The 7 Best Winter Running Shoes of 2024 (2024)

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"We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them." Ralph Waldo Emerson's words are a perfect philosophy for thinking about winter running. Winter presents the runner with seemingly endless surfaces: snow, ice, slush, mud, frozen mud, wet pavement, pavement lightly covered in snow, or pavement packed with snow. The variations can be mind-boggling and can change every day. To run well on them, you need a capable winter running shoe.

Remember to start by thinking about what conditions you'll encounter most often. Many of these running shoes are available with or without Gore-Tex, so consider whether you need waterproofing too (more on that below). You'll also want to check the traction features such as lugs and find a heel-toe drop you already like.

Table of contents

  • Our Picks

  • Final Verdict

  • Product Selection

  • How We Tested

  • What to Look For

  • FAQ

  • Why Trust TripSavvy

Best Overall

Asics Women's Gel-Kayano 28

The 7 Best Winter Running Shoes of 2024 (1)

Our Ratings

  • Cushioning

    4/5

  • Responsiveness

    5/5

  • Fit

    5/5

  • Value

    4/5

  • Blister Protection

    5/5

One thing that marathon training through multiple winters has taught us is you don't always need a waterproof shoe, even way up in New York and Vermont, where winter is the real deal. Waterproofing can sometimes have the opposite of its intended effect if your feet heat up and start to sweat, and trail-grade traction can be overkill for dry pavement. That's why, even in winter, we'll often opt for a "regular" sneaker, like the Kayano, for its support and overall durable build (our tester put over 300 miles on a previous pair).

With nearly 30 years behind it, Asics' Gel-Kayano is an icon of a running shoe. No, this model doesn't have waterproofing, though that makes it a good choice for runners who live in places with milder winters, or those whose feet get hot. (And remember, waterproofing isn't a must for a winter running shoe.) It does have serious reflectivity though, which is important during a season that forces 9-to-5ers to get their miles in before sunrise or after sunset. This shoe has solid rear-foot support for additional stability on unpredictable terrain, and unlike many modern road running shoes that have exposed EVA in their outsoles, the Kayano's is plenty durable and grippy enough to handle light winter weather.

We're fans of minimalist, fast shoes and neutral shoes too, but some runs call for something with a little more support. The Kayano 28 has it, specifically in the heel, which is stiff but not uncomfortable. This is helpful for uneven winter surfaces. These shoes are for fair-weather winter runners who typically run on roads and sidewalks. The only real winter feature is the upper's reflective detailing, which is great for people who find themselves doing most of their running in the dark. There's no waterproofing, but many runners don't actually need it, even in the winter, unless they're headed out regardless of conditions.

There is some included pronation adjustment in this shoe for those who overpronate. It's pretty light and our tester didn't notice it much, if at all, on runs, but something to note for runners who specifically don't want a shoe with a feature like this. While the outsole isn't made for winter conditions or even dirt roads, Our tester found it very durable and quite grippy, even without lugs. For us, that makes it a good shoe for winter running and one that'll work nicely in the summer, too.

Weight: 10.8 ounces (306 grams) | Drop: 10 millimeters | Cushioning: Maximum | Waterproofing: None

Best Budget

Merrell Moab Flight

The 7 Best Winter Running Shoes of 2024 (2)

Our Ratings

  • Fit

    4/5

  • Upper Comfort

    5/5

  • Cushioning

    3.5/5

  • Responsiveness

    5/5

  • Weatherproofing

    5/5

What We Like

  • Versatile

  • Solid grip

  • No break-in period

What We Don't Like

  • No waterproofing

If you're looking for a winter running shoe on a budget, the best option is to opt for a trail runner that has relatively shallow lugs and enough protection to handle the varying surfaces the season can throw at you. Merrell's Moab provides just that. Its 3-millimeter lugs are suitable for wintery roads and moderate trails alike, and its comfortable, responsive construction has made it a fast favorite among runners. One tester called out the size of the lugs, noting they were enough to feel confident on slick surfaces, but not have annoying snow clumping.

It doesn't come with a waterproof membrane—Gore-Tex liners make shoes expensive—but you can easily get away without that feature if your runs are shorter and on somewhat clean surfaces. If that's not the case, it's worth spending more on a winter running shoe with full features for the season. Still, these shoes held up decently in snowy conditions, according to our testers. "It's a tall order to grip onto the sidewalk when there's a few inches of fresh snow in the way, but these shoes do it and do it well," our tester noted. They're also surprisingly water resistant. One tester took these kicks in up to 4 inches of snow, with more falling, and had totally dry feet.

The sneakers felt comfortable right out of the box and featured some springy cushioning. "It has a propulsive effect and is lightweight, but my feet still feel protected from the ground beneath," one tester noted. One minor issue? "The heel is a tad loose," our tester said. "However, there wasn't any noticeable slipping or rubbing when I ran in them, so I think it's just more that it feels wrong since I'm not used to it."

Weight: 17 ounces (460 grams) | Drop: 10 millimeters | Cushioning: Medium | Waterproofing: None

Best for Snow

Adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro Trail Running Shoes

The 7 Best Winter Running Shoes of 2024 (3)

Our Ratings

  • Fit

    4.2/5

  • Upper Comfort

    4/5

  • Cushioning

    3.5/5

  • Responsiveness

    4/5

  • Weatherproofing

    5/5

What We Like

  • Full gaiter offers extra coverage

  • Boa dial lets you customize the fit

  • Midsole provides great cushion

What We Don't Like

  • Heel chassis could be stiffer

It's officially the new age of running shoes. Carbon footplates. Tire companies creating rubber soles. And newfangled lacing systems, like the Boa technology used on Adidas' high-end beefy winter running kicks. Another new add-on? Built-in gaiters. For running in anything more than a few inches of snow, gaiters are a must. You can buy aftermarket gaiters, but Adidas opted to build one right into the Terrex Agravic Tech Pro. The material is water repellant, not waterproof (more on that in a bit), which is totally adequate for most running and makes the shoe more breathable. The Boa fit system lets you adjust the tension on the fly without unzipping the gaiter and potentially letting snow inside to your socks.

Beyond that, the Terrex Agravic Tech Pro also packs the company's springy Boost midsole foam, which makes for a comfy ride even in cold temperatures that typically dampen midsole rebound. Beneath that is a grippy Continental (as in the automobile tire maker) rubber outsole equipped with 4-millimeter lugs that are shallow enough for taking on snow-covered roads as well as trails.

If you live anywhere with ice and snow on the ground for weeks or months at a time, these are the shoes for you. Our tester took the Continental tire soles on varying running surfaces and through up to 8 inches of fresh snow and over ice. The shoe had virtually no slipping or sliding despite the slick conditions. "But what impressed me most about the Agravic Tech Pros was the resistance to water," our tester said. "Many times while running I deliberately went puddle-hopping to see if liquid could penetrate the upper portion of the shoe or leak through the ankle cuffs. No dice. My feet stayed totally warm and dry."

Our one qualm with these shoes is they do feel clunky and are not made for speed of any sort. But if you're using them for their intended purpose (on ice or in deep snow), speed probably doesn't matter.

Weight: 15 ounces (425 grams) | Drop: Not listed | Cushioning: Medium | Waterproofing: Water repellant

Best for Ice

Inov-8 Oroc Ultra 290 Running Shoes

The 7 Best Winter Running Shoes of 2024 (4)

Our Ratings

  • Fit

    4.5/5

  • Upper Comfort

    4/5

  • Cushioning

    3.5/5

  • Responsiveness

    4.5/5

  • Weatherproofing

    4.8/5

What We Like

  • Excellent non-slip system

  • Lightweight

  • Also great on wet, mushy surfaces

What We Don't Like

  • Not suitable for roads

Inov-8 made the Oroc Ultra 290 for one purpose: grip. The brand's Twin Spike tech positions two manganese studs on a series of 5-millimeter, U-shaped outsole lugs. They're spiky enough to grip ice and provide solid traction on frozen ground and in the soft and squishy stuff, too. This running shoe isn't waterproof—consider buying an aftermarket gaiter for extra protection—but its abrasion-resistant upper won't absorb moisture. The spikes don't play nicely with asphalt, so consider these shoes for true winter conditions only.

Our tester took Inov-8's Twin Spike tech on icy and snowy surfaces in Colorado as well as some muddy conditions after some serious rains on trails in Ventura County, California. These shoes do what they say they will: They stick and grip on some nasty trail and surface conditions. We put these as the best for traction on ice because of the protruding metal spikes. And, don't get us wrong, they performed very well on the ice. But we wouldn't limit these shoes to just icy conditions. We're also thinking about the trail runner in the Pacific Northwest dealing with consistent slop and mud from winter rains.

These kicks are more for the narrow- or normal-footed, to be sure. "As someone with wide feet, they weren't the best fit for me," one tester said. "But I still appreciate how they handle and they're my go-to shoes when the rare Southern California storm does roll through."

Weight: 10.15 ounces (290 grams) | Drop: 6 millimeters | Cushioning: Medium | Waterproofing: None

Best for Trail

Saucony Peregrine 11 GTX

The 7 Best Winter Running Shoes of 2024 (5)

Our Ratings

  • Fit

    4/5

  • Upper Comfort

    4/5

  • Cushioning

    2.5/5

  • Responsiveness

    5/5

  • Weatherproofing

    5/5

What We Like

  • Trail-specific design

  • Lots of protection without being clunky

  • Gaiter compatible

What We Don't Like

  • Not comfortable right out of the box

If you're looking for sneakers that you can run in when there's consistent snow on the ground, Saucony's Peregrines are a solid bet. The Peregrines have earned a good name for themselves among trail runners; they're lightweight and agile, yet provide adequate rebound and protection. The GTX version—which stands for Gore-Tex—adds weatherproofing to the equation to make the shoe suitable in winter's worst. Saucony even included a D-ring for running with an aftermarket gaiter, which gives the Peregrine 11 GTX a versatile edge in handling snow of any depth.

In addition to weather resistance, the Peregrine has a series of chevron-shaped lugs on its outsole that are tightly packed together for serious grip on any surface and plenty of braking for going downhill. (There are even designated places to add studs if you need even more traction.) "The slip-proof sole and large lugs work well on trails but will also keep you safe on potentially slippery sidewalks and roads, and the waterproofing will keep your feet dry the entire run," one tester noted. There's a forefoot rock plate, too, which is a must for trails and comes in handy when you step on ice chunks pushed to road shoulders by the plow. Despite all the aggressive features, the Peregrine remains nimble and responsive—the best of all worlds.

"As someone who lives in a place where snow is probable from November to April, I'm psyched to have a pair of shoes that I can confidently run in when it's snowy and wet (and icy, within reason) out," one tester said. "While testing these in December and January, my feet stayed dry throughout every run, despite there being either fresh snow or melted slush on the ground. I've run through small puddles and even wore them to shovel my driveway when I got back from my run. Even with a few inches of snow, my feet stayed dry."

A couple of notes: Our tester suggested sizing up a half-size as these shoes run a bit narrow and small. Our tester also reported a longer break-in period than with other shoes, specifically at the heel. "The cushioning on these shoes is thin but dense, which helped create some serious responsiveness," a tester noted. "I normally need a lot of cushioning in running shoes, but for short runs in snowy conditions, I'll happily sacrifice that for the safety and comfort that these shoes provide."

Weight: 11.5 ounces (326 grams) | Drop: 4 millimeters | Cushioning: Medium | Waterproofing: Gore-Tex

The Best Trail Running Gear of 2022

Best Trail/Hiking Hybrid

Hoka Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX Hiking Boots

The 7 Best Winter Running Shoes of 2024 (6)

Our Ratings

  • Fit

    4.5/5

  • Upper Comfort

    4/5

  • Cushioning

    3.5/5

  • Responsiveness

    4/5

  • Weatherproofing

    4.5/5

What We Like

  • Functional on many types of terrain

  • Solid grip

  • Multi-season option

What We Don't Like

  • Could be bulky for some runners

Most trail runs involve periods of hiking, especially when the terrain gets steep or technical. That's where the mid-height version of Hoka's venerable Speedgoat trail runner shines. We're typically very skeptical of running shoes that claim too much versatility; they usually don't end up being good at the many things they say they're good at. On top of that, we never imagined that a mid-height shoe could possibly be comfortable to run in. But the Speedgoat Mids proved our assumptions wrong on all accounts. Our tester ran in them on everything from dry pavement to 6 inches of new snow. We'll still opt for low shoes for road running, but these make an awesome argument as a quiver-killing trail shoe.

The first thing our tester noticed lacing up the Speedgoat Mids was how comfy they were, and that feeling lasted throughout the runs. The toe box is roomy, the collar is supportive but not restrictive, and the cushion, while not as pumped up as other Hokas, is quite pillowy. The additional support and protection of its hybrid design are also perfect for winter running. The ankle collar is supportive but not so stiff it's restricting or uncomfortable, and it acts as an extra guard against winter debris. The upper is water repellant with an integrated Gore-Tex liner to ensure your feet stay dry in snow and slush.

The Speedgoat Mid has a medium amount of the light and plush foam that Hoka shoes are known for, making it bouncy yet also supportive. It also has a low drop at 4 millimeters and a relatively wide toe box, which provides a natural feel and pushes your stride toward the mid and forefoot while helping set it apart from true hiking boots. That said, its hybrid design is super versatile—come spring, you can wear this as your primary hiker.

Weight: 13.2 ounces (374 grams) | Drop: 4 millimeters | Cushioning: Medium | Waterproofing: Gore-Tex

The 9 Best Hiking Socks of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Final Verdict

If you're looking for a lightweight shoe with high visibility, we recommend the Asics Gel-Kayano 28. If snow frequently accompanies your runs, go for the Adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pros.

Product Selection

We relied on a few factors to narrow our list of winter running shoes to test. Our primary factor was previous experience and knowledge of shoe models and brands. We also took into consideration new technologies like those found in the Adidas Terrex Agravic—soles made by tire companies, built-in gaiters, and Boa lacing systems. The other main factor was online reviews and satisfaction among users of shoes already on the market. We also worked to include a variety of shoes in terms of price, their intended use and purpose, and how they fit on different feet.

How We Tested

Each shoe was taken on a minimum of a short and easy run, an uptempo run, and a long run of at least an hour. However, most shoes included were tested thoroughly for months. Testers Tanner Bowden and Amy Marturana Winderl live in the Northeast US and train regularly through winter. And Nathan Allen, though based in southern California, tested shoes in California's Sierra Nevada in winter conditions as well as in the Midwest and Colorado in December and January. All told, we logged multiple hundreds of miles in winter conditions with the shoes included in this roundup.

While testing, we evaluated the shoes on fit, upper comfort, cushioning, responsiveness, weatherproofing, and grip/traction. The shoes were run on fresh snow, hard-packed snow, slush, ice, and a combination of sometimes all of those conditions. (Yes, even the dreaded 2 inches of fresh on top of solid ice.) We tested on roads, paved running paths, gravel roads, trails, and even across open fields.

What to Look For in Winter Running Shoes

Waterproofing

Many shoe brands make winterized versions of their popular models that include a Gore-Tex or other waterproof membrane, making waterproofing an easy feature to find in running shoes. The benefit of Gore-Tex, or other waterproof membranes like eVent or The North Face's FutureLight, is that it adds a layer of material to the shoe that, while breathable, will provide some additional warmth for your feet. Waterproofing isn't necessary for mild winter climates, but we recommend it when the surfaces you run on are snowy, slushy, muddy, or wet.

Drop

Sometimes referred to as "heel-toe drop," drop refers to the difference in height between a running shoe's heel and toe. Ten millimeters tends to be understood as the standard amount of drop today, though some shoes have more and many shoes have less (some even have zero drop, which proponents say encourages a more natural stride, as if running barefoot).

A high drop—think 10 millimeters and up—tends to encourage landing on the heel with every stride, called a heel strike. Lower drops tend to move the impact point toward the midfoot. Because it impacts stride, changing your shoe to one that has a different drop than what you normally run in will involve some getting used to. If you have a shoe that you already like, look for one with a similar amount of drop (if it ain't broke, don't fix it, so to speak).

Lugs

Lugs are the bits of a running shoe's outsole that protrude away from the bottom of the shoe. They're a bit like cleats, though much smaller, and come in a number of shapes and sizes. Lugs provide grip; deeper lugs (ie, bigger ones) will support running on soft ground and, in the case of winter running, on snowy surfaces. If you plan to run mostly in snow, on trails, or in mud, you might opt for deeper lugs. However, even if you're running on paved or dirt roads that will frequently host a layer of snow during the winter, buying a shoe with lugs is a good idea—even just 3-millimeter lugs will provide a significant amount of traction above typical summer running shoes.

Traction

Speaking of lugs, what features differentiate a winter running shoe from a summer one? "Traction, traction, and more traction," says David Kilgore, a professional distance runner and sports innovation manager for mountain, ultra, and trail running at On Running. Kilgore, who runs all over the world but is often logging miles at his home in New York and in nearby New Hampshire, notes that winter presents a variety of conditions to runners, but that traction is the primary concern. "I still do my same old loops in the park, running through the snow and the slush and the mud in the fields and stuff."

Clarke Shedd, a run specialist and buyer at Skirack, a running shop in Burlington, Vermont, agrees, noting that trail running shoes provide ideal traction for winter conditions, even on streets and bike paths. "I don't talk up road running shoes as much in the winter just because they're not going to offer as much traction," he says.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need winter or cold-weather-specific shoes?

    The answer depends primarily on the climate and weather where you'll be training during the winter. If temperatures regularly drop below freezing, you may want a shoe that has added insulation. Similarly, if you think you'll have to run on snowy, icy, slushy, or frequently wet surfaces, a winter running shoe with built-in waterproofing and extra grip (via deeper lugs or built-in ice spikes) is a good idea. If these types of conditions only occur occasionally, you might be able to get through winter with your standard summer shoes.

  • How do I know if my shoes are compatible with studs or Yaktrax?

    Yaktrax makes various traction devices for most footwear types. The company has a run-specific model that includes 1.4-millimeter steel coils beneath the midfoot and heel and carbide steel spikes beneath the forefoot that's compatible with all running shoes—just be sure to buy the correct size.

    We also like Black Diamond's Distance Spike Traction Device, which includes a softshell toe cover for additional weather protection and a secure fit.

    You can put studs on most running shoes, but err toward those with thicker soles (and, ideally, a rock plate). Use 3/8-inch hex screws for sheet metal and place them away from the midfoot and the ball of the foot. Some shoes, like Saucony's Peregrine 11 GTX, have markings showing where to put studs.

  • How important is it to find Gore-Tex or waterproof shoes?

    If you're running on snowy, slushy, or wet surfaces, we recommend wearing a shoe that includes some form of waterproofing, whether it's a Gore-Tex membrane or a water-repellent treatment. This will help keep your feet dry and warm over the course of a run and prevent snow that sticks to your shoes from seeping in when it melts due to the heat your body gives off. Once your feet are wet they'll get cold much quicker, potentially forcing you to shorten a run and head home. Keep in mind, however, that if you aren't running through deep snow, Gore-Tex or other waterproofing might be overkill. "You're probably going to step in a puddle and it's going to go above your ankle anyways," says Kilgore.

  • How do I know what the right winter running shoe is for me?

    There's a lot of personal preference in choosing a running shoe—everyone's feet are different, after all, and winter conditions can vary drastically from one place to another. Shedd approaches customers with a series of questions to narrow down the options: "I try to focus in on where people will be running…What are you looking for? Do you have any previous terrible experiences? Do you hit a lot of ice patches? Do you fall?"

    Winter running involves other considerations, too. Injuries are more likely in colder temperatures, especially on slick surfaces if you aren't equipped with the right footwear. "Warming up is key," says Shedd. "Stretching and rolling afterward is very, very key." (For layering, he recommends Patagonia's R1 fleece and Darn Tough socks.)

Why Trust TripSavvy

Tanner Bowden has written about running, running shoe technology, and training for half a decade and tested running shoes from every major brand. He is a three-time marathoner with a sub-three-hour PR and trains for competitive events year-round in the Northeast. That includes through the winter months, in temperatures that drop below zero and on surfaces that range from pavement and trails to snow and ice, plus everything in between.

Bowden, Amy Marturana Winderl, and Nathan Allen logged hundreds of miles to narrow down the best winter running shoes. Products were tested on roads and trails, in snow, ice, slush, and rain, and in multiple climates and locations, including New England, Colorado, Missouri, and California. They were also tested at various speeds and distances. We also consulted experts in order to pick the best winter running shoes. The experts we spoke to included:

  • David Kilgore, a professional distance runner and sports innovation manager for mountain, ultra, and trail running at On Running
  • Clarke Shedd, a run specialist and buyer at Skirack, a running shop in Burlington, Vermont

Here Is the Best Cold Weather Running Gear, Tested by Our Experts

The 7 Best Winter Running Shoes of 2024 (2024)

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