One of the glorious things about running is how easy it is to get started. In the summer, all you need are shorts, shoes, and a breathable top. And you don’t need much more that that in the winter. Just make sure you cover all exposed skin with breathable, wicking layers. Here are my gear suggestions to keep you running outside all winter—without breaking the bank.
Yaktrax Pro ($30)
Yaktrax eliminates the need for winter-specific running shoes. The $30 insurance policy can also save you from a busted hip and potentially expensive trip to the hospital. The spikes let you run outside no matter how icy the trails are and can easily be stored once the snow melts.
Fits Socks Pro Trail Performance Quarter ($18)
Socks are the last line of defense for your feet, and it’s worth spending some extra money to get a warm, moisture-wicking pair. I prefer Fits for their extremely deep heel cup designed to prevent bunching, which can restrict circulation and chill your feet. The merino wool has kept my feet warm in below-freezing temperatures.
Most running jackets cost around $150, but you can get a second-hand one for much less. I suggest looking for both a fleece top and a windbreaker: a thick fleece will be enough for all but the windiest or rainiest days while an inexpensive windbreaker will protect you from the elements—it won’t matter that it’s not breathable if the temperatures are cold enough. While a local thrift store is usually a good place to find a fleece, you can also browse Backcountry.com’s Outlet for sales on everything from running jackets to shorts.
Embrace the tights. They will keep you warmer than pants, which let in more cold air. You can find a synthetic, moisture-wicking pair for about $30 at stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Hunt for the cheapest synthetic gloves (no cotton) you can find. (I’ve often found ones as low as $5.) A $20 pair will be warmer and more windproof, but you can get away with inexpensive gloves—just cutting the wind will make a big difference for your digits. Walmart usually has a range of options for $10 or less.
Fleece Hat ($10)
Cheap fleece beanies are easy to find. Because they’re made from a synthetic fabric, they move sweat away from your head, keeping you much warmer. Fleece doesn’t block wind well, but I have found it to protect my ears on snowy runs. If you strike out at your local clothing shop, check out Amazon’s beanie collection where prices vary from about $2 to $40.
Mutt Mitts Dog Waste Cleaning Bags (Free)
Fancy running underwear is designed to keep the wind off your sensitive man parts. But there’s a (free!) hack that works just as well. Missoula, Montana-based pro ultrarunner Mike Foote, who’s lived in an off-the-grid yurt for years, uses the free doggie bags provided in most parks as a windshield. “Stuffed down the front of your pants or shorts, they create an impermeable layer in front in moments of extreme duress,” he wrote.
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