The best winter running kit for women

Running tights

Cold days mean cold legs. While some hardy souls opt for shorts come rain, shine, snow or blizzard, those who prefer to stay a bit more covered up will find tights are essential winter gear.

The DoUnlimited tights (left, £35, from are a great buy at a very reasonable price – the branding down the side is obviously a feature but given it says "Do Running" you could view it as an instruction rather than a promotion. They fit really well, don't ride up at the ankle or down at the waist, and are easy to take off as they have a calf zip. Repeated washing doesn't affect their elasticity – they stay super-snug and supportive.

Pearl Izumi are a brand who can do no wrong when it comes to my running wardrobe. These leggings (centre, £39.99 from are made of their thermal fabric (much lighter than that sounds) and great for really cold days – though you won't overheat in them either. They too have a good zip for ease of putting on and taking off, and an internal key pocket. They've also got a bit of reflective strip on the side for night running – and (oh, vanity) – they are a really flattering cut too.

Finally if you are after something a bit more high-end, and prefer to keep your branding almost invisible, then try out HPE (Human Performance Engineering). These plain black leggings (right, £65 from offer a great fit for those who want compression – though given they don't have a zip at the bottom, I recommend you sit down before attempting to take them off ...

Base layers

Merino is a brilliant fabric for base layers – and you can find a roundup of many of the best offerings here – but some people do still find even the most super-soft merino itchy. Here are two alternatives. The PureLime base layer (left, £24.99, from is made from extremely soft Tactel with excellent wicking properties. Its seamless construction means it's one of the most comfortable base layers I've ever tried, and the stretchy fit is flattering – and also means it's great for pretty much any form of exercise.

Bamboo is also a great non-allergenic alternative to wool, with moisture-wicking and antibacterial properties. The base layer from BAM (right, £30, from is super-soft and has a nice plain design – it's great for running but actually also great for just wearing under your normal wardrobe on cold days.

High visibility

Winter running is often running in the dark, so remember to stay nice and visible for safety. This Adidas jacket (left, £64.99 from is a superb buy: that it's pretty visible you can see for yourselves, but it also offers great warmth and breathability – I've worn it in the daytime for really cold runs of 10-miles-plus and it's never got too hot. It's reflective, of course, but the piping also glows in the dark, a feature that provides much entertainment for small children. The pockets are nicely designed – the chest one is perfect for those who need to keep their phone on them or run with an iPod. It's not a super-tight fit but it doesn't ride up or cause irritation at all, even on longer runs – unlike others I've tried.

For those who can't cope with luminous yellow, the bright pink New Balance jacket (right, £17.99 from is a great budget buy. It's a much more lightweight option than the winter-proof Adidas one, so it'll see you through to spring and even chilly and rainy summer evenings. It has a slim, but slightly boxy fit, a pocket for essentials and reflective piping.

Finally, your accessories can also offer a more low-key opportunity for some high-vis action. These gloves from Brooks (centre, £12.99 from are well worth the price. I find running gloves can become irritating and overly warm very quickly, but these are lightweight and moisture-wicking, and so light that even if you have to take them off, they will fit into a pocket or even a waistband without annoying you.

When it's really cold, extremities can suffer. Blood flowing away from them to the limbs doing the work can result in freezing digits and even ears. Keep yours warm with this reflective fleece headband from Hilly (centre, £10.99 from – it'll wick away that sweat, too.

Running tops

This zip-top from North Face (left, £50 from has become the unexpected heroine of my winter running wardrobe. It's extremely comfortable, moisture-wicking and provides warmth without overheating – the mesh inserts seem to really do their stuff. It's a close enough fit to sit nicely when running (with flatlocked seams to stop any chafing) but you can also fit in a layer or two underneath should the weather require. The sleeves have thumb loops – the only ones I've ever tried that don't immediately become irritating when you run (why do companies not realise they need to lengthen sleeves when adding thumb loops?) Nice colours, too.

For really chilly days, you can take your layering to the max with this lovely striped top from Wild Stripes Base Layers (middle, £39.99 from The company also makes base layers but this is great for a top layer. Again, it has comfortable thumb loops to keep your wrists and hands – well, part of them – warm, and a zip-neck for extra venting if you get hot. This is an extremely warm top, so definitely one for cold days. The design, though, is nice enough for everyday wear as well as running so you'll get your money's worth.

Finally, my favourite Pearl Izumi comes up trumps again with this mid-weight running top (right, £64.99 from It's soft enough to be worn on its own, or you can layer something thin underneath. It also seems to repel rain – it's not billed as a waterproof but I wore it through a unexpected downpour and it seemed to dry very quickly. There's a zippered back pocket (not enough companies do zippered pockets) and, of course, one at the neck for ventilation if you get warm.

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