Anatomy of ‘Extreme Sub-Zero’ Runner – $750 of Winter Running Gear

While it has been more than a week since I wore three layers over my face, I am still layered up against mornings in the teens with wind chills close to 0ºF. At the same time I am seeing big clearance sales popping up on winter running gear, so I thought it would be fun to look at my gear!

Anatomy of 'Extreme Sub-Zero' Runner - $750 of Winter Running Gear

At this point of the year my running posts on Instagram and Facebook slow down, because the only shot I can get is a fully covered selfie once I’m back indoors – like the one above. I have loved reading running blogs about making running more affordable – which is ironic for a ‘free’ sport – and even the laments of students who have simply found their pursuit of distance running too expensive to maintain!

I recounted my cost estimate of what I wore out to run in -15ºF weather – putting the cost at an estimated ~$750 … not including my iPhone. I thought … that is worth breaking down for a post! Follow along through my breakdown or head straight to the bottom to see the actual total!So here goes.

Anatomy of 'Extreme Sub-Zero' Runner - $750 of Winter Running Gear  Anatomy of 'Extreme Sub-Zero' Runner - $750 of Winter Running Gear

1. Headlamp – $30 – I have a great multi-beam P-Tec lamp very similar to this one at Amazon

2. EMS Thermal Hat – $25 – OK, my great blue EMS hat is now old enough that I can’t find anything similar, but the closest I could get was this one.

3. Brooks Balaclava $25 – I got this for Christmas 2012, and it is the same one found at Roadrunner Sports.

3a. Wool Neck Gaiter $35 – again this is old enough that I can’t find the equivalent through LL Bean anymore, but here is a similar one! When the temperature is ~15F and not too windy I just use it to turn my top layer into a pseudo-turtleneck.

4. Nike Livestrong ‘Pro Combat’ hoodie – $80 – The LiveStrong brand is pretty much dead thanks to the fall of Lance Armstrong, but this hoodie is just amazingly light and wind/weather resistant. Based on what I know it once cost it is most comparable to this one at East Bay

5. Nike ‘Pro Combat’ Hyperwarm heavy base layer – $50 – Another one from Christmas 2012, pretty much the same as this one at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

6. Nike ‘Pro Combat’ fitted base layer – $50 – Got this from my brother for Christmas 2013, most similar thing I can find is this one at Amazon.

Anatomy of 'Extreme Sub-Zero' Runner - $750 of Winter Running Gear  Anatomy of 'Extreme Sub-Zero' Runner - $750 of Winter Running Gear  Anatomy of 'Extreme Sub-Zero' Runner - $750 of Winter Running Gear

7. Reflective vest – $20 – not exactly the same thing, but fairly similar to this Nathan vest at Amazon

8. Brooks Utopia 3-in-1 Mitten II – $48 – I have gone on and on about these things, and how they have dramatically changed my relationship with winter running. Seriously – I ran through the coldest winter in the history of the Corning area (by a lot, actually) without ever having my hands get too cold.

9. Under Armour Compression shorts – $45 – The ones I wear are apparently not specifically for running, but are similar to these ones at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and are a great set of shorts – I ran the PA Grand Canyon Marathon in them.

10. Under Armour Extreme Coldgear Infrared Fitted Running Tights – $70 – These tights are incredible … on sale at Under Armour now, they are the only outer layer I have worn in the very coldest weather. And never gotten cold.

11. 2XU Compression Socks – $45 – I started hearing about the benefits of compression in 2012, and after talking to my doctor last year she suggested trying compression socks to maintain blood flow in my legs. These are similar to the ones from Amazon, and I have not run without them since Christmas.

Anatomy of 'Extreme Sub-Zero' Runner - $750 of Winter Running Gear  Anatomy of 'Extreme Sub-Zero' Runner - $750 of Winter Running Gear  Anatomy of 'Extreme Sub-Zero' Runner - $750 of Winter Running Gear  Anatomy of 'Extreme Sub-Zero' Runner - $750 of Winter Running Gear

12. Saucony Kinvara 4 running shoes – $75 – Some would debate the wisdom of shoes that allow so much slushy water into them, but I am loving how quickly the water also gets OUT of them. These were a ‘bargain’ buy for me to use as ‘winter beater shoes’ – and they ARE beaten! Shoe prices are variable – particularly on ‘last year’s model’, but MSRP is still $100 and current price is $75 at Amazon.com … though I paid less on sale.

13. Lock Laces – $7 – After getting these for Christmas I have now decided they are absolutely essential. Why? Once you have your laces untie in the middle of a sub-zero run and you are actually contemplating how bad it would be to NOT re-tie them … you will understand!

14. SpiBeltRunning belt – $20 – the one I have is not exactly the same as this one from Amazon, but having a belt to carry my phone and maybe a couple of GU packs is essential.

15. Magellan Echo GPS – $169 – Yes, this isn’t exactly ‘required’, but I have found tracking and accountability to be critically important, and my favorite setup right now is Magellan Echo just like this one at Amazon including HR monitor.

15a. Garmin Forerunner FR15 – $169 – Again not required, but as a non-phone based GPS watch you can’t beat the FR-15, which also doubles as a fitness tracker. Grab the HR-tracker bundle at Amazon.com.

MY TOTAL? – $764. Of course, I could cut that by $100 or so based on buying stuff on sale and using coupons and so on … but it puts in perspective just how much it can cost to keep safe and protected during winter runs.

One thing missing – YakTrax, selling at Amazon for ~$25. For snow/ice running they are definitely worth checking into!

Comparison to ‘Summer Gear’
Of course, if I go back to last July, my cost would plummet – $25 shirt, $35 shorts, $10 socks, $100 shoes, and $130 watch – to $300. OK, so maybe ‘plummet’ isn’t the right word!

So what do YOU wear as essential gear for YOUR runs?

About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!
  • doogald

    I’ve never liked running with Yak-Trax – they hurt my feet terribly. Instead you can buy some 1/4″ and 3/8″ hex head wood screws (stainless steel are best – they are hard so won’t wear out as fast) and drive them around the outsides of your outsole. I use one pair of my running shoes just for this and they usually last several winters, depending on how much ice we get.

    Or you can buy Goat Head Sole Spikes: http://www.solespikes.com/ – a little pricier, but they are a great product.