A man running through the park in the winter

Essential Gear for Safe Winter Running

01/14/24 • 5 minute read

If you love to run, you shouldn't be deterred by the dark, cold winter months. Winter running is a great way to stay fit and enjoy the outdoors year round, but it does require some different gear than running the rest of the year. Staying warm with the right clothing is key, but that's a matter for another post: in this article, we'll be discussing gear for winter running safety.

We'll take a look at a couple of essential items for running safely in the winter, discussing the features you should look for and offer our recommendations for some of the best products on the market.

Watch Where You're Going! PETZL Tikka Outdoor Headlamp

PETZL Tikka Outdoor Headlamp
A good headlamp helps you avoid obstacles when running in the dark

Having a good headlamp is key when running in dark, wintery conditions. There are lots of headlamps out there, including some real budget items which will do in a pinch, but the quality varies significantly between them.

For a bright, long-lasting, high-quality headlamp, we highly recommend the PETZL Tikka Outdoor Headlamp. It features 300 lumens of brightness, a flood beam, 3 white light settings and a red light mode so you can get the right light for any situation. All in all, it's a solid choice for anyone looking for a reliable and versatile headlamp for their winter running needs.


  • With the 50:50 Brightness-to-Burn-Time ratio, this headlamp retains 50% of its original brightness halfway through the Burn-Time, rather than the 20-30% brightness you get in other brands
  • The Tikka outdoor headlamp can run on either the CORE rechargeable battery or three AAA batteries without an adapter
  • The headlamp can be tilted up or down — allowing users to illuminate their surroundings while wearing the headlamp on their head or neck

The 300 lumen output of the PETZL Tikka Outdoor Headlamp is adequate for most nighttime winter running, but if you're running in a really dark setting (like the woods) with no other ambient light, you might want to try the PETZL ActikCore Headlamp, the Tikka's big brother, which outputs a stunning 600 lumens.

Either way, if you're looking for a reliable and versatile headlamp for your winter running needs, the PETZL headlamps are a great choice. They're easy to use, have multiple light settings, and are compatible with a variety of mounting accessories.

Don't Slip: Yaktrax Run Traction Cleats

If you're going to be keep running through icy and snowy conditions, consider some form of traction device for your running shoes. These removable devices come in all shapes and sizes ranging from tiny "nano spike" nubs to full-on crampons for the iciest conditions.

Yaktrax Run Traction Cleats for Running on Snow and Ice Gray/Red Medium
Traction devices help keep your footing over snowy, icy conditions.

The most versatile traction devices we've found for road running in mixed conditions are the Yaktrax Run Traction Cleats. Instead of simple spikes, these cleats use a combination of carbide-steel spikes and stainless-steel coils to provide unbeatable traction on cold surfaces, while the rubber foot frame with formed-toe and over-foot straps secures the runner’s foot in the device. The reflective heel and side straps also provide added safety during low-light conditions.


  • Unbeatable traction on cold surfaces for all-direction stability, thanks to a combination of 3mm carbide-steel spikes and 1.4mm stainless-steel coils.
  • Designed by runners specifically to fit over running shoes, allowing users to continue training in winter.
  • Rubber foot frame with formed-toe and over-foot straps secures the runner’s foot in the device, while reflective heel and side straps provide added safety.

Be aware that the fit of running cleats depends not just on the size of a shoe, but also each shoe's unique design. Bulkier shoe designs may require a size higher of cleats to avoid being too tight, so be sure to take that into consideration when making your purchase.

Stay Visible! LED Reflective Running Vest

High visibility is critical to keeping safe while running in the dark winter months. It may look goofy, but a reflective LED running vest is a great way to stay visible to motorists and other pedestrians. This LED Reflective Running Vest is perfect for runners (or cyclists, or walkers for that matter) in low-light environments. LED Reflective Running Vest

Wdianoutdoor LED Reflective Running Vest
An LED reflective running vest is key to staying visible in dark, winter running


  • This LED Running Vest ensures your safety during low-visibility circumstances such as early mornings and late evenings with its remarkably bright and visible lights, even from a distance of 1000 feet.
  • The rechargeable batteries on the vest can be charged via USB, with up to over 48 hours of usage on a single charge.
  • The vest has three distinct lighting modes – fast flash, slow flash, and steady illumination – to ensure 100% visibility even in the darkest of environments.

The vest is comfortable and adjustable for all sizes of runners. It also weighs just 4oz (110 grams), and the vest feels barely there, with just the right amount of elasticity for durability and secure fit.

The Wdianoutdoor LED Reflective Running Vest is rainproof, and it works as an excellent warning signal to distant vehicles. Its bright presence won't be missed even in rainy or snowy conditions.

Keep Your Feet Dry: Choosing the Right Shoes

While you'll want to use traction devices in really bad conditions, some days the conditions will be merely gross–slushy and wet, perhaps with a couple of tricky/slippery spots. So even on days when you don't break out the cleats, it's a good idea to find shoes that will stand up to the conditions a bit better than your normal trainers.

HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 5 Mens Shoes
Hoka Speedgoat GTX

The features you're looking for are waterproof fabrics, and soles with enhanced traction–which just so happen to be key features of most trail running shoes.

Personally, I like the HOKA Speedgoat GTX, which I use on the trails during the summer. The Gore Tex fabric is perfect for staying dry in sloppy conditions, and the Vibram sole gives added traction and confidence going over slush and snow.

But the truth is there are lots of trail running shoes which fit the bill, many with similar Gore Tex fabrics and enhanced soles. Here are a couple of others we like:

Lots of other popular models also come in trail or winter variations with Gore Tex fabrics, so if you don't see the brand or model you're you like to wear here, try searching for it with "GTX".

Finally, some of these shoes might be bulkier than you're used to, bear in mind that's a feature to help keep your feet warm, dry & secure in bad conditions.

Enjoy the Winter: Keep Running

Though it can require a bit of extra gear and sometimes a bit of extra planning, running through the winter is doable in almost any climate. Just remember to stay safe with the right gear! Reflective vests, headlamps, spikes and the right shoes are key to enjoying running all winter long.

Avatar of Jon K.

by Jon K.

Jon has been an avid runner for over 20 years with a marathon PR of 2:46. He loves everything running & helping others find love for the sport as well.

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