Running in cold weather isn’t for the faint of heart, but the right gear can make it a whole lot more bearable. We spent the past 3 years living in Hawaii and this first winter back on the mainland has quickly reminded me of the importance of quality running gear. I’ve been running 8-10 miles every Saturday with a (small) local women’s running group since the beginning of the year and while the weather may be in the 30s, the time spent outdoors while moving my body has become so important to me. Most of my pricier cold-weather pieces are about 10 years old, but I’ll share some similar options that are available right now. The price for great (and warm) running gear can often be quite high, but once you make the investment it can last you a decade or more. Thankfully there are more and more great affordable options these days as well, though they may not last you as long. I’ll share a mixture of high and low below!
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Here are the things that I find essential for running in cold weather, starting with base layer and working outwards:
high rise running pants- the pants I still prefer all year long are my $25 Amazon leggings. You just can’t beat the pockets and the smooth waistband. They aren’t fleece lined or anything, so for a super cold run I’d probably prefer something like that, but I just love these pants so much and they work great even when it’s cold. I’m wearing these pants in all of the photos in this blog post. (I keep my phone in the outer leg pocket and it doesn’t bounce at all.)
lululemon swiftly tech long sleeve shirt– This is my very favorite base layer for cold weather running and I have one on in all of the photos in this blog post. It’s lightweight and breathable and great on it’s own on a brisk fall or spring day (love the thumb holes!) and it’s the perfect bottom layer under running vests, pullovers and jackets. If you aren’t familiar with your lululemon size, it’s safe to say that you should always size up one or two sizes from your regular number size. A more affordable option that looks quite similar (though the material isn’t as nice) is this CRZY YOGA long sleeve shirt from Amazon. I sized up one size in the one that I have.
warm layer overtop (I prefer a 1/4 or 1/2 zip pullover)- lululemon has the warmest and coziest fabrics and they used to make so many great running pullovers and tops that were great for layering over a swiftly tech long sleeve shirt. They don’t have as many options these days, but this 1/4 zip pullover that they currently have is really cute, and this one from Athleta looks similar to some of the old lulu ones I have. As a more affordable option I highly recommend this quilted 1/4 zip pullover from Walmart! I own it in 4 colors because it’s so cute. Under $20 too!
running vest– if the two layers above aren’t enough I’ll wear both of them and then add a running vest over top. The one I have is down-filled and it’s from lululemon from 10 or 11 years ago. I love it and it’s been such a good investment. Some current running vest options are here and here, and if you can find it in stores try to snag this running vest from Walmart because it looks so similar to the current lululemon one and it’s only $4 to $17, depending on the color.
running jacket- if it’s even colder and I need more than just a vest overtop the first two layers I’ll wear a running jacket instead. Again, mine is about 10 years old from lululemon and it’s fleece on the inside and more of a windbreaker material on the outside. Lulu doesn’t have anything similar right now but this jacket looks nice and warm!
tech-friendly running gloves- Mine are super old from lululemon but they have held up so well. This option looks similar and this pair would be great when it’s even colder. This affordable pair from Amazon looks great and gets good reviews too.
running ear warmer headband- I have a few from lulu that are from 2013 or so and I still wear one of them every time I run in the cold. They don’t make anything like this these days but these affordable Amazon ear warmers get great reviews and come in a number of colors. I prefer them to hats because I can still easily wear my hair in a braided ponytail, though on super cold days a hat with a cutout for a ponytail is really handy.
athletic neck gaiter- I’ve had a neck gaiter from lulu since 2013 and it’s so nice especially on very frigid days. It warms your neck and you can pull it up over your nose and mouth to keep them warm…and these days it also works well as a mask option to easily pull up while you’re running and passing others if you need to. This snood/neck gaiter from Old Navy looks to be between $2 and $4 for certain colors and this one from Athleta is also on sale (it’s made for girls so I’d probably get the largest size).
The following items aren’t cold-weather items but thought I’d share my other go-to running gear here as well:
running shoes- I’ve been wearing this style of New Balance running shoes for a few years now and have loved them. I think I’m going to upgrade to the 880 for my next shoe though, as it has a little more cushion. I always replace the insoles that come with the shoes with these Dr. Scholl’s running insoles.
sports bra- I have 3 favorite sports bras, 2 of which are currently available. For high impact (and also nursing friendly) this one from Amazon is fantastic. I also love the energy bra from lululemon and mine are all 9 or 10 years old and they still work great. I also have some old sports bras from lululemon that have pockets on the front (great especially if you’re a distance runner). If you ever see them back in stock be sure to grab one!
sunglasses- On sunny days I prefer to wear regular sunglasses while I run, rather than ones that are specifically made for running. My go-to brand (seen in all of the photos here) is Mohala Eyewear. Code katiev will save you 10%! They are so chic, the company is owned by a woman and is based in Hawaii, and the best part is that you can choose the nose bridge that you need to fit your specific face shape! Pikake, Lana, and Keana are my favorite styles.
running shorts- The only shorts I will run in are lululemon speed shorts. (I think they were renamed to “speed up” shorts in the past few years but they’re still essentially the same as they used to be.) The 2.5″ inseam with a high rise is my very favorite, though they are only sold once or twice a year, if that. I just bought this 4″ pair with a mid-rise that is also great for postpartum bellies and I highly recommend them! These shorts are the best because they have 3 handy pockets and the built-in brief allows you to go underwear-free- and the brief is super comfortable and really stays put even on long runs. Target sold a pair of high rise shorts this past summer that was a great affordable alternative, hopefully they’ll come back this spring!
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