As a year-round, outdoor runner, it is important to have the right gear to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

I don’t run outside every day in the winter, but most of my easy/off-day/long runs are outdoors no matter the temperature.

As most people know, Winnipeg’s winters can dip down below -45 C with the wind chill and the sun can go down as early as 4:27 p.m. These are less than ideal running conditions, but we can’t let that stop us. There are a number of items I recommend using to make running outside in the winter safer, easier and more enjoyable.

Footwear:

When I’m buying footwear for the winter, I make sure to leave enough room for thick socks. I enjoy running in a lightweight trail shoe because they:

  • Offer built-in grip that helps to reduce slipping on ice and snow;
  • Have more durable mesh on the upper portion of the shoe, which can offer added warmth;
  • Have less cushion and weight than a typical runner (cushion freezes in the cold anyway);
  • Often have more reflective strips than normal to help keep you visible at night.

My top picks:  Brooks Cascadia, Saucony Kinvara TR, or Asics GT-2000 4 Trail

Clothing:

When you are buying your clothing, make sure you pick items that will keep you visible.

On the coldest days, I wear a base layer tight or moisture-wicking long john underneath a windproof outer pant. On my upper body, I will often wear a base, mid and outer layer and offer these tips when selecting them:

  • Your base layer should wick the moisture away from your skin and keep it away like wool or polyester (cotton is NOT a good pick for this);
  • Your mid layer should be a bit thicker, like a fleece or a hoodie;
  • Your outer layer should be windproof. Any windbreaker will do. I prefer to run in a warmer winter running jacket that is windproof on the outside and lined on the inside. This eliminates my mid-layer on most days.

My favourite base layer pant: Helly Hansen Wool (HH WARM)

My favourite outerwear pant: Brooks Wanganui Pant – I’ve had these for 8 years and they are still awesome! Other notables: North Face, Sugoi

My favourite upper body pieces: Helly Henson Wool Base Layer (HH WARM), Brooks ½ zip mid layer and Sugoi winter run jacket.

Head, Face and Neck:

There are a number of items I wear to protect my head, face and neck, which include:

  • A buff on the lower half of my face and a hat (or my neoprene facemask when the weather is really ridiculous);
  • A warm pair of running mitts (some runners also carry hand warmers);
  • Wool socks as they keep feet dry, warm and happy. I love Icebreaker and Smartwool equally;
  • Goggles on frosty days to keep eyelashes from freezing;
  • A headlamp for nighttime runs. Safety first!

You may find this list extensive, but you can find all of these things at your local running store and they will make running in the winter safer and more enjoyable.

Don’t forget to warm up a mug of chocolate milk after your run. You deserve it!