Winter Running Gear- What to Wear at Every Temperature

Training Tips

I do most of my training solo.

One advantage of this is that it gives me a lot of time to think.

I often come up with blog post ideas during this time, and one day, I was thinking about running in winter and how difficult it can be to find the right winter running gear.

Sure, you can use one of those runners world calculators, that give you recommendations for winter running, but how about real advice for running in cold weather?

From a real person, who has run many miles in that temperature IN those clothes, not just stepped outside and thought, “hmmm, well this feels like….”

It can be hard to know whether you should dress for the windchill or actual temperature.

I thought it would be helpful to note down what what to wear for cold weather running at each temperature.

This is by no means telling you what to do, but just giving you recommendations on what I find to be the most comfortable at 5 degree differences, so first, you have to know how cold is it in your area.

Now:

I have bad circulation, so you may find you do not need quite as much on your extremities as I do, but hopefully it helps. I don’t really believe there is a too cold to run situation here, but below 10F is probably getting pretty close. My biggest issue is how to keep feet warm during the really cold days, but I have found these Hot Hands Toe Warmers are life savers.

Most of the products I am wearing in the images are no longer available, so I have tried to find an alternative that I think is closest. Overall, the links are just to give you ideas, but the images and words describing the layers should be what you pay attention to, so you can match it with your own clothing choices you already have available.

I have included mens links where possible, however, I am a female, so I may not be as good at picking these items out for you!

Now, first:

What to wear running if you are working out/running hard in winter

Select the clothing choice as if it were 5-10 degrees F warmer than the actual temperature I state below. You will be much warmer than you would if you were just easy/recovery running.

BUT:

You should try to wear clothes appropriate for the actual temperature it is for your warm up. When you come to the actual workout, take the layers off, so you are dressed as if it is 5-10F warmer than the actual temperature.

For example:

If it is 45 degrees outside, and you have a tempo run, you should warm up using the 45 degree F recommendations below, but when you start the hard part, you should dress as if it is 50-55 degrees F outside, as you will get hot otherwise!

What to wear when running in the wind in the winter

Consider dressing at a temperature that is 5-10 degrees lower than your actual as the wind will cut through your clothing, making you feel colder.

For example:

If it is 50 degrees outside, dress as if it is 40-45 degrees F outside.

Bonus Tip:

Try to run into the wind first, so that you get the hard part out of the way first, and as you are dressed for colder weather, it will feel colder than it is.

That way, on the way back, not only will you have a nice run back with the wind, but you can take off a layer if you need to.

I also have a whole different post with tips on how to run in the wind.

What to wear running in the rain in the winter

Obviously a waterproof jacket is ideal, but keep in mind they trap the sweat inside, so you may not end up completely dry as the sweat will build up inside your coat. However, a waterproof jacket is going to remove a lot of the discomfort associated with running in the rain.

You should definitely dress at a temperature 5-10 degrees cooler than the actual temperature.  You will get cold much quicker with the rain soaking your clothing, especially if there is any kind of wind.

For example:

If you do not have a waterproof jacket and it is 40 degrees F, dress as if it is 30 degrees F.

If you do have a waterproof jacket, I would dress as if it is 35-40 degrees F.

I would also recommend wearing a hat (either with or without a headband/hat underneath) to keep the rain out of your eyes, so you can see clearly.

As I am a glass half full kinda girl, lets start with the warmest.

50 degrees F (10 degrees C)

45 degrees F (7 degrees C)

40 degrees F (4 degrees C)

35 degrees F (2 degrees C)

30 degrees F (-1 degrees C)

25 degrees F (-4 degrees C)

Below 20 degrees F (-7 degrees C)

And there you have it! How to dress in every temperature by Tina Muir.

Need a printout?

No need to keep referring back to this post! I made a printout with what to wear winter running.

Powered by ConvertKit

I also have some extra weather related tips in my Secrets to Success section if any of these help:

10 Tips for Running in the Snow

10 Tips for Training in the Heat

How to Run in Humidity

How to Run in the Wind

Happy Winter Running!

Is it summer where you are?

I also have a what to wear at every temperature in the summer post if that is what you are looking for.

What is your favorite winter running clothing item? Do you dress cooler when you are doing a workout?

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39 Comments. Leave new

  • I also think of posts when I run 😉 I love all your running outfits! Mine are all mismatched and random. I dress pretty much the same for different temps, the two things I think I need though are a vest and run mittens for when it’s really cold. My hands get really cold to begin with and I’m always layering gloves. Also I like wearing tights under pants that are a bit looser and windproof when it’s below 10.

  • All summer I’ve been waiting to try some new Oiselle cold weather clothes. Now I have and I want the warm temps back!! Ha hahaha!! Thanks for this and I too am loving the TrailHeads gloves!

  • I hate thinking of posts when I run. I can’t avoid it but it sometimes annoys me because I don’t feel like coming up with ideas, having to type them into my phone as I moving because then I fear losing the thought lol. I never match when I run, at least not often. I don’t care if I do so I just go with what’s clean at the moment. I mean, who really sees me? The dog walkers? I try to wear as few layers as possible as we approach the frigid weather just so when it hits the 20’s, and below, my layering system will feel super effective lol. The gloves and ear warmers are a must though – make a huge difference every time. I just bought a new pair of Lulu mittens which come with an extra removable layer that wraps around the palm of the hand, leave the mitten part with the fingers exposed. I forget what they are called but I searched high and low and finally found them!

  • I always think of posts in my head when I run, I wish I could dictate them because I’m usually more articulate then 🙂 Thanks for the links, I need a new pair of thermal/fleece lined tights. I’ve never run in a vest….but it looks like you get a lot of use out of yours!

  • I love the visual examples- this is so helpful! I’ve learned from trial and error over the years, but I now know what to wear at cold temps…although I’m always tempted to layer up even more! But once I get going, I warm up.

  • Is there an artic tundra look? I feel like from now until March I’ll be wearing that. This weekend is my first outdoor cold weather trace it should be fun. Great looks Tina!

  • Love this post! It’s super helpful, especially those visuals! It’s been so cold here and I’ve struggled over what to wear when I go out and run. I always feel like it’s freezing for the first half mile and then I get so hot! Haha thanks for the tips on how to find the sweet spot! PS Oh how I wish I was dressing to run in 50 degrees still…

  • Those are all great tips. I love how you did this post and I am going to share with my running group when they start complaining about the temps. I really like a vest too. I could use another pair of gloves I am going to check out those mittens you suggested. My hands are always cold.

  • oh how i needed this. I get so confused. Our weather is wacky so i either over dress or under dress. You nailed it! genius you!

  • This is such a great post Tina! I really struggle with thinking it’s freezing, putting on all of the clothes and then getting way to hot 10 minutes into the run.
    Great tips! Thank you.

  • NEED THOSE GLOVES!!! NEED NEED NEED.
    Even if the idea of running or going faster than a walk or even getting off the couch is a bit scary for me right now. Feel better, body, dammit!

  • Such great tips– I rarely need to dress below 45– infact we’ve lived here over two years and I’ve never worn tights or long sleeves, because even if it starts at 45 the temps will quickly increase with an hour or two.

  • awesome tips, thank you! I am still adjusting to these frigid temps!

  • spent the entire time reading this post doing math because I’m used to Celcius

    #Canadian

  • Once you went below 40 you lost me- I’m a wimp and prefer my treadmill!! One year I bought a bunch of really cute winter running gear – I wore it once (to run) and decided that no amount of cute/fun/warm gear was going to get me outside. Good thing I love running on the treadmill.

  • I love all the tips! and thank you! I pinned for future use! This Florida is cold at the 45-50 degree mark so if the temp drops below that I will need to consult your chart! Looking good lady!

  • I desperately need some new winter running gloves, so I am taking note! I’m right there with you and the way you dress. I hate overheating so I go for the least I can get away with and still be comfortable. My favorite temps/combo is around 45, with shorts/long sleeves. Perfection!

  • I LOVE this! It always takes me forever to decide what to wear when it’s cold out, so I’ll definitely be following this guide. Thank you so much for sharing and for joining in on the link up this week!

  • Every year my runner’s amnesia flares and I forget how to dress for winter. Sadly we’ve already had too many days where tundra wear is required! Love that vest and half zip! Great colors!

  • Wow, this is so awesome! I am always wondering what to wear at what temperatures… I’m usually either too hot or too cold. Winter running is tough! I think it will be a little easier now with this post 🙂 Thanks!

  • Great list! I am always wondering if I am dressed right for the weather! 🙂

  • I have a few brands I love and TrailHeads is one of them (Athleta and Title Nine are big on my list too). I only wear TrailHeads hats and gloves though. The convertible mittens are by far and away my favorites…I wear them all the time, not just for running. But I do love that depending how cold it is, I can just fold the mitten back into its little sheath if my hands are too warm. And it’s great for taking photos too, because you need your fingers, but if your hands are too cold, the camera shake will destroy the pictures. I really should have two pairs because I’d be completely lost if I ever misplaced them! I love them that much!!

  • This post is super helpful! I have been looking for a pair of running mittens because I hear they are much warmer than gloves. Last winter when I was training in the polar vortex I would wear two pairs of gloves and two pairs of spandex (one pair with fleece). I might just have to purchase these mittens! I like that they flap down so you can easily open fuel!

    Happy Friday!

  • Lisa@runningoutofwine
    November 22, 2014 10:12 am

    I’ve recently decided I need warmer running clothes! I somehow survived last winter by layering up as much as possible, but I think if i plan to run through another polar vortex winter it would be better to have some better quality gear for cold weather running. Thanks for sharing!

  • These are such great tips. I love how you went into detail for each temperature. It is so helpful to understand how to layer up as the temperatures go down.

  • Thankfully I live down South in Britain so it isn’t usually stupidly cold. I can get away with wearing capris for a long time (and I’m still wearing my shorts at the moment). But gloves are essential. If my hands are cold I’m not having fun!

  • I *love* your color combinations :). You match so well- I’m the kind of runner who just wears whatever is clean and usually it’s an old race shirt and a pair of shorts. I do have a saucony top for the summer and it’s really cool and sweat-wicking, they have some great shirts but I haven’t tried their shorts (I can’t do their shoes- drop is too low from what I’m used to). The gloves are a must for me, sometimes even in 50 degree weather because my hands get cold. I’ve been known to run in short sleeves and shorts but gotta have the gloves.

  • Good tips here! I always struggle with what to wear in the 30s b/c sometimes it can feel colder depending on wind or warmer if it’s sunny.

  • Kristen @ TwoLittleRunners
    December 10, 2014 5:19 pm

    Great tips! Seems like I’m always overdressed for the cooler temperatures.

  • This is great info …
    However I must be very cheap since I dont have a lot of choices in my wardrobe. I have 2 long sleeve shirts (one when it is around 15-20 degrees and one for under 5), 1 wind resistant jacket and two pair of tights .

    In Canada, cold weather start in december until march so we need 3 layers of clothes on cold days(5 to -10) and 2 layers on normal days (10-20 degree). I do a rotation with 2 pairs of shoes, but my feet are always ok even in very cold weather.
    I love buff product for protecting the face and the head.

  • Super helpful! I always forget over the sumer how to dress for winter runs. I actually like to feel cool when I run–even in the cold, so for me, I would skip one of the layers or else the top jacket. It was 25/11 with wind chill in Philly this morning, for ex. I wore a rabais crew neck top, gaiter and a running jacket and I was too warm…despite the icicles that formed during my 8.5-miler. Happy London training! 🙂

  • Brilliant article, it took me 2 years to realise I couldn’t wear the same stuff in winter and summer!

  • I just printed this out. So confused on what to wear since Fall started! Thank you so much for the effort you put in to this article. It is very appreciated and helpful.

  • I was about to whimp out of my run that I try to do during my lunch hour by telling myself that I need capris or i’ll be too cold. I googled “what to wear for a 50 degree run” and your blog popped up! Thank you for saving me from using a lame excuse. It was a great run and the shorts were perfect 😀

  • Like an earlier commenter (and also a Nancy!) I was going to wimp out on my run because it’s 25 degrees. Going to get dressed for it now! THANK YOU!

  • Suzanne Paulson
    January 8, 2017 3:53 pm

    I know this is an older post but recently stumbled on your blog through Pinterest- your suggestions for cold weather gear are terrific!! so far, I’ve purchased the brisk top and ignite tights- great quality and fair prices (actually, outstanding if you hit Amazon right and don’t care too much about colors☺)- thanks for the great tips!

  • Hey you know I wear a long sleeve sport t-shirt and shorts in 4 degrees centigrade

  • Your post is great. As a guy, my wardrobe is slightly different, but your tips helped! Run on friend!

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