Winter running in the Northern Michigan outdoors is invigorating, but the cold temperatures and icy terrain can be dangerous. The right balance of warm and breathable layers are key to staying comfortable and dry. Before you hit the snowy trails, make sure you’re prepared with winter running essentials.

To help us find the right apparel and gear, we stopped by Running Fit on Front Street in downtown Traverse City to see what the experts recommend.

5 Tips for Winter Running Gear

  1. Lose the cotton. Cotton soaks up sweat rather than helping it evaporate, which can cause dampness. Keep your core warm and dry with synthetic or wool clothing that will wick away moisture.
  2. Protect your neck! It’s easy to forget about covering this area. A neck gaiter keeps your neck warm and can be pulled up over your chin and mouth.
  3. Stay hydrated. Screw and flip-top water bottles are less likely to freeze shut than those with mouthpieces.
  4. Layer up. Wear wind/water-resistant pants over your running tights to hold in heat. The same goes for your core. Wear a form-fitting wool or synthetic base layer, a looser mid-layer and a water-resistant jacket. You can always remove a layer if you get too hot.
  5. Have a Plan B. Take a cell phone in case the weather conditions deteriorate and have a shorter alternate route home.

Northern Michigan Winter Running Essentials

1. Yaxtrax Run

Instead of getting shoes just for winter, run in shoes you’re already comfortable in. There’s a reason you bought them in the first place. Yaxtrax Run covers your shoe and allows you to run on packed snow and ice.

2. Brooks’ Cascadia Trail-Running Shoe

If you do get new kicks, the Cascadia trail running shoe by Brooks will help keep you stable on tricky terrain.

3. Smartwool Socks

Mesh ventilation and merino wool provide temperature and moisture regulation to help keep your feet warm and dry.

4. Women’s Isotherm Jacket

It’s windproof, water-resistant, reflective and breathable. Everything you need in a winter running jacket.

5. Men’s Isotherm Jacket

Again, it’s everything you need to stay warm.

6. Nike Dri-FIT Gloves & Headband

The sweat-wicking fabric and mesh panels give you ultimate comfort and breathability.

7.Nathan StrobeLight, Nathan Streak Vest, Nathan LightBender & Nathan Nebula Fire Headlamp

The Nathan StrobeLlight is a lightweight and waterproof strobe with 100 plus hours of illumination. Attach it anywhere on your clothing. The Streak Vest offers 1200-foot visibility, 360-degree reflectivity, attachment points for LEDs and an adjustable fit. The LightBender is a comfortable, weather-resistant LED armband. The Nebula Fire Runner’s Headlamp is rechargeable and designed specifically for runners’ needs.

Interested in other winter sports? Check out these Northern Michigan Winter Fat Tire Biking Trails & Races.

More Northern Michigan Outdoors

Photo(s) by Carly Simpson