As the days become shorter and the weather turns colder and wetter, heading out for a run can present more challenges than usual. However, with the right clothing, you can not only stay warm but also have an enjoyable experience. In fact, winter trail running can be even more rewarding than running in fair weather.
If you want to zoom out 10,000 feet and find more about winter trail running check out our guide on How to Survive the Winter Running Season.
Here we are going to focus on our top clothing recommendations that help us continue to run through the winter months.
Shielding Against the Elements: Outer Layer
The outer or shell layer can be windproof or both wind and waterproof. Windproof layers are more breathable than fully waterproof jackets, which can be prefferable while running. The Arro wind vest offers core protection with minimal impact on breathability. The Arro jacket is a lightweight and comfortable windproof smock, suitable for running and other outdoor activities.
When rain is a concern, a proper waterproof layer becomes essential. The Gravitas, with its stormproof hood and 2.5 layer fabric, is the standout lightweight choice for a waterproof running jacket. The Pulsar waterproof smock, also 2.5 layers, provides full rain protection with a softer touch, quieter fabric which some runners may prefer. Pulsar also comes with a hood, but as it is a smock you will not be able to dump so much heat as the Gravitas.
Layering Up: Mid Layer
Even in winter it's not often necessary to wear an insulation layer. However, for running in remote locations or nighttime running, having an extra warm layer can be advantageous.
A mid layer adds extra warmth and wind protection. Alpkit offers a range of midlayers that can be worn while trail running. These micro-fleece mid layers provide comfort for daily wear and running.
The Laika smock, which is lightweight and packs down small, provides both warmth and style. The Akita is slightly heavier and warmer, making it suitable for colder conditions.
Unless it is raining a midlayer will provide the warmth you need to keep running in comfort without the hit to breathability an outershell would make.
Hybrid Comfort: Insulation with Freedom
Hybrid insulation jackets combine zones of gridded fleece around the core leaving your under-arms and the side panels uninsulated. This lets you dump heat when working hard, without losing wind protection. We recommend the Morphosis which maintains breathability and mobility. The Morphosis is available as a jacket or a smock.
For a deeper dive into staying warm on your winter runs we have a specific guide to Insulated Clothing Essentials for Winter Trail Running
The Foundation: Base Layer
Selecting the right base layer is vital for staying warm and comfortable in cold and damp conditions. The base layer is especially important to get right as it directly interacts with your skin, playing a big part in your perception of comfort.
Among the options available, merino wool stands out as an excellent choice for low intensity or extreme cold due to its warmth. Ethically produced merino wool base layers are not only cozy but also align with eco-friendly considerations.
So when the ice has stuck your car doors shut we recommended the Alpkit Kepler Merino base layer. Merino offers impressive performance and aesthetics across various weather conditions and retains its insulation properties even when damp. If your trails take you into the fells or you are out all day that extra comfort is going to be important.
For enthusiasts of super-fine merino wool Alpkit has you covered with Short Sleeve and Long Sleeve Kepler merino baselayers.
By mixing merino and recycled polyester fibres you retain some of the benefits of the merino, but also gain extra durability and improved wicking. Aztec is our merino blend baselayer and is also available in both short sleeve and long sleeve flavours. The extra durability could be important to you if you wear a running pack or are participating in more intense activity.
Admittedly merino may be too warm for some runners. Here a 100% synthetic base layer may be better, particularly if you are having an intense work out. Synthetics also dry quicker than merino wool. If a non-wool options is what you are after, the Koulin Trail Long Sleeve, featuring Polygiene anti-odor treatment, will fit the bill well.
Lower Body Protection
Many people wear shorts until it gets exceptionally cold. Of course the Koulin Trail Shorts are the default for their comfort and performance. When the temperature drops further, all but the hardiest turn to Koulin Trail tights, transitioning from 3/4 length to full-length tights in extreme cold. Reflective logos and trim are nice safety details for the dark nights.
Battling the Elements: Running Gaiters and Socks
As trails become muddier, the Kantju running gaiters provide added protection. Lighter and less cumbersome than walking gaiters, these gaiters prevent debris from entering your trail running shoes.
Socks play a crucial role in keeping feet comfortable and preventing frostbite and blisters. Alpkit offers Aktif Ankles for chilly days and longer socks for stickier, muddy conditions. For wet terrain, Rana Waterproof socks are recommended. Using a thin liner sock with anti-microbial properties enhances comfort and hygiene.
Essential Running Accessories: Hat and Gloves
A Kepler Liner Beanie provides initial warmth for winter runs. For moderate cold, a lightweight pocketable net gaiter, such as the Kepler Draught Excluder, offers ear protection without overheating the head. A cap, like the Koulin Cap, offers protection from rain and wind, while a light hat can be worn over it.
Running gloves are essential for colder runs. Kepler Liner Gloves and Specta Pullover Gloves are suitable options, with reflective elements for visibility and touchscreen compatibility for managing devices on the go.
Caring for Your Winter Trail Running Clothing
Your running clothes take a lot of stick through the winter months. Wash regularly using a suitable tech wash to maintain breathability and water resistance performance.
Embrace the challenges of your winter trail running and enjoy the benefits of a well-chosen outfit.