As a California-born runner who just moved to Chicago, the prospect of my new city’s infamous winters made me a little wary—and somewhat nervous about how I’d get in at least some miles without resorting to the treadmill.
I knew I was in for quite the change: When the temperature dropped in Northern California—50 degrees is the average temp for a winter run there—I would only need a base layer and a windbreaker on top and leggings on the bottom to jog comfortably. Moving to a place that was hit by the polar vortex last year, I was pretty sure that my running gear strategy would need to evolve.
While the cold has been a shock, I’ve learned that the right gear can make all the difference.
“For winter running, the jacket is probably one of the most important things to invest in,” Jenelle Deatherage, P.T., a physical therapist at the University of Wisconsin Health Sports Rehabilitation Clinic and U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, tells SELF. For one, keeping the core of your body warm plays a big part in how cold you feel—something you’d definitely want to focus on if you want your winter runs to feel more comfortable.
As we’ve reported, finding running gear (like running jackets) that is moisture wicking, water resistant, and flexible for movement while providing a good degree of warmth is important. Deatherage agrees: “You have to find that balance between having just enough to keep you at the optimal temperature where you’re not overheating and your muscles are staying warm, while keeping your core at a reasonable temperature.”
To prepare for this climate, I asked runners from around the country to share their recommendations for running jackets that would keep me warm in the Windy City. Here are 13 stay-warm-not-sweaty picks I discovered.
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