What to wear for running in winter - essential running clothes to stay warm, dry & visible

What to wear for running in winter - essential running clothes to stay warm, dry & visible

It’s harder to get out for a run in winter, isn’t it. The comfort of the sofa versus the cold, wind and rain. But the work you do in winter can pay dividends across the rest of the year. And running in tough conditions can be great for your mentality, as well as your fitness. There’s nothing to fear about plunging temperatures and more challenging terrain, but knowing what to wear for a winter run could make it a little easier to get out there. 

What to wear running in winter - essential cold weather running gear


Layering is the key to running in cold weather. You’ll no doubt want to wrap up when the mercury plummets. But you’ll soon warm up once you get moving. Layering up is all about wearing clothes that are suitable for running, which you can easily adjust or even remove on the go. And make sure each of your layers are made from reflective material so that you’ll stay visible and safe when running in the darker months. 


Upper body

It’s crucial to have your layering game on point for your upper body. Not least because you need to protect your vital organs. Start with a lightweight base layer made from stretchy fabric that wicks moisture away from your body and helps regulate your body temperature. Then it’s your mid-layer, which can have either short or long sleeves. Running tops with zips can help you regulate your temperature when you get warmer. 

Next is your outer layer. This should be waterproof and windproof for the toughest conditions. You’ll want this to be relatively lightweight so you can easily take it off and tie it around your waist when you get too hot. Some running jackets fold right up so you can easily fit them into your hand as you run. 

If you’d rather not have to carry a jacket, you may prefer to go with a running gilet instead. You could try pairing one of these with some arm warmers, which you can quickly take off if needed. Whatever you go with, make sure you wear upper body layers that are reflective for running at night. If you already have gear that’s not reflective and you don’t want to shell out for some new things, get a high viz running vest

Lower body

You can also layer up your legs if you want to, by going with a combination of running shorts and leg warmers. If you don’t think your lower body’s going to get too cold, or you maybe just want to protect your legs from splashing puddles and mud, a pair of running leggings could do. Tighter fitting leggings made from moisture-wicking material are great for keeping your muscles at the right temperature, without leaving you all hot and sweaty. Lycra shorts can also help to do this for your quads, hamstrings and groins. 



A hatless head can lose a lot of heat when running in cold weather. To solve that, there are different styles of running beanies to choose between. You can either go for something thin and tight fitting, which you can easily shove into a pocket on the fly. Or you can go for a thicker woolly hat to fight off more cold, adding a reflective bobble for an extra flourish. If you’d rather keep more of your head free, go with a running headband – which could double up as a snood if you need it to. 


Woman wearing Proviz headband


There’s just something about having cold fingers, isn’t there. It’s really not a nice feeling, which can be hard to shake even when you get inside to the warmth. A good pair of running gloves will keep your hands warm and dry, but can be easily taken off if you get too hot. There are different thicknesses and styles to choose between, including mitts and lobster gloves for extra warmth, while some gloves allow you to switch between styles for even more versatility. And speaking of versatility, look out for gloves that are touchscreen compatible so you can still use your phone on the go. 


Having cold toes isn’t a nice feeling either. A warm pair of running socks is a must for winter, keeping your feet toasty even if you have lightweight running shoes. Make sure your socks are breathable and moisture-wicking. This will help your feet stay dry and at a comfortable temperature, while also protecting you from blisters. 

Other tips for running in winter


As well as making sure your winter running clothes are suitable, there are some other things you can do to give yourself the best chance of enjoying your runs in the cold and dark. 


✔ Stay seen


Don’t forget to wear reflective gear to keep safe when it’s dark. Whether it’s a piece of clothing that’s totally reflective, a high viz vest or reflective accents on your clothes and accessories, this is super important for both city and rural running. 


✔ Use a torch


On the subject of visibility, you’ll want to be able to see as well as be seen. Be it quiet paths, country lanes or even just to keep an eye on puddles, a head torch or chest light can also help prevent injuries on uneven routes. 


✔ Keep hydrated


It can be easy to forget to drink enough water when you exercise in the cold, as you don’t feel as dehydrated as you do when it’s warm. You still need to stay hydrated though, so take a drink with you if you’re going on a long winter run. 


✔ Keep moving


Try not to stop for too long when you’re out on a run to avoid cooling down. As well as making you feel cold, this will also help keep muscular injuries at bay, as your muscles cool down quickly in cold weather. 


✔ Plan your route


Planning your route in advance is a good way to keep a consistent pace while you’re running. Knowing where you’re going should mean you have to stop less, while it also could also mean you’re not standing around in the dark looking lost – which can be scary, depending on where you are. 


man running through woods


Hopefully, you’ll now have a good idea of what to wear for running in winter. With the right gear in your drawers, hopefully, you’ll have fewer barriers to getting out for a run in the cold, wind or rain. To find all the clothes and accessories you need, check out our full range of reflective running gear

Article by Holly Townsend
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