Oregon native Max King says he runs in his normal running shoes all year, even in winter.
Oregon native Max King says he runs in his normal running shoes all year, even in winter. (Paul Nelson/Salomon)
Gear Guy

What’s the Best Winter Running Gear?

If you have the right gear, there's no excuse to stop training

Oregon native Max King says he runs in his normal running shoes all year, even in winter.

Pro runner Max King is crushing it lately. He’s podiumed at several important races, including the Warrior Dash and Western States 100-miler. He credits his success to training hard year-round, even in the dead of winter. To teach other runners how to stay warm as snow season approaches, he co-hosted a cold-weather clinic in Bend, Oregon, last month. Here are his five most important tips.

Embrace 3/4-Length Tights

“This is 2015. Time to embrace the manpris,” King says. A three-quarter-length tight regulates body temperature better than shorts on days that are just above freezing and offers a greater range of motion than full-length tights. King (who’s sponsored by Salomon) runs in the Endurance 3/4 Tight. “Salomon makes some really great winter running gear because of its heritage in the mountains,” he says.

Don’t Be Afraid to Wear Warm Gloves

“On a cold day, I am wearing ski gloves,” King says. His digits freeze fast, so he needs more than a traditional, svelte running glove, which tends to skimp on insulation. King suggests runners wear whatever thickness glove they need to stay warm since cold hands can be a big distraction. Nordic ski gloves like the Salomon Race Nordic Warm are a good option because they’re warm yet breathe well.

Invest in a Technical Top and Jacket

Technical jackets and base layers are pricey, but King says they’ll save you on the coldest runs when it’s miserable outside. He runs in full Salomon kit, but we like a good merino base layer like the Icebreaker Oasis Long Sleeve Crewe or Patagonia’s synthetic Capilene Midweight Crew, both of which move moisture off your body and ensure you don’t freeze. Pair those base layers with a technical top like The North Face’s Better Than Naked Jacket, which cuts the wind and cold while venting excess body heat.

Skip the Gore-Tex Shoes

“I tend to run in my normal running shoes through the winter,” King says. He lives in Bend, Oregon, where it’s cold and dry, rendering a Gore-Tex liner moot. He does suggest that runners buy a pair of wool running socks, like the Swiftwick Wool Pursuit, which will move moisture off your feet when you sweat and still keep you warm if you get soaked.

Hunt for Used, Budget-Friendly Nordic Gear

Sure, you can run in inexpensive cotton sweatpants and a cotton sweatshirt, but if you’re really sweating or if it’s wet outside, these garments will cause you to freeze. Instead, King suggests tracking down old Nordic gear at used outdoor stores. This gear is cut to move and wick well, thanks to its high-tech synthetic materials.