The holidays are over, we’ve all more or less settled into winter, and we’re getting to the point where many folks start dropping their new year’s resolutions. Whether you didn’t get the gift you wanted or you’re noticing some gaps in your cold weather running system that are making it hard to get out the door, we’ve got you covered. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite women’s running gear for winter — with both high end and wallet-friendly options — to help keep you motivated until the days get longer and warmer and trees are less naked. While we tested the women’s versions of these products (when there was a difference), nearly all of these items come in a men’s version (Oiselle being the exception, but if the gloves fit, there’s no reason a dude can’t wear them!).
Asics Women’s Gel-Sonoma 4 G-TX
$100, 9.5oz. women’s, Asics.com
If you’re looking for a weather-resistant shoe on a budget, Asics Gel-Sonoma 4 G-TX may do the trick. The Gore-Tex membrane works well in inclement weather, and, while they are more aggressively lugged than a road shoe, they are very tightly spaced lugs that won’t give you a ton of control on steep or loose trails. The tread works well when you want just a bit more traction however, like crushed gravel paths and wet pavement. Boasting a 10mm drop, the Sonoma 4 also has a stiff heel cup that extends to your ankle as a way for providing stability. I’m not sure how much it kept my feet in “their natural line of motion,” but the stiffness was noticeable, and some may appreciate the supportive feel. Asics also utilizes gel in the rear as a form of shock absorption and their proprietary AmpliFoam midsole for stability. All of this means they’re not the lightest weight shoes available, but they aren’t tanks, and while I wouldn’t want to train for or race a marathon in them, I had no problems on the four and five mile runs I tested them on. Given the price point, I think they’re a pretty decent shoe, especially if you need the water-resistance for right around $100.
La Sportiva Kaptiva GTX Women’s
$160, 9.5oz. women’s, Rei.com
Capitalizing on their newer Kaptiva model, La Sportiva makes an already impressive trail shoe waterproof with a Gore-Tex lining. While the Gore-Tex lining obviously replaces highly breathable mesh, the shoes remain surprisingly lightweight, and I didn’t experience any overheating issues. The widely spaced lugs offer exceptional traction on loose or wet terrain, making them well suited to shoulder season and winter running where you may go from snow to mud to rocks and loose dirt in a single run. However, if you’re dealing with ice, additional traction is always recommended. A low 6mm drop, torsional stability inserts in the midsole, and a 1.5mm EVA rock-guard in the forefoot and heel provide stability with plenty of protection from rough and technical terrain, whether it’s rocks and roots or tracked out bumpy snow. These low-volume shoes have a sock-like integrated tongue and a relatively shallow heal cup. The fit is snug and secure, with no noticeable slippage, but if you have a wider foot or a high instep, I’d recommend sizing up at least a half size.
Patagonia Women’s Houdini Jacket
Broadly speaking, Patagonia is not a price-conscious brand, but the Houdini Jacket is a bit of a unicorn in their line. This wind jacket is lightweight, packs down into its own tiny pocket, is treated with DWR for water-resistance, is made of 100% recycled nylon ripstop, and is fair-trade certified. That’s a pretty packed list for $100. Not only that, but the Houdini is super versatile. It isn’t a highly-sport-specific piece—it works great as a wind barrier for running but can just as easily be used for other activities without screaming “running gear!” Its packability also makes it an ideal travel jacket. The DWR treatment makes it water-resistant, but it is not waterproof and will not hold up to steady rain. Obviously, its versatility means the Houdini doesn’t have a lot of run-specific features—the cinch on the hood, for example, does improve the fit, but it still limited peripheral vision, and it never really stayed on that well. The jacket fits better under your running pack than over, but its slim fit still moves well with you and is decently breathable, especially for cold days. If you’re looking to get the most out of your gear as possible while still maintaining quality, Patagonia’s done an exceptional job with the Houdini.
Salomon S/LAB Motionfit 360 Jacket W
Salomon’s S/LAB Motionfit 360 Jacket manages to be both minimalist and packed with useful features, especially for foul-weather racing. Using Gore-Tex ShakeDry material and sealed seams, the jacket is windproof, waterproof, and highly breathable, making it an ideal winter shell. With long runs and ultrarunners in mind, Salomon added gussets on the back to accommodate a running pack underneath the jacket. This is both convenient for the user and necessary to safeguard the waterproof nature of the ShakeDry laminate, which won’t take kindly to repeated abrasion from a pack worn externally. Salomon also cut the jacket to accommodate the movements of running, like seamless shoulders, articulated elbows, and—my favorite—the skin fit hood. A lightweight headband in the hood locks onto your dome, so the hood moves with your head, doesn’t slip over your eyes, and is impervious to wind. The jacket also has a stow-in waistband that flips up to create a pocket to stuff the jacket into without having to shove it in your pack or tie it around your waist. It worked well if I stopped running and made sure I had all the bits properly tucked in, but I never managed it while running. It’s a nifty concept, but I’m not sure I’m sold on it.
Outdoor Voices 7/8 Warmup Legging
Outdoor Voices is explicitly not a competitive-performance brand, but they are about functional apparel for repeated use in outdoor recreation, and the 7/8 Warmup Legging is a good example of that philosophy. These leggings have thick, substantial feeling fabric that is moderately compressive. The thickness of the material provides enough warmth for cool to chilly dry days and seems to be quite durable. I was comfortable into the high 30s but needed something warmer beyond that. The high waistband prevented the tights from slipping down much, even without a drawstring and the waistband pocket is big enough to hold a gel and keys. As a shorter person, I’m a fan of the 7/8 length because they fit me as proper full-length tights without extra bunching at the ankles, but that obviously won’t be the case for taller folks. While I’m a fan of most things about these simple, functional tights, I could do without the oddly placed seams wrapping around the thighs. They appear to be largely aesthetic but resulted in a restrictive feel.
Arc’teryx Taema Pant
There aren’t many non-tights options for women who want full leg coverage, but the Arc’teryx Taema Pants are at the top of that very short list. These technical joggers are comfier than most of my pajamas and offer a great, non-restrictive fit. The soft, stretchy material is relatively lightweight, but holds its shape and seems quite durable. While not windproof, the Nahlin fabric does bead light snow or rain. They are comfortable in the mid-40s to mid-30s, but if it’s particularly windy, you may want something a bit more substantial. The wide waistband has a mesh lining and a drawstring to keep them comfortably in place. The tapered leg and tall ankle cuff prevent them from feeling baggy or too loose while running and give the pants a clean, modern aesthetic. The deep hand pockets have hidden zippers and easily hold a phone. I loved the pockets’ internal organizers that prevented smaller things like keys and Chapstick from bouncing around while I ran. In all honesty though, I ended up using them far more as a quick, easy thing to change into after my workout. The relaxed cut makes them particularly well suited for those tricky parking lot changes that can be especially uncomfortable in the winter. The Taema pants do run a bit big, so if you want a trimmer fit, I’d recommend sizing down.
Under Armour IntelliKnit Sweater
The IntelliKnit Sweater looks nice enough to wear to the office (I may have done that) but is secretly a cold weather running top. This knit polyester top has a substantial weight, like you would expect from a sweater, but isn’t particularly soft feeling. The arms are fitted, while the body is more skimming, with a slightly boxy hem that hits at the hip. Reflective bands on the biceps give away the athletic focus, however the seam at the bands was a bit rough under the arm at first. It did soften up after a couple times through the wash, though. The sweater’s warmth and weight are somewhat offset by the breathability of the knit, but it is still quite warm, and I ended up removing my wind shell on a 20-degree morning. Fair warning though, the synthetic knit holds smells, so I would not recommend attempting to use it as a run top and a work top in the same day, despite what UA advertises.
Ashmei Women’s Run Hooded Sweatshirt
Ashmei’s Run Hooded Sweatshirt can pull double duty as both a technical running piece and streetwear. The looped-terry, stretchy merino-blend fabric is about as cozy and comfortable as you can ask for and does a good job of regulating temperature when you’re working hard. The UK-based brand recommends using for runs between 42 and 59-degrees, but I was comfortable in the mid-30s and think anything close to 50-degrees would be sweltering, which is a reasonable variance for varying humidity. While I love the thumb loops and hidden mittens in the cuff, the cuff itself was almost too tight to get over my hand. I certainly couldn’t see my watch or push the sleeves up if I started to overheat. Although the ninja hood provides a stellar fit that protects your ears from the cold without getting in the way, it was too warm for any run that didn’t involve a snowstorm but would likely be ideal in damper conditions. A zippered hip pocket with an internal cable port is large enough to hold a phone, but due to the form fit of the hoodie and pocket placement directly over the hip, something that large lays awkwardly. I’m a fan of the clean design, cozy feel, and slim fit, and the only reason I’m not permanently ensconced in this hoodie is because of the pocket-phone conundrum.
Neck gaiter, ear warmer, headband, and balaclava are just a few of the many ways you can use this simple tube of thin, soft, stretchy fabric. My favorite way to wear a Buff is twisted in the middle and folded over itself to create a beanie. In arid Colorado, a lightweight cover for your ears and head is often all you need when you’re running, even into the low 20s. In those situations, the beanie method works well, but can be easily changed to just cover your ears or pulled off completely and either wrapped around your wrist or shoved into a pocket. I’m not a big fan of things around my face, but the balaclava method has come in handy on particularly windy or snowy days. On top of being incredibly versatile, the Original Buff is made from 100% recycled microfiber and, according to Buff, provides UPF 50 protection, so you can feel good about wearing it.
The North Face Winter Running Cap
When The North Face makes a winter running cap, they mean business. This acrylic knit cap is double-layered, has a short brim that helps block cold air from tearing up your eyes, and sports a cuff that can be rolled down to cover your ears. Be warned though, this is no mild-winter-day hat—while it worked well on my frigid pre-dawn, pre-work weekday runs, it quickly ended up in my pack on a sunny Sunday in the low 30s. The double-layered knit material is substantial and quite warm. Despite overheating, the cap did a decent job of managing moisture. Once I took it off, my head was drier than I expected given how warm I was. If it’s too warm to wear while running, it also works well for post-run beers or cocoa.
Oiselle Lux Gloves
The name says it all, these Oiselle Lux gloves are super soft and stretchy. These gloves don’t have a nose wipe pad, but that’s probably because the whole glove is so soft you don’t really need a specific wipe area. The cuff is the entire length of my wrist and does an excellent job of sealing up gaps for the cold to sneak in. The poly-spandex blend is also very lightweight and can be easily shoved into a pocket without taking up much room. They work well for dry cool to chilly days; anything below 30-degrees is pushing their limits. They are also not ideal for windy days. The touchscreen compatible finger and thumb pads work better than expected, except that the seams on the index finger seem to twist so that the touchscreen pad is barely on the pad of my finger. My only concern about these gloves is one of durability: I’ve already noticed some stitching coming loose at the wrist.
Gore C3 Gore-Tex Infinium Stretch Mid Gloves
The Gore-Tex Infinium Stretch Mid Gloves are technically designed as a cycling glove, which is clearly apparent by the low-profile padding on the palm, but Gore also recommends them for running, speed hiking, and Nordic skiing. The Infinium material is windproof, highly breathable, and water-resistant. In addition to the Infinium material, they’re also lined with a lightweight fleece insulation. Combining the Infinium with the insulation makes for a surprisingly warm pair of gloves, and they’ve become my winter storm/arctic cold front gloves. The tall cuff and touchscreen compatibility mirrors attributes of the Lux gloves, but in a much warmer package. Where the Lux stops in terms of weather and temperature is about where these Gore gloves pick up. Wet, windy and cold are precisely what they thrive. The only (small) critique I have is that the fingers seem slightly too long, which makes the touchscreen pad challenging to use.
DryMax Cold Weather Running Socks
$54 for a three-pack ($18 per pair), Drymaxsports.com
Some things don’t need flashy colors or bold new graphics, and some brands humbly go about the business of making a quality product without a lot of glitz or fanfare. DryMax is one of those brands, and their Cold Weather Running Socks get straight to the point. Like all DryMax’s socks, these synthetic crew-height socks are rather dull and unimpressive looking but are focused on moving moisture away from the foot in order to regulate temperature. A seamless toe, arch and ankle bands, and a Y heel give a snug, supportive fit. The front of the socks has a triple-layer insulation system to withstand oncoming wind, rain, and splashing puddles, while the bottom has two layers that transfer sweat and water away from your feet. All these layers make for a very warm, but very thick sock—to the point of affecting the fit of my shoes. As warm and well-cushioned as they are, they were just a bit too thick to be comfortable in my shoes, but if your shoes are exceptionally roomy or you have low-volume feet, they’re a great option.
Smartwool Women’s PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew Socks
Wool, the original technical material, is still one of the best options for cold, wet conditions, and SmartWool’s PhD Run Cold Weather socks blend Merino wool with nylon and elastane for a sock that stays warm—even wet—while also staying snug and slip-free. The five-inch cuff is tall enough to ensure there’s no bare skin exposed between your shoes and your tights while remaining thin and lightly compressive. It’s nit-picking, but I wouldn’t mind if these socks were a standard six-inch crew height because winter is a time for warm and tall socks. The sole of these socks is similar in cushioning and thickness as the DryMax sock, but the top of the foot and ankle feature SmartWool’s Mesh Venting system as well as thin, supportive ribbing. The reduced volume made for a far more comfortable fit in my shoes. They also use SmartWool’s Indestructawool technology, and while time will be the ultimate judge, they certainly appear to be tough and durable.