The Best Cold Weather Running Gear, According to a Running Coach

Stay warm and comfortable while you set a new PR

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Our Top Picks
Ultra-light UA Tech fabric provides breathable coverage and excellent mobility, while the soft inner layer traps heat to keep you warm.
It can be worn on its own during cool runs or underneath as a base or middle layer when the temperature really drops.
A soft, thermo-conductive inner coating to retain your body heat, keeping your head warm and protected without bulky material.
Comfortable and durable, they offer excellent protection with a wind-resistant outer layer.
The super-soft, insulated front of the jacket traps warmth, so you stay comfortable as you run into the cold wind.
The WindWall softshell protects you from the wind but is still breathable enough to keep you from overheating.
Dual-layer fabric features a brushed interior that feels cozy against your skin and a fast-drying exterior to quickly wick away sweat.
Feature dense padding (rather than thick padding), as it protects feet without adversely affecting the fit of the shoes.
Fleece backer lining provides cozy warmth, and you can zip it up or down as you heat up or conditions change during your run.
Features water-repellent and windproof fabric, as well as PrimaLoft insulation with convenient zippered pockets.

Cold temperatures don’t mean you have to banish yourself to the treadmill. Staying safe and comfortable when running in cold weather is all about wearing the right clothes. When shopping, look for clothes that will keep you warm but are breathable, suitable for layering, and have good wicking capabilities.

“Runners can stay comfortable in cold weather by layering appropriately and making sure their head, hands, and feet are properly insulated,” says Timothy Lyman, a running coach and director of training programs at Fleet Feet in Pittsburgh, PA.

Here is the best cold weather running gear on the market, according to a running coach.

Best Zip-up: Under Armour Men’s Tech ½ Zip Long-Sleeve Shirt

Under Armour Men’s Tech ½ Zip Long-Sleeve Shirt
Pros
  • Good for layering

  • Breathable and moisture-wicking

  • Anti-odor properties

  • Half zip for temperature regulation

Cons
  • Runs small

  • No pockets

This versatile shirt from Under Armour is perfect for layering under a jacket or vest during very cold runs, but can also be worn alone when the weather isn’t too frigid. The ultra-light UA Tech fabric provides breathable coverage and excellent mobility, while the soft inner layer traps heat to keep you warm and cozy.

Moisture-wicking technology keeps you dry and comfortable, and the fabric’s antimicrobial properties help prevent odors. Runners also like the stand-up collar for extra protection from the elements. Additionally, the front half zipper allows them to regulate their temperature by zipping it up or down as they run.

Available in a wide range of colors and sizes, from small to 4X-large, this versatile zip-up will quickly become a go-to piece for your cold-weather runs.

Best Long Sleeve Shirt: Brooks Sports Women's Dash Half-Zip Top

Brooks Sports Women's Dash Half-Zip Top
Pros
  • Moisture-wicking

  • Soft and comfortable

  • Thumb holes

  • Breathable

Cons
  • Limited colors

  • May be too short for very tall women

No runner’s winter running wardrobe is complete without a couple of dependable long-sleeve shirts, and this one from Brooks is an ideal pick. It can be worn on its own during cool runs or underneath as a base or middle layer when the temperature really drops.

Made of a breathable performance blend, the shirt is breathable and has mesh in the underarm area, for targeted ventilation. The DriLayer fabric wicks away sweat to keep you dry, while the thumb holes provide additional coverage and warmth.

Plus, it has a half-zip front, so you can let more cold air in or keep it out as you warm up or get chilly during your run.

Best Hat: Under Armour ColdGear Fleece Beanie

Pros
  • Super soft and comfortable

  • Thin but very warm

  • One size fits all

  • Very packable

Cons
  • May not work for very large heads

  • No reflectivity

Finding a winter running hat that stays put but isn’t constricting and is warm but doesn’t make you overheat can be a challenge, but this beanie from Under Armour gets the job done.

Featuring UA’s ColdGear Infrared technology, it uses a soft, thermo-conductive inner coating to retain your body heat, keeping your head warm and protected, without a lot of bulky material. The hat is made with a super soft, brushed polyester fleece, so it insulates your head but also wicks away moisture.

Plus, it’s easy to stash in a pocket or pants if you really start to warm up during a run.

Best Gloves: TrailHeads Running Gloves

Pros
  • Silicone grips on palms

  • Touchscreen capability

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Wind-resistant and warm

Cons
  • May not be warm enough for extreme cold

  • No clip to attach them together

Running gloves are an essential item for runners who love the cold, and this pair from TrailHeads is a solid, reliable choice. Comfortable and durable, they offer excellent protection with a wind-resistant outer layer. The soft, brush inner layer provides warmth, while also helping to wick away moisture.

Conductive fabric on the tips of the thumbs and forefingers allows you to respond to a text, adjust your playlist, or use an app, all without removing your gloves and freezing your fingers. Additionally, the gloves feature diamond-shaped silicone grips on the palms to ensure a good hold on your phone, water bottle, or anything else you need to carry on the run.

Runners also appreciate the terry cloth brow wipe on the back of the hand. These gloves are available in three different sizes.

Best Men's Jacket: Under Armour Run Insulate Hybrid Jacket

Under Armour Run Insulate Hybrid Jacket
Pros
  • Good wind protection

  • Insulated but breathable

  • Pockets for storage

  • Allows for good range of motion

Cons
  • Too warm for cool weather

  • Limited colors

The Under Armour Run Insulate Hybrid Jacket provides the warm insulation and wind protection that you need for runs in cold temperatures and harsh conditions. It features UA Storm technology, which repels water, but allows for excellent breathability. The super-soft, insulated front of the jacket traps warmth, so you stay comfortable as you run into the cold wind. However, the back is ventilated, so you don’t overheat as you get into your run.

The jacket also features a stretchy knit underarm panel that provides exceptional mobility and comfort. The insulated collar provides even more protection and warmth, while the zippered hand pockets are convenient for securely stashing your nutrition, hat, phone, or other essentials.

Best Women's Jacket: The North Face Apex Bionic Jacket

The North Face Apex Bionic Jacket
Pros
  • Windproof and water-repellent

  • Stylish

  • Plenty of pockets for storage

  • Breathable

Cons
  • Limited colors

  • Runs small

Harsh winter weather is no match for this versatile and reliable jacket from The North Face. The WindWall softshell protects you from the wind but is still breathable enough to keep you from overheating. You’ll also be ready for snowy conditions on the run, thanks to the water-repellent finish and stand-up collar for additional protection.

Additionally, the zippered hand and chest pockets are perfect for stashing your phone and other on-the-run essentials. With a comfortable, flattering fit, this attractive jacket also works well for casual wear, giving you a lot of bang for your buck. It does run a little small, so size up, especially if you may wear multiple layers underneath.

Best Leggings: Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Authentic Leggings

Pros
  • Can be worn alone or under a top layer

  • Breathable and moisture-wicking

  • Stay in place

  • Soft and comfortable

Cons
  • Limited colors

  • No pockets

Made of a soft, high-performance material, these leggings from Under Armour are ideal for cold-weather runs. They’re thick enough to keep you warm, but are still breathable so you won’t overheat. The dual-layer fabric features a brushed interior that feels cozy against your skin and a fast-drying exterior to quickly wick away sweat. Plus, the welded seams help prevent painful irritation and chafing.

These leggings also stay put as you’re running, so you don’t have to worry about mid-run readjustments to deal with them slipping down or riding up. Whether you want to wear them alone or as a base layer for extreme temperatures, they’re a fantastic addition to any winter running wardrobe.

They’re available in a range of sizes, from extra-small to extra-extra-large.

Best Socks: Drymax Cold Weather Running Crew Socks

Drymax Cold Weather Crew Socks
Pros
  • Moisture-wicking

  • Warm

  • Unisex sizing

  • Keep feet dry and blister-free

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Limited color options

Wearing the right socks is crucial to staying comfortable and safe during cold-weather runs. “If it’s extremely cold, taller socks are preferable,” says Brenda Averette, a USATF-certified running coach in Richmond, VA. These Drymax Cold Weather Running Socks have a special Dual Layer Moisture Removal System, which instantly moves moisture from the skin through the inner Drymax layer to the outer absorbent layer, keeping feet dry.

A third layer of Drymax fiber insulation exists along the front of the sock since that area gets coldest due to wind chill. As a result, your feet stay dry, comfortable, and protected from harsh weather, including snow.

The socks also feature dense padding (rather than thick padding), as it protects feet without adversely affecting the fit of the shoes. On top of all that, these socks also help runners avoid painful foot blisters and chafing, which can happen in any weather conditions.

While they cost a little more than other high-performance running socks, avid runners say they’re well worth the investment.

Best Men's Vest: The North Face Men’s Apex Bionic 2 Vest

The North Face Men’s Apex Bionic 2 Vest
Pros
  • Windproof and water-resistant

  • Plenty of storage

  • Warm and comfortable

  • Stylish

Cons
  • Limited color options

  • Collar too tall for some

This windproof and water-resistant vest from The North Face is ideal for keeping your core warm during cold and windy runs. The fleece backer lining provides cozy warmth, and you can zip it up or down as you heat up or conditions change during your run. Plus, a hem cinch-cord and stand-up collar help to block out the elements as you’re running. 

With zippered pockets on the side and chest, there’s plenty of space to stash essentials such as your keys, phone, or nutrition. This stylish vest will not only keep you looking sharp on the roads or trails, but it also works well for casual wear.

It comes in a wide range of sizes, from extra-small to extra-extra-large.

Best Women's Vest: Lululemon Women’s Another Mile Vest

Lululemon Women’s Another Mile Vest
Pros
  • Comfortable and easy to move in

  • Water-repellent and windproof

  • Warm but not bulky

  • Pockets for storage

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Limited color options

When it’s too cold to run in only a long sleeve shirt but a running jacket will make you overheat, a running vest is a perfect layering solution. This comfy one from Lululemon features water-repellent and windproof fabric, as well as PrimaLoft insulation. You also get the benefit of convenient zippered pockets, including a hidden one for your phone, to store running essentials.

It provides warmth without the bulk, and the stretchy panels allow for full range of motion. Plus, the removable hood comes in handy for those runs when you need some extra protection from snow, rain, or wind. With a flattering fit, the vest is stylish yet practical, so you may decide to wear it not just for running.

Best Headband: Turtle Fur Fleece Headband

Pros
  • Quick-drying

  • Soft, comfortable fleece

  • Lots of color options

  • Not itchy

Cons
  • May not work for very large heads

  • Not thick enough for some

With its contoured shape and stretchy, soft fleece, this cold-weather headband hugs your ears, keeping them warm and protected from the elements. The material is itch-free and quick-drying, so if you do start sweating, you won’t stay wet. Designed with the right amount of stretch for a comfy fit, the headband can work for men and women, as one size fits most heads.

They’re perfect for when you don’t need to wear a full winter hat and are available in more than a dozen basic and bright colors. Runners also love that the headband easily fits in their pocket or pants if they want to stash it during a run. Plus, they’re easy to care for and can be washed with your other running gear and then tossed in the dryer with no heat.

Best Neck Warmer: Turtle Fur Fleece Neck Warmer

Pros
  • Inexpensive

  • Soft and comfortable

  • Easy to care for

  • Lots of color options

Cons
  • May be too warm in cool weather

  • May feel constricting for some

A must-have accessory for any runner who braves cold and windy weather, a warm neck gaiter can enhance your comfort and protection on the run. Made of soft, comfy fleece, this affordable and very popular neck warmer from Turtle Fur is easy to pull up and down on the run. It has two layers of fleece, so the outside layer can get wet from the elements while the inside stays dry and warm.

Turtle Fur neck warmers are available in a variety of colors, so you can find one (or more) that coordinate with your winter running clothes. One size fits most adults, so you don’t have to fuss with measuring or worry about being in between sizes.

Runners also love that these neck warmers are easy to clean since they can be tossed in the washing machine and then tumble dried on low.

Final Verdict

A long-sleeve running shirt that’s warm and wicks away moisture is one of the most versatile pieces of any cold weather runner’s wardrobe. For men, the Under Armour Men's Tech Half-Zip-Up (view at Under Armour) is a solid choice, and women can’t go wrong with Brooks Sports Dash Half-Zip Top (view at Brooks).

Both pieces are comfortable, breathable, and can be worn on their own for cool runs, or under a warmer layer when the conditions are harsher. Plus, they feature a very useful half-zip, which lets you control your temperature as you warm up or conditions change during your run.

What to Look for in Cold Weather Running Gear

Lightweight Layers

The key to dressing properly for cold weather running is to wear light layers, so you don’t get weighed down and you can take off a layer if you warm up during a run.

“Select materials that can be layered,” says Averette. “Often, the more heavy-duty, fleece-lined cold-weather pants and shirts are just too much for running in temperatures above 25 degrees.”

Wicking Materials

Choose clothes that are made from synthetic, wicking materials, so they’ll pull moisture from your skin and keep you dry. “Staying dry is crucial to remaining warm,” says Lyman. “Having socks and a base layer that wick away moisture will help move it away from your skin before it cools.”

Not only can being wet put you at increased risk for hypothermia, but it can also lead to painful chafing and blisters. It’s especially important to wear socks that don’t hold water (like cotton) since your feet are especially prone to irritation and the effects of cold weather once they get wet from sweat or the elements.

Mobility

You’ll want clothes that aren’t too bulky and allow you to have full range of motion when you’re running. “Improper layering or poor fit can affect your ability to maintain good form or simply make you uncomfortable once you start moving,” says Lyman.

Breathability

Look for items that are made of breathable fabrics and have some targeted ventilation. “You want to be covered but not overbundled,” says Averette. “Cover the ears, hands, and shoulders. If those areas are covered, you stay warm but don’t overheat.” 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How to breathe when running in cold weather

    Breathing in dry, cold air as you’re running may put stress on your airways, but there are steps you can take to reduce the effects. Taking in air through your nose as you’re running will help, since the air gets warmed up and humidified as it travels through the nasal passages. You can also wear a bandana or neck gaiter over your mouth and nose to act as a barrier between the cold air and your lungs. The face covering will help humidify and make the air a bit warmer, so it’s easier on your lungs. If you have a history of asthma or other breathing-related issues, check with your doctor before engaging in vigorous exercise in cold weather.

  • Can running in cold weather make you sick?

    Although you may have heard that you can get sick from running in cold weather, there’s no evidence that you can get a cold or other infection from exposure to cold weather. Cold viruses are spread through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes, or talks. They can also be spread by direct contact with someone who has a cold or sharing contaminated objects with them.

    That being said, running in cold or wet weather may weaken your immune system, so you may be more vulnerable to colds if you frequently run in those conditions.

  • How to layer when running in cold weather

    Dressing in lightweight layers is essential to staying comfortable and safe when running in cold weather. Depending on how cold it is, you may need anywhere from one to three layers. “For the first layer, wear something tight and wicking, then a long-sleeve wicking shirt for the second layer, with a medium-to-lightweight fleece for the third layer,” says Averette.

    Layers help you regulate your temperature as you’re running and keep you warm and dry. If you warm up, you can shed a layer, and if you get cold again, you can put it back on. “A three-layer system using all three pieces is effective for very cold temperatures, while a two-layer system using a base and a mid-layer or a base and a shell could be a viable option based on the prevailing conditions,” says Lyman.

  • How to warm up for a run in cold weather

    A proper warm-up is essential for any run to help get your body prepared to exercise, but it’s especially important when you’re heading out in cold conditions. Warming up for a run can be as simple as walking briskly for 5 to 10 minutes. However, if you want to warm up before you head outside, you can do so by performing some dynamic warm-up exercises, such as squats, lunges, and arm circles. Do a mix of exercises that target different areas for about 5 to 10 minutes. Not only will your muscles be warmed up, but you’ll also feel more mentally prepared to run in the cold.

  • Does cold weather affect running performance?

    Running in cold weather can definitely impact your performance, but the extent of the effect may vary among runners. Cold temperatures may slow you down for a few reasons, including reduced muscle contraction, difficulty in maintaining core temperature, and discomfort in cold feet and hands.

    When running in cold weather, your body also burns through carbs faster, which may leave you with low energy reserves to get through your run. Breathing in cold air puts a strain on your lungs, which may decrease the efficiency of your cardiovascular system.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

An avid runner and marathon running coach, Christine Luff runs and coaches outdoors through wintry weather, so she has researched, tested, and recommended lots of cold weather running gear throughout the years.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Hypothermia. Updated August 12, 2019.

  2. Mayo Clinic. Common Cold. Updated June 11, 2021.