Running in cold weather will be more effective if you wear the right shoes. This guide reveals what the best winter running shoes are and what features to look for.
Shoes for cold weather and snow are the in-thing these days, so it’s not surprising that a lot of products have appeared in stores. If you want the best winter running shoes however, you need to look beyond the aesthetics and learn what features are necessary so you can run comfortably regardless of the weather.
What Features to Look for?
When it comes to these shoes, the emphasis is on energy return. Basically what happens is as your feet squeeze the foam on your shoes, it absorbs energy, effectively slowing you down. What separates top of the line cold weather running shoes from the mediocre ones is the springiness of the foam.
When shopping for running shoes, the rule is the firmer and thinner the foam is the more efficient it is. Conversely, thick and soft foam saps more energy, although they’re more comfortable. To make it simple, winter running shoes need to balance efficiency and comfort. While runners want to get maximum speed and energy, it cannot come at the expense of comfort, so that’s what shoe companies are constantly working on.
Energy efficiency is important, but it’s not the only thing you need to consider:
- Weatherproofing technology: cold weather can get ugly quickly so it’s best to equip yourself with weatherproof shoes. These shoes are either water resistant or waterproof, there’s a difference. Water resistant running shoes protect you against wind and light rain, while waterproof is exactly that, water proof. Given a choice between the two it’s always best to go with waterproof shoes.
- Visibility: if you’re the type who likes to run at night or early morning, shoe visibility will be a concern. To protect yourself from hazards when running in low lit areas, get running shoes that are reflective or glow in the dark. Many popular brands have this feature so you won’t have problems choosing one.
- Traction: traction is essential if you don’t want to slip while running on winter trails. Look for shoes designed for rain, snow and cold weather, and make sure that they’re durable. Generally speaking you’ll want shoes with nonslip rubber outsoles that grip wet trails or surfaces.
- Customer reviews: these days it’s very easy for a company to make claims about their running shoes, that it can do or that, but you can’t swallow all the hype. It’s better to read reviews and learn what people say about the shoes, and depending on the feedback you’ll have an idea if the shoes are worth buying or not.
- Research: because of competition, companies are always developing new technologies to separate themselves from the competition. However, don’t believe every new breakthrough being claimed, as it’s important you do some research too.
Now that you have an idea of what features to look for, it’s time to look at some of the running shoes that people are wearing for the winter. Here’s a sampling:
Brooks Glycerin 11
The Glycerin 11 (for Men’s Click Here – both Amazon links, check testimonials too) is efficient and sturdy, and it doesn’t have the sluggish feel that comes with other trainers. The energy return is pretty good and the chassis has a really solid feel. The overlays on the shoes keep it secure, and the outsole has twice as much rubber as other shoes.
Bottom line, this shoes can withstand heavy usage and is ideal for cold weather. It’s a bit heavy, but not to the point it’s a burden on your feet.
The Fellraiser (Amazon) is one of the most versatile running shoes available, as they’re designed for steeps, mud, gravel, snow and mud. For all its versatility, the shoes are light, and with its overlays you have protection when crossing foot plants and running downhill.
The lugs are sticky, ideal for use on loose and rugged terrain, and you need not worry about tripping due to its low heel. To top it all off, the Fellraiser is comfortable and flexible.
As an alternative you can also try the very popular Salomon Speedcross 3 running shoe that performs great on trail and rough terrain.
Comparable to the best Gore Tex running shoes available today, the FluidFlex is most suitable for dry terrain. These are as much cold weather running shoes as they are utility footwear for different occasions. The FluidFlex does a decent job on slush, mud and other surfaces, but it’s really on dry surfaces that it excels.
The FluidFlex is recognizable for its foamy midsole and the lugs, which are recessed. The shoes are smooth and it’s one of the lightest winter shoes available at 7.6 ounces.
Saucony Kinvara TR2
The TR2 was designed expressly for running, and you can tell this is the case by just looking at the design. The Saucony Kinvara TR2 is notable for its narrow, low and thin style, and it’s most effective when running down flats and stepping on complex trails. The Saucony is a significant upgrade from its predecessor, and it feels more comfortable when you run downhill with it.
The protection level isn’t as high as other running shoes, but there’s a rock plate that will keep you from getting bruised. The TR2 by and large, provides the right traction and protection for different kinds of terrain.
Mizuno Wave Sayonara
If you’re into speed training then the Sayonara should fit the bill. It’s quick, low and light, which is what you need in speed training shoes, and it’s also good for tempo runs and sprints. The heel is short and the midfoot is secure, and its energy efficiency is one of the best among all running shoes today.
The underfoot for the Sayonara is springy and protects your feet from shock, although a bit more support will be needed for long distance runners.
In the end, only you can decide what the best winter running shoes are, but to make the right decision you need to know what the essentials are. Armed with this information you can feel confident the next time you go shopping for winter shoes be it in a retail store or online.