Last Updated November, 2017: We’ve added new picks and insights. Prices and links have also been updated.
Winter runners are a hardy breed. They’re acclimated to face-numbing winds and sub-freezing temperatures. They possess the extra fortitude needed to get outdoors during the year’s darker days. Such people require a like-minded shoe that’s able to cope with winter’s full assault. Amid everything from straight-up powder to icy rain and perpetual mud, they need shoes that grip, retain warmth and stay dry. Let it be known: the following running shoes are not to be used on treadmills or indoor tracks.
Icebug Oribi2 BUGrip
Best Studded Sole: Icebug is perhaps the only shoemaker that specializes exclusively in “traction footwear.” Most of its shoes feature some variation of Icebug’s special BUGrip technology, which is essentially a pattern of lightweight spikes that latch onto wintery surfaces. Aside from that, the Oribi2 BUGrip functions just like a burly trail runner, with water resistance, rock protection, increased rigidity and moderate cushioning.
Weight: 9.8 ounces
Saucony Peregrine 7 ICE+
Best for Icy Surfaces: What makes the Peregrine 7 ICE+ so special is its Vibram “Arctic Grip” sole: a mysterious blend of special color-changing rubber that somehow clings to ice like a cat’s claws on carpet. It’s pure witchcraft. The Peregrine 7 ICE+ is also sturdy (TPU exo-skeleton), comfortable (proprietary topsole cushion), and water-resistant (moisture-wicking liner).
Weight: 9.4 ounces
The North Face Ultra Endurance GTX
Best Waterproof Shoe: With a GORE-TEX shell, the Ultra Endurance GTX is almost totally waterproof while remaining exceptionally breathable. TPU overlays are placed thoughtfully for stabilization, while an armored rubber toecap provides protection from sharp rocks, ice and more. It also has a Vibram Megagrip sole, offering moderate grip on icy surfaces.
Weight: 11.3 ounces
Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine
Best for Hardcore Winter Runners: For the harshest of conditions, Salomon’s S-Lab XA Alpine is the way to go. It made 2016’s GP100 product awards, recognizing Salomon’s commitment to innovation. The shoe features a built-in gaiter to keep out all of the muck and slush that comes with winter running. The Contagrip outsole provides plenty of traction on just about every surface and will aid in running on ultra-slick winter roads.
Weight: 12.2 ounces
Altra Lone Peak 3.0 NeoShell Low
Most Comfortable Shoe: Altra’s Lone Peak 3.0 is built for trail running, but it’s more versatile than that. This version comes with a Neoshell liner that is waterproof and breathable. Slush puddles, water, and snow are no match. The aggressive outsole also allows for plenty of traction on slippery surfaces and the lug pattern is such that it doesn’t get clogged. In addition, Altra’s shoes have a uniquely shaped toe box that provides plenty of room for toe splay.
Weight: 10.5 ounces
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