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Must Have Cold Weather Running Apparel for Women

Updated on January 21, 2013
Today's winter running gear will keep you warm and looking good in the cold.
Today's winter running gear will keep you warm and looking good in the cold. | Source

If you love the fresh air and changing scenery of outdoor running, don’t let winter keep you chained to the treadmill. Investing in the right mix of cold weather running gear can keep you comfortable outdoors through the chilliest seasons. With the products out today, not only can you keep up your outdoor running routine in the winter, but you can also look great doing it.

Here is what you will need:

A quality sports bra. In any season, running without the proper support can be painful and damaging to breast tissue. A good sports bra will keep you in place, distribute weight evenly, and minimize bouncing. Choose a breathable, sweat wicking material in winter to keep your skin healthy, dry, and warm. Also make sure you select a sports bra with comfortable seams to help prevent chafing.

A moisture wicking, long sleeve, base layer top. For days when the temperature is above 40⁰ F, this may be sufficient as your only upper body layer. Avoid cotton, which will remain wet and cold, and choose a synthetic material that wicks moisture away from the body. Some brands, like Champion, have a thumbhole in the cuff to prevent bunching when layering and for extra hand warmth. Stylish options with ruching, accent stitching, mesh inlay, and other cute details are becoming easy to find, so don’t settle for boring.

An insulating mid layer top. On days below 40⁰ F, you may need an insulating second layer to lock in your body’s warmth. Choose something breathable to keep you from overheating, while also thick enough to keep you comfortable in the cold. This middle layer should continue to wick moisture away from the body (microfleece works well). Look for zippered pockets so you can keep your keys and cell phone handy without the risk of losing them.

Stylish winter running apparel for women is now readily available, so don't settle for boring.
Stylish winter running apparel for women is now readily available, so don't settle for boring. | Source
A waterproof top layer will shield you from rain, snow, and sleet.
A waterproof top layer will shield you from rain, snow, and sleet. | Source

A wind breaking/waterproof outer layer top. In the case of rain, sleet, or snow, you will need this layer to stay dry. It will also help to block harsh winter winds. Depending on how cold it is outside on a given day, you may want to combine just your base layer with this outer jacket to prevent overheating.

Thermal tights/running pants. There are some great cold weather running tights now on the market that can keep you warm without being too heavy. If you prefer something a bit looser, check out semi-fitted thermal pants options. Either way make sure you stick with moisture wicking fabric to ensure your legs stay dry.

Women's thermal tights with reflective trim are both safe and functional.
Women's thermal tights with reflective trim are both safe and functional. | Source

Wind breaking/waterproof track pants. If you will be running through puddles of slush or snow, cover your tights with a waterproof top layer. Track pants will shield you from mud and water while also protecting your legs from the wind. Try to find something with reflective trim for this outer layer to add to your safety.

Insulated, breathable sneakers with good traction. Runners who stick to dry asphalt in winter can get away with using their regular running shoes in combination with warm socks. However, if you will be pounding through puddles, snow, or ice it is worth it to purchase a safer option designed for winter conditions. Brands like Nike, New Balance, and Pearl Izumi have shoes specifically made for running in winter. Focus on something with traction to keep you from slipping on ice, as well as something waterproof to keep your toes dry. Winter trail running shoes are also available for hardcore winter runners who will be off-roading.

Moisture wicking insulated socks. The key is to keep your toes warm while also allowing them breathability. Stay away from cotton, which is not moisture wicking, and invest in socks that will keep your feet dry. Drymax, Swiftwick, Adidas, Nike, and Champion all make good insulated, moisture wicking socks.

Trendy women's running gear is all about the details.
Trendy women's running gear is all about the details. | Source
Make sure your gloves are touchscreen compatible if you are an iPhone using runner.
Make sure your gloves are touchscreen compatible if you are an iPhone using runner. | Source

Thermal hat, headband, or balaclava. There is nothing worse than the earache that can accompany being outside in frigid temperatures. Keep your ears toasty and your head warm with either a thermal hat, headband, or balaclava (a.k.a. ski mask). If you like to run with your hair up in a ponytail, look for beanies that come with a ponytail hole (now commonly available in sports stores and online) or stick with a headband.

Neckwarmer. If the zip-up collar on your mid layer shirt or jacket is not doing the job to keep your neck warm, try a microfleece neckwarmer. These can also be pulled up over the mouth and nose for days when your face can’t take the cold.

Gloves or mittens. As an extremity, hands have a difficult time staying warm. Be kind to your fingers and wear gloves or mittens. Look for touchscreen compatible gloves if you use your phone for music or mile tracking while running. Also watch for moisture wicking fabrics in case your hands sweat while you run. Glove/mitten combos are available if you want the flexibility of moving fingers combined with the extra warmth of mittens.

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