Gifts for the Friend Who Still Runs Outside When It’s Fucking Cold

Gifts for the Friend Who Still Runs Outside When It’s Fucking Cold

Just some key items that will make winter runs bearable, from two-in-one gloves to taller socks.

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Image: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

Running outside is almost always superior to running on a treadmill because you get to see both nature and other people’s dogs. Maybe you have a runner friend who feels similarly, or perhaps they simply canceled their gym membership during the pandemic and no longer have access to a treadmill. But the seasons are once again turning to winter, and dressing to run in cold temperatures presents a challenge: Your body will warm up once you start running, but one wind gust and some cloud cover can have you shivering. The best strategy is to keep your hands, ears, and torso extra warm and have pockets to stash gloves and headwear for periods of overheating.

And so, here are some key items that will make winter runs bearable, from two-in-one gloves to taller socks. And while running gear can be absurdly expensive, things don’t have to cost a lot to be effective. (The vest I recommend is from Old Navy, for example.)

But first, I do want to specify what I mean by “fucking cold” for outdoor running. As a person who grew up in Pennsylvania, I will run outside when the temperature is as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If the “feels-like” temp is much below 20, I refuse. So, specifically, this is a guide to running in 20- to 45-ish-degree weather. (I don’t think many people need help dressing for 50-degree runs, arguably perfect running weather.) If your friend lives in the Upper Midwest or New England, they will probably laugh at the idea of 20 degrees as “fucking cold.” I salute them, and say that everything here still applies—they’ll just need to layer a looser pair of pants over their tights and a Fancy Running Jacket or even a ski jacket.

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Convertible gloves, aka glittens

Convertible gloves, aka glittens

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Those stretchy black “magic” gloves are not going to cut it. Not only do you need sweat-wicking materials, but when wind gusts try to flash-freeze you, you can pull out your mitt cover for an extra layer of warmth. Going total mitten is usually too warm and regular gloves may not be enough.

Saucony fortify convertible glove, $35

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Small handheld bottle

Small handheld bottle

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Because it is so cold, all water fountains have been turned off. This 10-ounce bottle is big enough to keep you hydrated and small enough to not be annoying. You are under no obligation to fill it to the top for shorter runs. The zippered pocket can stow your ID, credit card, cash, and keys. This bottle is also nice when it’s fucking hot out and you are thirsty every 5 minutes.

Nathan quickshot plus hydration flask, $20

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Warm tights

Warm tights



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Photo: Nike ( (Fair Use)

These are brushed fleece on the inside, which is delightful. They also have a rear zip pocket and side mesh pockets, which are upgrades from the pair I own.

Nike pro therma-fit leggings, $60

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Warm 1/2 zip top

Warm 1/2 zip top

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Photo: Nike (Fair Use)

Nike’s “element” line has fuzzy nubbies inside that keep you warm. (They call them nodes, but I will not.) This shirt covers your neck and part of your butt, and the cuffs have thumbholes for those times when you’re too hot for gloves—or dropped a glove, RIP—but need just a bit of paw coverage. If it’s not teeth-chatteringly cold, you can wear this over a T-shirt and be set. Otherwise, add a vest (see next).

Nike therma-fit element half-zip running top, $85

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Puffer vest

Puffer vest

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Photo: Old Navy (Fair Use)

Unless your friend lives in, say, Minnesota and is planning to navigate negative wind-chills, they don’t need a Fancy Running Jacket. A solid puffer vest layered over a warm long-sleeve shirt or sweatshirt (with a T-shirt underneath if it’s REALLY cold) will do wonders. This one is water-resistant in case it starts sleeting or whatever. And since it’s not from a dorky running brand, they can wear it lots of places.

Old Navy narrow channel puffer vest, $40

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Ankle-covering socks

Ankle-covering socks

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Now is not the time for low-cut socks. Your friend needs a quarter-cut at the very least and maybe even crew length if they’re lanky and tights run short on them.

Feetures elite light cushion quarter socks, $16

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Headband or beanie

Headband or beanie

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Yes, heat escapes from your head, but a full hat isn’t for everyone. I wash my hair near-daily so I don’t mind it getting gross inside a beanie, but your friend might prefer a headband to limit the collection of sweat. Either option here is fleece-lined for coziness, and the hat has a slot for ponytails.

All in Motion fleece lined jersey headband, $15 or All in Motion fleece lined beanie, $17

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Moisture-wicking mask

Moisture-wicking mask

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Photo: Uniqlo (Fair Use)

Years before we all knew the concepts of “social distancing” and “global pandemic,” fitness magazines advised that winter exercisers cover their mouth and nose with a bandana or gaiter to prevent wind-burnt lungs. While you don’t need to wear a mask when running outside, if it’s really fucking cold and you get a rattling post-run cough in the winter, it could help! Just stick with ones made of moisture-wicking material, not that one your great aunt made from craft store fabric.

Uniqlo airism mask (pack of 3), $15

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Sunglasses

Sunglasses

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Sunglasses are necessary to prevent cold wind tears and snow blindness. These lightweight, no-slip shades are polarized to reduce glare and the many colorways have pleasingly deranged names like Whiskey Shots With Satan and Iced by Yetis.

Goodr OGs, $25

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