Cold-Weather Trail Running: How to Keep Your Feet Warm

Unless snow is blocking your door, there's nothing to stop you from running in the fall and winter. But cold-weather running and trail running in wet conditions can leave your feet cold and clammy—not a pleasant feeling. Your body loses a lot of heat through your feet, so keeping them dry and warm on runs is important. Here's how.

Wear the Right Shoes

If you're picking up cold-weather running for the first time, or would like to build upon your existing regimen, consider getting a new pair of shoes. TRAIL RUNNING SHOES with waterproof, breathable technology feature an internal membrane to keep moisture out and help trap warmth, which is essential if you’re running through rain, sleet/snow, or going through puddles on trails. You can also complement your shoes with low-cut ankle gaiters to keep snow and slush from getting in at the top.

Make Sure Your Shoes Fit

Shoes that are too tight will restrict blood circulation, making it harder for your feet to warm up. Visit one of our stores to take advantage of the EMS Foot Guru program, and let our in-store experts know that you're looking for cold-weather running shoes. Bring the socks you intend to wear as they’ll affect the fit of the shoes, or purchase appropriate socks with the shoes. Also keep in mind that your feet tend to swell in warmer weather, and this may not be an issue in the fall or winter.

Wear Warm Running Socks

Dry feet are warm feet, so wear appropriate socks that fit well. Wool and synthetic socks move sweat away from your feet and wool also insulates, even when wet. The fine yarns used in merino wool socks are supersoft, itch-free, and trap heat efficiently. Padded running socks will trap more warmth than thin socks. Avoid cotton socks—they hold sweat and moisture against the skin and sap warmth from your feet.

If your feet tend to be naturally cold or excessively sweaty, layering a thin wool or synthetic liner sock under your running socks enhances moisture management to keep your feet dry. Make sure the socks fit without being constricting, as a tight fit will only make your feet colder. If you’re running in Vibram FiveFingers, SmartWool and Injinji both manufacture toe socks.

Avoid Water

For most trail runners, this is almost impossible. Many trails cross streams and runoff or develop puddles from rain and snow. If possible, switch up your trail to find a location that's drier, and make the extra effort to go over or around puddles. On a lengthy run, you don't want to find yourself ankle-deep in a stream when it's cold, since that's a surefire way to lose your body heat. So stay on dry trails when possible, and consider using a low-cut ankle gaiter for extra protection from puddles and slush.