Winter running gear necessity list

Call me crazy, but I really enjoy a good run in the snow. Something about being surrounded by all that white feels so peaceful to me. This, of course, is only true if you’re dressed for the weather.

This is what happens when you don't wear a hat in the snow.

This is what happens when you don’t wear a hat in the snow.

When I checked the hour-by-hour forecast Tuesday morning, it looked like I wouldn’t see snow for a few hours. About five minutes into my run, I was in a full on snowstorm. It started right when I was running by the Christmas tree in Continental Square in York, which seemed magical, until I found myself pawing at my eyes every two minutes trying to see through the snow.

Running in the snow necessary gear item No. 1: A hat.
A brim is essential when you’re looking at any kind of heavy, blowing or stinging snow. You can layer a headband or heavier hat on top, but the brim is key.

I personally have not put trax on my shoes, but I’ve been looking into it to help maintain a good grip in icy conditions. There’s also this how-to video on making your own grippy shoes. I don’t think I have the skills/patience for that. At the moment, I just take it really slow, especially on hills, and watch out for anything resembling ice. Snowy runs force me to slow down, which is probably not the worst thing to do every now and then.

Necessary item No. 2: Running tights with ankle zip. I’m partial to Nike, their stuff tends to fit me best, but the most important factor here is that ankle zip. They advertise it to allow air flow, but I cherish it for how much easier it makes it to get on and off. By the end of a winter run, my dexterity is pretty terrible. Having the zip lets me get out of my pants without falling over. You can’t put a price on that.

Necessary item(s) No. 3: Athletic gloves. It is worth investing a little money in a glove that can handle getting wet. I use these ones from Target. There are definitely better ones, but these have worked for me. I tend to layer thicker gloves or mittens on top in extreme cold. When it’s warmer, I wear the really cheap knit gloves you can buy for $1 to $3 pretty much anywhere. I usually buy a few pair of these cheapo gloves to use as throwaways during races, too.

Necessary item No. 4: Neck warmer (gaiter).
I swear, this has been the best purchase I have ever made. I don’t know why, but especially on runs longer than an hour, my neck, chin and entire bottom half of my face get really cold. I wear a fleece gaiter for extra goodness. The link here isn’t the exact one I have, but it looks pretty dang warm. You can wear it just around your neck or up over your mouth. Either way, it is a must for those long, cold runs.

So those are my top picks for winter. Most winter running stuff is expensive, so you might want to put a few items on your Christmas list rather than splurge yourself. Buying a few key items will help keep you warm and dry and away from the treadmill.

What is your must-have winter gear?

Related: Melt calories with fun winter activities

About Kate Penn

I've been a staff photographer at YDR for about 6 years. I'm into visual media, running, and food. Reach me @k8penn
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3 Responses to Winter running gear necessity list

  1. Matt J says:

    Fog-resistant sunglasses are helpful to keep from choosing between snow-blindness and steamy shades.

    • Kate says:

      Ooh good call. I don’t usually wear sunglasses when I run, but that snow can be blinding. Any brand recommendations or links for people?

  2. Jim Driskell says:

    You might want a balaklava, fits over the head and down to the neck for cold weather, instead of hat with a brim. Also suggest “sweatvac” long sleeve shirt under a water proof top. Thanks for the heads up on the trax, does seem to be a lot icier around here.

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