previous page: 05 Winter Running Gear
page up: Running FAQ
next page: 07 Clothing Materials: Microfibers

06 Clothes (Winter/Summer)


This article is from the Running FAQ, by Ozzie Gontang with numerous contributions by others.

06 Clothes (Winter/Summer)


Disclaimer What I have to say here is *my* opinion only.
Preference on amount of clothing required for winter running varies widely
among runners. A couple of runners that I see wear shorts, long sleeved T's
and gloves at 30F! Experiment with how much clothing at various temp's.

Rules for Winter Running

Rule 1: Dress in layers. Outer layers can be added/shed easily.
Rule 2: Stay dry. When clothes get wet,they don't performance - & you get cold.
Rule 3: Hydrate. You may not sweat as much, but fluid replacement still needed.

Clothing Layers
Inner layer. The layer closest to the skin should be a tight, lightweight
fabric that wicks water away from the skin. Shirts should be long-sleeved,
skin-tight (without chafing), and may be turtle-necked (my preference).
There are a variety of fabrics that are effective in wicking water; I have
had a lot of success with polypro, but it is not machine washable. These
are readily available at running specialty shops and mail order. For pants,
lycra running tights work very well.
Outer layer. The next layer should be a looser, mediumweight fabric that
wicks water. A zipper at the neck is convenient for temperature control. I
prefer a shirt that is slightly longer than waist-length so that I have the
option of tucking it into the pants. I've had more success in finding these
in cycling stores than anywhere else. Two layers of lycra tights if very

Shell. A water-proof or water resistant shell that is breathable is useful
in the coldest conditions. These are usually sold as suits, but tops are
available separately at a higher cost. Gore-tex is considered the best
fabric, but there are cheaper alternatives. You can get these suits made to
your measurements or buy them off the rack. I have a Burley jacket, which I
purchased at a cycling shop. It's chief advantage over the running suits is
the venting and extra zippers for temperature control. There are zippers
under each arm, starting at mid chest going up to the armpit and travelling
down the arm to about mid forearm.

Tights. Tights have been mentioned above as inner/outer layers. Many people
run in sweats, but sweats have two disadvantages: they're heavy and they
get heavier when wet. Lycra is lightweight and warm, but costs more and
shows off body (im)perfections more than sweats.

Gloves. Any cotton glove works. Polyproplyene or other microbfiber materials.

Hat. A lot of heat is lost through the scalp, so a hat is a must for most
people. Cotton hats get too heavy with sweat. Balaclavas are more versatile
than hats, and allow you to cover you neck/face if requires. Both hats and
balaclavas are available in wicking fabrics.

Socks. A wicking sock will seem less heavy and your feet will be drier than
a conventional sock. Coolmax socks are my preference, worn in a single
layer. You can also find other fabrics, such as capilene or polypro socks,
which are considerably more expensive.

Running shoes. Runner's World (anyone know which issue?) had some tips from
Alaskan runners on how to put (short) screws into the sole of the shoe for
better traction on the ice. I haven't tried it, but you obviously have to
be careful not to puncture the midsole, air/gel chambers, etc.

Dressing for Winter Running

Temp range      Number of layers
(degrees F)   Inner  Outer    Shell   Tights   Gloves   Hat    Socks
50-55           1       0       0       1       1       0       0
40-45           1       1       0       1       1       0       1
30-35           1       1       0       1-2     1       1       1
20-25           1       1       1       2       1       1       1
0-15            1       1       1/pants 1               1       1


Continue to:

previous page: 05 Winter Running Gear
page up: Running FAQ
next page: 07 Clothing Materials: Microfibers