>12/4/13: Winter Accessories, decoded

If you’re like me, you looked at the weather one morning on your iPhone this week and panicked mildly when the temperature read 30 degrees. Shorts and short sleeves don’t cut it when there’s frost on your car windows. Maybe you’re a “new runner,” and making it all the way through the winter running outside is your goal for the next several months. Or maybe you’re a seasoned vet but usually head inside when the temperature drops south. Either way, we’d like to decode winter accessories for you so it’s easy to layer on what works.


We’ll start at the toes and work our way up. Wool socks will be your toes’ best friends. Why? Wool absorbs moisture, and transfers it away from your skin, to eliminate that clammy, soggy feeling you may have experienced with classic cotton “athletic” socks. Even when wet, wool retains it’s ability to insulate you and control body temperature. It’s also cozy and warm, making it easy for you to leave your bed for an early morning run.


Fingers are up next. Facing off in the ring: Gloves vs. Mittens.




Fingers separate, more dexterity -- easy to tie shoelaces and operate your watch

Fingers together = warmer

Several options with touchscreen compatible fingertip (North Face E-Tip, Saucony Touch-Tek)

Getting at your smartphone is more challenging...

Great for windy, cool-not-cold days when fingers need just a little coverage

Great for cold, New England winter days (Saucony Run Mitt)



I usually go by a rule of 10s on this:

Above 40: hands are bare

30-40: Lightweight gloves

20-30: Thermal gloves

10-20: Mittens!!!!

Under 10: Hope for the best.


Look for other cool features like LED lights, reflectivity, wind and water resistant panels, and hybrid “glov-ens,” a glove with a mitten cover that flips over.


The often-forgotten neck is next. This one’s simple. Call it a neck warmer, neck gaiter, or neck tube... it’s a cylindrical piece of fabric that slips over your head, covers your neck, and keeps the wind from going down your shirt. It should be soft and made of synthetic fabric. Some will get tricky and even have a cinch-cord to keep it held up on your face, nice but not necessary.


Lastly, and debatably most important is the head (this includes ears.) My favorite piece here is the headband. Having cold ears is definitely a reason to shorten your run, so throwing this on before heading out the door minimizes excuses. Look for the Infiniti Headband from Brooks if bright colors are your thing, or Trailheads Power Band if you’re more of a black/reflective kind of person. (Psst...Ladies... some even come with a ponytail opening!)

It turns out Mom was right when she told you all those years ago to wear a hat in the winter -- when snow starts to fall, and your breath takes shape in the air, a hat is the end-all to retain body heat. But, not just any hat will do. Choose your fabric wisely: something technical  that will trap air next to your body, creating a layer of insulation, but will work to move moisture to the outside so it can be evaporated in the air.


Once you build your winter running accessories collection, you can head out on a chilly day with confidence. We’ll still let you complain about the cold though, after all, we are New Englanders.