To wage war with winter is a tall order. The cold, snow, sleet, wind and rain are worthy adversaries, but they won’t stop the most battle-hardened or fitness-minded runners. For them, the taste of a Runner’s High is too sweet, the pull of the outdoors too strong. But nature’s unanticipated obstacles, like a fallen tree, icy terrain or a residual flu, could prevent them from blazing future trails. The following gear — trail running shoes, thermal caps, merino wool gloves and much more — is designed to keep a runner’s feet and body moving in the cold.
MORE RUNNING: Best Trail Running Shoes | 2015 Best Winter Running Shoes | 12 Best Winter Running Gloves
Altra Lone Peak 2.0
Altra’s upgraded trail runner is specifically geared to handle it all: unforgiving terrain, muddied paths, inches of snow and beyond. For the Lone Peak 2.0, Alta drew inspiration from the Wasatch Mountain Range that stretches along the Utah-Idaho border and endures Nature’s full arsenal. To handle such conditions, each 10.9-ounce shoe features Altra’s FootShape toe box and TrailClaw outsole, in addition to a mid-foot wrap for top-quality traction and stability. And going beyond winter protection, these foot-huggers guard against sharp objects with Altra’s StoneGuard protective layer.
A tailor-made accoutrement for the Altra Lone Peak 2.0, this gaiter, with its simple hook-and-loop design, is a simple no-fuss attachment. It’s made of a stretchable, water-repellant material to prevent gravel or melting snow from squeezing into your socks. At just 1.3 ounces, they won’t slow you down.
Ibex Conductive Merino Liner Glove
Conductive fingertips are a must in all of today’s best running gloves. These Ibex gloves go one step further: Instead of tacky fingertip pads, the entire thumb and forefinger of each glove are inconspicuously stitched with conductive threading. The end result is a pristine, high-quality glove that fits any (formal or athletic) occasion, made from top-grade New Zealand merino wool.
Even the best snow tires need chains for reinforcement some times. The same is true with winter running shoes. The Yaktrax RUN is a crampon fit for runners. They can be worn alone for extra stability after fresh snowfall, and an included set of removable spikes and steel coils attach to the soles for more treacherous conditions.
Nathan Bandolier Reflective Running Vest
Winter runs, more often than not, take place at night. With safety being a priority, Nathan Bandolier makes our favorite reflective vest of the season, slim fitting with a functional and minimalistic design. The vest provides 360 degrees of reflectivity and small zippered pockets.
Pearl Izumi Transfer Hat
Standard beanies are heavy and soak easily — far from ideal for winter runs. Pearl Izumi’s cap is made from their proprietary P.R.O. Thermal material with Minerale technology and 48 percent polyester. It’s snug, quick drying and odor repellent. Additionally, it sports reflective logos, just in case a reflective vest isn’t enough to alert drivers.
Patagonia Houdini Jacket
Most people can deal with low temperatures — but piercing wind, not so much. Patagonia’s windbreaker is made of featherweight, water-repellant nylon; it won’t hold runners back, even when Nature is doing all it can to do just that. It also features an adjustable hood, half-elastic cuffs and reflective logos.
Sugoi Circuit Carbon Zip
This long-sleeve performance jersey isn’t exclusive to winter running, but it makes a great first line of defense against the cold. It’s form fitting with full-stretch mobility, reducing drag without being uncomfortably tight. The 100 percent polyester shirt is breathable, rejects odor and features contoured sleeves with thumbholes.
At a little over $3 per bar, the Omnibar not too far off from the standard Clif or PowerBar — that’s where the similarities end. Made with a grand total of six ingredients, including grass-fed beef from Montana, each bar combines protein with high-carbohydrate foodstuffs. It’s an all-natural pick-me-up for when the grueling winds start to win.
When most men wear winter hats, a bandana seems far from the beaten path. For those who take the road less traveled, the Bandana Buff has two layers: a polar fleece lining for warmth and a Polygiene-treated microfiber layer to prevent bacterial build up. It’s great for frequent runners because it doesn’t require constant washing, and versatile; runners can wear it as a cap or around their neck as a gaiter.
Lululemon Surge Tight Pants
The prospect of wearing anything skintight (especially around the legs) scares most men. So Lululemon’s Surge Tights are a little daunting. But train with them once and that’ll quickly change. Made with Luxtreme, a chafe-resistant and sweat-wicking fabric, they’re more comfortable than you would expect — and since these were designed for sub-zero ultramarathon training, they’ll keep you warm as long as you keep moving.
Janji Printed 1/4 Zip Pullover Running Jacket
The adaptable Janji jacket is a great long-sleeve for autumn runs and a solid base layer when the temperature plummets further. The 88 percent polyester, 12 percent spandex jacket features reflective logos, a hidden pocket for small necessities and integrated thumbholes. And the proceeds go to a great cause: “Janji”, which means “promise” in Malay, is committed to alleviating the global water crisis. Proceeds from this jacket will help people in Tanzania get clean water.
REI Airflyte Hoodie
REI’s trainer is made with a breathable, moisture-wicking polyester-spandex fabric to minimize odor and sweat. It’s decked out with a slip-on hood and cuffs with thumbholes, as well as Airflyte has reflective trimming for nighttime runs. It’s also graded UPF 50+; just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about UV rays. It’s minimalistic and form fitting, making it the perfect under-layer for colder runs.
Mizuno Evolution Tee
For extremely warm-blooded individuals, a tee shirt is acceptable winter running attire. Mizuno’s 100 percent polyester shirt incorporates Warmlite, a hollow fabric that uses body heat to create an insulating layer or warmth. It’s anti-wicking, reflective and doesn’t chafe — but at the end of the day, it’s still a t-shirt, so less extreme winter runners should probably still wear an additional upper layer.