Run for the Journey

Run for the Journey

Why it Pays to Layer Up in Winter

As a man who’d experienced his fair share of inclement temperatures, the great Ranulph Fiennes once said: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” And he’s right: get your winter clothing choices right and you can run happy, even in the most extreme weather conditions.

It can be a tricky decision-making process to know what to wear in the winter: the sun might be shining outside but the temperature might be hovering around zero. Equally, it could be chucking it down with rain and milder than a Dutch cheese. So how do you get it right?

Marlow Jacket and Barnes II Beanie

One thing’s for sure, with the ability of the British weather to change dramatically from day to day, you will need a technical ‘layering system’ that wicks away sweat and allows you to run comfortably in a range of temperatures and unpredictable conditions.

Why layer? Firstly, two to three layers of technical running clothing traps pockets of body heat between them to insulate your body, unlike a single thicker and heavier layer. Providing the fabrics are correct, these layers also transport sweat and moisture away from the skin, allowing vapour to escape on the outside. Don’t be wearing that baggy cotton t-shirt you got for free at the race you can’t remember: this will trap sweat, get heavy and leave you feeling cold.


Toasty Merino Bundle

Our Toasty Merino bundle 

The beauty of a carefully thought through layering system is that you should feel only slightly chilly in the early minutes of your run before you’re properly warmed-up, then you can remove layers to avoid overheating. Your outfit should comprise the following:

  • A lightweight base layer or compression top (to insulate and wick away moisture).
  • A looser-fitting insulating long-sleeved running top, to trap a layer of warm air and to continue transporting sweat vapour to the outside of your layering system.
  • running jacket or gilet (also known as an ‘outer shell’) to shield you from the wind and the rain, while letting moisture and vapour escape the layering system, helping you to stay drier and comfier for longer.

Start with a our Malvern Base Layer made from 100% Italian merino wool, perfect for warmth and wicking away sweat. Put a Cambrian Running T-Shirt over the top, and depending on how cold it is, finish off your ensemble with either a Marlow Running Jacket or a Sheen Gilet. Depending on the temperature, you might also want to add technical running tights (Windsor Running Leggings) or compression tights under your running shorts. In especially cold conditions, add gloves and a cap (to shield the face from rain) or a beanie/headband (in chilly and windy weather).

Malvern ridge

Layered up to tackle the Malvern Ridge on a bright winter's day

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David Castle

Editorial Director, Men's Running magazine