With suitable gear, like layers and lights, chilly season runs can feel like a treat instead of torture. Plus, crisp air and the crunch of fallen leaves or snow under your sneaks can be a great antidote to the emotional darkness that can come from less daylight and more time spent hibernating inside.
Here is our cold-weather running kit, including our favorite base layers, a bright vest to keep you visible and more.
This well-loved fleece from Patagonia has been around for more than two decades. And the classic waffle grid continues to make it a versatile and breathable pullover for fall and winter runs. The R1 insulates like a true midlayer with synthetic fleece, made with recycled materials, but sweat can escape through the channels created in the waffle pattern. Need to dump more heat? A deep-venting front zipper and sleeves that push up easily also help with temperature regulation. $129
Ah, the constant battle of the cold-weather runner: how much to layer for chilly temperatures when you know you’ll be sweating soon. The EZ Tee from rabbit is soft, long sleeve and quick to dry, making it a solid standalone option on mild days or a primo base layer when the temperatures start to plummet. $50
REI Co-op Swiftland Cold-Weather Running Jacket (Women’s, Women’s 1X-3X, Men’s)
For frigid days, on the other hand, reach for the REI Co-op Swiftland Cold-Weather running jacket, which is insulated where you need it and breathable where you don’t. A nylon exterior with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish in the chest and shoulders blocks light precip, while strategically placed fleece-backed polyester through the body provides critical warmth. Three zippered pockets allow plenty of room for essentials. $99.95-$119
It can be tricky to find running pants if skin-tight leggings aren’t your thing. Enter the sleek REI Co-op Swiftland Running pants, with a tapered leg and 4-way stretch material. Built with wind- and water-resistant material in the front and back and more breathable fabric under the legs, they’re designed for sweating in inclement weather. Nice touch: The pants feature two drop-in side pockets and a sleeve in the right-hand pocket to secure your phone. Plus, they’re made with bluesign®-approved materials to conserve resources and protect the health of the environment. $89.95
The Janji Groundwork Tights 2.0 balance comfort and performance: Breathable stretch nylon fabric provides light compression and won’t sag out. The 7/8-length tights include ample storage options: two deep side pockets, an internal waistband pocket for smaller items and a back pocket that doubles as a pass-through pocket to stash a layer. As a company, Janji aims to expand access to safe drinking water in the places people run around the world. Learn more about their mission. $88
We like thin wool socks year-round, for almost any activity, and when it comes to cold-weather running, we particularly appreciate the Darn Tough Pacer Micro Crew. The not-quite-crew-length height covers chilly ankles without bunching, and the quick-drying fabric—a blend of merino wool, nylon and Lycra spandex—means they competently handle a bit of sweat and snow. $20
Road runners with a neutral gait may want to consider the Brooks Ghost 14. We love this shoe for its soft but not squishy updated midsole, which adds absorption on cold pavement, and its snug, 3D-printed upper made with recycled materials. Also, Brooks says this is its first carbon neutral shoe thanks, in part, to the use of recycled materials, a low-impact dyeing process and partnering with factories that use renewable energy. $130
For slushy trail adventures, opt for something like the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 GTX, which is protective without being clunky. The shoes have a waterproof GORE-TEX® membrane to help seal out moisture, as well as HOKA’s customary cushioned sole and 5mm of drop. They’re also available in a non-GORE-TEX® version for women and men if your winter forecast doesn’t call for running through rain and snow. $140
Traction devices can help to avert slips or falls on icy days or slick trails. The light-but-durable Kahtoola EXOspikes feature 12 cleat-like nubs that claw into ice and snow to help you stay upright. A stretchy harness slips over your shoes and the open-web design helps prevent snow from balling up underneath. $59.95
It can be deceivingly difficult to drink enough water in colder temperatures because your body isn’t crying out for fluid the way it does during summer. But proper hydration is still important. The REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Award-winning Pinnacle 12 from Nathan comes with an insulated bladder and a close-to-the-body fit. Those features help keep your water from freezing on long, chilly runs. $200
Short days could mean you’re running in the pre-work dark or evening gloom. Help other runners and vehicles see you on dark and dusky outings with the light, minimalist Amphipod Xinglet. Its 360 degrees of super-bright reflectors help increase your visibility, and it adjusts easily to accommodate layers. Nice touch: It’s free of batteries or bells and whistles, so it won’t easily fail on you. $35
Up your illumination factor even more with the 2.8-ounce Petzl Actik Core headlamp, an Editors’ Choice Award winner. This night-light is so lightweight it’s almost imperceptible on your head, but its 450 lumens (on the high setting) make all the difference on the ground. The headband is washable—a perk for sweaty runners—and the lamp comes with a Core USB-rechargeable battery; it also accepts three AAA batteries if you’re traveling or otherwise in a pinch. $69.95
Keep your dome warm without getting overly sweaty in the Smartwool NTS Merino 150 beanie. You’ll barely notice it when it’s on thanks to its low-profile build and flatlock seams that reduce rubbing and chafing If you do heat up, it’s small and lightweight enough to throw in a pocket. $25
Interested in more staff picks and kits? Find more collections here.