It’s that time of year again where the temperature drops and the snow begins to fall. For runners, that means it’s time to bundle up despite getting all hot and sweaty. It’s a confusing time of year and the question of how much padding you should add to stay safe, but not overdo it, is always present. That very question can be applied quite directly to the feet and which shoes are best for winter running. Finding the perfect shoe for the winter season can be difficult.

There’s a fine line that you must reach as a runner in the winter when it comes to bundling up. You don’t want too much cushion as you can get overheated and your run gets bogged down pretty quickly. On the other side of the coin, there’s the issue of not wearing quite enough. If you’re underdressed, then this is going to be one chilly exercise. With the right pair of winter running shoes, you’ll be properly protected from the elements, but still able to withstand any terrain.

So, which winter running shoes are the best for your feet? We’ve compiled a list of our nine favorite pairs of winter running shoes. Each one on this list is specially designed for thermal protection that keeps your feet warm but doesn’t trap the heat. You’re not sacrificing any traction or terrain protection with any of these shoes, simply protecting your feet from the cold. We’ve tested each of these shoes out so that we can guarantee their effectiveness. Here are our nine favorite winter running shoes for this upcoming season.

Best Winter Sneakers

1. Altra Lone Peak 4 Low RSM Trail Running Shoe

Altra Lone Peak 4 Low RSM Winter Running Shoes

This shoe has everything a winter runner could hope for. It offers incredible traction in even the roughest conditions with its Trailclaw technology. The toe and heel are raised the same amount from the ground to promote low-impact running which protects your feet and shins. In terms of sizing, Altra nailed this one. The shoes fit perfectly to the indicated size so you’re not left swimming in your shoe – though some issues with width have arisen.

For winter running, these shoes are a fantastic choice. They support your shoe better than most with their level adjustment to help prevent impact pains. The rigid bottom is perfect for any snowy condition as the traction starts from your toe and runs down through your heel for full protection. When testing these shoes, we noticed the interior was warm, yet breathable so your feet wouldn’t be trapped in their sweat. These shoes are fantastic for winter conditions.

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2. Salomon Sense Ride 3 GTX Trail Running Shoe

Salomon Sense Ride 3 GTX Winter Running Shoes

If you’re looking for one of the best winter weather protection technologies available, without being able to tell that your shoe is rated for protection, then the Salomon Sense Ride 3 GTX is the perfect shoe for you. Their shining feature is the mesh material they use as the body of the shoe. It’s integrated with the Salomon Gore-Tex Invisible Fit technology so that your foot is properly weatherproofed without the tacky look of a weatherproof shoe.

With studs almost as long as cleats, these shoes are a fantastic option for any winter runners. You won’t have to worry about slipping on a patch of snow ever again as the studs pierce the obstacle and grip into the surface of the snow. This traction method ensures you won’t be slipping any time soon. We love these shoes and would recommend them to anyone looking for a durable and stylish winter running shoe for the coming seasons.

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3. Brooks Ghost 13 GTX Road Running Shoe

Brooks Ghost 13 GTX Winter Running Shoes

Much like the Salomon, the Brooks Ghost 13 GTX implement Gore-Tex technology for a fashionable, weatherproof upper fit. Your feet won’t be subject to the elements with these shoes as the mesh casing will protect you from rain, puddles, and snow alike. Our favorite feature of these shoes is the newly extended cushion which provides support to the arch as well as the heel and toe of older models. This cushioning seems to be most user’s favorite feature of the shoe.

While the bottom might not be quite as slip-resistant as the Salomon, these shoes do still offer fantastic slip-resistance and a sturdy hold in snowy conditions. You won’t be as secure as other models, but you’re still guaranteed a sturdy run. We love the Brooks Ghost 13 GTX for their lightweight, waterproof design which is where they shine. Offering a secure, fashionable shoe that’s perfect for winter running is what Brooks Running does best.

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4. HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4 GTX Trail Running Shoe

HOKA ONE OSpeedgoat 4 GTX Winter Running Shoes

Another Gore-Tex user, the HOKA ONE ONE makes fantastic use out of every square inch of shoe they offer. Weather-resistant and waterproof, the upper section of this shoe is sure to keep your feet dry no matter how many puddles you splash through on your run. The real magic is in the sole of the shoe, however, as they offer a useful feature for every section of the foot. You’ll find one of the best-supporting shoes available in this product.

The midsole features a lightweight foam for a comfortable and responsive run while the wider forefoot creates more control and stability for the runner. The zonal rubber placements add another layer of protection and stability for the foot while running. The HOKA ONE ONE has pulled out all of the stops to make one of the best all-around running shoes we’ve ever seen. The support they offer makes this a great fit for any season, not just winter.

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5. Inov-8 ROCLITE G 315 GTX Trail Running Shoe

Inov 8 Roclite G 315 GTX Trail Shoe

At this point, it might just be easier to mention when a winter running shoe doesn’t include Gore-Tex as this product once again does for ample winter protection. However, the main difference between this shoe and the HOKA ONE ONE is where they’ve placed their design emphasis. While the HOKA might’ve been focused more on a comfortable fit, these shoes are better suited for traction and rocky terrain – something that translates well into a winter shoe.

The rigid bottoms of these shoes are perfect for slip resistance and snowy terrain. They also offer fantastic breathability so that your feet can stay warm in the cold conditions, but won’t easily overheat. We did notice, after quite a bit of testing, that the interior on one of the shoes began to tear away from the shoe wall. This didn’t cause any performance or protection issues, but it was surprising to see so early in the shoe life.

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6. Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX Trail Running Shoe

Salomon-Speedcross 5 GTX Winter Running Shoes

Easily the strongest grip on our list, Salomon returns with their Speedcross 5 design. The aggressive Contragrip TA sole is specifically designed to offer traction in the least stable conditions. Mud, water, and soft snow don’t stand a chance against these studs. Provide yourself the stability and protection you need to make the most out of this winter running season. Never slip on a sheet of snow or puddle of slush again with the Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX.

They don’t sacrifice anything to offer you a complete, slip-free shoe either. Many other products seem to emphasize one feature, losing quality in another section. This shoe has made everything their priority with the adjustable lace fit which forms the shoe to your foot. You can get the perfect fit every time with this shoe. One issue we had with this shoe was the lack of breathability. Sweat easily built up with this product and your feet got hot quick.

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7. Altra King MT2 Trail Running Shoe

Altra King MT2 Winter Running Shoes

There is one key difference between the two Altra products on our list and it’s found in this shoe specifically. Both shoes include studs for ample traction on any surface, both shoes create a wide control for the runner. The difference is the midsole cushioning in this product. Now, deciding which shoe is better is entirely up to you. Some feet respond better to the balanced cushioning of the Lone Peak, others prefer the midsole support of the King MT2.

We found both to be quite useful for different reasons. In the case of the midsole cushioning of the King MT2, there was a better response and a more thorough impact resistance. This works better for foot-heavy runners who tend to slam down with their feet. The only issue we had with this shoe was the placement of the strap which has been raised higher on the foot from previous designs. This shoe places the strap right in the crease of your foot which can be uncomfortable.

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8. Saucony Peregrine 10 Trail Running Shoe

Saucony Peregrine 10 Winter Running Shoes

Not only are the aggressive lugs on this shoe large and well-suited for deeper snow sheets, but they’re made out of PWRTRAC tracky rubber so that you’re well protected against slipping. When you’re out running, you want to ensure that you’re wearing a shoe that can protect you from the elements. This is the perfect shoe for you as your feet won’t feel a drop of water. Should the snow slip out from under you, you’ll be able to recover quickly and the fabric will stand strong.

When we stress-tested this shoe to see how it fared with slipping and tearing, it wouldn’t budge. Where many other shoes failed, the Saucony Peregrine 10 stood firm. The PWRRUN cushioning is perfect for impact protection when running downhill as you won’t have to deal with the full force of the stomp against your shins. Strong on the bottoms, strong against weather, strong against impact. These shoes are durable and fantastic for winter running.

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9. La Sportiva Bushido II Trail Running Shoe

La Sportiva Bushido II Winter Running Shoes

Last but certainly not least is the La Sportiva Bushido II. This shoe takes an interesting and unique stab at offering stud-less traction for all-terrain running. They use a special rubber that offers ample traction on most surfaces. We will say that some traction is lost when going up against snow sheets with these shoes, but on most other surfaces, you’ll be amply protected from slipping and falling, especially when the shoe has direct contact with the ground.

The heel is the most exciting part of this shoe as it is raised to provide both comfort and response when running. The way that it wraps around your heel to offer a sense of structure allows runners to push off and take away with this shoe. There are lugs present on the heel which do assist with all-terrain running. Waterproof and weather-resistant, these shoes are a fantastic way to keep on running well into the winter season.

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How to Choose the Best Running Shoes for Winter

These are the main feature that we considered and tested the shoes on our list for. Each item on our list excels in these categories and are perfect for any winter runner. Whenever you’re shopping for quality winter running shoes, these are the main features you should consider before settling on a pair of sneakers.

Traction

Whether it’s just recently rained or the snow has turned to slush, having quality traction to the road is important. Shoes with poor traction will leave you susceptible to slipping and you become one quick turn away from some pretty painful scrapes. Quality winter running shoes should be able to withstand a solid layer of snow to prevent these tumbles.

Many quality winter running shoes come equipped with the same technology used in snowshoes to help prevent this slipping. The bottom cross-stitching allows the shoes to avoid becoming slippery and helps to push the snow as if it were the regular concrete. Don’t let slush get in the way of a nice winter run, buy shoes that come with a traction guarantee – that’s what they’re made for.

Waterproof

Along with the snow and ice comes the need for a nice waterproof layer. Without this, you could find yourself catching some pretty nasty colds as your shoes get soggy and wet. If your winter running shoes aren’t waterproof, then you’re leaving yourself open to the elements and even the smallest puddle can ruin the rest of your run as you’re dealing with the soggy nature of a wet shoe.

Another issue with shoes that aren’t waterproof – less of a health risk and more of an unfortunate side effect of water – is the smell of a soggy shoe. Shoes that hold water are more likely to build up mold and can lead to some pretty gross smells. Make sure that your winter shoes are waterproof to avoid the inevitable build-up of bad smells. You’ll be running through a lot of snow and slush.

Fit and Comfort

Just because you’re buying a pair of shoes that can withstand the elements doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort and fit. You might find the perfect winter running shoe that can find traction on black ice, is completely water repellent, and perfect for winter conditions. However, if it doesn’t support your foot or fit your style, your running experience will still be ruined.

Don’t compromise just because a shoe is perfect for the snow. There are plenty of options available and you’re sure to find one that works in snowy conditions, but feels great on your feet. Fit and comfort are just as important as any other feature of a winter running shoe. Blisters can be bad and if your shoe doesn’t fit properly, you’ll be suffering from them quite often.

Frequently Asked Questions

There can be a lot of confusion about what makes a great winter running shoe, so we wanted to clear up any questions that you may have. Here are some of the web’s most common questions regarding finding a quality winter running shoe.

How Cold is Too Cold to Run?

We’ve all heard the warning of going outside will cause you to catch a cold. While there is certainly some truth behind that, many experts say running in the cold can be a good thing. The lower temperatures could be a good thing for your immune system. The more time you spend outside running – while properly bundled up – the more resilient your immune system could become. It is important to continue dressing appropriately for the cold temperatures.

Do exercise caution should caution be warranted. If you have asthma or other breathing problems, then running out in the cold could still pose a health risk for you. The cold air makes breathing difficult, even for runners without breathing problems. So, should the temperatures start to drop, perhaps decreasing the time out running should be on your radar. When temperatures drop below 0, that’s when you should consider doing some indoor activities.

Are Waterproof Running Shoes Worth it?

If you don’t like colds, soggy feet, or stinky shoes, then yes waterproof running shoes are very much worth it. Waterproof running shoes are more than just a nice thing to have, they could protect you from some pretty bad cold or even the flu. When water gets into your shoes early in on a run, your feet are left to soak in the cold water for however long you have left running. This can lead to sickness and a couple of days off from your running schedule.

Is Running in Cold Harder?

Running in the cold does require much more from your system than in the heat. While you might not be sweating as much, your body is working quite hard to accommodate for the lack of air that you’re receiving. Cold air is harsh air and it can be quite difficult to swallow, especially when you’re already out of breath from the run. Because of this, your respiratory system has to double down on providing your body with air and you can find yourself breathing pretty heavy, soon after your run has started.

Is Running in Cold Bad for Your Lungs?

Cold air is known to irritate and dry out the passageways that lead to your lungs, making it more difficult to swallow the air that you’re breathing. Your upper airways tend to narrow when inhaling cold air and the moisture layer in your lungs evaporates faster than it can replenish itself. This doesn’t necessarily harm your lungs, but it can lead to some pretty difficult running conditions and an irritated respiratory system.

Running in the cold doesn’t lead to lifelong breathing problems, but it can be quite an issue at the moment as it makes breathing difficult. If you’re going to start running as the temperature drops, be safe and take the necessary precautions. If you have breathing problems, take the additional steps to make the most out of your run.