Winter running can be beautiful. Picture running through a forest of ice-laced trees or down the road through a winter wonderland. But winter running can also be a challenge. As the snow melts into slush, running through the streets can quickly go from a short three miles to an hour-long obstacle course. No matter what form of liquid or solid the water is in, if you want to run in the winter you need some kicks that are going to protect your feet from the ice, snow and rain.
Most waterproof sneakers are coated with some form of DWR, or durable water repellent, at the factory, which makes them hydrophobic, or water-resistant. But it’s not always 100% perfect, and DWR wears off over time and use. Sometimes this process can make the shoes less breathable, so each year brands try to solve the mystery of how to make breathable shoes that still repel all things damp. Trail running shoes tend to be your best bet, simply because they’re more likely to protect you against the elements as you’re running through forests, around lakes and over mountains — but they aren’t always suited to pavement-focused mileage. To help you stay protected and keep up with your winter training plan regardless of the conditions, we picked five running shoes you can use both on the trail and on the road, so your feet stay dry through the muddy patches and the accidental puddle on the street corner.
Adidas Ultraboost All Terrain
Boost foam isn’t just sequestered to summer running shoes and casual kicks. The Ultraboost now features a water-repellent coating and an ankle splash guard. The Primeknit upper is easy to get wet, so it was surprising to run through the aftermath of a hot day post-snowstorm melt and have dry socks afterward. The Continental rubber outsole lets you stop, pivot and go in one fluid motion without being too grippy or too loose. Word to the wise: Don’t let the high cut deceive you. You should still wear socks with this model.
Weight: 12 oz.
Waterproof: ultra-thin film on Primeknit Upper
Merrell MQM Flex Gore-Tex
As the lead sponsor of Tough Mudder races, Merrell knows how to make shoes that will take you through a football field of mud, over a massive wall and in and out of an ice bath. The brand has worked hard to perfect shoes that help you succeed and avoid ending the challenge with chunks of dirt in your shoes — whatever it takes to get that orange headband. The MQM Flex runners are lined with a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, yet still provide enough breathability to let moisture and heat escape.
Weight: 1 pound 7 oz.
Waterproof: Gore-Tex Membrane
New Balance 880v7 GTX
The NB 880v7 GTX, like the MQM Flex, come complete with a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane. That means you’ll still have a breathable knit upper while maintaining the weatherproofing. Plus, the two layers of foam on the sole give you the cushioned ride you’d expect from New Balance. The no-sew overlays mean less stitching, thus fewer holes for water to seep inside. Take these out long runs in the harshest environments.
Weight: 11 oz.
Waterproof: Upper with Gore-tex
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34 Shield
These wind-proof, waterproof dark kicks really showed their true colors during a turf sprint workout where it started raining, then hailing and then finally snowing. My feet weren’t soaking wet or cold when I finally got back indoors. The deep navy or all-black colors also help to disguise wet spots, so your shoes don’t look destroyed after one run.
Weight: 10 oz.
Waterproof: Flymesh upper with DWR finish
On Running Cloudventure
Instead of treating the fabric with something that could eventually wash or wear off, Swiss brand On Running chose to do something decidedly more Swiss and create an upper that’s stretchy, breathable and made of water- and wind-proof material. The rubber sole has four different types of lugs to keep you stable on trail, grass, track and wherever else your run may take you.
Weight: 10.1 oz
Waterproof: On membrane is 100% water-proof