Winter gear recommendations

Greetings Fellow Runners! I am looking for winter gear recommendations to encourage me to run outside in a variety of conditions.
I’ll start with background. I run 20ish miles per week, typically on roads or surfaces like BDT or Waterfront Trail (though this challenge has encouraged me to try trails). I run hot and sweat A LOT.

  1. What are some recommendations for running on slick surfaces? Last year I did some unwanted skating on plowed snow, black ice, or ice under snow. Trail shoe or traction devices (brands you love or hate, I read tons of reviews last year but didn’t settle on anything)?

  2. How do you layer to stay warm? What types of material and/or gear do you prefer? Specially, looking for recommendations at less than 20 degrees and for handling wind. Why is the wind SO cold?? What handles dampness from sweat or precipitation on long runs?

  3. Do you have any jacket recommendations that allow for heat dissipation? I rarely wear a jacket as I overheat.

Happy Winter Running!!

I overheat as well and I love smartwool- I have a 250 jacket that I use. Under I will either use a tank top, t shirt or long sleeve depending on the temperature.
I also have some yak trax that are great for slick surfaces but it takes some getting used to the clicky clack sound.
I also made myself a running skirt made out of merino wool that is great as an added layer over my leggings when it’s extra chilly.
Good luck!


Thank you! So, is the Smartwool jacket breathable? Do you help regulate temp by unzipping it?

I agree, wool is great. For me, once we get down to the 20s, I’ll wear a wool base layer top, bottom, and then layer over that. Socks are also wool. I do wear a Patagonia soft shell jacket I found on eBay as the outer layer throughout winter, especially when it snows. Of course a beanie, and up to three layers on my hands, including gloves and mittens, as I have Raynaud’s. At least one of those mitten layers is wool. For the coldest of days (single digits) I’ll go out with a balaclava, and I now own a ski mask for the negative double digits, as I once had a contact lens pop out as both were freezing to my eyes.

For traction, YakTrax is awesome, though I know folks wear other brands too. But some kind of spikes is critical once you get a lot of the black ice or even several inches of snow before the plow comes.

Happy running!

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Hi Sarah,

Yes, with the snow on the ground, we’ve recently pulled out our winter running gear. Although it takes me a few days to adjust, I love it after that.

  1. Shoes – I’ve honestly just used normal running shoes (and occasional trail shoe if super sloppy) for winters and been fine, even when I hit a little bit of wet snow. The wool socks still kept me warm while running. I’ve never used yak trax or screws. I do have a pair of trail shoes with GTX, but I really haven’t used them much for winter running.

  2. Layers – for the cold stuff (around freezing), I will typically wear a long sleeve tech shirt with either a wool or synthetic fleece long sleeve half zip top. If it gets colder (just below freezing), I switch the tech base layer for a underarmour type layer (and a thicker winter version if getting to the teens). I sweat quite a bit too, but the half zip allows me to adjust the air flow quite well. If it gets to low teens and single digits, then I might add a light jacket on top, and adjust zip as needed. For gloves, there are 3 sets. A fleece set of gloves that do the trick 75% of the time. If it gets to low 20s or teens, I add a pair of thin running gloves underneath. Low teens and single digits, I have a pair of big mittens that work well (though I feel like a lobster). With a beanie and a fleece neck gaiter, I’m usually fine down to single digits. Nearing zero a few times last year, I was plenty warm except for the eyeballs. I recently bought a pair of ski goggles at the thrift store to try out in those few instances. Socks – wool all the way since it stays warm even when a bit wet.

  3. Jacket – I have 3 main jackets that I wear to mix and match with other layers.

    • super light shell with hood that I’ll add to a couple of layers underneath if it is snowing or windy.
    • a slightly heavier technical jacket (but still without lining)
    • another medium weight technical jacket but with lining.

Stay just warm enough!



Don’t over look your undergarments! All the tech fabric in the world isn’t going to work to specs if you are wearing a cotton running bra and/or panties underneath. Particularly since you sweat a lot (I do too) I recommend investing in some quality under gear.

I’ve also had good luck with trail shoes for traction. I have a pair of Solomon speed cross that grip quite well in the snow and slop.


For icy conditions, it’s hard to beat screw shoes, which are easy to make from an old pair of shoes. I find Jay Johnson’s daughter’s video to be the most amusing instructions.

I recently bought Janji’s Merino Tech Long Sleeve top and love it - really well designed, versatile and good for a range of temps. I’ll wear it over a shirt down to 40 degrees then serves as a great base layer under a jacket for lower temps.