It’s getting colder – I know this because last night I went out for a run in my usual shorts and t-shirt plus the gloves. The gloves are usually a sign for me that winter is here. Aside from a decent pair of gloves though, what other kit should you be investing in for winter trail running? We take a look at some things you may want to add to your kit draw this winter.
A Base Layer
A base layer, or a long sleeved top, is generally worn under your usual vest of t-shirt. They come in all different thicknesses, styles, colours etc. it’s about finding what works for you. I tend to have a couple. A lightweight one for when it’s not too cold and then the thicker one that I call upon when it’s absolutely Baltic out. They are certainly good for keeping you warmer in the winter months and by layering up, you can also remove unwanted layers if you get too hot. Confused about which base layer to choose?
Choosing the Right Base Layer
You can pick up a base layer from many places. Just type into a site like Sportsshoes.com “tops” and the search results will return an array of base layers, or long-sleeved tops, from many different brands including inov-8, Helly Hansen, Under Armour, Skins, Mizuno, Saucony and more. Under Armour is the brand of my hard core winter one. It has served me well for two winters now and definitely does the job on colder days. If you want a more lightweight base layer though, you want to look at something like the Saucony Stopwatch Vizipro Women’s or men’s top. Not only is it made from sweat wicking fabric, it is also hi-vis offering you that extra visibility on dark nights.
Gloves for me are the first bit of winter kit to make an appearance but then I suffer with Raynauds. In fact, I ought to take a picture next time it strikes to show you just what happens to my fingers. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the condition, it makes your fingers go white and takes a while to get the circulation back again. Gloves are also great for trail running as you often have to open gloves, move brambles out of the way and contend with stingers. Again, a quick search for ‘gloves’ on Sportsshoes.com will return a selection that you can choose to suit you and your budget.
Selecting the right gloves will depend on whether you want gloves that are phone friendly, gloves for the middle of winter etc. We cover this in our article in choosing trail running gloves for all seasons.
Consider getting gloves with a pocket, gloves with reflectors etc so that they become multi-functional. I like that I can just hold my car key inside my glove when I go for a run but it’s not for everyone. There is a handy pouch for your door key on them too. If you’re like me, you will start to collect different bits of kit to suit the season, length of run etc.
I was asked the other day how I could wear shorts in all weathers and why I didn’t wear leggings. Well, there are two reasons for this. One, I don’t like running in leggings and two, it’s much easier to clean my legs than it is to bung muddy leggings in the wash. the less fabric I wear, the less that gets wet and muddy. While I am all for wrapping up warm, I do like to wear shorts.
That said, in my early days of running, I was way too conscious to wear shorts. I have lost weight since then and now I feel more comfortable bearing my legs but I know there are many women who like to wear leggings for that reason. The key things to look out for are that they are the right fit, that they don’t fall down when you run and that you like them. If you are trail running, just be careful not to spend too much on a pair or you will get rather cross when you snag them on a bramble! This will happen.
While this doesn’t necessarily relate to winter, it should be a consideration when the clocks go back and you are running in the dark more. It’s not such an issue in the summer months as we are rarely out running in the dark however, when the nights do start to draw in, it is wise to invest in a hi-vis vest with reflectors and to ensure that your kit has reflective strips on too. It doesn’t have to cost the earth and you can pick one up for less than a tenner. The example below is what we wear when we are coaching and when we are running ourselves. Click the image to learn more.
For those of you that run ultras, waterproofs will be an essential item on your kit list. When choosing waterproofs, especially trousers, you won’t necessarily have to run in them but you should choose ones with taped seams that roll up small inside your backpack.
We are yet to discover a waterproof that will keep every drop of rain out. There are some very good ones out there but any slight gap and the water will find its way in. The key is to read the reviews and to ensure that you choose something with taped seams. Again, a website that sells kits from many different brands such as Sportshoes.com, will have an extensive range of waterproofs designed for running.
For us, base layers and gloves tend to be the staple items of our winter trail running kit however, you may want to consider a hat (personally I don’t get on with a hat) but we do love a buff. We seem to be building up quite a collection with buffs from many races as well as those we have picked up online. A buff is one of the most useful items of kit. Wear it round the wrist to wipe the rain from your face, wear it around your head to keep your hair out of your face or use it to keep your ears warm. You can pick these up cheap on Amazon while some races tend to offer them as an alternative to t-shirts.
Choosing the right kit is important but so too is staying safe when winter trail running. During the colder months the trails are wetter, icy and slippery. Take extra care when running over rocky paths, be careful when climbing up any surface and be more careful where you place your feet. The ground is covered in leaves and mulch so you have less visibility of where you are stepping and you don’t know what the surface will be like.
If going out alone, be sure to tell someone where you are going and take a phone. if you are taking your phone, it’s wise to put it in something waterproof. I have been caught out a few times when rain has entered the charging port and it won’t charge. Tell someone the route you are planning and don’t go off exploring. If it’s a misty day, be sure that you know your way around the local trails. When running on the roads in the dark, wear hi-vis clothing and try and stick to the safer parts where you can be seen at all times.
While staying safe is a priority, we also want you to enjoy your time on the trails. don’t be afraid to get out there and get a bit wet and cold. The trails look different at various points of the year. They can be just as beautiful in winter as they are in summer so be sure to get out there and enjoy winter trail running from a different perspective.
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