I should start off by saying I grew up on the cold, snowy east coast. I never really liked the cold, but I could deal with it. Then I moved to Southern California and it ruined me. Now that I’m in Colorado, I spend most of my time during the winter trying to stay warm. So when I need to get in a run outside, it can be tough to figure out what to wear to stay warm (but not too warm once I get going).
I think I’ve got a pretty good system, so here are my best tips for when the weather is around 30 degrees. And obviously, try out different things to see what works best for you.
1. Check the weather.
Surprisingly, it’s not as simple as just looking at the temperature. Cloudy is going to be colder than sunny. Windy is going to be colder than calm. Humidity or impending snow can also affect how cold it is, so instead of looking at the main temperature, you want to look at the “feels” like temperature.
2. Wear two non-cotton layers.
Don’t wear cotton. When it gets wet, it stays wet, and you get cold. I like to wear a long-sleeved technical shirt and a light jacket (though sometimes I’ll wear a wind-resistant fleece). You will be cold when you start, but for me, two shirt layers feels just right once I get warmed up.
3. Wear full-length tights with a liner.
Tights with a warm liner are going to keep you warmer than other pants that might have more air circulation. I’ve been wearing the Hyoptik tights by 2xu, which not only are full-length with a liner, but have compression as well. The compression feature is supposed to promote blood flow and help your muscles warm up faster, too. Make sure you wear a pair of socks that comes up at least a little higher than the tights or you will have some cold ankles!
4. A note about socks.
Again, you may want to stay away from cotton so they don’t get wet and cold. I like running in wool socks (such as Smartwool) in the winter because they give me a little bit of extra warmth, but technical socks like Feetures are also nice.
5. Don’t forget a hat and gloves.
Whether you go for an ear warmer headband or all-out with a Buff Hoodie, a warm head = a happy runner. Sometimes I pull my jacket hoodie on overtop, just to seal in the warmth. I really like my newest gloves because I can still use the touchscreen on my phone with them, a feature to consider whether you want or not.
I use a Spibelt to hold my phone when I run because I don’t like holding it in my hand. When you hold your phone in your hand, you also can’t do tip #7! Same thing with having to hold a water bottle, except holding water could also make your hands cold. I know several other BibRave Pros highly recommend Orange Mud hydration packs, and I am a fan of Camelbak packs.
7. Pump your fists.
Even with gloves, your hands might get cold, especially if you hold them lower when you run. By pumping/squeezing your fists occasionally, you get the blood flowing and can warm them up.
8. Spikes (if there is snow/ice).
After a particularly precarious run last year, I don’t plan to run on snow/ice without some sort of spike in my shoe. I haven’t needed any yet, but Kahtoola is a highly recommended brand. I’ve tried YakTrax, and they are a built bulky and interfere with my natural gait, so they didn’t work for me. Maybe they would be better in a bit deeper snow instead of just a thin layer on the sidewalk.
9. Keep your running buddy warm, too!
For more running clothing tips in other temperatures, Runner’s World has some suggestions in What to Wear Running.