Let's face it – if you're outside this winter, whether you're running or not, it's going to be cold. Buying the best running gear for cold weather is a must to keep you warm, dry, comfortable and at your peak performance. That's why I've written this article about the different types of cold weather gear so you can choose what's best for you and most importantly, where to get it all at the lowest price.
Dress for Cold Weather Running
Just because the thermometer drops does not mean you need to stay indoors. With today's technology in apparel fabric and construction, it also means you do not have to go running in a parka or snow suit. How uncomfortable would that be? Choosing the right gear is the first step in getting out there when the chill is on. Here are several pieces of clothing you may want to consider:
- Thermal Hat or Balaclava: Let's start at the top. We've all heard that lots of your body heat escapes through your head, right? So, let's make sure that's protected. A thermal hat or balaclava (like a ski mask) will definitely keep that precious heat in and your ears from freezing, especially if it's windy outside. Getting one that wick away moisture is a good idea to keep you drier. Some are even designed to be ponytail compatible to avoid bunching if you have long hair.
- Moisture Wicking Base Layer: If you choose a high-quality pair of tights and long sleeve shirt, you will thank yourself later. You definitely want an under layer that wicks away moisture. It's cold enough outside without sweaty clothes clinging to your skin. Choose a quality brand name made of fabric that is breathable, allowing moisture to escape. Also pay attention to seams which can rub or wear. Consider buying a good pair of compression tights and shirt: These are meant to keep your muscles at an optimum temperature for performance no matter the weather.
- Insulating Layer: Your insulating layer can be combined with your base layer in some cases, such as with insulated compression tights. If you choose, you can make this a separate layer, which is really only necessary if its bitter cold, usually about 10 degrees Fahrenheit or below. This layer should trap air to keep you warm, like a blank, yet still breathe so you do not overheat. Fleece is a good option for this, but many other fabrics are great too. Read product descriptions to find out what their promises are as far as protecting you from the cold.
- Wind and Waterproof Outer Layer: This one's pretty obvious. If it's cold and windy or cold and wet, do not skip this one. Again, this layer should protect you but also allow moisture and some heat to escape. It's easiest if you get this layer with zippers: Then you can really regulate the protection you need and avoid overheating and chilling.
- Gloves: Since it's near impossible to reach a good stride with hands in your pockets, good gloves or mittens are a must-have when the temperatures drop. Again, make sure you get fabrics that breathe here. Whether you are more comfortable in gloves or mittens is personal choice, but keep in mind that your fingers will share heat, so mittens may be the better choice when it's extremely cold.
- Socks: Do not overlook this one. You can have the warmest shoes going, but if your socks are not up to the task, your little tootsies are going to get pretty chilly. Cotton socks, while comfortable, hold moisture, so steer away from those in your running gear lineup. You do not need wet socks rubbing and forming blisters. Opt for a good pair of wicking socks in an acrylic fabric or wool.
- Shoes: Here's an important one, where the feet meet the road. Obviously, try to avoid slush, snow and puddles. For really cold weather, avoid shoes with a lot of mesh. They do let your feet breathe, but they also let in the wind and water. Trail running shoes may be a good option because they're usually somewhat waterproof and provide good transaction.
So, where do you get the best deals on running gear for cold weather?
There are hundreds of sites online selling everything from the cheapest to the best of the best in running apparel. Going through each and every one is going to take a lot of time. Your best bet is to find someone who enjoys the sport of running as much as you do who has already done their homework. They've already done all the shopping and can tell you exactly where to go for the best deals.