Cold-weather gifts for runners | Popular Science
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Updated Dec 15, 2022 9:43 AM
Running seems simple enough: Put one foot in front of the other in a semi-speedy fashion. It’s free, it’s safe, and dare I say, it’s fun. The equipment, too, seems appealingly uncomplicated. All you need are clothes and running shoes, right? While that’s technically true, some specialized cold-weather running gear can make jogging in the fall and winter’s wind, snow, and rain a whole lot more pleasant. Plus, when you feel good, you run good. It’s simple science. Here’s our list of some of the best cold-weather gifts for runners:
Best sneakers: Nike Air Pegasus Shield 37 Running Shoes
Let’s get started with the basics: sneakers. There’s nothing worse than missing a carefully calculated step and landing right into a puddle on a cold and rainy day. To avoid this mishap, Nike took one of its most popular running shoes, the Pegasus, and winterized it with a water-repellent upper material and an outsole with wet weather traction to keep you from slipping on the slick pavement. The outsole’s micro grooves feature multidirectional shapes that displace the water when the shoe makes contact with the pavement, so your feet can leave and arrive home dry and warm.
Best outerwear: Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody
Layers are essential when it comes to cold-weather running. Arc’teryx’s sleek Squamish hoodie provides plenty of assistance, keeping you warm without slowing you down. The lightweight shell is windproof yet protects you against rain and snow. It’s also made from nylon that is moisture-wicking and allows sweat to escape, helping to keep your body temperature steady during frigid runs. Plus, this minimalist option is a cinch to roll up into a backpack or carry-on. It’s available in men’s and women’s styles. — Jen McCaffery
Best underlayer: Ibex Men’s Woolies Tech Long-Sleeve Shirt
Speaking of layering, a merino wool base is the way to go for those frigid days. This long-sleeve base layer has a nylon lining that will help keep you warm and dry all day. The company’s Pro Tech fabric is comfy and lightweight, but still wicks moisture away and keeps odor under control. They’re available in four matte colors (Deepest Red, Deep Ocean, Black, and Ginger Bisquite), you can pair the zippered top with the Woolies Tech Bottoms for full-body coverage.
Best leggings: Teatree inMotion High-Rise Leggings
Best mask: Under Armour Adult Sports Mask
Running with a mask may feel awkward, but research shows that wearing a mask protects you and others from catching COVID-19. The covering also has no significant influence on your performance. Even Olympian Galen Rupp won the 2011 US Track and Field Championships in the men’s 10,000-meter final while wearing a mask (to protect himself from an asthma attack from bad allergies) for the majority of the race. Under Armour’s sports mask features a water-resistant outer shell, an antimicrobial inner layer to thwart any sweaty smells between uses, and a foam layer made from polyurethane that allows air to flow through but blocks sweat and moisture. Plus, the fabric feels cool and comfortable throughout your workout. The mask also comes in sizes from XS to XXL to ensure everyone gets a good fit.
Best gloves: Arc’teryx Venta Gloves
Running in the cold sometimes feels like a tease. When you first step outside, the frigid temperatures can be startling, making you want to bundle up with extra pant and shirt layers. But as you ease into the miles, you can quickly overheat with all those clothes. Instead, wear lighter layers (unless the conditions are truly frigid) and focus on making sure your core and extremities are well-protected. Arc’teryx’s Venta glove uses Gore-tex’s Infinium material, which protects from water and wind and is extremely thin and light. Plus the mitten design allows your body heat to keep all your fingers tight and warm.
Best socks: Smartwool Run Cold Weather Crew Socks
In addition to keeping your hands warm, snuggly and comfy feet also make for a happy run. Smartwool’s Run Cold Weather Socks are made of sweat-wicking wool that also provides comfort and durability. The mid-crew length hits that perfect sweet spot of not too short to let wind in but not too long to cause overheating. Lastly, the socks have the company’s Light Elite cushioning that provides targeted support in the ball and heel of the foot. Otherwise, too much layering between your feet and shoes can restrict blood flow.
Best hat: TrailHeads Fleece Ponytail Hat
When cold weather hits, a good hat is essential. But for those with longer hair, stuffing your long locks into a hat can be annoying at a minimum and cause a headache at the worst. Trailheads’ ponytail hat features an opening in the back to fit your hair through so it doesn’t get trapped, tangled, or bungled in your hat as you run. The piece is also made of quick-drying polyester fleece and flaps so your head and ears can stay warm for the duration of your run.
Best smartwatch: Garmin Forerunner 745
Here’s the thing: You don’t need a watch to run. In fact, sometimes it can be incredibly relaxing to simply go for a jog without any regard for pace or distance. But let’s face it, there are a fair percentage of runners (myself included) that are stat-obsessed. And keeping track of your mileage can be a helpful tool if you’re beginning a training program or starting a buildup for a specific race, like a 5K or a marathon. The Garmin Forerunner 745 has everything a runner needs to geek out on, including GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring (with a resting heart rate feature), pulse oximeter, as well as apps to track your menstrual cycle and how much water you drink in a day. With this watch, almost nothing is left unchecked, making it one of the best gifts for runners.
Best safety gear: Brooks’ Run Visible Collection
Some of the best gifts for runners aren’t only about keeping warm—they’re about keeping people safe. Much of North America is now experiencing the shortest days of the year with the sun rising around 7 a.m. and setting by 5 p.m. That means if you’re trying to squeeze in a run before or after work, you’re probably going to be doing at least some of those miles in the dark. Brooks Running’s Run Visible collection features clothing—from hats to windbreakers and leggings—that all come equipped with 3M Scotchlite Carbon Black Stretch Reflective material with neon colors. The material and coloring (which covers the most visible part of the light spectrum in low-light conditions) are strategically placed in so-called motion zones. That includes the joints that move the most while you’re jogging, like elbows, wrists, and ankles, so you can run safely no matter when you’re able to get that jog in.
Best vest: Nike Aeroloft Women’s Running Vest
In addition to keeping hands and feet from freezing, maintaining a warm core will keep the rest of your body toasty without adding too much bulk that could make you overheat mid-run. When looking for the best gifts for runners (or yourself), Nike’s Aeroloft running vest provides necessary warmth where you need it most. It also has pockets to store your keys, cell phone, or anything else you might need mid-run. — Jen McCaffery
Best tights: Reebok Women’s Puremove Leggings
Many runners have a love-and-hate relationship with running tights. You need a pair that fits in just the right places for them to work well and feel comfortable. To make that happen, Reebok used its Motion Sense Technology (that the company originally designed for sports bras) to fill its tights with a material that stays liquid-like when in stasis and becomes more solid upon impact. This gives you a full range of movement on a run, while adding support precisely when you need it.
Best sunglasses: Tifosi Sunglasses
If you haven’t heard, Tifosi Sunglasses makes some of the most brilliantly colored UVA-/UVB-protected sunglasses on the market. With frames that come in enough colorways to match nearly any aesthetic, the Swank and Swick lines (and more), offer bright polarized lenses that will keep your eyes safe even on the snow or sand. These sunglasses are one of the best gifts for runners, as well as people who like extreme sports, desert hikers, and skiers alike.
Best for recovery: Normatec Go
Colder weather can cause arteries to tighten and restrict blood flow. Runners can recover better from workouts with Normatec Go. These wearables are designed to be strapped to the runner’s calves and provide a symmetrical massage to increase circulation and reduce pain in the lower body. The Bluetooth-enabled controls and associated app allow the runner to choose between seven levels of compression for a better recovery and the battery lasts up to three hours. — Jen McCaffery
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