When the temps drop it’s time to break out my cold weather running gear. I am not talking my speedo, I am talking warm merino wool layers. Below are my favorite recommendations for outfitting yourself for a run in the cold.
The Head. My go to hat is Rapha’s Merino Hat. This hat is awesome, double layer around the ears and single layer at the top. It keeps your ears nice and warm, but allows heat out through the top. Wool is king IMO when the temperatures drop and having a great wool cap is a must. The hat retails for $55, which is pretty steep for a hat, but it’s well worth it. After I run I usually just rise it out and leave it hanging in the shower to dry. The other advantage of wool is it doesn’t tend to smell like other sport apparel using different materials.
The Eyes. Yep running in the cold can certainly make you tear up. This year I am wearing Oakley Flack Jacket XLJ in polished white prescription glasses that were sent to me from Rob Tavakoli of SportRx. SportRx offers a huge selection of prescription sunglasses & eyewear from all the major name brand companies. Rob & SportRX setup me up with Day & Night (transition) prescription lenses that start out clear and get darker or lighter depending on the lighting conditions. The glasses also have an ultra-premium antireflective coating that repels dirt, oil, water and of course glare. The advantages of these glasses is they don’t fog up, they keep bugs and stuff out of your eyes (Not that it matters much when it’s cold), they get lighter or darker depending on the lighting conditions and they stay put on your face. Lastly because they are prescription glasses, I can actually see more of my surroundings. My world has become a bit more in focus. This is especially helpful during the early morning runs and late evening runs where light conditions aren’t optimal. I highly recommend the Oakley Flack Jackets XLJ for running and if you need prescription sport glasses, SportRX is a great place to get them. Oh and one last thing about the glasses. They do in fact help keep your eyes from tearing when running in cold weather. A really nice benefit.
The Body. I use a layering system that usually consists of a base layer, a mid layer and then an outer layer (Usually a jacket when it’s really cold or a vest if it’s not as bad).
- Outerwear – Right now my Jacket of choice is the Brooks Silver Bullet. It keeps the chill off and breaks any wind that may be present.
- Mid-Layer – Under the jacket for my Mid-Layer I am usually wearing Icebreaker stuff. They have a fantastic merino wool mid-layer line. Icebreaker uses a fabric weight ranging from 120 – 380. I find the 150, 200 and 260 to be the best weights for a mid layer. Again depending on temperature. I will normally wear a long sleeve mid-layer top with a zipper collar. That way, if you do get hot, you can vent out a little heat by unzipping.
- Base Layer – For the Base Layer I will again choose Icebreaker or Rapha’s Merino Base Layer.
Note: I haven’t review any of the Smartwool line of cloths or Patagonia or many other brands from running companies like Inov-8, Smartwool seems the obvious choice as does Patagonia, since they are both leaders in merino wool apparel.
The Hands. I am a mitten type of guy. There are a wide range of mittens out there, but the ones I like usually have a windproof outer shell with some sort of soft material inside.
The Legs. I typically like to keep my legs covered in winter when running. I am not a big fan of the tights, so I opt for a more relaxed pant setup. Normally this involves wearing some type of running shorts and then either a sport pant or merino wool Tracer pant from Icebreaker. When it’s really cold the wool pants rock.
The Feet. Wearing a wee bit larger shoe size in the winter will allow you to wear warmer merino wool socks that may or may not work in your existing shoe setup. My feet typically don’t get cold when running, but I have opted to start wearing wool. So far my favorite wool socks are from Rapha, Smartwool and Swiftwick Pursuit Four. What is cool about the Swiftwick line is the socks are made in the US and you can get different lengths based on you preference. I like a higher rising sock in the winter, so the Pursuit Four works great.
As for shoes, I haven’t really purchased cold specific shoes. That said, shoes which have a lot of venting on top will be cooler to run in than say something made out of Gore-Tex. Using a trail specific shoe might be the best option, since it will have more traction than a typical road shoe should you encounter slippery or icy conditions. I am currently running in two completely different shoes. On Running’s Cloud Surfer and Patagonia’s Everlong. The On’s are more of a cushioned road shoe while the Patagonia Everlong’s are a light weight trail shoe.
I hope this helps and happy cold weather running running