Bundle Up!

In response to the frigid temperatures we are experiencing this time of year, and some requests about proper winter running attire, I wanted to discuss what to wear when it gets cold.

When temperatures are at or above freezing, it is mainly a personal preference as to how much or how little you wear. Some people still break out the shorts in the 30s, whereas others cover every inch of skin as soon as the temps dip below 40. But when the temperature gets below freezing, safety is a priority—and it's time to stop trying to be macho.

If the wind is low or non-existent, you really just need to cover your skin. If the temperature is in the teens, and there is no wind, I can usually get away with a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, running tights or pants, a long-sleeve shirt or thin jacket, running gloves, and a hat or headband.

When the wind picks up, you have to start layering up. Here's what I wear when it's below freezing and windy (with windchill in the single digits or below zero Fahrenheit).

  • Socks (I love the Drymax Maximum Protection trail socks). I have yet to need to double up on socks when wearing these, even at temperature of -20 or worse).
  • running shorts
  • running half tights
  • running tights/pants
  • form-fitting upper body compression
  • dry fit t-shirt
  • dry fit long-sleeve
  • two windbreaker running jackets, or thick dry-wick running pullover and windbreaker jacket
  • Mittens (Ditch the gloves at this point; you need your fingers to stay in contact with each other to stay warmer. Oftentimes I even put all five fingers in to the main bay of the mitten; my thumbs have been frostbitten before and that's not something I want to repeat.)
  • Neck gaiter, face mask, hat or headband (combine things that will allow you to cover all skin if need be; you can always pull down the face mask if it's not as bad out as you expected).
  • Goggles or wraparound sunglasses (This sounds silly, but if it gets super cold and dry retina freezing can become an issue.)
The above listed system has kept me warm for up to an hour in temps of -44 below (windchill). This doesn't necessarily mean it will be the perfect or right system for you, but I have had much success with this system.

Stay warm!