Montana is notorious for dark, cold winters. One of the best ways to fight off the wintertime blues is to get outside and stay active!
We get a lot of questions about the best way to stay warm on wintertime runs. The answer? Layers, layers, layers! Start from the bottom up with a non-cotton comfy sock. Our most popular sock in the winter months is the Balega Blister Resist ¼ sock. From there, a warm tight or pant that is long enough to come over your sock helps keep those ankles from getting chilly. On your upper body, a long sleeve baselayer shirt pairs great with a light wind jacket or insulated jacket, depending on the temperature. With any running or walking apparel, avoid cotton and opt for wool or synthetic materials. If you start getting toasty, just pop that jacket off and tie it around your waist. To keep the hands warm, gloves or mittens are essential. Personally, I love gloves that convert into a mitten for the really chilly days. Finally, don’t forget about your head! A beanie or headband/Buff will work great to keep the heat in.
Anytime I visit my parents back east in the winter, my mom always eagerly gives me new “blinkies.” When I’m home in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I’m usually out on the roads running in the dark. My mom wants me to be seen and be safe, and showers me with all sorts of blinky light and reflective doo-dads. I’ve come to love little blinky lights that can easily fasten to your waistband, a jacket pocket, or bottom of a shirt. I like to couple those blinky lights with a reflective vest that I can toss over any shirt or jacket.
When choosing winter running clothes, keep an eye out for reflective features. There are often reflective logos, seams, or panels built into the clothing to help you be seen. As my mom will tell you, every bit of reflective (or blinky) material matters!
Find Your Way
A simple headlamp is both an excellent way to be seen and an excellent way to see what’s ahead. I’m often on trails and dark side streets, so I prefer the brightest headlamp I can get my hands on. My roommate/runny buddy and I swear by Petzl’s Reactive lighting, which adjusts the amount of light coming out of the headlight based on how dark it is and how far you are looking. These lights offer a no-hassle way of always having the right amount of light. However, these lights are a bit heavier and more expensive. Many people love a lightweight headlamp that offers just enough light, then easily stows away into a pocket for running and walking once the sun is up.
This winter has been a whirlwind of weather! When the snow really sticks, I like to joke that the “Great Missoula Ice Sheet” descends upon the valley. Streets turn to ice skating rinks, and our favorite trails become treacherous luge courses. The best way to navigate these challenges is by using traction devices. A traction device is any kind of metal cleat, spike, or stud that affixes to the bottom of your shoe to bite into the ice and snow to provide extra traction. We have a lot of options in the stores to ensure you have the perfect and amount of grip for the job at hand.
Most importantly, have fun while you’re running or walking this winter! Sometimes getting outside at all is worthy of celebration. I like to use winter as a time to explore different trails I normally wouldn’t visit in the summertime. I also run a bit more on the roads, which lets me explore new areas of Missoula. And of course, after a chilly outing, I recommend a nice mug of hot cocoa to warm you up and get you ready for the rest of your day. See you out there!