Say what you will about there being no such thing about bad weather, just bad gear: When the weather sucks it is hard to motivate to train outdoors. Fortunately, the following selection of running shoes, socks, apparel, and accessories will help it suck a lot less. In fact, they can even make it fun to conquer the elements. We review the best winter running gear for triathletes:
The Best Winter Running Gear: Shoes
Brooks Cascadia 14 GTX
Brooks’ old favorite Cascadia shed some of its heft, so the 14th version is sleeker than the last—even the Gore-Tex model, which comes in handy should your winter running translate to wet snow, slush or rain. This update is more flexible, having lost an element of rigidity that came with the Cascadia’s signature triangular “pivot posts” which provided the equivalent of a four-wheel-drive suspension system. By reducing the size of the pivots—which now penetrate less of the midsole—Brooks was able to even out the ride and provide more underfoot feel for greater versatility. Version 14 is better suited for winter running due to a new, less complicated, consistently-lugged sticky “TrailTack” outsole. The newest Cascadia also boasts a lower heel-toe drop, going from 10 to 8mm. Similarly the upper has fewer overlays.
Altra Lone Peak 4.5
Altra altered the fit and underfoot feel in this most recent tweak of its high-traction trail shoe while maintaining its even, zero-drop, toe-splay-friendly qualities. The Lone Peak is a supportive, cushioned-yet-firm shoe that offers plenty of bite on snowy surfaces or winter slop—thanks to its substantial outsole lugs and protective rock plate. The 4.5 update leaves the Lone Peak’s fit but does revise the upper by reducing overlays, improving the tongue tie-in and dumbing down the lacing system for more secure heel and midfoot wrap. The agile, low-profile performance of the Lone Peak translates well to snow-covered trails, given they are already more forgiving and don’t require a substantial cushion.
The Best Winter Running Gear: Socks
Wigwam Surpass Lightweight Mid-Crew
Using a new contour-knit construction to eliminate bulky accumulations of yarn, the new “SynchroKnit” provides a precise fit that really hugs the arches while also splaying out the toe box. The stirrup-like under-arch supports the foot and feels good for those prone to plantar fasciitis. Domestically made of 49% polyester/38% nylon/7% TENCEL/6% spandex, the blend is notably plush, yet durable, while also providing moisture-wicking qualities. Wigwam focused on cushioned heels and stay-put cuffs that don’t slip—while also keeping out gravel, dirt, snow, and slush.
Vermont Darn Tough Vertex ¼ Ultra-Light Cushion
Darn Tough’s seamless Vertex provides a minimalist feel while delivering a surprising amount of underfoot cushioning. And, as the brand name implies, the no-stings, no-conditions guarantee for life durability is no joke, thanks to the fine gauge knitted Merino wool, nylon, lycra spandex construction. The Vertex ¼ Ultra-Light is moisture wicking, naturally antimicrobial, and plenty warm for winter running, even when they get wet from slush or snow that melts down from the ankle. The performance fit is snug but not restricting and doesn’t bunch or slip, keeping blisters at bay.
The Best Winter Running Gear: Hats
Skida Nordic Hat
With Nordic skiing hardwired into this brand’s DNA, the Skida Nordic Hat is all about balancing warmth with high-energy output. Fabricated in Vermont from lightweight poly-blend fabric, the Nordic Hat is unlined, breathable, and moisture wicking to keep you warm and dry. Once you warm up, the thin hat can be conveniently stowed in a pocket or is also easy to wear under another hat or bike helmet. The material is a mix of MAX-Dri moisture management technology—consisting of 92% polyester and 8% spandex.
Salomon Active Beanie
Using a stretchy jersey-brushed micro fleece fabric made of 91% polyester and 9% elastane, the Active Beanie is a close-fitting beanie. For being a lightweight and relatively thin hat, it provides warmth while also wicking sweat and drying quickly. It has some reflective detailing and tucks away when you get toasty enough.
The Best Winter Running Gear: Gloves/Mittens
Outdoor Research Gripper Heated Sensor Gloves
Outdoor Research threw everything they had into these over-the-top rechargeable, battery-powered, heated gloves—from the placement of the battery weight on the inner wrist to the Gore-Tex Infinium windproof and water-resistant materials, micro fleece fabric, grippy palms, and touchscreen synthetic leather thumbs and index fingers. The battery charge lasts eight hours on low, five hours on medium and two-and-a-half hours on high, and the easy-to-control, lighted power button tells you clearly which mode you’ve selected.
Seirus Solarsphere Ace Mitt
The simplicity of these sleek-yet-toasty mittens is somewhat deceptive, because they work to keep you warm via hollow filament insulation that—in addition to providing a comfort layer—converts solar rays into thermal warmth, amplifying temperatures by up to 10 degrees F.
The Best Winter Running Gear: Outerlayer
Patagonia Storm Racer Jacket
Patagonia put a lot of thought into this design, which layers over a hydration vest using dual front zips for a novel way to gain quick and easy access to pouches and hydration flasks. The Storm Racer also opens up for chimney-like venting. For easy stashing, the superlight three-layer 100% recycled ripstop nylon waterproof jacket stuffs away in its own pocket. With an adjustable hood that allows for peripheral vision, there’s plenty of protection from winter storms.
La Sportiva Run Jacket
The combination of articulated hood, high neck zip for facial protection, and protective-yet-breathable fabric makes the Run Jacket an ideal choice when the weather is laughing at your running plans. The lightweight double-layered polyester laminate fabric, taped seams, and adjustable drawcord hem keep you dry and shielded from chilling winds. And, should you begin to overheat, there is underarm ventilation. The chest pocket doubles as a stow pouch if you get warm enough to shed the jacket.
The Best Winter Running Gear: Long-sleeve top
Voormi 1/4 Zip Baselayer Top
Normally you have to sacrifice warmth for breathability but the Quarter Zip Baselayer manages to accomplish both, thanks in part to venting mesh and a dual-layer blended Merino wool construction that features a thin inner layer to wick away moisture and stay dry. The zip neck is generous enough to bury your chin and warm your cheeks, and the hidden thumbholes in the sleeves add to the top’s versatility. The long-sleeve shirt works well as either a base or mid layer.
Decathlon Forclaz Merino Long-Sleeved T-Shirt Zip Collar Trek 500
What a bargain! This Merino wool long-sleeve top works well as either a base or mid layer. Made from fine South African wool that is both stretchy and durable—due to a thin sheath of polyamide that shields the natural fibers from friction or cuts. The main body of the shirt is 86% wool and 14% polyamide and offers excellent breathability, odor control, moisture management, and temperature regulation.
The Best Winter Running Gear: Pants/Tights
On Running Pants
A lot of thought went into these pants, and the design shines through with what are both functional and wearable art for the legs. The zoned construction and materials are what stand out, although we appreciate attention to details, like an outside draw cord waist and pocket placement with zippered security. The front features fully-bonded, protective fabric, and venting behind the knees allow for freedom of motion, comfort, reflectivity, durability, moisture and wind repellency.
Bjorn Dahlie Run Pants
If you were to cross a track pant with tights, you’d get the Bjorn Dahlie Run Pant. Think of them as track pants for those with skinny legs or tights for those who may fare better on the bike than the run. Either way, they excel in a variety of conditions with four-way stretch and lightweight breathable wind-resistant, water-repellent fabric. Tapered from the knee to the ankle, there isn’t any excess material, and the elastic waistband features an internal drawstring with silicone grip. They also have a small zippered pocket on the side.
While most of these products come in both men and women’s models, we’ve reviewed the men’s versions here. Stay tuned for the women-specific running winter gear roundup coming soon!