Winter might be the most comfortable season. Snuggling in your blankets and drinking hot chocolate. Plus, everyone’s in the holiday season and a little nicer and more cheery.
The holiday season also gives you a whole month of excuses to forgo your workout routine, especially when it comes to running. Of course, the cold weather just lures you inside instead of in the harsh conditions.
You might find yourself thanking yourself when you keep that running habit up, though, especially since the gyms are going to be packed in January. You might also find that January weather is even colder than December, so maybe you’ll allow yourself to stay by the fireplace then.
Either way, winter shouldn’t get in the way of your fitness goals. You especially need the right gear for this. The slippery roads and the harder trails are only going to make it harder.
Fortunately for you, though, the right gear is just around the corner, and I’m here to help you find it. Here’s a list of the best winter running shoes on the market as rated by other runners.
Best Winter Running Shoes Compared and Reviewed
|Top||VJ XTRM OCR Shoes - Trail Running Shoes||VJ XTRM||Check Price on Amazon|
|Icebug NewRun M BUGrip GTX Road Running Shoe||Icebug||Check Price on Amazon|
|Salomon SENSE RIDE 3 GTX||Salomon||Check Price on Amazon|
|Brooks Divide||Brooks||Check Price on Amazon|
|Asics GT-1000 8 GTX||Asics||Check Price on Amazon|
#1 - VJ XTRM OCR Shoes - Trail Running Shoes
Its material is made of 48-percent Kevlar and 52-percent polyester. We’ve talked a lot about polyester before, but if you’ve just encountered polyester, let’s have a recap. Polyester is made of synthetic fibers that have moisture-wicking abilities. This means that it won’t retain much moisture in your shoe. It is also known to be a durable material, so your feet will love you for this.
Kevlar, on the other hand, is another synthetic material that is an absolute monster when it comes to durability. So strong, in fact, that it can stop bullets and knives and is used in military endeavors.
If that’s not enough to convince you of its durability, especially in the harsh weather conditions, then let’s talk about how it can protect your feet from the trail.
Because of the rock plate in the sole, your feet are protected from sharp rocks and other objects that can puncture the shoe. Even the toe cap is rubber to fully protect you.
In icy weather, you want to be careful but according to users, these shoes are a great way to give you stability and confidence.
What have others said about the VJ XTRM?
“Love the stability and feels really durable. Nothing else to ask from a shoe, really. The grip is great.” – Terence T
#2 - Icebug NewRun M BUGrip GTX Road Running Shoe
Icebug developed its own technology to promote traction called BUGrip. Its sole is designed with this technology, adding 14-19 steel studs.
These steel studs are made of carbide steel to keep you going on any terrain. This makes your shoe so much more durable and can absorb the impact of your feet hitting the ground.
Afraid of getting your feet wet? This pair has your back with its GORE-TEX waterproof material, especially on its upper part. It does not sacrifice comfort for function, though; your feet will love running in these, despite the chilly weather.
You might want to research around the fit, though, as some claim you need to go ½ size larger. Some even say that it’s best for wider feet.
Either way, you are going to get a durable shoe with extra comfort and cushioning for any kind of run.
#3 - Salomon SENSE RIDE 3 GTX
You’ll want to put on your running shoes with the Salomon Sense Ride 3 GTX. Not only will you feel comfortable with its extra cushioning, but you’ll also boost your performance in the cold with this pair.
Its rubber sole will make sure you have enough grip even with the slippery roads and trails of winter. Even as your trails get a lot muddier, the base of the foot is protected with mudguard.
Its anti-debris mesh is also great if you’re traveling on rockier roads, as it prevents that small debris from getting into your shoes. Don’t you just hate it when you can’t get those little rocks out of your shoe?
To add to the grip of the rubber sole is their Contagrip sole, which can help you confidently trek wet surfaces, dry surfaces, and everything in between. Even if you encounter the occasional sharp rock, the sole will help reduce that impact.
Even in the cold, your feet are protected by their Gore-Tex Invisible Fit Technology. This gives you full weather protection and provides a more snug fit. This technology is integrated into the shoe, so you won’t have to worry about the added bulk. It’s almost like mesh!
#4 - Brooks Divide
Want a beginner-friendly shoe that will help you on your first trail run? The Brooks Divide shoe can help you confidently transition from the treadmill and flat surface runs to the more challenging treks.
The rubber sole can give you a little bit more of that sticky surface that you need especially on tricky and slippery trails. Its TrailTrack outsole can provide you with the extra support you need, especially when you’re feeling unsure about your trail.
You’ll also find your feet will love you with its spacious forefoot fit for additional comfort. No more aching toes! You won’t be kicking off your shoes though as it still stays snug near the midfoot.
If you need that extra protection from sharp surfaces and rocks, you might love that this shoe actually has a rock plate that protects your feet from the impact. Don’t worry, though, it’s not as hard as it seems; it’s a lightweight plate to balance that protection and comfort.
Because of the design of the heel, it can also adapt to whatever terrain or trail you’re running on. This is because it has a horseshoe-shaped groove. Its material will also help your foot stay protected from harsh terrains and weather conditions.
#5 - Asics GT-1000 8 GTX
It is synthetic and contains mesh material, giving you both the durability of synthetic fibers and the breathability of mesh fabric. It’s most probably going to be moisture-wicking, too, as synthetic fibers tend to bring the moisture out.
Its Trusstic System technology makes your sole lighter than the usual hardcore trekking shoes while still keeping its durability. You might want to be careful, though, especially if you trek on more intense trails.
You want a shoe that will protect you from sharp rocks and such. The Asics GT-1000 8 GTX might not give you that better than the other shoes will, but it will hold up in lighter conditions.
The shoe also has the technology to guide your gait with its Guidance Line Midsole Technology, which aims to help you keep your steps in line. This is especially important in icy conditions. The more support, the better.
This is also another shoe that has the GORE-TEX Upper, a material that helps keep your shoe waterproof and your feet dry. It also can protect your feet in harsher weather conditions.
My Number One Pick
What To Look Out For When Buying Running Shoes For Winter
There are a lot of things you have to consider when buying winter running shoes. For example, you need to consider how much the shoe will help you and your feet stay warm, especially in the icy weather.
You might also want to get shoes that understand how hard it is to run confidently in slippery conditions. Some shoes will give you extra protection from that, and it will overall boost your confidence and your performance.
Let’s get into the things you want to look for in a shoe and why our list lives up to that.
This is probably the first thing I look at when looking for a pair of running shoes. I want my new pair to last for years, and it is especially important that your new winter running shoes be much more durable than your normal rubber shoes.
Consider how slippery the road can get, or how harsh the winter conditions can be. Your body might be able to take it and you might be able to run in the cold, but your shoes have to keep up with you.
This really comes down to the material that your shoes are mainly made from. Usually, polyester will be the staple material that shoe manufacturers use to keep your shoes both durable and sweat-wicking.
Polyester has durable synthetic fibers that do not easily tear apart. Of course, this depends on the quality of the polyester, but if your shoe is made of 100 percent polyester, you’re good to go.
You might have also heard about Kevlar, a material that is so strong it’s used for military purposes. It can stop bullets or knives! VJ XTRM, our top winter running shoe, makes use of polyester and kevlar, a perfect combination for durability.
You might also prefer running trails that are rocky and can cause some real damage to your shoe (and your foot, if you’re not careful). This is why it’s important that your soles are protected without sacrificing comfort, of course.
Try looking for a shoe that has a rock plate. The Brooks Divide gives you this protection, especially against sharp obstacles in your trail such as rocks and branches.
We know how slippery it gets even just in the rain. The winter season is harsher, though, and you might be on an ice puddle before you even see it. This is why the grip beneath your soles is very important.
In general and in the simplest terms, you want your sole to create some friction between your shoe and the ground. That means you want some bumps, some irregularities, and a sole surface that is almost sticky.
Most shoes, of course, go with rubber soles to create friction. The Salomon SENSE RIDE 3 GTX calls it the Contagrip sole, a durable sole that can even protect your shoes from getting too dirty with its mudguard.
Other shoes like to add a little pizzazz and have studs on the bottom for that extra grip, especially in the sludge. The Icebug NewRun M BUGrip GTX Road Running Shoe has carbide steel studs on its sole for this purpose.
Getting shoes with the right amount of grip will help you boost your performance and run without the fear of slipping.
Although this is kinda obvious, it still had to be said! Imagine running around with wet socks. That’s a nightmare if you ask me.
Fortunately, though, winter running shoes consider how dense the air is and how wet the floor is during the winter season, so it has some extra features that will keep your feet dry and happy.
Most winter shoes have the same waterproof technology called GORE-TEX Upper, where the upper material of the shoe is made of a material that can protect your feet from getting wet but still provides breathability and easy moisture-wicking.
The Asics GT-1000 8 GTX uses this technology to protect your shoes and socks from getting wet. You’ll also find this technology in the Salomon SENSE RIDE 3 GTX running shoe, except you’ll see this material all around the shoe rather than just the upper material.
Although you’re getting a lot of hardcore qualities in your shoe, you also need to have a comfortable shoe. You want something with extra cushioning especially since your feet will already go through the extra stress of cold weather.
As with most running shoes, sizing is highly important due to the fact that you want the foot to be stable, yet not too loose. Most running shoes do fit true in size, but depending on how you run and the type of shoe it’s not at all strange to sometimes go an extra half size up.
Read the reviews of the shoes and see what others have said, if you have the option to window shop at your local run store before you make a commitment then even better.
Understanding your foot type can help you pick the best running shoe. These are usually referred to as a runner’s gait. You can find in-depth information on the runner’s gait on our beginner running shoe page. For those of you that know, you can read on. But just to recap, here are the typical running gaits:
- Neutral/Normal Pronation: When your entire foot makes complete contact with the ground.
- Underpronation/Supination: When your outer heel makes contact with the ground first and your foot rolls inward.
- Overpronation: When your foot rolls inward which often causes issues with stability on your foot.
This is important in order to find the best shoe for your foot type.
Frequently Asked Questions for Winter Running Shoes
Q: When is the best time to go running in winter?
A: If it’s not too cold, try to get your workout in the morning! You’ll get it out of the way and you won’t have any of the excuses that will inevitably show up the rest of the day.
Q: Are my summer shoes enough or are winter running shoes really necessary?
A: If the winters don’t get too cold in your area if you don’t get too much of a slippery road, and if you’re okay with your feet getting a little wet, then go ahead. It’s really a matter of preference (and budget).
If you do find that you’d have to suspend your running workout lest you want wet socks, then maybe it’s time to invest in durable winter running shoes. They are worth it, after all.
Q: Is it even safe to run in winter?
A: With the right gear and the right motivation, your safety when running in winter will be the same level of safety as that in summer. Don’t worry too much, but definitely wait it out if the weather is too harsh. We did a post on How cold is too cold to run? as well, so check that out if you want to find out more.
Winter running shoes seem quite unnecessary, but you’ll find it becomes useful not only in winter conditions but also in hard trails.
These aren’t shoes you can only whip out when it starts getting cold; you can use this year-round, so long as you pick the right paths. Remember to do your research and choose with your usual preferences in mind. Online reviews are always helpful! Chill out and run in winter.
We’ve done quite a few reviews on shoes, check out our other post on triathlon shoes as well as the best workout shoes for women or the men variants. If your terrain isn’t as difficult, and it’s more muddy, then check out our mud run shoe reviews as well.
Remember that depending on what you’re doing, it is smart to have the right shoes for the job otherwise you can get injured. Have you used any others that aren’t on this list? Why not share it below in the comments box.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.