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.

What to Consider When Choosing Winter Running Shoes

running shoes
Ben Emminger

Like any piece of winter-ready garb, there are a few features to look for in winter running shoes so you can more easily combat the elements. While running performance and comfort is still key, there are three components to consider when choosing the right snowtime sneakers.

Waterproofing

Winter brings with it a lot of errant, unpleasant weather in the form of slush, rain and snow. To ensure your feet aren’t left soaked by the end of your jog, look for winter running shoes that feature some form of waterproofing across the upper. There are plenty of silhouettes that feature a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane to help your feet stay dry through the conditions. Additionally, gaiter-style liners can be great at keeping snowfall from entering the shoe’s interior around your ankle, closing up the opening for a tighter, next-to-skin fit. While not every product will feature this build, if you’re adamant about training snow-free, it’s a good idea to search for this component.

Grip and Traction

Another feature to think about when choosing winter running shoes is your traction underfoot. Most road running shoes can be fantastic at tackling clean, dry miles but often leave you slipping and sliding when traversing through inclement weather. To help alleviate this kicks designed for winter running implement deeper lugs that allow you to dig into the snow and slush for better grip. These pronounced outsoles are very similar to that of trail running shoes — you can even wear your favorite trail runners for wintertime jaunts, provided they have ample waterproofing and a bit of insulation.

Warmth

Lastly, you want to choose winter running shoes that blend breathability with warmth. Now, you don’t need to go for well-insulated winter boots since you will be moving and working up a sweat, but silhouettes that feature a hearty upper that have some breathable features can be perfect for these needs. Think of it as adding a blanket over top of your seat when lounging on a brisk January afternoon. Let your body heat do most of the heavy lifting, and have your sneakers provide that extra comforting layer for cozy strides ahead.

How We Tested

how we tested winter running shoes
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Across multiple weeks and trailways, I was able to take in some miles in less than desirable weather to get a feel for these top winter running shoes. Combine the brisk temperatures with some rather rainy and snow-filled road conditions, and I was able to get a full scope of the waterproofing features of each silhouette, as well as the grippiness employed underfoot. I also wore these kicks throughout multiple days to test their breathability and warmth. After all, if a sneaker can keep my toes tepid throughout daily wear, they should be able to pair nicely with the rising body heat experienced mid-run.

Now, let’s bundle up and get into these cold weather kicks for extended outdoor training.

Inov-8 Roclite Ultra G 320

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BEST OVERALL WINTER RUNNING SHOE

Inov-8 Roclite Ultra G 320

inov-8.com
$190.00

  • Graphene-infused midsole and Boomerang footbed create a plush cushioning setup

  • Some might prefer a lighter running shoe silhouette

Look, getting out for a run during the winter months can be a hard sell. The last thing you want is to pace through a cold, blustery route and deal with foot pain. Across multiple jogs and jaunts, I was thoroughly impressed by the comfort baked into the all-new Roclite Ultra G 320s from Inov-8. The graphene-infused midsole provided exceptional coziness, along with an added zest of energy return making rushing through those final miles to get back inside much more feasible.

The Roclite Ultra G 320s also carry on the brand’s reputation for durable, grippy traction thanks to the G-Grip graphene rubber outsole and 6mm lugs. I never felt any slippage across the wintery terrain, and the tread pattern easily shed any apparent muck or slush along the way. While I wouldn’t say these shoes are speedsters — the 11.28-ounce frame can feel clunky at faster paces — I am confident in saying any wintertime route is plenty accomplishable when you lace up in these impressive kicks.

Adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro

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BEST UPGRADE WINTER RUNNING SHOE

Adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro

adidas.com
$260.00

  • Bootie style provides excellent coverage to keep snow and debris out

  • Gaiter zipper can be rigid, especially when trying to work with cold hands

If you want full coverage for those particularly blustery days, the Adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro is ready for the winter miles. Featuring a water-repellent bootie design and BOA lacing system, this high-top runner provides excellent traction thanks to the Continental Rubber outsole that’s similar to the grip you’d experience with a brand-new set of all-terrain tires.

Despite the ankle-covering silhouette of these kicks, I found them to be very nimble, due in part to the Boost-cushioned midsole that gives a good mix of cushioning and responsiveness. The BOA lacing makes it easy to find that snug fit, too, but don’t expect to kick these puppies off easily, especially after completing a route in frigid temps. The bootie still has a zippered entry, which I found was somewhat rigid and could be a nuisance if you’re trying to undo the enclosure with frost-riddled digits.

Merrell Moab Flight

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BEST BUDGET WINTER RUNNING SHOE

Merrell Moab Flight

merrell.com
$150.00
$120.00 (20% off)

  • Vibram EcoDura outsole is grippy enough for even the slushiest jaunts

  • Almost too much plush at the collar, which might lead to slippage

Serving as a trail runner by nature, the Moab Flights from Merrell are just as comfortable when the temps drop below 50 degrees. I enjoyed the breathable mesh upper, especially on days that didn’t feature overcast (these aren’t waterproof, so be mindful of your conditions). Additionally, the Vibram EcoStep Recycle outsole is grippy beyond belief — every step was confident, no matter the terrain.

The Moab Flights are a wonderfully comfy shoe, as well — almost too comfy. The collar, for example, is plush, cozy and prime for walking paces, but I did feel a slip or two in security when quickening my strides. For this reason, I recommend employing a heel lock lace system — finally use that extra eyelet — for a better lockdown feel in every step.

Hoka Challenger ATR 6 GTX

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MOST VERSATILE WINTER RUNNING SHOE

Hoka Challenger ATR 6 GTX

hoka.com
$150.00
$119.99 (20% off)

  • Gore-Tex membrane easily repels water and provides a nice mix of warmth and breathability

  • Exposed foam in the midfoot can take a beating, especially in more extreme weather conditions

This versatile silhouette from Hoka is a great option for athletes wanting a mix of trail and road. I admired the cushioning presented in the compression-molded foam midsole and found the Gore-Tex bootie was just the right touch — not too hot, not too breathable. If you’re a fan of the Clifton stable — which we named one of our favorite neutral running shoes — this would be a great companion piece to keep your outdoor training on pace all year.

The lone hiccup I found in the Challenger ATR 6 GTX was in the outsole. The rubber showcases some deep lugs that are plenty grippy, but they aren’t Vibram like other Hoka trail runners, which can lead to some durability issues down the road. Plus, there’s an exposed foam section in the midfoot, which I noticed was getting quite beat up when trekking through washed-out, gravel-ridden intersections.

Brooks Ghost 14 GTX

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BEST WINTER RUNNING SHOE FOR DAILY TRAINING

Brooks Ghost 14 GTX

brooksrunning.com
$160.00

  • DNA LOFT midsole provides the cushioning you’d expect, making this a great bridge between winter and spring running environments

  • Gore-Tex membrane limits breathability to the point that the shoe runs too hot, especially at longer distances

Like the Ghost stable for its neutral, forgiving feel? You’ll love the waterproof addition offered up in the Ghost 14 GTX. Building off the already impressive Ghost foundation and upgrading the upper with a lightweight Gore-Tex Invisible Fit membrane, this is a great silhouette to keep your training on the move throughout the winter months.

There’s no denying the plush underfoot feel in any Ghost sneaker, and this one is no different. I liked the cushioning of the DNA LOFT midsole, and favor this as a daily trainer in less than ideal weather conditions. The Gore-Tex membrane, though, can create a warmer sensation than others, which can lead to unpleasant sweat across your feet. While warmth is ideal in winter training scenarios, these kicks crank the heat up a little too much when you embark on extended jogs.

Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 Runshield

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BEST WINTER RUNNING SHOE FOR TEMPO TRAINING

Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 Runshield

saucony.com
$180.00

  • Improved warmth and insulation doesn’t sacrifice breathability

  • Tread pattern can lead to some slipping when traversing snow-covered corners or roadways

I really enjoyed the original Endorphin Speed 3 for its cozy fit for speed-centric training sessions, and I’m happy to confirm the winterized model fares well in similar conditions. I found that the Runshield upper actually fits a little more snug than its inspiration, eliminating any of the forefoot space issues I felt in the original. Plus, the added warmth was a great perk to have during my winter morning runs, yet I still felt my feet were able to sweat without any moisture buildup.

The SPEEDROLL Technology was also a welcome perk, continuing the Endorphin Speed’s efficiency when training called for higher RPMs. I would caution you to manage your speed when running atop slippery trails, though — the outsole is more aligned to road running, therefore the lugs and tread pattern aren’t ideal for navigating through muck, snow and other conditions found throughout the winter running season.

Altra Lone Peak All-Wthr Low

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BEST ZERO-DROP WINTER RUNNING SHOE

Altra Lone Peak All-Wthr Low

altrarunning.com
$170.00
$136.00 (20% off)

  • Mid-height collar and eVent upper work in tandem to allow for great breathability while keeping the elements out

  • Zero drop style might not be the most comfortable for every athlete

If you want that next-to-ground, natural vibe in every step, perhaps you’d fancy a zero-drop running shoe. While there’s plenty that cater to this aesthetic, in wintertime, there’s no better option than Altra’s Lone Peak All-Wthr Low. I enjoyed the FootShape Fit of these kicks that allowed my toes to splay easily on push-offs, and the balanced cushioning was comfortable enough while still promoting that natural feel.

The Lone Peak All-Wthr Lows also boast Altra’s Trailclaw canted lugs for superior grip, which made trudging through mud and washout much easier. While the zero-drop style can take some getting used to, if you are a follower of this discipline, these sneakers can help keep you on the roads, no matter the forecast this winter.

Salomon Speedcross 6 Gore-Tex

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GRIPPIEST WINTER RUNNING SHOE

Salomon Speedcross 6 Gore-Tex

salomon.com
$160.00

  • Mud Contagrip features deep, intense lugs that provide the confidence you need for traversing snowy roads

  • Lacing system can leave a lot of excess, which needs to be tucked to prevent any tangles

Running through areas that have a lot of slip and slide? The Speedcross 6 GTXs from Salomon are just the right amount of aggressive traction for the job. Durable Mud Contragrip sheds any debris easily, making it great for trudging through snowfall. Plus, the Gore-Tex membrane keeps your feet dry and when accompanied by the anti-debris mesh, proves to be an excellent barrier against the elements.

When running in the Speedcross 6 GTXs, I definitely felt that intense grip underfoot, almost to the level that I was elevated from the ground due to the pronounced tread. This can be a welcome feeling when stepping through snow banks and rain-soaked puddles. I think of these as snow tires for my running needs — similar performance with a little added weight and plenty of dependable grip.

Icebug NewRun BUGrip GTX

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BEST STUDDED WINTER RUNNING SHOE

Icebug NewRun BUGrip GTX

icebug.com
$209.95

  • Steel studs provide excellent traction ideal for running atop icy sidewalks

  • Wider fit may not be appropriate for more narrow-footed athletes

While Salomon might own the title of “grippiest” winter running shoe, even those kicks couldn’t best the icy conditions I found myself in during some more than frigid jaunts. The NewRun BUGrip GTXs from Icebug, though? Well, that’s a snowflake of a different color. Thanks to the steel studs implanted across the rugged BUGrip outsole, I was more than capable of maintaining my form when trudging across ice-covered trails, slippery sidewalks and other terrain. While it does take some getting used to when pacing over normal pavement, I was definitely happy to engage the studs when environments changed for the worst.

I also found the NewRun BUGrip GTXs comfortable and responsive, but will admit that the fit is a bit wide. While I juked this potential dilemma by pairing these running shoes with thicker socks, I can see where the roomier fit could be an issue for some. Still, though, if your routes are typically caked in sheets of ice or other slippery surfaces, I highly recommend this all-terrain trudgers from Icebug.

Asics Novablast 3 TR

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BEST LIGHTWEIGHT WINTER RUNNING SHOE

Asics Novablast 3 TR

asics.com
$145.00

  • FF Blast Plus cushioning provides excellent comfort, perfect for those less intense brisk morning jaunts

  • Not waterproof, which limits its effectiveness in winter running scenarios

Winter running shoes, much like their winter-specific boot cousins, can begin to get heavy thanks to increased tread patterns and additional membranes. The Novablast 3 TRs shed all that poundage for a silhouette that’s easy to pick up and plenty of fun to run in. I thoroughly enjoyed every step atop the durable AHAR outsole and found nothing but plush comfort thanks to the FF Blast Plus cushioning.

As entertaining a ride as they are, however, I would save these Asics runners for winter mornings where the conditions aren’t as strenuous. These sneakers lack any waterproofing agent and the lugs, while grippy, aren’t as deep as others on this list. If you run in an environment that has a lot of snowfall, you might want to forego this pick, but if you think you can manage, you’re in for a featherweight treat.

Nobull Gore-Tex Runner+

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MOST STYLISH WINTER RUNNING SHOE

Nobull Gore-Tex Runner+

nobullproject.com
$199.00

  • Nylon plate provides surprising responsiveness when winter jogs get speedy

  • Traction can be compromised when running on covered routes

Who said winter gear needs to emphasize function over form? I really like the subdued, minimalistic approach that Nobull brings to the Gore-Tex Runner+, giving a similar vibe to some of the brand’s more popular training footwear. Plus, the full-length nylon plate gives this silhouette some impressive energy return, perfect for pushing through the elements and trials that come with colder workouts.

The Gore-Tex membrane provides excellent water resistance as well, which is great when pacing through the slush and rain, but I wouldn’t suggest taking these kicks off road or through any muck. The traction simply isn’t as present as some of the other winter running shoes in this roundup. I’d recommend saving these warm, stylish runners for early morning jogs when the only thing “winter” about the conditions is the temperature.