Men's Cold Weather Running Gear

by TheMaven

Let's face it, some men are polar bear like in their ability to tolerate cold, but for the rest of us mere mortals it's important to dress appropriately when running in cold weather. Layering is key but how much you layer will come down to personal preference. There is always some amount of experimentation required to get your winter gear right but a good rule of thumb is to dress for weather 15 degrees warmer than the currently temperature outside to account for the heat you'll be generating once you get going. One important fact even our polar bear kin should remember, once the temperature goes below freezing you need to be careful about minimizing skin exposure.

Headgear
Headgear

Your head is one of the more sensitive areas to changes in temperature so it's really important to find something proper to wear in colder weather. The hard part is finding a balance, it's very easy to over-cover your head which causes excessive sweating and overheating.

Completely covering your head tends to be overkill. The main issue when running in cold weather is wind chill against the ears. Earbands and headbands are ideal because they completely cover the ears and protect the forehead but don't trap an excessive amount of heat.

The transfer headband from Izumi is an excellent headband. It's elastic enough to be a comfortable, snug fit. It's just thick enough to protect your ears from the elements but it's thin enough to wick effectively. Simply put, it's a great balance of what you should be looking for in headgear. However, if you are adamant about getting something heavier, there is a thermal version available that gives you just that extra bit of warmth without sacrificing too much wicking ability.

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Face
Face Cover

When temperatures start approaching zero, it's critical that you minimize skin exposure. Many runners recommend balaclavas. A balaclava is headgear that covers the whole head and oftentimes the neck which is ideal when running in extreme temperatures.

Buffs are essentially a tube of fabric that can be worn as a hood, neck gaiter, or balaclava. The versatility of the Buff makes it a great alternative to a standard balaclava and the polar version provides enough insulation to allow you run out in sub zero temperatures.

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Longsleeve
Longsleeve Top

Under Armor Cold Gear is typically a solid choice for winter apparel; it's lightweight, wicks well, insulates effectively, and doesn't restrict movement. The mock top is a particularly good fit for running in the cold since it's got a higher collar to fight off the wind, longer sleeves to tuck into gloves, and some extra length so you can tuck it into your pants.

For the men who scoff at cold weather and don't expect to do 3 layers, you may want to go with a fitted mock top as your base layer instead.

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Fleece
Fleece Jacket

When the temperature really starts to drop, you'll want to throw on the fleece. Pearl Izumi's Thermal Jersey wicks well, has a back pocket which is very handy, and has a full length zipper to help you regulate body temperature better. I'd recommend going with a brighter color since this will oftentimes be your outer layer.

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Windbreaker
Windbreaker

A windbreaker is a versatile piece of clothing for runners. The Brooks LSD Lite Jacket is a great outer layer, it's lightweight, highly visible, well ventilated, wind and water resistant, and it wont turn you into a moving sauna. You can get by in mild winter weather with a base layer and this jacket but when the temperature starts approaching zero you may want to consider putting on your fleece 2nd layer.

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Tights
Tights

Don't get shy on me now! If you're going to gear up properly for the cold you're going to need a good pair of running tights. The Pearl Izumi Thermals are a great option but if you decide to go with them, keep in mind that they run a little small. And remember, you can always put on a pair of running shorts over them if you're feeling a little timid.

For those of you who can't bear the thought of tights, you can go with a pair of ASICS Myles Running Pants. They're not quite as good as running tights but they do hold their own as a great pair of running pants.

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Windbreaker
Windbreaker Pants

These pants from Under Armor make for a great 2nd layer in windy conditions. They are wind and water resistant, light, comfortable, and loose enough to fit easily over a pair of tights. These pants provide some insulation and wick relatively well so they work great in the winter and can hold their own in the fall.

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Socks
Socks

Yes it's just socks but when you're running you want to keep your feet in good condition which means you'll need cold rated, crew length, durable socks with good wicking ability. The DryMax Cold Weather socks are well recognized in the running community as a sock that cover all the bases.

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Glove
Glove Liners

Under Armor's Cold Gear Glove Liners have good grip, wick well, and have fleece on the index and thumb to wipe your nose (yes, thats seriously why some gloves have the different fabric on the index/thumb area) which is useful when running in the cold. They will keep you warm but they're only glove liners so don't expect them to work well alone in freezing temperatures.

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Mittens
Mittens

When it hits freezing temperatures, the best way to keep your hands warm is in mittens. I personally appreciate retractable mittens since they allow you to regulate hand temperature without needing to deal with taking off your mittens and putting them somewhere.

If you'd prefer not to go with mittens, Brooks HVAC Gloves are one of the best pairs of running gloves you're going to find to combat freezing temperatures.

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Cleats
Cleats for Better Traction

If you're stuck running in areas with a lot of packed snow or ice, you'll want to get some additional traction. YakTrax is a respected brand and their Pro model is easy to use and reliable.

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Protect
Protect against chafing

We've all seen the pictures of guys with bloody nips at the end of their marathons... Don't be that guy.

Seriously though, it's not uncommon to have chafing issues on the nipples, thighs, under the arms or on the feet. BodyGlide is a great tool for fending off the discomfort you experience when you're running and it's highly recommended amongst runners. If you do happen to find yourself being one of those guys needing some extra nipple protection, I recommend Nexcare waterproof tape. It's strong enough to last through a race but not so strong that you'll lose chest hair taking it off.

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Lip
Lip Balm

Chapped lips and cold weather go hand in hand; running out in the elements only exasperates the problem. Make sure you take care of your lips, apply liberally and often. Burt's Bees lip balm is consistently ranked as one of the best balms out there and it's far more natural than the alternatives.

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Protect
Protect your skin

Dermatone makes fantastic products for combating windburn and sunburn; both conditions you need to be wary of when running in the winter. Don't neglect your skin, apply prior to going out on your runs!

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