How to Dress for Outdoor Exercise in Cold Weather

November 13, 2013

***Guest Writer: Dan Gejay

People run for different reasons: to get in shape, to relieve stress, to get some quality “think time” in, or to make you feel better about eating plate after plate of incredibly delicious holiday food.

Whatever your motivation, it’s a good one to have. It’s an activity you can do practically every day year-round, pending some sweltering summer days, winter blizzards and anything else Mother Nature decides to throw our way, as long as you know how to dress for it.

Since winter is practically upon us, as well as the biggest eating season of the year, it’s important to know how to dress for outdoor exercise.  Sounds easy, but it is possible to dress too warmly.

Here are a bunch of great tips to help you dress properly head-to-toe for running in colder weather:


When you’re running in the cold, you’ll lose about 10% of your body heat through your head. By wearing a fleece or wool hat you can protect your ears and head from the cold all while maintaining that body heat your working up.

If you feel your body starting to overheat, just take it off and tuck it in your pant-line until you need it again. If it’s really windy out, a neck gaiter or bandana can help protect your face and neck. If you ski or snowboard, you know the feeling.

Upper Body

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Winter running is all about layering. The layer closest to your body should have wicking properties to help move moisture away from your body. Make sure you don’t wear a cotton base, because once you start to sweat it’ll stay wet and you’ll have a very uncomfortable run, and the chances of getting sick go way up.

If it’s reeeeally cold out, you should add an insulating layer. This too should wick away moisture, but it should also be able to trap some warmth. Polyester fleece is a good material for this layer – it has a nice balance of trapping heat and releasing vapor.

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If it’s just an average winter day, you can usually skip the middle layer and just go for the base and a wind/water-proof outer layer. You want this layer to protect your body against the elements, but more importantly, you want to allow all that heat and moisture your building up to escape.


Staying warm is awesome, but overheating and chilling…not so much. Whenever I’m running in cooler weather, I like wearing a full-zip outer layer. That way I can adjust the zipper up or down to regulate how much cool air I’m allowing to flow through.


When our body temperature drops, the majority of our blood flow switches its focus on keeping our core warm. It’s great that our bodies do this, but it can leave our hands freezing! I personally don’t like running with gloves on, but some days you just can’t help it.

Just a tip though, if you want to cover your hands, use mittens – your fingers will share what body heat they have and will keep your hands much warmer than regular gloves will.



When you’re running, your legs are obviously doing most of the work, which means they generate a lot of heat on their own. On most cool days, you can get away with wearing one layer of tights, yoga pants, running pants or sweats.

If it’s below 15-20 degrees and you still manage to get yourself outside (congrats), I’d recommend wearing two layers: a wicking layer and a wind-proof outer layer such as track pants.


NEVER WEAR COTTON SOCKS! I’m not sure how many people follow this, but ideally you shouldn’t wear cotton socks in warm OR cold weather while running. Feet sweat a lot, and cotton socks will soak all that right up and won’t let it go. You should try to get your hands on a few pairs made of fabrics like acrylic or wool (in the winter).


Your feet stay pretty warm when you run, as long as you take a few precautions. This goes without saying, but try to avoid running through slush and puddles of water as much as possible. Also, your choice of shoe should have as little mesh as possible to prevent water from soaking your socks. If you’re hardcore, you may want to consider trail shoes. These give better traction in the snow and are mostly waterproof.

Running is a great way to help maintain your healthy active lifestyle, if it’s done the right way! These tips will help you feel more comfortable while you run, and hopefully won’t result in you sniffling for the rest of the day. At GTS Clothing, we’re extremely passionate about creating clothes that help people look and feel good. We just launched a new website full of great products that will have you dressing right for the cold months to come.

Head over to and browse our brand – if you see something you like, enter the code ‘foodfanatic’ for $8 off your total! Thanks for taking the time to read this, and good luck on your journey!

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