Men’s Running Outfits for Any Weather (This Is What You Should Wear)

Are you new to running or jogging but not sure what to wear? I’ll will show you what to wear in any weather!

What to Wear Running

“Well… it’s raining out, I guess I’ll run tomorrow.” 

Sound familiar? 

Don’t let “bad” weather stop you from going on your daily run. My cross-country coach used to say, “There’s no bad weather, just bad clothes.”

If you’re healthy and have the right cold-weather gear, you can keep running outside in all but the most extreme winter weather. 

I’ve been a six-day-a-week outdoor runner for the better part of ten years. I’ve logged thousands of miles on desert paths, stony mountain trails, remote dirt roads, and busy city streets.

From blistering 105-degree days to frigid -20-degree polar nights of the far north, while I may not be the fastest runner out there, my main focus is on training consistently, regardless of the weather outside.

It can be confusing for beginning runners (and even for more seasoned athletes) to know what to wear when running outside. In this guide, I’ll share what I’ve learned about how to dress for your next run no matter what mother nature throws at you.

The 20-Degree Rule

My first tip is to use the 20-degree rule. 

As a general guideline, if you’re using Fahrenheit add 20 degrees to the temperature on the thermometer to get an idea of how hot or cold you’ll feel on your run once you’ve warmed up. 

For instance, if the thermometer reads “80℉” it will feel like 100℉ when you’re out distance running. Similarly, if it’s 20℉ outside, it’ll feel like it’s 40℉ once you’ve warmed up.

This rule applies when you’re dry. If it’s wet and windy, it will almost certainly feel colder. Dress accordingly! 

Tips for Buying Running Gear

It’s easy to dress for the weather when you have the right clothing and accessories on hand. Here are a few recommendations for choosing the right running gear for you. 

Buy Performance Fabrics

When you’re buying clothes for running, look for performance fabrics. While a regular cotton t-shirt certainly gets the job done, it won’t be as comfortable as a sweat-wicking performance shirt. 

Inner Linings: To Use or Not to Use

In many, if not most, men’s running shorts and tights you’ll find an inner lining. That means that they can technically be worn as a single layer (i.e. without underwear). Personally, I find it uncomfortable not to have a second layer. 

Opt for Dark Colors with Reflective Accents

While you can wear whatever you want running, I generally like to choose dark clothing with reflective accents (e.g. branding, zippers, stripes, etc.). 

Dark colors hide sweat stains better than lighter colors and, in my opinion, look better than bright colors. However, having a reflective element is especially important if you’re running on the road at night or in low-visibility conditions.

It’s best to wear a reflective vest or harness in especially dark or dangerous conditions. 

Running Shorts or Tights?

For decades there’s been a lively “dispute” in the running community over whether running shorts or tights are better. These days, you can find elite runners in both camps. 

Many runners prefer half tights for sprinting or speed workouts and regular running shorts for distance.

Running outfit warm

When the mercury heads south, most runners opt for running tights, but here the debate continues. 

Many a novice runner has asked, “Should I wear shorts over my running tights?” Generally, they receive the answer to do whatever makes them feel more comfortable.

Man Running Cross Country
Photo by Maridav /

Some guys think that adding an extra layer of fabric is superfluous. Others wouldn’t be caught dead wearing running tights without a pair of shorts overtop. 

Generally, elite runners don’t wear shorts on top of their running tights. If you do forgo shorts, black tights are best, and it’s a good idea to wear a shirt or jacket that’s on the longer side. 

Running Accessories

These days, there are tons of running accessories out there. From running watches to bandanas, water bottles, fanny packs, backpacks, gloves, headlamps, phone-holding armbands, heart rate monitors, and I.D. bracelets — the list goes on. 

While some people “need” music or a podcast to distract them, others, myself included, can’t stand listening to music while running. Take what works for you, and remember that the accessories you prefer to carry might not be right for others.

Personally, the only thing I always have on me when I’m running is my keys. Besides that, I often wear my running watch, and if I’m in a new area I’ll bring my phone.

In inclement weather, I’ll don some cold-weather accessories, and at night I’ll often bring a flashlight or a reflective harness. I never bring water or food, but I hardly ever run farther than 10-12 miles at a time. 

What to Wear Running When It’s Hot Out? (60 degrees and Above)

At 60 degrees and above, wear shorts and a tank top or a tee shirt. Taking off your shirt can also help keep you cool, but beware of sunburns.

Running outfit warm and sunny

Running distance in long basketball shorts isn’t as comfortable as running in shorter shorts made specifically for running. 

Depending on your preference, you could also wear half tights. As I’ve already mentioned, a lot of runners wear half tights for speed workouts and split shorts for distance 

What to Wear Running in Bad Weather? (Above 40 Degrees)

When it’s not super cold but it’s bad weather outside, I tend to wear a running jacket (of course, the more water-resistant the better, as long as it’s still breathable) with a tee shirt underneath. I wear a baseball cap to keep the rain out of my face.

Running outfit warm rainy weather

I usually wear shorts if it’s raining but still warm out. Some guys prefer half tights when running in the rain as they claim it prevents chafing. 

Do your mom a favor, wear a reflective jacket, harness, or vest when running in low-visibility conditions.

What to Wear For Running in the Cold? (General Guidelines)

The three main components to consider when preparing to race or train in the cold are running jackets, running tights, and cold-weather accessories.

When it starts to get cold out, you’ll probably want to switch from shorts and a t-shirt to a running jacket and either running tights or pants. 

I find running tights to be more comfortable than sweatpants or joggers for cold-weather runs. If you do opt for tights, make sure you’re not wearing base-layer tights alone.

Base-layer tights, or long johns, have obviously visible seams around the crotch area and are generally thinner. Running tights, on the other hand, are thicker, and often have pockets, drawstrings, and other added features. 

The running jackets I wear are a thin material with some internal insulation. Some are pullovers, but I prefer having at least a quarter zip, as a zipper functions as a way to regulate warmth. 

Running jackets generally are close-fitting in the arms with thumbholes at the bottom of the sleeves — a feature that helps keep your hands warm. The body of running jackets should also be snug, but not tight. 

Many runners find that they reach for thin running gloves before they feel that they need a hat. When it gets really cold, you need to double up on gloves, hats, and socks to stay warm. I also find a fleece neck warmer to be a useful accessory. 

Runner’s World used to have a “What should I wear?” calculator. You could type in the temperature and weather conditions and it told you what to wear on your run.

It was quite accurate. However, I can’t seem to find it this year. If anyone knows how to access the calculator, please let me know in the comment section. 

The 5 Levels of Layering for Running Outside in the Winter

I run outside year-round, even when it’s very cold. After a while, you’ll get a knack for seeing the temperature and weather conditions and knowing how to dress to stay warm.

However, when you’re new to exercising outside in the cold, it’ll likely take a few years to be able to consistently and accurately refine your intuition for winter running preparation.

To help simplify things, I’ve broken down what to wear in cold weather into five levels — with level five being the most extreme weather.

While I don’t consciously think of these levels when I’m dressing to go on a run, I think that they’re helpful to explain how to layer for the cold.  

Level 1 

At and below about 45°F, it’s not quite cold enough that I need a hat or gloves, but it still feels chilly.

Running outfit when its cold outside

Consequently, this is when I begin to break out my running tights and jackets.

  • Running tights 
  • T-shirt 
  • Running jacket 

At this level, you could probably still wear shorts and a t-shirt, and that’s ok. Unless it’s really wet outside, you might get cold, but you’ll probably be fine. 

Level 2

When it gets a little colder, or windier, or if you just want a little more added warmth, throw on a long-sleeve compression shirt underneath your jacket and grab a pair of gloves.

Running outfit cold outside

Also, consider fleece-lined running tights.

  • Running tights 
  • Long-sleeve compression shirt 
  • Running jacket 
  • Running gloves 

While you might want to bring along a hat, at this point, I still find that I overheat if I wear one. 

Level 3 

Once the temperature dips a bit below freezing, dressing for the weather becomes increasingly important to avoid getting frostbite or hypothermia. Pay special attention to your hands and ears, as I’ve found that these areas are the first to get nipped by the cold. 

  • Running tights 
  • Long-sleeve compression shirt 
  • T-shirt 
  • Running jacket 
  • Running gloves 
  • Running beanie OR fleece neck warmer

I’d recommend choosing a compression shirt or baselayer shirt specifically made for cold weather conditions. 

In my experience, a beanie and a fleece neck warmer perform about the same in keeping your ears warm. Earmuffs are another option. 

Level 4 

When it’s around 20°F outside, you need to get even more serious about dressing warmly.

Running outfit cold weather

This is when I swap out my running gloves for mittens made specifically for winter sports. I’ll also, add another layer up top and wear both a hat and a neck warmer.

  • Fleece-lined running tights or fleece-lined running pants 
  • Two long-sleeve compression shirts
  • Long-sleeve waffle henley 
  • Running jacket 
  • Mittens 
  • Running beanie (or two)
  • Fleece neck warmer 

Even if roads, sidewalks, and trails are icy you can still get a run in. Just strap on a pair of microspikes on top of your sneakers. They provide needed traction to keep you on your feet, however, avoid doing speed training on icy ground. 

Level 5 

You’ll hardly see anyone else running outside when it’s below 0°F. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to stay inside and run on a treadmill. Treadmills are boring! Besides, getting moving outside in the winter is good for your mental health. 

If you’re in good health and dressed appropriately, in my opinion, you can safely run outside down to about -20°F or so. 

When I’m running in these kinds of extreme temperatures I try to stay close to places that I know I could duck into to warm up if I needed to.

In other words, I don’t go on remote roads or trails when it’s this cold. Don’t run in deep snow and avoid getting wet. If you were to get stranded outside in this kind of weather you’re in big trouble, especially if you’ve been sweating. 

Running outfit winter

I don’t run when it’s about -25°F with windchill. If it’s warmer but there’s a blizzard, I’ll also skip my run. Use your best judgment and be careful.

  • Running tights 
  • Fleece-lined running pants 
  • Two long-sleeve compression shirts
  • Running jacket 
  • Long-sleeve waffle henley OR a second running jacket
  • Mittens 
  • Running gloves (sometimes)
  • Two beanies 
  • Fleece neck gaiter 
  • Two pairs of wool socks (sometimes)

Wearing everything on this list in temperatures around -20°F, I’ve actually gotten too warm. That can be a concern as you don’t want to be wet with sweat in arctic weather. Again, take caution running when it’s extremely cold outside.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to questions about running that people are asking on the web.

What Should I Wear Running in Cold Weather?

In cold weather wear a running jacket, running tights or pants, gloves, and a hat. You may also find micro spikes and a neck warmer useful in cold, icy weather. 

How Cold Is Too Cold To Run?

It depends on your health and your experience with cold weather. It also depends on how wet it is outside, the wind chill, and other factors. I have second thoughts when it’s about -20°F or below, but anything below -30°F is definitely too cold. 

What Should I Wear Running in Hot Weather?

I’d recommend wearing running shorts with a tank top or a performance t-shirt. Wear what makes you feel the most comfortable. 

What Should I Wear Running in the Rain?

When it’s raining outside I wear a baseball hat, a running jacket over a t-shirt, and shorts. If visibility is low, make sure to wear something reflective. 

Should I Go Running if I Have a Cold?

Use your best judgment. Generally, if you have respiratory symptoms you probably want to stay inside. However, if you just have a sore throat and the sniffles, I’d say it’s ok to go running anyway. 

Should I Wear Shorts Over Running Tights?

Do what makes you feel comfortable. Shorts on top is more modest, but many runners think the extra layer isn’t necessary. However, If you’re going to the gym or stopping by the store afterward, wear shorts on top. 

Time To Run

Running outside is a great inexpensive way to stay fit and enjoy nature. By dressing appropriately for the weather, you’ll be more comfortable on your runs.

Questions? Comments? Leave them below!

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