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Keeping all parts of your body warm is super important when committing to your outdoor running routine come winter. From socks that will keep your feet dry to gloves that will guarantee circulation, everything needs the right protection. When it comes to your head, you need to make sure your ears are covered with a running ear warmer; heading out with a running headband in the winter is both safe and smart.
In the summer, a headband purely helps control your hair and to keep flyaways at bay, but they can be a lifesaver out in the cold. Ben Rosario, head coach of the Hoka Naz Elite professional team, shared his expert advice on why keeping your ears covered is so important. “Just like your hands and feet, ears are an extremity, which means they are farther away from the heart and thus don’t receive blood flow as easily, making them susceptible to things like frostbite,” he says. It’s not just discomfort and pain: While it might sound extreme, spending too much time in the cold unprotected can lead to hearing loss. Coverage is crucial.
When choosing a headband style, consider the fabric. Besides making sure the ear warmer is machine washable so you can clean your sweat off, look for knits that are moisture-wicking, or have technology to keep you warmer. Also, stay away from fabrics that will irritate or itch your forehead. Rosario advises on a thicker style for when you are heading out for a long run or one in an extra cold environment. A winter hat can also do the trick, but a winter headband can keep your body from overheating while you jog. Rosario’s preference is to cover your entire head in extreme cold, but your choice should really come down to comfort.
Our Favorite Running Ear Warmers
There are a variety of headbands and earmuffs that will help keep your ears warm and prevent aching in the cold weather. Find the style and price that are right for you depending on what you are looking for. Here are 12 great options.
Athleta Flurry Reflective II Headband | $28
The camo print on this headband is also reflective, making it ideal for early mornings or evening runs (which we’re all doing more of now, thanks to Daylight Saving Time). It’s thin yet warm thanks to a thermo-conductive coating that not only absorbs but retains heat for long-lasting warmth. Plus, it is not only moisture-wicking but water repellent and water resistant, so it will outlast any condition you might hit.
The North Face Cable Minna Earband | $34
While the look says après-ski, this seamlessly works off the slopes, making it a superb ear warmer for runners. Spun with luxe yarn and an ultra-soft interior lining, this headband from The North Face is comfort-ready, with a stretchy fit. Slip it on and shield your ears, stylishly.
Outdoor Research Melody Ear Band | $26
The bitter cold has nothing on this headband. The snug fit guarantees that this will stay in place for the duration of your run, no matter how long. While it has a thin construction, it is super warm and will be a great base layer under a hat or helmet (hello, ski season).
Lululemon Chevron Knit Ear Warmer | $58
Wrap your head in coziness with this soft, chevron knit style. Made from merino wool blend, this woven ear warmer will naturally adjust to your body temperature—not too hot, and not too cold. As a running ear warmer, it works well because it’s slimmer in the back, so it stays put around your head.
Nike Seamless Headband | $18
When it’s uber chilly out, consider layering a headband under a hat. Choose a thin, stretchy running ear warmer that will lay flat against your head, like this one from Nike. If you become too hot, shove the hat in your coat pocket, and you can cool off but still keep your ears covered. Also, this will work nicely under a helmet for any ski or snowboarding adventures.
TrailHeads Ponytail Headband | $22
Those who only run in a pony (isn’t that every run with long locks?) will appreciate this running headband with a hole for your pulled-back hair to go through. The soft brushed fabric is lightweight and has reflective hints to keep you safe in low winter light.
Columbia Trail Shaker Headring | $16
You can always count on (women-owned!) activewear companies to think of everything: This ear warmer has slits at the ears for your eyewear or earbuds to run through, tangle-free. It’s also lined with Columbia’s Omni-Heat thermal reflective protection, a fan-favorite for keeping everything it covers supremely warm.
UA Around Town Headband | $25
Made with the same attention to detail as their cold-weather gear, this cable-knit, velvety-looking running ear warmer will keep you warm. One-piece construction keeps comfort (no seam itch!) a priority.
Free People Movement Fleece Ear Warmers | $20
No one will miss you in this flashy neon ear warmer (if bright isn’t your style, it comes in red and black, too). It’s got a cozy and soft feel thanks to the fleece construction with wide coverage that ensures your face is protected from the chill and any wind.
Spyder Brrr Berry Head Band | $25
While the fun texture and Elsa-like colorway might draw you to this running headband made for winter, the lined interior is what will have you keep coming back to it. It will add a bright pop to any of your running looks.
Kari Traa Perle Headband | $25
If all your cold-weather gear is the season-favorite black, grab for this wintery design and pattern, which make this knit headband ideal for a seasonal wardrobe brightener. The double layer of fabric is insulating yet comfortable next to your skin. The tight-knit also prevents it from stretching out, so the shape will remain the same for the entire season and then some.
CALIA by Carrie Underwood Teddy Fleece Headband | $22
For a certified cute and ultra-feminine option, this teddy fleece will keep your ears and forehead cozy. The trendy textured fabric will seamlessly work with your activewear just as equally as it will with your nonfitness, everyday clothes.