Winter Running Gear for Women
If you plan to run in the cold this winter, you’ll need the right running gear. Now is a great time to revamp your cold weather running wardrobe; you’ll need to find ways to enjoy running outside during the long Minnesota winter!
I have what I think is the perfect combination of cold weather running gear. It’s a collection of base layers, shells, hats, gloves, goggles, and other items I’ve refined over 15 years of running in freezing Minnesota temperatures. Winter running gear isn’t cheap, but as my father once told me, “quality costs more” and is worth it, too!
Running Gear for Women
Men’s and women’s bodies react differently to the cold (shocking, I know). With more and more products on the market for women, I wondered if there were specific things women could and should wear to stay warm outside. I knew that I would need a female perspective, and so I interviewed three experts:
- Heather Kampf, elite middle distance runner and member of Team USA Minnesota and ASICS America
- Bekah Metzdorff, co-owner of Mill City Running
- Jennifer Fitzharris-Funk, brand ambassador and race team member for TEAM SOAS
Below is their list of the best women’s winter running apparel.Although I’ve provided links to products online, we always encourage you to shop at your local running specialty store. They know their stuff!
Cold Weather Running Base Layer
The base layer is the first and most important layer of cold weather running gear. If you purchase nothing else, buy a sturdy, quality base layer to wick moisture away from your body and reduce the “chilled to the bone” feeling. For women especially, a base layer bra and underwear are critical. Bekah says “Smartwool has the best bra and underwear for winter running because they are warm and keep your skin dry.”
Base Layer Top
There are lots of options for tops, but the Craft Women’s Active Extreme base layer is amazing in it’s ability to wick moisture away faster than other products. UnderArmour Cold Gear also wicks well. It can be easy to forget that you still sweat during outdoor winter activity, so look for fabrics that wick well and will keep you dry and warm.
Base Layer Bottom
The best first layer for legs are tights. Jennifer says, “my favorite tights are the CW-X Stabilyx Tights, a bit pricey but well worth the spend.” Compression tights in the winter help keep cold leg muscles supported throughout a run. Another tight option recommended by Jennifer are thermal tights because they “feel warm and cuddly against your legs.”
Mid Layer Top
Jennifer suggests your second layer be some sort of ½ zip. “A thermal (fleece-like) 1/2 zip layer feels nice and soft against the base and gives the option to unzip if you get a bit too warm.” She recommends thermal tops from Athleta that are both comfortable and cute for dreary winter runs.
Cold Weather Running Outer Layer
Once your core is warm, the next step is to layer for the elements. Yes, this means the expensive jackets. You may not want to pay for it, but a wind blocking material is worth every penny! Heather says,
I think [wind blocking material] makes all the difference, and allows you to run without needing to wear a MILLION layers of winter running gear.
Outer Layer Top
Lululemon Athletica and Smartwool both make a nice light down jacket that my experts recommend as key winter running gear for women. They both have excellent wind blocker and enough insulation to keep your core warm and toasty. Look for fabrics that are wind resistant, water-repellant, and breathable to ensure they can handle the elements and keep you from overheating.
Outer Layer Bottom
You may be familiar with running skirts for summer running, but a local Minnesota company also makes an insulated down version that will keep you super warm. “It’s kind of like a jacket for your bum,” says Bekah. Other outer bottom layers include wind-stopping pants or a secondary pant layer (over your tights) to keep warm.
What Winter Running Gear do YOU use?
Treat yourself to one new thing this year. Checkout more insight on the best gloves, hats, neck warmers and footwear for cold weather running for women.