Beat the Cold With the Right Running Headwear

When it comes to cold weather running, it seems that runners generally fall into two camps.  Those that head for the treadmill as soon as the snow starts to fall and those that endure (suffer?) the elements to keep it out on the roads and trails. 

17 degrees.  That was the temperature at the start of this morning’s run.  Need I elaborate on which of the two cold weather running camps I fall into?  Being a runner with zero miles by treadmill, I try and find any way possible to keep things moving outside.  Appropriate headwear is certainly an important part.

With all the choices of hats, hoods, buffs, headbands, earmuffs, and caps, what is a runner to choose?  For myself, I can generally be comfortable layering up in the following way.  Anything above 35 or 40 degrees and there isn’t much to worry about.  Your basic running cap should do just fine.  

Now, when things start to get below freezing and the ears need some cover, a Buff is my first go-to.  If you don’t already have one of these, do yourself a favor and go get one.  If you already have one, you know you could probably use another.  They come in merino wool and polyester microfiber, I prefer wool in winter for its softness and comfort.  They advertise 12+ ways to wear them.  I don’t know about all that.  But if my ears are cold, I wear it around my ears.  If my neck or face is cold, I wear it around my neck and face.  They are incredibly versatile. 

As functional as the Buff might be, there is certainly a threshold where some reinforcement has to be called in.  I’d say it’s at around 20 degrees I find myself reaching for my Smartwool beanie.  I have a few others as well, but given the choice, this would be my favorite cold weather running hat.  Of all the Smartwool gear that I have tried, I have never been disappointed.    

And then there is the extreme.  The hope the car starts, water bottles don’t freeze, and steam visibly rises off your body kind of cold.  Running at anything below 10 degrees is an adventure in its own.  Be sure to bundle up with a few different layers.  I’d start with a wool Buff and a beanie and hopefully add a nice hood from an outer layer to go over it all.  Being layered with the ability to vent heat allows for the best control to keep yourself warm enough without ending up soaked in sweat.      

What do you like to wear when the weather gets cold?  

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David Moore
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Silver Lake, Ohio
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Amateur runner, bicycler and swimmer. I alternate way too frequently between trail and road running. 40 mile ultra two times....

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