
Saucony Kinvara 4 GTX
This is the first version of Saucony’s Kinvara to use breathable and waterproof Gore-Tex uppers to keep out the wet — and as a result, they’re also minimally insulated. A moisture-wicking sockliner and memory foam heel pods modulate comfort while the brand’s Powergrid heel insert keeps the foot stable laterally. The Kinvara’s tread is not as chunky as others on our list, so rough terrain might be out of the question.
Helly Hansen Kenosha HT
Purpose-built for the trail, the Kenosha is bolstered where it counts by tough thermoplastic materials to combat the wear you’d expect from rugged terrain, and features an extra grippy patch at the front of the sole for added stability. The upper membrane is waterproof and breathable, and the shoe’s low profile keeps weight low and comfort high.
The North Face Ultra Guide GTX
We’ve taken heat from friends who think TNF doesn’t make proper shoes for running, but it only took us one 50-miler in the Single Track Hayasa II to provide a counter argument. The Ultra Guide GTX takes trail capability into all-weather territory. The tightly woven mesh uppers are tough as nails, and their Gore-Tex membrane provides a waterproof experience. A TPU-welded midfoot and EVA midsole are on stability duty and absorb shock however your foot comes down on the trail.
Altra Lone Peak 1.5
The Lone Peak is not only named after a mountain — it’s engineered to tackle running on them. The multi-layer sole is designed to divert rocks and stones to the more robust midsole in the interest of maintaining ankle stability and traction. These are quick drying rather than waterproof, but their light weight and grip-heavy tread will be a favorite of trail and distance runners.
Nike Lunarglide+ 5 Shield
Fashionable runners should look no further than Nike’s customizable runner, which offers multiple graphics and reflective colors from which to choose. Lunarlon cushioning and Flywire tech provide a comfortable footfall and snug support while a heel support clip tenses around the foot as weight is applied to enhance rigidity. Microfleece lines the collar and tongue for added warmth, and a water-resistant upper keeps things dry in winter weather.
Karhu Flow Trail WP
Wrap up the Karhu Flow Trail like you’re giving it as a present to an amphibious creature and you’ve got the Flow Trail WP. It has sealed seams and a rugged mud guard keep water out; its mesh construction allows for much-needed ventilation. Its low profile and lightweight construction doesn’t detract from Karhu’s fulcrum technology (what the brand is known for), which assists in forward propulsion uphill, downhill and on level ground.
This lightweight trail runner features a mesh and microfiber upper to promote drainage and leather toe and heel guards for durable protection while bumping and grinding (against rocks and debris) on the trail. The 2mm footbed moderates temperature and microbes to prevent odor, while EVA material in the sole controls pressure points and supports a midsole strike. On the tread, forefoot lugs are angled for climbing and rear-facing lugs on the heel are designed for quick braking, making this an all-around contender off-road in harsh conditions.