Winter Running Gear

Kristin gets ready to run below zero and reports on the gear she used.

“Winter Running Gear” sends a chill up my spine: in anticipation of every first mile run, where I know I’ll be a touch cold – to avoid overheating later in the run – and because of the beauty of running through a world transformed by snow’s crystalline sparkle.

It’s not all fairy tales and gentle breezes, though, and we need gear that can withstand the elements while not being too bulky or hot, too, when body temp rises. Sounds simple, right?

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This winter I picked out some items that I’ve been wanting to try-and one just for fun-to test out and share the results with you:

  • a jacket rated for below 30°F (hoping it’ll work below 0);
  • a face mask that looks like it won’t smash my nose (because one I upgraded to last year smashes my nose);
  • 2 pairs of gloves, rated for different temps… I’ve been getting by on those “disposable” gloves they hand out before marathons~and bulky non-running mittens~ for the last…12 years 😜😯;
  • 2 hats, one for function, with 2 color options and a ponytail opening; one that doesn’t look like a “running hat” (but is) and is super cute!
  • and finally, a head lamp, because running in the dark is…really dark…if it’s cloudy or the moon is minimal. Starlight can’t be ordered up!

It’s too late for holiday shopping lists, but we still have a few more months of cold running days left this season. I hope one of these items that we’ll highlight in the next few weeks will be what you’ve been looking for. And this far into the season you can snag a deal on them!

ASICS Women’s Softshell Jacket

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Since I’ve been running in a thin-yet-very-warm, one-size-too-big running jacket that I got on clearance at Scheels in 1999, through every winter since, this season it was time to upgrade! I was looking for a lightweight jacket that could handle temps well below freezing. This smooth operator from ASICS kept me warm-but not too hot-on runs from 20°F through -30°F, with 1-3 layers of tech material shirts underneath: I LOVE IT!

The back dips down to keep the cold from creeping up, and sleeves cover hands, with a hole for the thumb. There are zippered vents on the sides to allow heat to escape, if preferred. This aspect was important to me because if there’s one thing I dislike on winter runs…besides freezing in the bitter cold, it’s overheating! Let’s just say I like to hit the right balance, and these little vents help me do that.

An “extra” convenience of this jacket is that it has a little slot for media cords in the interior of the pocket, so your device can stay protected with the cords coming up inside the jacket.

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Craft Active Comfort Neck Warmer

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This versatile warmer is a fun pop of color with soft, stretchy fabric that can be worn to keep your neck, face, or ears warm-or pulled up over them all. True to expectation, it stretches over my nose instead of smashing it: victory! It’s really thin but worked well to keep me protected in wind chills down to 0° F; below that, I added my other face guard (but keep it below my sniffer when not running into the wind).

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Salomon RS Warm 3 Fingers Gloves

They’re thin, windproof, water-resistant-and pricey, which is why I tried everything but the kitchen sink to keep my hands warm, first.
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Here’s how they work:
On my first run with them in 20° weather, my hands got a little cold running against the wind but warmed up again when I turned around.

I chose this glove because of the mitten option, as I’ve noticed that keeping the fingers together in extreme temps really helps for warmth. But it also has a 1st finger compartment; sometimes you just need more mobility: zippers.

My next runs with the gloves were in sub-zero wind chills, and I wore the ASICS softshell jacket with hand sleeves. The extra cover from the coat was perfect, and my hands stayed warm without overheating, even as I held my hand up next to my face to shield it from -29° wind chill, when forging into the blast.

The gloves have soft fleece by the thumb, for wiping drippy noses-great feature, if running in temps “warm” enough to actually have my nose exposed!

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Nofel Women’s Velocity Mittens

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I did spring for some new gloves a couple years ago, and they’re very much like these glove-mittens, but without the mitten option. Many times when wearing them I’ve wanted to just cover my gloved hand with a single layer, to protect it from the wind and trap heat in.

The Nofel glove provides the benefits of a glove-with touchscreen compatibility-with the optional extra cover of a mitten that I’ve been wanting. These definitely don’t work much below freezing, but I’m looking forward to trying them for runs in about 30-45 degree weather. I have high hopes. The mitten folds inconspicuously into a pocket, if unneeded, and there’s a slot to hold a key. My gloves without this mitten feature are pretty worthless – at least no more helpful than the free ones I’ve gotten at races!

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ASICS Thermopolis LT Ruched Beanie – Reversible

Hats have a tendency to make my head too hot on runs. (Picky? Maybe.) A thin ear band-again, free from a fall marathon-is all I need until well below freezing, when I’ll add a no-fuss hat.

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So I looked for a hat that could replace this ear band-hat combo. Some were a touch short, and those millimeters exposed enough skin to inch-up and cause a chill. This ASICS beanie has just enough material to it to keep me covered, and the ponytail opening keeps hair off of my neck. It’s different from the others; the material folds around the ponytail to keep air out or keep you covered if you don’t use it.

The reversible feature gives two color options! My grey and black one is fine, but I really wanted the prune heather and grey option that was sold out when I ordered. It’s back in stock at Running Warehouse and I’m sure elsewhere if you want that touch-of-color option.

Oh, and I like it. I wore it on bitter cold runs, with a face mask (or two) covering up the back of it-works great without being too hot, or not warm enough.

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Women’s Adidas Quick Knit Military Hat

This hat is CUTE! And they say it’s for running. Nice, let’s give it a try!

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It’s very warm…but doesn’t cover as much skin as I’d need for temps as low as it is warm for…make sense? I wore it in -29° wind chill, with two face masks on, that covered the exposed lower ears and skin.

But SURPRISE! It has a function. The fashion-bill on the hat keeps a head lamp from slipping down. This one is a great option for c-o-l-d runs when you want to wear a head lamp (without messing around with position to keep it in place)-as long as you wear a face mask that wraps around, to cover lower ears and neck.

Or just wear it for normal, which is what I’ll probably do. (Shhh…don’t tell the Guru 😉 )

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Black Diamond Storm Headlamp 2017

This baby has a lot of features, all controlled by 1 tap-2 taps-or a long hold on a single button. Honestly, I don’t have it all figured out, but by messing around with it (while running and not), I’ve gotten it to shine its bright 350 lumens of white LED light as well as cycle through smaller white, blue, red, and green lights.

Long holds dim or brighten the lights, or cause them to strobe. The smaller side lights can be used independent of the larger “main” light; I think that this option, especially with the strobe feature, would be perfect to alert traffic that you’re there. A 4-second hold locks (and unlocks) the light for long term battery saving.

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The center light is plenty bright for the darkest environment, and the dimming option as desired helps preserve battery power.

Wearing it:
By trial and error, I’ve found that the light stays up the best if the band is wrapped parallel to the ground, around the forehead: wearing a billed hat also helps to eliminate any mid-run issues with it falling down.

It has a semi-soft pad that can be worn against the skin; I think it would irritate if worn this way long term, and I read a review speaking of blisters! I’ll wear it with a hat or around my arm or waist.

It’s waterproof and dust proof: a quality item. It works great but could be more functional with a longer strap for (more sizes) waist wearing and/or a clip-on option.

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***Always take safety measures when running in the dark and stay alert.***