The Best Thermal Running Gear: 2023

Expert Advice on Running Clothing,Autumn & Winter Running Advice
The Best Thermal Running Gear: 2023

As a runner, what do you do when it gets very cold? There are many factors to consider, but one thing is certain: a good thermal layer is an absolute MUST HAVE for any outdoor activity. Forget about the weather and focus on your running. 4 reasons why a thermal layer will be your best ally this season:

    Constructed from warmer fabrics to keep in heat, these pieces are still very breathable and moisture-wicking. Excellent performace when layering up with plenty of options of lightness and warmth.
    Thanks to their intelligent ventilation zones and quick-drying technology, they protect you both from overheating and from cold weather. Can be used as a mid-layer or top-layer. Some tops also have mitts built in to the sleeves.
    Yarns such as merino wool manage moisture and keep you dry. They are designed to be form-fitting and stretchy, enabling to give you the freedom to move comfortably.
    Good quality thermal gear should definitely long outlive your running shoes. As it wicks the moisture away quickly it also dries really fast so you can wear it, wash it and it will be dry to wear the next day.

Base Layers / Wool Base-Layers / Thermal Tops / Jackets / Leggings / Thermal Hats & Gloves

Men's Ronhill Tech Merino Half Zip Top


Worn as the very first layer against your skin, a base layer has great moisture-wicking properties and odour control – nice! The worst thing is when it's cold and windy outside and your top is soaked in sweat… a good base layer prevents that from happening. It also regulates the temperature – keeps you warm but without overheating.

Shop Running Base Layers

Men's Odlo Blackcomb Half-Zip Baselayer

Men's Helly Hansen Lifa Active Baselayer

Women's Ronhill Tech Afterhours Top

Women's Odlo Seamless Baselayer


There are many base layers made with wool – very effective on colder days or nights when you're preparing for your run. Usually the top combines wool with another more technical fabric, for better moisture management. With excellent technical fabrics, you don't have to worry about sweating or overheating – a good quality wool base layer is thin, light, with quick-dry properties. Wool is a great fabric for rainy and cold days, because even if it gets wet, you can stay active with comfort and stay warm. It should also last a few seasons, so it's a good investment for the future!

Men's Helly Hansen Lifa Merino HZ Baselayer

Men's Ronhill Tech Merino Half-Zip Top

Men's Icebreaker 175 Half Zip Merino Baselayer

Women's Helly Hansen Lifa Merino Baselayer

Women's Ronhill Tech Merino Half-Zip Top

Women's Icebreaker 125 ZoneKnit Merino Baselayer

Thermal Running Tops

Thermal Running Tops

Once you have a baselayer you can layer up with another top – a midlayer. How much warmth you need from a top of course depends on how much you feel the cold, but it will also be influenced by what time of day you are going for your run and where you are running. If you run in the early morning or late evening you will obviously need to wear thermals more than if you always run at midday. Likewise if you are running in the hills you will also need a warmer top. Thermal fabrics have become lighter and lighter while still retaining that all important warmth factor so it doesn't and shouldn't feel bulky.

Shop Thermal Running Tops

Men's Ronhill Core Half-Zip Top

Men's Crewroom The H20 Hoodie

Women's Ronhill Core Half-Zip Top

Women's Odlo Blackcomb Half-Zip Baselayer

Extra features

One of the great things about some of the most recent thermals is the number of extra things that come on the tops. Many of the thermals now come with flat-locked seams to add extra comfort and prevent chafing. There are now a number of thermal tops with pockets. The other great thing is having a thermal top that has 'mitts' or some sort of cover for your hands. Most running jackets will have some reflective on them, but some of the thermal tops have this as well, so if you are running without your jacket you will still be seen.

Men's Janji Thermal Insulated Jacket


Always remember the wind-chill factor. Even if it isn't raining, it can be important to wear a suitable jacket or a gilet, as well as a thermal top. One of the great advantages of running like this is that you just don't feel nearly so bundled up as you do in a jacket. I always remember when they first appeared on the scene, getting one and feeling it was so extravagant having it as well as a jacket. Then I wore it almost all winter and my jacket was only worn in the rain!

Of course, a jacket is also useful, so check out some of the running jackets. They are divided up into windproof and waterproof. Another great option, if it is not a dry cold day is a thermal top with some wind blocking material added in. Unless it is really cold you will probably be fine just with the one top on.

Shop All Running Jackets & Gilets

Men's Janji Thermal Insulated Jacket

Men's Ronhill Tech Gore-Tex Windstopper Jacket

Men's On Weather Vest

Women's Odlo Zeroweight Insulator Jacket

Women's OMM Kamleika Jacket

Women's On Weather Vest

Women's Janji Transit Tech Pants


It is of course very important to make sure your legs stay warm. I generally find I need a thermal top before I need to start wearing thermal tights, but again if you are in the hills or when it gets colder you will definitely need warm legs. Here are some of this year's newest thermal tights. They all have a pocket with a zip for keys or a gel. They also have at least some reflective on for better visibility in those dark evenings or early mornings.

Shop All Running Leggings & Tights / Shop All Running Trousers

Men's Ronhill Tech Revive Stretch Tights

Men's Odlo Zeroweight Pants

Men's Odlo Element Warm Tights
£50.00 £43.00

Women's Ronhill Tech Winter Tights

Women's Ronhill Tech X Tights

Women's Janji Transit Tech Pants

Ciele Beanie


Hats and gloves are of course also essential for running in the cold. Every year more and more companies use recycled material in their products. Some of the hats and gloves feature a percentage of wool. If you don't like wearing a hat, how about a merino buff to keep you warm? Or a thermal headband to keep your ears warm and toasty? Remember, there's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!

Shop All Running Hats and Gloves

Odlo Revelstoke PW Gloves

Ciele CR3 Beanie

Odlo Revelstoke Performance Wool Headband

Ronhill Prism Gloves

Ronhill Bobble Hat

So if you usually just go to the gym in the winter because you really feel the cold, why not get a couple of thermal pieces of clothing? Try running outside on those clear, crisp autumn and winter days – soon you'll wonder why you even bothered with your gym membership!

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