Gear What You Need to Know About Winter Running Shoes

What You Need to Know About Winter Running Shoes


Shoes can transform your running enjoyment. In the wintertime, running outdoors, the rules behind sneakers all must change.

“Anyone running outside right now, I’d highly recommend trail shoes,” says Kelly Savage, one of the experts at Calgary’s world famous Strides running store. “They’re versatile and have extra traction so they’re good in the snow and muck, but also can be worn in other seasons, on the trail.”

Most of the major shoe brands make great winter running shoes and several of them offer different varieties. New Balance in particular makes different models. There’s the 880V11 GTX and the Fresh Foam X More Trail v3, pictured below. They differ in lug weight, price and materials. Some are winterized updates of familiar models while others are custom shoes built for Canadian winters.

This winter, we’ve loved the pretty ASICS GEL-NIMBUS 21v Winterized, whose lugs are pictured below, which are sturdy as a Mack Truck, though none of these shoes are entirely waterproof. Additionally, HOKA makes the SpeedGoat GTX Spike and Saucony has the Peregrine Ice+. The Saucony model is extremely popular—my winter running shoe, pictured at the very top—and Saucony has been ahead of the curve with cold-weather sneakers. Meanwhile, many, but not all, of the winter shoes are Gore-tex, so decide if your feet get cold and what sort of socks you want to wear. Of course, you’re going to have to adjust times for speed work and even long runs in winter shoes, as these are heavier and not designed for quickness, but stability.

At Strides, their winter shoes average around $200, but the investment is sound, says Savage, because you can keep your winter shoes beyond a single season. In a sense, they’re the anti-carbon-plated sneakers. They’re purposefully built to last.

“Some trail shoes, like the Salomon, have spikes, which is a winter version of their usual shoe, excellent on ice, but all trail shoes are good in tough conditions because of the extra grippiness from the lugs,” Savage told iRun.

There’s an alternative for cost-conscious runners looking to start 2024 without buying new shoes: spikes and wool socks. At Runners Shop in Toronto, their shoe expert Ben D. Nelson offered this advice. “There are two easy ways to winterize your favourite running shoes—you can wear wool or waterproof socks and you can add traction aids,” the footwear expert said. The cushioned Feetures Merino socks he recommends are $30; while waterproof socks from Dexshell will set you back $55.

At Runners Shop, they sell Nordic Grip traction aids that can snap easily, according to Nelson, on your regular running shoes. They cost $44.99, pictured below.

“Wool is a magical natural fibre that can keep your feet warm and comfortable even when it’s wet,” continues Nelson of the Runners Shop. “If you want to avoid moisture all together, there are performance waterproof socks available.
It’s hard to run outdoors in the wintertime for all the usual reasons, chiefly that it’s cold and uncomfortable. But the proper footwear—and sock game—will help your training remain on track for your spring races (and we all know you can’t replicate race conditions on a treadmill). Temperature, precipitation and personal taste will dictate your winter shoes needs. In Vancouver, a runner might need the Gore-tex for the wet winter while in Calgary trail shoes might be the better option, because it’s not as cold. In Toronto, I’m a baby and get cold hands and feet, so I want all the warmth I can find.

“A lot of people wear regular road shoes in the winter and you can survive, but for safety reasons I think it’s better to switch to a trail shoe,” concludes Savage. “I wouldn’t say any one of these shoes is far superior to any of the others, but winter shoes are worth the investment. I don’t want to see people fall and injure themselves.”

Is there a winter shoe or a winter sock you love? Let us know. Meanwhile, if you find a running glove that works, no holding back: share the information!!