Wintry Kicks

The 7 Best Winter Running Shoes of 2020

December 18, 2019 Buying Guides By
Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Winter poses enough challenges for runners. Between the frigid temps, variable weather and short days, just mustering up the will to step foot outdoors can cause even the most motivated runner to think twice — or retreat to the hamster wheel known as the treadmill. At the same time there’s also a refreshing lively feeling one gets when forgoing climate control in favor of braving the elements. The sense of pride and knowing nod from each runner you pass solidifies the notion: I’m a real runner.

But while mental fortitude may get you out the door, it won’t keep you warm and dry. Only the right winter running gear can do that. I’m talking jackets, hats, gloves, tights — and shoes! As an online running coach, every winter like clockwork, I have runners slip and roll an ankle or even break an arm, calamities that may have been prevented by proper winter running footwear. 

Two things make a shoe more suitable for winter verses summer running: grip and waterproofing. Perhaps the most important, and oft-overlooked, is grip. Most slips, trips and falls in the winter are due to poor grip. Most road running shoes have awful grip on snow, while winter-specific ones boast grippier soles. Trail running shoes also embrace traction, with strategically placed lugs digging into snow for better footing. Waterproofing, on the other hand, is less about safety and more about comfort. Consistently having to dodge slush and water puddles like landmines can get old fast.

To help make your winter runs safer and more comfortable, we’ve compiled a list of the best winter running shoes. So next time mother nature tries to derail your run, you can say, “not this time.” 

Brooks Ghost 12 GTX

This waterproof version of one of Brooks most popular running shoes is a classic everyday neutral trainer. (Hint: any shoe labeled GTX indicates it’s lined with Gore-Tex, the industry-leading waterproof membrane.) Better suited for wet winter days over snow, the Ghost 12 GTX features the one-two combo of Brooks softest midsole, DNA LOFT, with Brooks more durable midsole, BioMoGo DNA, for a durable medium-cushioned ride. Forefoot strikers might want to look elsewhere. The steep 12mm drop works best with rear foot strikers. 

Type: Road
Weight: 11.4oz
Drop: 12mm
Waterproof: GORE-TEX
Grip: Low (best for wet road/concrete)

Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo Shield WP

Don’t let wet winter weather halt tempo day. This protective speedster comes fully featured to assure you get your speed work done warm and dry. Featuring Zoom X, Nike’s fastest midsole (also seen in the Vaporfly 4%) this winterized version of the Nike Pegasus Turbo wraps your foot in an ankle-high waterproof zip-bootie. A more winter-focused outsole over its summer sibling wicks water better while a stickier rubber outsole grips like glue. Best to save these bad boys for speed days: quick-footed premium winter protection is costly, so you want to make it last.

Type: Road
Weight: 10oz
Drop: 10mm
Waterproof: Nike Shield
Grip: Medium (best for partially snow covered and wet road/concrete)

Under Armour HOVR ColdGear Reactor 2

If you struggle with cold feet, these shoes are for you. Spun off one of Under Armour’s most responsive road shoes, the HOVR Sonic 2, the ColdGear Reactor 2 takes insulation to the next level. Water-repellant adaptive insulation assures your feet stay dry and comfortable by adjusting the level of insulation based on activity. Underfoot, the outsole features Michelin rubber (like the car tires) for exceptional traction on wet and dry surfaces. Pro tip: all the insulation makes them run small so best to go up half a size.

Type: Road
Weight: 10oz
Drop: 10mm
Waterproof: UA Storm technology
Grip: Medium (best for partially snow covered and wet road/concrete)

Asics GT-1000 8 G-TX

Runners who need stability have very few options when it comes to waterproof shoes. In fact, the Asics GT-1000 8 G-TX is one of the only waterproof stability shoes on the market. Stomp in as many puddles as you want while the GORE-TEX upper keeps your feet nice and dry. As with most supportive shoes, they run a tad firm, so cushion addicts should look elsewhere. With the newest version launching in February, you may be able to score this one on sale while supplies last.

Type: Road
Weight: 11.5oz
Drop: 8mm
Waterproof: GORE-TEX
Grip: Low (best for wet road/concrete)

La Sportiva Blizzard GTX

For days when even the biggest 4×4 trucks struggle for traction, the La Sportiva Blizzard GTXs are hands down the best winter off-road/snow running shoes. You’ll stay surefooted and confident on slick surfaces as the Tungsten Alloy studs and 7mm lugs dig into the ground. Knee-deep powder? No problem, the above-the-ankle Gore-Tex gaiter-style upper keeps snow from entering. Note: these trail-focused shoes, due to the alloy studs, are not suited for any bare road or concrete, so best to stay on dirt or fully snow-covered roads. 

Type: Trail
Weight: 13.3oz
Drop: 6mm
Waterproof: GORE-TEX
Grip: Extreme (best for fully snow and ice covered)

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 GTX

When it comes to ultra-plush cushioning, nobody does it better than Hoka and no trail running shoe in Hoka’s lineup offers more cushioning than the best-selling Speedgoat. Named after the notorious ultra-runner Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer, these Gore-Tex-lined cushioned monsters offer superb traction and grip via the Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole with 5mm lugs, without feeling overbearing and rough on uncovered road and concrete. 

Type: Trail
Weight: 12.2oz
Drop: 4mm
Waterproof: GORE-TEX
Grip: High (best for fully and partially snow and ice covered)

Altra Lone Peak 4 RSM

This shoe’s for all the zero-drop and wide toe-box fanatics who love rain, snow and mud: hence the name. Popular with the “natural” run mindset crowd, the Lone Peak 4 RSM features a waterproof eVent upper with 4-point gaiter straps for added protection against deep snow. Despite the aggressive multi-directional outsole ride, quality on bare concrete remains rather smooth, making these a great winter mixed road conditions running shoe. Bonus: as the cushioning starts to break down, they make for fantastic summer hiking shoes. 

Type: Trail
Weight: 10.9oz
Drop: 0mm
Waterproof: eVent Fabrics
Grip: High (best for fully and partially snow and ice covered)
Gear Patrol also recommends:
Adidas Ultraboost All Terrain ($150)
Merrell Trail Glove 4 ($100)
On Cloudflyer ($180)

Everything You Need to Run in the Dark Now That Daylight Saving Time Is OverBefore you wander out into the dark, here’s the gear you need to see and be seen. Read the Story

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Cory Smith

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