Winter poses enough challenges for runners. Between the frigid temps, variable weather and short days, just mustering up the will to step foot outdoors can cause even the most motivated runner to think twice — or retreat to the hamster wheel known as the treadmill. At the same time there’s also a refreshing lively feeling one gets when forgoing climate control in favor of braving the elements. The sense of pride and knowing nod from each runner you pass solidifies the notion: I’m a real runner.

But while mental fortitude may get you out the door, it won’t keep you warm and dry. Only the right winter running gear can do that. We're talking jackets, hats, gloves, tights and, perhaps most important, shoes.

Two things make a shoe more suitable for winter verses summer running: grip and waterproofing. Most slips, trips and falls in the winter are due to poor grip. Most road running shoes have awful grip on snow, while winter-specific ones boast grippier soles. Trail running shoes also embrace traction, with strategically placed lugs digging into snow for better footing. Waterproofing, on the other hand, is less about safety and more about comfort. Consistently having to dodge slush and water puddles like landmines can get old fast.

To help make your winter runs safer and more comfortable, we’ve compiled a list of the best winter running shoes. So next time mother nature tries to derail your run, you can say, “not this time.”

— Online running coach Cory Smith contributed to this article.


Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 Shield

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Best Overall

Exhaustive testing of the Air Zoom Pegasus 37 earlier this year solidified its status as one of the best running shoes available. No surprise, then, that its winterized sibling leads this roundup. Like the base model, this one features a springy Air Zoom unit in the forefoot for a foot-propelling energy return. But the Shield version also prioritizes the two key winter running traits mentioned above. With textures inspired by winter tires, the outsoles grip the road while shedding water. Meanwhile, a half-length DWR-treated shroud covers most of the laces, keeping the forefoot dry without sacrificing breathability or becoming too bulky. The result is a shoe that's light enough to remain speedy but tough enough for rain and snow.

Type: Road
Weight: 10oz
Drop: 10mm
Waterproof: Nike Shield
Grip: Medium (best for partially snow covered and wet road/concrete)

Price: $130

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UA HOVR Phantom 2 ColdGear Reactor

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Best for Cold Feet

Spun off one of Under Armour’s most comfortable road kicks, the HOVR Phantom 2, the ColdGear Reactor is a top-notch running shoe wrapped in a performance-oriented winter jacket. The water-repellant upper keeps your feet dry while adaptive insulation turns the heat up and down based on activity and a breathable sockliner provides an additional buffer against the cold. Underfoot, HOVR foam eases the impact of every footstrike while the outsole features a knobby texture for exceptional traction on wet and dry surfaces. And this shoe pairs with UA's MapMyRun app to track your metrics, too. Pro tip: all the insulation makes them run small so consider going up half a size.

Type: Road
Weight: 11.54 oz
Drop: 9mm
Waterproof: UA Storm technology
Grip: Medium (best for partially snow covered and wet road/concrete)

Price: $170

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Altra Lone Peak 4 RSM

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Best Bargain

This shoe’s for all the zero-drop and wide toe-box fanatics who love rain, snow and mud: hence the name. Popular with the “natural” run mindset crowd, the Lone Peak 4 RSM features a waterproof eVent upper with hook-and-loop tabs for attaching strapless gaiters when you need added protection against deep snow. Despite the aggressive multi-directional outsole ride, quality on bare concrete remains rather smooth, making these a great winter mixed road conditions running shoe. Bonus: as the cushioning starts to break down, they make for fantastic summer hiking shoes. And the discounted price just can't be beat.

Type: Trail
Weight: 10.9oz
Drop: 0mm
Waterproof: eVent Fabrics
Grip: High (best for fully and partially snow and ice covered)

Price: $150 $105

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Brooks Ghost 13 GTX

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Best for Rear Foot Strikers

This waterproof version of one of Brooks's most popular running shoes is a classic everyday neutral trainer. (Hint: the GTX in the name indicates it’s lined with Gore-Tex, the industry-leading waterproof-breathable membrane.) Better suited for wet winter days over snow, the Ghost 13 GTX extends the brand's softest foam, DNA LOFT, through the midsole to ease the transfer of energy from heel to toe. Forefoot strikers might want to look elsewhere, as the steep 12mm drop works best with rear foot strikers.

Type: Road
Weight: 10.9oz
Drop: 12mm
Waterproof: GORE-TEX
Grip: Low (best for wet road/concrete)

Price: $160

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Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 GTX

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Best Cushioned Shoe

When it comes to ultra-plush cushioning, nobody does it better than Hoka, and no trail running shoe in Hoka’s lineup offers more cushioning than the best-selling Speedgoat. Named after the notorious ultra-runner Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer, these Gore-Tex-lined cushioned monsters offer superb traction and grip via the Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole with 5mm lugs, without feeling overbearing and rough on uncovered road and concrete.

Type: Trail
Weight: 12.2oz
Drop: 4mm
Waterproof: GORE-TEX
Grip: High (best for fully and partially snow and ice covered)

Price: $160

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Inov-8 Terraultra G 270

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Best for Speed Demons

While not explicitly designed for winter, this zero-drop shoe from UK-based Inov-8 is equipped to tackle all sorts of conditions and trails thanks to its lugged-up, graphene-enhanced outsole. Rubber overlays on the upper help shed water, while PowerFlow Max foam provides a measure of comfort underfoot. A great option for those who value speed over warmth, it's the lightest one in this guide, but it's not particularly waterproof or insulated.

Type: Trail
Weight: 9oz
Drop: 0mm
Waterproof: none
Grip: High (best for fully and partially snow and ice covered)

Price: $160

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Asics GT-1000 9 G-TX

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Best Stability Shoe

Runners who need stability have very few options when it comes to waterproof shoes. In fact, the Asics GT-1000 9 G-TX is one of the only waterproof stability shoes on the market. Stomp in as many puddles as you want while the GORE-TEX upper keeps your feet nice and dry. As with most supportive shoes, they run a tad firm, so cushion addicts should look elsewhere.

Type: Road
Weight: 10.6oz
Drop: 8mm
Waterproof: GORE-TEX
Grip: Low (best for wet road/concrete)

Price: $120

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