Top Gear Picks for Fall and Winter Running

What a wild ride 2020 has been and if we have learned anything, being active and getting outdoors is a great way to stay healthy – both mentally and physically. And running is one of the easiest and simplest ways to do so. But what isn’t easy is trying to navigate through all of the gear options that are out there. From what is comfortable, to what performs well and what is a worthy investment, the following is the gear that came out on top in testing and what we are using for our Fall and Winter running adventures.

Honey Stinger Nutrition

There is no easier and tastier way to stay fueled on the run than with Honey Stinger Nutrition. As the name suggests, honey is used as the natural sweetener and source of energy for all of their products. Honey’s low glycemic properties have been scientifically proven to increase athletic performance by providing a sustained energy boost aiding in powering you through any run. If you have never tried Honey Stinger products before, the Prepare, Perform, Recover Variety Pack is great place to start, as it’s loaded with delicious flavors and eleven different products that will support you through several runs and gives you the chance to discover your favorite honey flavored fuel. MSRP $23.99 honeystinger.com

Smartwool Merino 250 Reversible Neck Gaiter

Smartwool made the Merino 250 Reversible Neck Gaiter to provide simple, versatile insulation for a multitude of cold weather activities, and it works flawlessly for running. Wear it around your neck in the cold weather and pull it up over your nose when the wind starts whistling. This slightly heavier Merino wool fabric offers breathable warmth, wicks sweat and provides that warm comfort runners desire in colder conditions. MSRP $30 smartwool.com

Rab Pulse Hoody

While officially tagged as a baselayer, the Rab Pulse Hoody is the ideal lightweight Fall running hooded shirt. The technical and soft Pulse Hoody will keep you comfortable before, during, and after your runs. This top is engineered with soft Motiv™ technical fabrics, a Polygiene treatment for extra freshness, and a hood with a high collar that provides a close fit that stays put and keep your ears warm while you are running in cooler conditions. And when the Winter weather rolls in, the Pulse Hoody doubles as the the perfect base layer for those brisk chilly conditions. MSRP $80 rab.equipment

ODLO Millennium Element Midlayer Hoodie

Whether you’re setting out for a cool morning run or layering up to battle freezing temps, the ODLO Millennium Element Midlayer Hoodie gives you the coverage and performance you need when you’re working hard in chillier weather. It’s made from a soft waffle structure fabric that delivers superior comfort, long wear breathability and quick drying exercise driven performance. The stretchy, lightweight fabric provides optimal freedom of movement when you are pushing the pace, while the hood effectively traps in warmth and protects your head and ears when the temps start to drop. Use code “ActiveGear” and receive $10 off your purchase. MSRP $70 aktivstyle.com

SmartWool Merino Sport 250 Long Sleeve 1/4 Zip

Don’t let the cold weather deter you from getting your daily run in. Instead, defend yourself against the elements with the Merino Sport 250 Long Sleeve 1/4 Zip. The Merino/poly blend fabric delivers exceptional insulation and moisture management, enhanced by the 1/4 zip neck, which traps in warmth or provides additional ventilation when you need it, allowing you to keep the climate set to optimum at all times. In addition Smartwool added gender-specific, body-mapped panels of mesh fabrics that allows for even more breathability. The lightweight fabric blend offers full range of movement while staying comfortable against your skin, leaving you free to push your run to its limit. MSRP $100 smartwool.com

Brooks Carbonite Hoodie

Fall and Winter not only bring the cold, but also less daylight and runs in the dark or during low light become more probable. And the best way to be seen and stay visible is with the Brooks Carbonite Hoodie. With high contrast, high visibility colors and 3M™ Scotchlite™ Carbon Black Stretch reflectivity added to the critical motion zones, this hoodie helps drivers spot you and makes you stand out in the dark. The midweight hoodie offers suitable protection against the cold, thanks to the DriLayer® HorsePower fabric while also expertly managing moisture and maintaining breathability, keeping you dry and comfortable during intensive workouts in colder conditions. MSRP $120 brooksrunning.com

Rab Phantom Pull-On

Keep the rain and snow at bay with lightweight protection and quintessential packability built into the invaluable Rab Phantom Pull-On. Made using two layer waterproof fabrics and taped seams, it offers both comfort and protection during testing showers, allowing you to concentrate on producing your best. An athletic fit ensures you don’t feel restricted, while an elasticated hood, half length zip and palm sized packability add to the all round practicality to take it on any run. Made for the dedicated runner who values performance, the Rab Phantom Pull-On has made wet weather running a whole lot easier. MSRP $200 rab.equipment

Patagonia Storm Racer Jacket

Trail runners, mountain runners, and road warriors alike will revel in the smartly designed Patagonia Storm Racer Jacket. Waterproof, windproof, and innovative, it’s well equipped for everything that Mother Nature can throw your way, and was systematically built to layer over a pack. The double zip design makes for effortless access to water, nutrition, and supplies and also doubles as ventilation for those high intensity outings. This 3 layer waterproof shell was made to move thanks to its stay put, one pull adjustable hood and elastic cuffs that lie flat against tops of wrists for low bulk and superior comfort. Plus, it packs down into its own stash pocket in the hood when sunny weather returns, so it isn’t a hassle to bring along when the weather is going to be unpredictable. MSRP $249 patagonia.com

Rab Momentum Short

Let those dreams of comfort become a reality, the Rab Momentum Shorts make all the difference when you take your running to new distances. Crafted from lightweight but durable Matrix™ double weave fabric, they never hold your running back. As the name suggests they provide full freedom of movement, and have a DWR treatment that repels water during light showers and dry quickly. When you need to keep valuables secure during your run, the shorts have a handy back pocket for stashing. Lightweight, stretchy and comfortable, the Rab Momentum Shorts tick all the running boxes. MSRP $50 rab.equipment

Patagonia Peak Mission Tights

Experience ultimate warmth and freedom of movement even in harsh running conditions with Patagonia Peak Mission Tights. Built with a recycled nylon, polyester and spandex blend that delivers optimal heat regulation, these slim fit tights will keep you warm in harsh conditions without restricting your movement, so the cold can’t stop you from achieving your best times yet. Incorporated HeiQ® Fresh prevents the build up of unpleasant odors, making the Mission tights ideal for high-intensity running challenges that last all day. With the added functionality of a drawstring waist to trap in heat, a zippered pocket for storing your personal items safely, and reflective details to keep you visible in low light situations, the Patagonia Peak Mission Tights are the ultimate upgrade for your running kit this winter. MSRP $119 patagonia.com

OR Vigor Bottoms

As lightweight as they are warm, OR Vigor Bottoms are an essential companion for runners pursuing peak performance even when the temperature drops. Thermo-regulating and breathable, these bottoms bring advanced ActiveTemp™ technology without extra bulk, the Vigor’s grid fleece fabric allows for a full range of movement and body mapped ventilation ensuring your personal climate is always set to optimum. They also feature an internal adjustable waistband and flat seam construction for a comfortable fit, as well as a zippered pocket to securely store your essentials while you’re on the move. MSRP $89 outdoorresearch.com

Brooks Momentum Thermal Tight

Defy the cold and break new ground in all your running challenges this winter with the Brooks Momentum Thermal Tight. Built from a DriLayer® Threshold fabric that offers advanced warmth and thermoregulation, these technical tights deliver outstanding defense against chill without hindering your performance. Cut in a supportive fit for a full range of movement, the tights also have integrated no bounce pockets on both sides to secure valuables for a distraction free run. You can stay focused on the road ahead all winter long thanks to the Brooks Momentum Thermal Tight. MSRP $95 brooksrunning.com

Patagonia Slope Endurance Vest

Support yourself on long runs with the Patagonia Slope Endurance Vest. This vest has a low profile build that incorporates vent mesh which maximizes airflow and comfort throughout your run. Its adjustable internal harness, active load lifting and load handling bungee cords allow on the move adjustability for simplified stabilization, eliminating uncomfortable bouncing that distracts you from enjoying your run. While the two adjustable sternum straps round out customization and facilitate the perfect fit. Two HydraPak® flasks provide easy access to 1 liter (500ml each) of water while an assortment of pockets let you stash layers, energy gels, and secure valuables or even a phone on the rear zippered pocket. Lastly the Slope Vest offers pole carry options on both the right and left sides when you plan to encounter steep climbs. MSRP $149 patagonia.com

Shoe Recommendations

Road Running – Wet and Dry Conditions

Brooks Ghost 13 GTX and Ghost 13

When designing its Ghost series, Brooks created an innovative family of shoes for all types of road runners. Each shoe features technologies to provide you with a cushioned, responsive, and dynamic ride across urban surfaces. The Ghost 13 specifically provides a super smooth transition and soft cushioning for your daily runs. It is constructed with a 3D Engineered Air Mesh seamless upper that snugly wraps your foot while still allowing it to breathe as you run. The soft DNA LOFT offers plenty of cushioning underfoot, regardless of how your foot lands, creating comfortable running mile after mile. Finally, Brooks offers a new lightweight GORE-TEX® Invisible Fit membrane in the Ghost 13 GTX model that is bonded directly to the upper, delivering a lighter, more flexible fit, so you can tackle runs in wet and snowy conditions all while keeping your feet dry and comfortable. MSRP $160 (GTX) and $130 (non GTX) brooksrunning.com

Road to Trail Running

Merrell Agility Syntesis 2

The Merrell Agility Syntesis 2 is a versatile running shoe designed with all terrain capabilities on and off the trail. It feels right on the roads between your home and the trailhead, and the lightweight FloatPro™ foam midsole keeps the cush once you reach rocky and root covered terrain. The anatomical upper is made with a quick drying air mesh that keeps your feet cool and dry as you build up steam, while TPU overlays provide added support. The FLEXconnect® dual directional grooves in the midsole provide enhanced ground connection to help you through your stride, while supplying solid comfort over long miles. The midsole has the trusted mountain grade Quantum grip™ for no nonsense traction, with a protective yet flexible rock plate guarding against unexpected roots and rocks while still letting your foot move the way it needs to on steep inclines. With comfort and performance you need to reach new heights, this shoe is an ideal versatile option for the everyday trail runner. MSRP $110 – $120 merrell.com

Trail Running

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270

Steep mountains and never ending trail obstacles won’t slow you down when you’re rocking the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 Running Shoe. Thanks to its lightweight construction, ultimate Graphene-Grip, and flexible design you’ll be bounding through even the most rugged trails, whether you’re chasing new peaks or exploring new forest pathways. The graphene enhanced 4mm deep rubber cleats deliver reliable grip and traction that’ll keep your footing secure even on wet days, while the lightweight Powerflow Max foam midsole supports and comforts your feet through long, challenging miles. The abrasion resistant mesh and TPU upper finds an ideal balance between durability and breathability, and the snug gusseted tongue provides a comfortable fit that stays in place when you’re dancing over rocks and roots without missing a beat. MSRP $160 inov8.com

Icy Roads and Trails

Kahtoola EXOspikes

It’s gonna take more than some slippery ice and some chilly temperatures to keep you from roving your favorite trails, but you’ve still got to make sure you can move safely in Winter weather. Throw on the Kahtoola EXOspikes and you’ll be prepared for those icy roads and slippery trails. The combination of the TPU framework and Tungsten carbide tips keep the EXOspikes light yet rugged. The elastomer harness snugs up against your shoe and the Integrated Toe Bail ensures a stay in place fit. On the bottom, a mix of twelve carbide steel spikes and TPU lugs grab hold of packed snow and ice and bring confidence into your stride, but are low-profile enough not to feel burdensome when the conditions and terrain mellow out. MSRP $59.95 kahtoola.com

Mark Ranum: Mark is an outdoor adventure seeker, living in the beautiful state of Michigan. He loves trekking hundreds of miles through the wilderness, whether on two feet or two wheels, always looking for the next new trail or road to see where it will take him.
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