What to Wear When Running in Winter? (A Winter Gear Guide)

It’s freezing outside but you’re dedicated to staying consistent with your running routine. So you look for ways to stay warm without feeling too bulky. I’ve been in the same situation a couple of times before and over time I finally got the clothing strategy that works for me.

In general, you should wear 2 to 3 layers of clothing when running in winter. Dress as if it is 15 to 20 degrees warmer to account for the increase in your body’s temperature. Choose clothes with good moisture-wicking and heat retention capabilities such as wool and polyester.

In this article, we’ll talk about what you should wear when running in the winter in more detail. We’ll talk about the different layers as well as the type of shoes you should wear. I’ll also give you some dressing tips for the winter. So if that’s something you think you can use, read along.

What to Wear in Different Winter Temperatures

Winter ranges from a high of 67.4°F in Hawaii to a low of 2.6°F in Alaska. In most states, the average temperature is around 33.2°F.

Let’s find out what you should wear for running in different temperatures.

Here’s a table summary of the layerings:

TemperatureBase LayerMid LayerProtective Layer
50 to 60°FShirt or long sleeve and shorts or tights
40 to 49°FLong sleeve and tights or shortsVest, shirt, or light jacket (optional)
30 to 39°FFleece-lined long sleeve and tightsIf no fleece-lined long sleeve, wear a shirt on topa vest or Light jacket (optional)
20 to 29°FFleece-lined long sleeve and tightsShirt or long sleeves (optional)Vest or light jacket
>20°FFleece-lined long sleeves and tightsShirt and running trousers (if no fleece-lined tights)Insulated Jacket

50 to 60°F

Most people can tolerate running at this 50 to 60°F with their usual running clothes. Sure, it’s cooler than typical days but when you’re out and running, your body can heat you just fine.

If, however, you want to feel a little warmer on your run, consider wearing a long sleeve base layer and tights.

Recommended gear:

40 to 49°F

At 40 to 49°F, it starts to get a bit too cold for your regular running clothes. Here’s where some runners will dress differently.

Long sleeve shirt and regular running tights or shorts are fine. If it’s windy outside, you might want to consider wearing a vest, sweatshirt, or a light jacket.

Any socks will do, but if you want to feel warmer on your feet during winter, invest in wool socks as they’re better at heat retention. You might also want to wear light gloves at this temperature.

Recommended gear:

30 to 39°F

Regular running tights or trousers work fine at this temperature, but you could stay warmer if you wear fleece-lined bottoms.

For your top, a fleece-lined long sleeve can give you enough warmth without needing another layer. But if you don’t have one, you can wear a shirt on top of your base layer for added insulation.

Consider warming your head and hands with a hat or ear warmers and heavier gloves.

Recommended gear:


At this temperature, most people would just consider skipping the outdoor run and doing an indoor workout instead. But if you insist on sticking with your routine(which I recommend), then you should definitely gear up.

As usual, a long-sleeved base layer and tights are great options (now is the time to wear those fleece-lined base layers).

If you’re wearing fleece-lined long sleeves, you could probably go with only a vest. But if not, or it’s windy or wet outside, you should wear light and comfortable running jacket as a protective layer.

Wear two gloves or a glove and a mitten, a wool hat or head warmer, and a neck warmer. Make sure your socks are a bit longer to cover more skin.

Recommended gear:


For temperatures below 20°F, you should definitely consider wearing high socks made of merino wool.

Fleece-lined leggings are definitely a must. If you don’t have fleece-lined leggings, wear running trousers on top of your leggings to add an extra layer of insulation.

For your top, you can wear a fleece-lined base layer, a shirt that acts as a mid-layer, and an insulated jacket.

And by insulated jackets, I do not mean skiing jackets, or those fleece jackets used for casual wear. Find an insulated jacket that’s light but retains heat and allows you to move freely. Make sure it’s waterproof and that it stays in place when you run.

Definitely wear a hat to warm your head. Use mittens instead of gloves as they are better at keeping your hands warm.

Recommended gear:

What Shoes to Wear When Running in Winter

The type of shoes you’re going to wear will depend on the terrain you’re running in. When your terrain is dry, then road running shoes with a decent grip like the Brooks Ghost will do just fine.

Conversely, in wet, muddy, and icy conditions, consider wearing a trail running shoe. They have more aggressive lugs which can provide more grip in wet conditions.

My favorite trail shoe is the Salomon Sense Ride. If you’re looking for one, I highly recommend you check it out.

You can also consider wearing a gore-tex version to keep your foot dry during winter. Icy conditions can make your socks wet which will definitely add to the coldness that you feel on your run.

Also read: Do Trail Running Shoes Need To Be Waterproof?

Tips on Choosing Your Winter Running Gear

1. Consider Other Conditions

Although the layers and accessories we’ve discussed above work well for most winter conditions, you should always take into account other weather conditions too.

Is it wet or dry? Sunny or gloomy? Windy or humid? Then, adjust your clothing depending on the conditions.

You probably don’t want to wear a long sleeve shirt by itself on a windy 40°F. Although the temperature is not too cold, the wind may make it feel much colder.

Conversely, you don’t want to overheat yourself by wearing a very thick jacket on a sunny 25°F.

2. Wear Thin Layers

One of the reasons why you should wear multiple thin layers instead of one thick jacket is that you can always remove one layer to adjust to how you feel.

If you wear one thick puffy jacket, there’s no way to adjust to the temperature once your body warms up. If you remove your only insulating layer, it might feel too cold for you to run. If you keep it, then you might overheat inside your jacket.

3. Choose Garments With Pockets

If you’re going to wear a jacket, be sure it has pockets. That way, you can easily stuff your hat, mittens, or other accessories in your jacket if it suddenly feels too hot.

4. Dress as if it’s 15 to 20°F warmer

Long-time runners recommend that you dress as if it’s 15 to 20°F warmer than it actually is. This it to account for your body’s rise in core temperature when you start running.

5. Consider the Type of Run You’re Doing

Your body’s not gonna heat up as much when you’re doing an aerobic run as it does when you’re doing sprint intervals.

That said, consider the type of run you’re doing. If you’re doing sprints, use thinner clothing. For long aerobic runs, use thicker, more insulated ones.

6. Wear Sunglasses

Just because it’s freezing outside doesn’t mean the sun can do no harm. Be sure to wear sunglasses to avoid snow blindness.

Also read: Should I Wear Sunglasses While Running?

7. Wear Moisture-Wicking Materials

This tip is applicable not only during winter but also every time you runwear only moisture-wicking garments like polyester, nylon, spandex, and wool.

These types of fabric don’t absorb water and keep you feeling fresh during your run. In addition, it helps prevent chafing which is a common problem with cotton garments.

Recommended read: What Fabrics Are best for Running? (An Expert Guide)

Final Thoughts

This guide is a combination of my personal preference combined with the common practices of other runners. In the end, what you wear will depend on several factors including the condition, the type of run, the quality of your garments, and your endurance to cold temperatures.

Use this as a guide but do your own experiment when it comes to your winter gear. Try different outfits and see how you feel. That way, you can build your own winter gear that fits right to your preference.

Nicho Mauricio

Running wasn't always my favorite sport. I was a CrossFit athlete and I loved every bit of it. But since the pandemic began, I was forced to stay away from the gym and train at home instead. Things got boring. That's when I decided to trail run with my friends. I instantly got hooked. So I started training and researching all things running. As a beginner, I want to buy only the best running gear and do only the best practices. This blog is where I share what I've learned in my journey and my experiences as a runner.

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