Best Winter Running Shoes Reviewed & Rated
One of the best cures for the winter blues is a nice outdoor run. Whether you’re trying to soak up as much sunlight as possible or just get out of the house for a few minutes to ward off cabin fever, going out for a jog in the winter can do as much for you mentally as it can physically. But running may only add to your winter blues if you don’t have proper winter shoes.
Although most of us think we can get by just fine year-round with our regular runners, the truth is we need different features in our shoes when we run in cold weather. So, while your current pair of running shoes will most likely get you from point A to point B this winter, running in shoes designed to stand up to winter conditions will provide some advantages you may not realize you need and will help you have a safer and more enjoyable run.
- Brooks Ghost 10
- Energizing cushion
- Great support
- Salomon Speedcross 4
- Speedcross lug pattern
- Quicklace enclosure
- Altra Lone Peak 3.5
- Air-like toe box
- Great for hiking too
Because we believe having proper shoes is essential for winter running, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten best winter running shoes out there. We looked at the features and ratings for a whole range of shoes and narrowed what we found down to the ten shoes that will provide what you need to make the most of your runs this winter. Have a look through our list and the descriptions we’ve included, and make sure to read through our “Criteria” and “FAQs” sections where we list the criteria we looked for when we put together our list and answer some frequently-asked questions about winter running.
10 Best Winter Running Shoes
1. Brooks Ghost 10
The high-energizing cushioning system in the Brooks Ghost 10 helps your feet from getting fatigued, meaning your feet will feel better and last longer when you’re out running this winter.
Lightweight and Breathable Construction
In addition to energizing your feet, the construction of the Ghost 10 is lightweight and breathable. Your feet won’t tire from the weight, and they’ll stay dry even on long runs.
Cost and Value
The Brooks Ghost 10 falls right in the middle of our price range for winter running shoes. The Brooks name and standard of quality make this shoe well worth the investment.
Adaptable, plush fit
Segmented Crash Pad
BioMoGo DNA midsole
Breathable mesh upper
Heel too soft
Sizing runs large
2. Salomon Speedcross 4
One of the greatest dangers we face when we run in winter is hitting a slick surface and injuring ourselves. The lug pattern on the bottom of the Speedcross 4 will you give you the edge over winter hazards.
The EVA-shaped footbed, molded EVA sock liner, and Sensifit design help give you a custom fit for your foot that will provide the comfort and support you need to get the most out of your winter runs.
Cost and Value
Depending on the style shoe you want, you can snag a pair of the Speedcross 4 trail runners for a great price. The quality and features of this shoe make it a great bargain!
- Quicklace enclosure system
- EVA-shaped footbed
- Lightweight and highly-cushioned design
- Made from recycled content
- 2-year warranty
- Sizes run small
3. Altra Lone Peak 3.5
Having wet feet is bad enough but having feet filled with dirt and painful rocks is miserable and painful. The 4-Point system will keep your shoes free from such distractions during your run.
You're running during the winter but the snow has turned mushy. Don't let it stop you! The drainage holes will keep all water out helping to maintain dryness.
Cost and Value
High priced but well worth it for cold, damp, and wet runs. Also, the special features that help to sustain stability and traction make the cost worth it.
Dual layer EVA
Zero Drop platform
FootShape toe box
Short foot length
Low on ankle
4. Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX
The quicklace system provides lacing that is fast and precise. Your fit will be stable and the adjustment easy. All you have to do is pull the laces and slide the buckle tab down to tighten. What easier prep before your run could you ask for?
The membrane, constructed with GORE-TEX, provides a waterproof barrier. The interior of the shoe will never be breached and you'll have a wet and damp free run.
Cost and Value
The cost varies from mid to high but for this brand, it's well worth it. No other brand can match the protective features that keep your run safe and easy.
Zigzag upper overlays
Contragrip outsole traction
Transitional stability, flexibility
Sizing runs small
5. Adidas Vigor Bounce
The folks at Adidas didn’t decide to name this shoe the “Vigor Bounce” for no reason. It’s designed to provide support and comfort to help your feet stay energized and invigorated during your run.
The Vigor Bounce comes fitted with an ATR outsole that essentially acts like a winter tire for your feet. Its grippy texture will help you maintain control over your winter run.
Cost and Value
This trail runner is the most affordable shoe on our list. Considering all the features Adidas has packed into this shoe at such an affordable price, you have no excuse for not giving it a try.
- Neutral support
- Breathable air mesh uppers
- Padded collar
- Supportive synthetic cage
- Sizes run large
6. Adidas Terrex Agravic
This shoe is made with Gore-Tex, the top name in waterproofing, so you can wear them knowing your feet will stay dry this winter, even when you’re running through snow or mud.
In addition to the protection provided by Gore-Tex, this shoe also utilizes a continental rubber bike tire outsole to not only give you grip but also to protect your feet when you hit tough winter terrain.
Cost and Value
These shoes are on the high end of our price range, but considering they’re made with materials like Gore-Tex, EVA, and continental rubber, they definitely give you a lot of bang for your buck.
- Lug-pattern outsole
- Waterproof construction
- Continental rubber sole
- Abrasion-resistant seams
- Not insulated
- May take a while to break in
7. Hoka One One Speedgoat 2
The outsoles on the Speedgoat 2 have multidirectional 5mm Vibram MegaGrip lugs, so you’ll be able to maintain grip whether you choose to run on the road or on the trail.
The Speedgoat 2 has also been given a wider outsole and toe box. Having a wider platform increases the amount of contact you make with the ground, thereby providing more stability when you’re out running this winter.
Cost and Value
These shoes cost a little more than the average shoe on our list, but Hoka is known for providing high-quality shoes, so they’re well-worth a bigger investment on the front end.
- Vibram MegaGrip outsoles
- Multidirectional lug pattern
- CMEVA foam midsole
- Stability midfoot cage
- Wide toe box
- Poor ventilation
8. Nike Air Zoom Structure 20
The last thing you want to experience during your winter run is fatigue from a heavy shoe. The Air Zoom Structure 20 provides protection and support without weighing you down.
This shoe is built to last. The polyester and synthetic plastic construction combined with a durable rubber outsole will help you get the best of the running trail this winter.
Cost and Value
The various color options give this shoe a wide price range, putting it either in the high or the low end, depending on the scheme you choose. But whether you’re concerned more about look or price, this shoe is a great bargain.
- Dynamic fit
- Flymesh construction for ventilation
- Responsive cushioning
- Honeycomb outsole pattern
- Wide range of color options
- Somewhat stiff
9. Saucony Peregrine 8
There is nothing more distracting or annoying when the upper bunches or creases. ISOFIT technology helps to eliminate that problem by using what is called a “floating support cage” to let supportive elements react to movements of the foot. This will help to reduce blisters, pressure points, and other irritations.
Slippage will not be an issue with this outsole. The PWRTRAC is constructed with a sticky-rubber compound that will give you an amazing grip on all surfaces. Even better, this outsole provides grip when ascending and descending on all kinds of hills and slopes.
Cost and Value
The Peregrine 8 is higher priced but the price is offset by the amazing technology offered in the shoes. Having shoe technology that improves your run, protects your feet, and reduces injury is priceless.
Covers all terrain
Grips slippery surfaces
Thick, cushioning outsole
Appropriate shoelace length
Sizing runs small
10. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus Shield
The unique waffle-pattern outsole on the Pegasus gives you increased traction and provides the grip you need to maintain stability and control when you’re running over slick winter surfaces.
From the seamless notched inner sleeve in the upper, to the full-length cushioned midsole, to the lateral rubber blades on the outsole, every part of this shoe has been designed to give you optimal comfort when you run.
Cost and Value
The Pegasus is more expensive than a lot of the shoes on our list, but because it’s made by Nike, you can rest assured that your investment will reward you with many returns.
- Single-layer mesh upper
- Full-length foam midsole
- Waffle outsole pattern for traction
- Water-repellent finish
- Made from environmentally-preferred rubber
- Colors may vary from online pictures
And with that, we bring our list of the top ten winter running shoes to a close. Now you have a great starting place for picking out a pair of shoes that will help you get the most out of your next winter run. We realize you can run in the cold with any pair of shoes you want, but hopefully, you’ve seen how important the features of the shoes on our list are for helping you stay safe and keeping your feet dry, warm, and protected when you run in the winter.
We all know how harsh the winter elements can be, and the last thing we want to do is risk injuring ourselves by running ill-prepared in wintery conditions. By investing in a pair of shoes designed for winter running, you can give yourself the gift of a safe and dry run and have peace of mind that you’ll be able to tackle the winter terrain without injuring yourself or your feet. We want to be able to finish a run in better shape than we were when we started, and having the right pair of shoes when you run in the winter will go a long way in helping you achieve that goal.
Criteria for Selecting the Best Winter Running Shoes
The most important feature we want from a winter running shoe is traction, the ability to grip the surface we’re running on. The driest, warmest, most supportive shoe won’t ultimately help you run in winter conditions if it isn’t able to stand up to harsh, often slick terrain. So, before you look for any other features in the winter running shoe, make sure the shoe you’re buying has good traction.
Because you’ll be running in them, you don’t need to consider buying crampons or shoe spikes and attaching them to your regular running shoes. You won’t need anything that heavy duty for winter running. You’ll usually be running on sidewalks or roads, so you won’t need to look for shoes with spikes or cleats either. A shoe with soles that have ample grip will be sufficient for giving you the control you need when you’re running on a cold or icy surface. The big name in grip right now is Vibram, so any shoe with those grips is a safe bet, but many shoe manufacturers have their own line of traction grips that will do the job as well. Just make sure your shoes have good grooves or a raised-pattern outsole designed to give you a good hold when you run.
- Traction is the ability to grip the surface.
- Traction must grip all surfaces, especially slick and wet surfaces.
- Ample grip is good enough in winter running.
- Vibrant is a top choice but a grip with grooves and raised-patterns will do good.
You’ll also want to look for shoes that provide good stability when considering which winter running shoes you should buy. Because running in winter conditions carries with it the potential for slipping and/or rolling your foot, you’ll want a shoe that will keep your foot stable. Stability running shoes are designed for runners with a normal arch who want to help prevent mild pronation (a term used to describe how your foot rolls for impact distribution, particularly when you run). They are designed to reinforce the arch and will have features that provide additional support for your foot. The majority of running shoes are designed to provide stability when you run, so it won’t be hard to find a stability shoe for running in winter. If you suffer from overpronation or underpronation (also called ‘supination’), then you may want to look into buying a shoe that offers a higher level of stability. These are called “motion-control shoes,” and while they are often heavier and not as flexible, they will provide more support than the standard stability shoes. These are a good option for runners with flat feet as well.
- Stability is needed to reinforce the arch.
- Higher levels of stability help with overpronation and underpronation.
- Motion control shoes are heavier and not flexible but are the best for pronation issues and flat feet.
In addition to stability, you will want to look for a shoe that provides good support. A shoe that supports your foot will give you a more comfortable run and will help prevent you from experiencing negative effects from running in your feet or back. A shoe with proper support will help keep your foot and ankle from twisting when you run, and because the risk of this twisting increases when you’re running on slick terrain, having a winter running shoe with great support is essential. The two main areas where you’ll want to check for support in your shoes are the midsole and the heel counter. The midsole should be rigid and should not easily twist. You can test your shoe by grabbing it by the ball and the heel and twisting it as though you were trying to wring water out of a cloth. If the shoe twists up and doesn’t resist, then it is not a supportive shoe and isn’t a good option for winter running. Look for a shoe with a rigid, supportive midsole.
The other part of the shoe you will want to check is the heel counter. The heel counter is a small, plastic insert that helps reinforce the shoe’s heel cup. While you can’t see the heel counter, you can test its rigidity by pressing into the heel cup and seeing how much it gives from the pressure. If the heel cup easily folds down and doesn’t resist, then the shoe likely won’t offer the support you need. Look for a shoe with a rigid heel cup/counter to ensure you’re getting the support you need when you run in the winter.
- Supportive shoes give a comfortable run and prevent negative effects such as a foot or ankle twisting.
- The most important support is needed in the midsole, heel counter, and heel cup.
- The midsole should be rigid for optimum support.
Because we’re talking about winter running, we recommend looking for a shoe made from materials that will help keep your feet warm. You don’t need to go to the extreme of looking for shoes lined with fleece or wool, but you will want to look for a shoe that provides some protection from the cold and will help keep your feet from freezing while you run. Look for shoes that provide an inner liner designed to retain some of the warmth from your feet. Your feet will be producing a lot of heat (and sweat) when you run, so you don’t need anything excessive. And because your feet will be sweating, you will want shoes made from materials that are breathable. That may seem counterintuitive, especially since we’re talking about keeping your feet warm, but you don’t want to keep all the heat and moisture your feet produce inside your shoe. Bottom line: a shoe with a heat-retaining liner and breathable construction will help you strike the balance you need between keeping your feet warm and keeping them well-ventilated.
- Choose an inner liner to retain warmth.
- Make sure the shoe is still breathable.
Most of us probably won’t be trying to run through feet of snow, but because winter running often involves wet conditions, you’ll want to look for shoes that are water- and weather-proof. Our best runs can be ruined if we end them in wet feet, so look for shoes that will help keep moisture out. Remember that there is a difference between water-resistant and water-proof shoes. Water-resistant running shoes will be suitable for most road or track running, but if you plan to encounter a lot of snow or puddles, a water-proof shoe will offer better protection and help ensure your feet stay dry throughout your run. Gore-tex offers great protection for your feet from the elements, so look for shoes that utilize it in their construction. Other waterproof materials include: polyurethane (PU), rubber, neoprene, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Just make sure your shoes are also breathable. There’s no sense in spending money to keep moisture out if your shoes are going to trap all the moisture your feet produce inside them.
- There is a difference between waterproof and water resistant.
- Water resistant is best for road or track running.
- Waterproof is best for snow and puddles.
- Polyurethane (PU)
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Finally, you will want to look for a running shoe that is comfortable. Nothing deters our desire to run more than finishing a run with sore feet, so make sure you run in a shoe that is comfortable. Stability, support, warmth—all these features (discussed above) contribute to the comfort of your shoe, so looking for those features in a shoe is a great start. You’ll also want to make sure your shoe fits well on your foot. Running in a shoe that is too small or too large is a guaranteed way to experience discomfort, and not having the right fit compromises the level of support and stability your shoe can provide. Find a shoe with a comfortable, cushioned insole, or consider purchasing insoles to help provide additional comfort. Gel insoles are a great option and help give your foot a custom fit while also absorbing some of the shocks from running that your feet endure. Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra to get a shoe that fits your foot and is comfortable to wear. Taking the time to ensure a comfortable fit will help your feet last longer and will help prevent you from getting injured when you run.
- Stability, support, and warmth contribute to comfort.
- The fit must be right, not too small or too large.
- Cushioned insoles like gel insoles help to reduce pain and shocks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do I really need to invest in a different pair of shoes just for running in winter?
A. As we pointed out above, your regular running shoes will likely get you from point A to point B this winter. But winter running shoes offer a host of features and advantages that other running shoes do not. We listed these above and discussed them there, but in addition to the typical features you look for in a good running shoe, winter running shoes offer better traction, support, warmth, and waterproofing, elements that will greatly benefit you if you’re out running on slick or snowy surfaces. You run a higher risk of getting cold or wet feet, or, even worse, rolling an ankle, during a winter run, so you’ll want to take every possible precaution to avoid those things. Simply put, if you want to run in cold, wet, icy conditions, then you’re going to want shoes that can stand up to the challenges they’ll face in those conditions, and the shoes in the list we’ve provided above will do just that.
Q. What is the safest place to run in winter?
A. Even with the best shoes, there are some areas you’ll want to avoid when you’re running in winter, so try to stick with surfaces that won’t be slick or that have been cleared of snow and ice. If you’re just dying to get outside to run this winter, your safest option is to run on the road. Roads are generally the first surfaces that are salted and cleaned when the snow comes in, so they’ll give you the best chance of avoiding icy or slick snow. Sidewalks are usually a safe route as well, but you’ll want to keep a close eye out for ice]y patches, as you’re likely to miss them until it’s too late. If you’re skipping the roads and sidewalks and opting for a trail run, look for paths that have the least snow and ice. If you have to run through snow, look for soft snow instead of packed snow. It won’t be the easiest run you’ve ever had, but hopefully sticking to soft snow will keep you from slipping and falling. If you want to avoid the elements altogether, then an indoor track or treadmill are great ways to get a winter run in without having to face the winter temperatures and hazards. If you opt for that route, then your regular running shoes will suffice.
Q. Are there other best practices for running in winter?
A. Besides running in a proper pair of shoes, there are several other measures you can take to keep yourself safe when you run this winter. First of all, remember that the sun sets earlier in the winter. If you want to stay safe and reduce your risk of injuring yourself or getting hit by a car, you’ll want to run earlier as well. Running in the daytime is always your best bet, and because there’s less daytime in the winter, you’ll want to make sure you plan your runs so that you finish up while the sun is still out. If you think you’ll still be running after the sun sets, then make sure you were reflective clothing, and consider adding reflectors to your shoes if they don’t already have them. You’ll want to do everything you can to make sure you’re seen, especially if you’re running on the road, so reflectors, and maybe even a headlamp, are must-haves for winter running. Make sure you warm up properly prior to your run. Warming up and stretching are good practices regardless of what weather you’re running in, but running in the cold makes it even more important. You run a higher risk of injuring yourself when you exercise cold muscles, and your muscles will take longer to warm up when it’s cold outside. Make sure you hydrate yourself well before, during, and after your runs. Because we often drink more when we’re hot, we may forget to drink as much when we’re running in the cold. But your body needs to stay hydrated in order to perform as it should, so drinking plenty of water is essential for a good winter run. You’ll want to dress for weather 15 to 20 degrees warmer than the air you’re running in, and it’s best to dress in layers so you can remove clothing in case you get too hot. We’re tempted to bundle up when it’s cold outside, but because you’ll be sweating and producing heat during your run, you’ll be fine wearing less clothing than you would if you were spending a long period of time in the same conditions but weren’t exercising. You should be cool at the start of your run, and your body will adjust and gradually warm up as you continue. Finally, when you’re running in winter, run with your feet closer to the ground than you would in warm weather. Running low will help you reduce the risk of slipping or falling if you hit a patch of snow or ice. Always opt for fresh snow if you’re off the road, as you’re more likely to slip on ice or packed snow.
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