This year has not exactly been a typical Maine winter, especially after our record 70 degree Christmas Day. Today we received a small taste of winter with morning temps of 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) with a wind chill of 12 degrees. Finally a chance to wear some winter gear without fear of over-heating. I don’t always get this right, but today I had the perfect combination of gear that prevented me from being too cold, too hot or chafed at the end of this 15 mile jaunt through our neighborhood (lots of loops today in Evergreen Cemetery to protect from the wind). To quote Goldilocks it was “Just Right!”
From the inside out, here was my gear for the day:
- ICEBREAKER Antomica Briefs: These have been a revelation for running. Previously I had been using synthetic compression shorts from Nike and Under Armor. They were good, but chafing was still an issue for longer runs. The Icebreaker briefs are 100% merino wool (not itchy at all); they have kept me dry down there and I have had zero chafing in those unmentionable parts! FYI: they run small, so be sure to order 1 or 2 sizes up.
2. Mizuno Breath Thermo Layered Tights: I bought these last year at Fleet Feet in Portland. They are synthetic (nowadays I’d probably get wool tights), but they have a great feel. I have worn these in temps as low as 10 below zero (F) and my legs have never felt cold. An added bonus is the the compression feel of these tights that seem to give my legs an added boost in those
hellbacious later miles. They require more washing than wool due to odor, but I’m sure to baby them by washing in cold water only and never put them in the dryer. These have held up well.
3. PEP Shevlin + Running Shirt: I reviewed this shirt and company back in October. All I can say is “AWESOME!” This is the perfect wool base layer. Its water wicking is amazing and the shirt’s durability has been off the charts. Also, ZERO nipple chafing! Not sure if the ladies out there have this issue, but it can be excruciating, especially that first trip under the shower after the run. I almost could have went with this as my only layer under my jacket, but I was feeling a bit wimpy for the first sub 20 degree run of the month.
4. Darn Tough Socks: Like the PEP shirt, Darn Tough Socks can’t be beat. My Adidas Ultra Boosts are wonderful running shoes, but the mesh top provided virtually no warmth. Not a problem with Darn Toughs even if I manage to trek through a puddle one mile into a double digit run. For winter runs I prefer the crew socks with light cushion in order to avoid chilly ankles.
5. IBEX Stretch Merino Glove Liners: I have used these for every run in November and December in temperatures ranging from today’s 20 degrees F (windchill of 12) up to 50 degrees. They have been terrific. My hands have been dry and warm without another glove on top. Today I did use the “hobo” glove top from the PEP shirt and they both held up well after the initial chilly fingers during the first mile.
6. IBEX Indie Skimmer Hat: For outer layers, IBEX seems to be the winner for providing the most warmth. This hat is like a nuclear power plant on my head. In fact, I revert to my SMARTWOOL hat for temps above freezing because the IBEX wool is so warm. For today’s run this was ideal though. Never had to shed it and despite being soaked with sweat my head was warm from start to finish.
7. SAUCONY Run Strong Sportop: I wore another layer above my base PEP layer mainly because I wanted coverage around my neck. Like IBEX’s wool, SAUCONY’s synthetic fabric seems to be the best. It has a soft feel and a comfortable fit. Last winter, this was my usual base layer, but chafing was the issue as was the case with all other synthetics I wore. This shirt performs well by itself on warmer days (45-55) and I like the quarter zip for venting if I get overheated.
8. ASICS Lined Winter Running Jacket: I’ll have to check on the model, but the Asics jacket I have was a wonderful purchase. I bought it last year on clearance at Sports Authority. The jacket features side pockets and a very handy breast pocket where I store my phone with headphones coming out. The warmth of this pocket is great because I have been finding that my Iphone 6 will shut down at the slightest sense of low temperature (very frustrating when using Runkeeper to track the run). It is lined with a waffled liner that dries out quickly after the run. Additionally the extra long cut and sleeves with attached “hobo” gloves help to provide a very protective outer shell. My jacket has weathered snow, sleet, hail, and low temps like a champ! If I was a Mail Carrier, I’d wear this jacket.
9. Adidas Ultra Boost Shoes: I wear these no matter what the weather, but I thought I’d include them here. Will do a more thorough review at some time, but my third pair of Ultra Boosts this year continue to impress.
A fun part of running is the gear. One thing about winter running is that there is a lot more gear that is required, but it is fun to search out the best in that quest for the perfect run.
See you on the road!