From Ross McDowell – Owner of Run Away Shoes
Are you new to running in winter weather? Not sure what clothing you should buy or how to dress appropriately? Here are a few tips to help you stay warm and enjoy your run. Keep in mind that each person is different, so finding your comfort zone is key. A rule of thumb is to dress as though it's 15 degrees warmer than the "feels like" temperature. It's much easier to remove a layer of clothing than to add one.
Tips for Dressing from Head to Toe for Winter Weather
Make sure your gear is made from a technical fabric such as nylon, polyester or merino wool. They all have moisture wicking features that pull moisture from your skin to keep you dry. For your reference, any technical fabric will contain one or all of those materials. Cotton is the enemy. Stay away from it. As a fabric, it absorbs up to 27 times its weight in moisture, so the sweat you produce sits on your skin and makes you cold in winter or hot in summer.
A Technical Hat
Your head is one of the most sensitive areas of the body when it comes to changes in temperature, so get a quality hat that will help you regulate your temperature. We recommend a technical hat that will move the moisture from your head to the outer layer of the hat, keeping your skin dry and warm. My personal favorite is the balaclava, a piece of headgear that covers the whole head, exposing just a little bit of your face. It's been a lifesaver on a few of the "feels like" -24 degree runs.
There are a variety of jackets available, but you want to make sure the one you wear is windproof, water-resistant and highly reflective. There is nothing better than heading outside on a windy winter day confident the wind will not blow right through you.
Sitting beneath the jacket, this soft layer should insulate and trap warm air against your skin. It functions as the main piece to keep warmth in.
Next-to-Skin Base Layer
This is a lightweight ,long-sleeve shirt that functions primarily as a moisture-wicking top to keep your skin warm and dry. These very versatile pieces work as your base layer in the winter and your outer layer in the fall and spring. You can never have too many of these (even if your spouse says you have too many).
Your legs will naturally generate a lot of heat, so you don't need to layer as much. Generally a pair of technical pants will suffice. For those particularly windy days, there are pants that have the same type of wind-breaking material as jackets and are fantastic for deep winter. Men will also wear windbriefs, which have wind-proof fabrics over the groin area.
Although a good technical sock will work well during the fall, Smartwool or Breath Thermo socks will be the best for the winter. Smartwool is a combination of merino wool and nylon. For your reference, merino wool is the best fabric for climate control within the shoe because of how wool deals with moisture. It’s my go-to sock during those cold winter days. Breath Thermo is a technology that Mizuno uses in their fabric where, when moisture hits it, the molecules in the fabric speed up, actually providing heat. If you haven't experienced it, grab a sample from Run Away Shoes and feel it. It's impressive.
Your standard running shoes will function fine with the socks mentioned above, but there are winter-specific shoes that will have Gore-Tex or some other type of waterproof material in the upper. Every winter Nike releases their popular shoes under the Shield name, which designates them as waterproof. Feel free to check them out, but understand that you'll be fine in a good winter sock and your favorite shoe. Just don't go splashing through puddles.