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5 Essential Pieces of Outdoor Running Gear

Runners often relegate themselves to the treadmill for the winter months. As long as you are well prepared, there is no reason you can’t enjoy outdoor jogs all season long. Here are four essential pieces of outdoor exercise attire to keep you warm and comfortable during your winter workouts.

winter jogging gear

1. Hat

Mom always told us that we lose most of our body heat through our head. The truth is, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But, that doesn’t mean you should head out into the cold bare-headed! A simple wool or fleece hat that covers your ears (you don’t want your ears to fall off, do you VanGogh?) should do the trick. You can easily take it off and tuck it in your pants if you get overheated.

2. Neck Coverage

The point here is two fold: obviously, to keep your neck warm, but also to have something you can pull up over your mouth to warm the air you’re breathing in. A scarf or bandana can definitely do the trick. But, crafty runners know that a neck gaiter (like a tube top for your neck) is warmer and will stay in place better.

3. Upper Body Layers

Your torso is a tricky li’l devil to keep warm and dry. Sweat plus wind equates to swimming in Lake Michigan in January–no fun. The key is layers.

Layer A – Closest to your body should be a wicking layer that wicks the sweat away from your skin. This layer should NEVER be cotton, because once you get wet, you will stay wet. Instead, you’ll want to wrap yourself in the first of many space age fabrics with hard-to-spell names.
Suggested fabrics: DryFit, Thinsulate, Thermax, CoolMax and polypropolene.

Layer B – For the bitter cold (generally below 10 degrees fahrenheit) include a middle insulating layer. Again, this layer needs to continue wicking away sweat but also allow for a perfect balance of heat-trapping and vapor-releasing–keeping you warm but not overheated.
Suggested fabrics: Akwatek, Dryline, Polartec, polyester fleece, Microfleece, Thermafleece and Thermax.

Layer C – This is your anti-element layer. The fabric should be waterproof and windproof, but still allow moisture to escape. Learn from Mr. Rogers, and consider an outer layer with a zipper so you can zip and unzip as your body temperature changes.
Suggested fabrics: ClimaFit, Gore-Tex, Microsuplex, nylon, Supplex, and Windstopper.

4. Gloves

When you exercise, your body, like a vampire on a diet, prioritizes its use of blood. Instead of an even distribution, blood flow is redirected to essential areas like your core and active muscles. Your hands will get cold quicker than you’d ever think, even in mild weather. Try and find gloves that wick away moisture, and on ridiculously cold days, wear mittens so your digits can help keep each other warm.

5. Lower Body Layers

Since your legs are doing most of the work when running, it doesn’t take much to keep them warm. Usually, a pair of tights or running pants will keep you comfortable on your winter run. Pants made from synthetic materials such as Thermion, Thinsulate, Thermax, Coolmax or polypropolene are perfect. You may want to consider a second wind-proof layer, like track pants, on particularly frigid days.

Even if you are properly dressed, getting through that first mile can be tough. Try warming up inside with jumping jacks, jumping rope or running in place. Even better, find a running partner to help motivate you on those extra chilly days. Stay fit and stay warm this winter.

7 Comments to “5 Essential Pieces of Outdoor Running Gear”

  1. I will join my friends run this week and I can’t wait to buy my own stuff. I lneared a lot from your article. I will surely take note of the important details and will ask the lady at the store to help me out. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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