The Best Running Shoes for Winter Miles

The Runner’s World Editors
·7 mins read
Photo credit: Staff
Photo credit: Staff

From Runner's World

Just because it’s cold, snowy, rainy, or downright gnarly outside doesn’t mean the treadmill is your only option. There are plenty of winter running shoes that boast weatherproof features and can keep you on your favorite outdoor routes all season.

Check out five top picks below or scroll deeper for even more options, plus additional buying advice from our gear experts and links to fully tested reviews.

Cold Temps, Hot Features

One thing to keep in mind when shopping for winter shoes is preventing soggy socks before they happen. Some brands create GTX versions of their most popular shoes—i.e., Brooks Ghost 12—with a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane on the upper so that the trainer can withstand rain, snow, and sludge. Another feature to look out for when choosing winter running footwear is a reliable outsole with grippy lugs. If you’re slogging through whatever weathered terrain Mother Nature has laid out for you, outsoles with pronounced lugs will guard against slipping and sliding.

Finally, of course, you want your winter shoes to keep your feet warm. Shoes with an integrated knit sock, plus a durable upper mesh with overlays, will provide warmth as well as extra protection. Many of the shoes below even offer integrated gaiter attachments (because no one likes getting snow in their shoes).

How We Tested

Every shoe on this list has been vetted or tested by one of our editors here at Runner’s World or member of our capable wear-test team. In addition, we research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience with these shoes to determine the best options. We’ve handpicked each pair based on value, test impressions, expert recommendations, and how the shoe performs overall in cold temperatures and wintry conditions. (You can check out full reviews for those shoes that have undergone our strenuous testing cycle.) Check out our top 10 weather-ready picks below that will help you earn bonus badass points.

Brooks Divide

The Divide is Brooks’s budget-friendly trail shoe, featuring a lightweight rock plate in the midsole and a TrailTack outsole. Though its tread pattern is less aggressive compared to the brand’s other offerings—like the Caldera and Cascadia—the Divide’s sticky lugs and wide, stable heel made it feel surprisingly grippy and secure to our testers. “This shoe had great traction without feeling cumbersome,” one said. “Transitions from road to trail felt seamless, and it performed well on both wet and dry surfaces.”

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Topo Athletic MTN Racer

While the MTN Racer has Topo’s signature roomy toe box, the fit is slightly narrower and more performance-oriented in this model. A toothy Vibram Megagrip outsole—which still allowed wear testers to comfortably transition from trails to roads—offers excellent traction over both groomed and dicey terrain, and a slightly stiff upper lends some extra protection and stability. Drainage ports, gaiter attachments, and a thin tongue (which repels dirt and pebbles from invading the inside of your shoe) complete the list of features that make the MTN Racer a trail master. The only thing it’s missing is a rock plate.

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One look at the shoe tells you what it’s designed for—the gnarliest, muddiest trails you can find. “This shoe definitely lives up to its claim of best grip on Earth,” says one tester who wore the XTRM on snowy, slippery, and steep sections of the Appalachian Trail. Credit the very toothy sole made of hard, durable rubber that bites hard into soft ground. VJ designed the XTRM to excel at mud runs and OCR, so it’s no surprise that the 6mm lugs are widely spaced to shed mud as you move. (If you know you’ll be hitting a lot of icy patches on the roads and trails this winter, check out the men’s and women’s Xero 5.)

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Icebug Pytho 4

With the distinguishing carbide studs, the Pytho 4 is a vehicle for grip, even on ice. “Traction on this shoe is definitely better than any shoe I have ever worn and brought confidence to my running,” said one tester, who used the shoe on peaks high enough to have snow in summer. While the shoe performed well on soft surfaces, the sound of the metal spikes on rock (or pavement) was a little grating, although it didn’t seem to affect grip. The moderately cushioned midsole provides just enough softness and shock-absorption underfoot, and the weatherproofed upper kept our feet toasty during mid-January long runs.

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Inov-8 X-Talon G 235

A thin layer of Inov-8’s Graphene-infused outsole rubber and aggressive 8-mm lugs let the X-Talon bite into all the frozen slop you’ll hit post-snowstorm. The upper’s exterior is a single piece of rugged ballistic nylon—the same material used in the construction of bulletproof vests—with slick rubber overlays that quickly shed any splattered slush that might weigh you down. You’ll also find built-in gaiter hooks at the heel, plus a rubber band that’s welded along the edges of the forefoot. The pair forms a tight seal against mud and moisture that might seep in from sloshing across deep puddles or saturated ground.

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Salomon Sense Ride 3 GTX

Salomon bonds a fully protective Gore-Tex waterproof membrane to its most popular trail shoe, the original Sense Ride 3 , for more sleet-splashing and snow-splattering with weatherized quick-pull lacing to match. The durable cord-like laces loosen and tighten on an adjustable cinch that locks in a secure fit, and then easily store inside a pocket on the shoe’s tongue. Underfoot, a sturdy rock plate shields against ice and trail debris, while diamond-shaped lugs target the shoe’s forefoot and heel for grip that digs in when you land, and holds firm when you toe off.

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La Sportiva Bushido II

The Bushido II has a reinforced TPU web that shields the upper and adds lightweight stability, while a compression-molded EVA midsole is firm from heel to rubber toe cap. Two distinct treads round out the shoe’s armor underfoot, with toothy, multi-directional pegs at the center, and bevelled lugs that climb up and over the outsole’s rim. The combination lets the Bushido claw into steep ascents, brake hard on downhills, and anchor against sideways slides in ice and snow.

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Saucony Peregrine ICE+

Though the ICE+ has yet to receive Saucony’s new bouncy PWRRUN foam treatment, it still has the same capable midsole chops as the Peregrine ISO. A full-length TPU-based topsole paired with thick EVA foam gives the shoe a firm, protective ride that doesn’t lose its responsive feel when the mercury drops below freezing. Testers found that the sleeker, water-resistant upper held up well when breaking trail in fresh snow, and also helped keep their feet warm. Vibram’s Arctic Grip rubber on the outsole grabbed icy patches much better than standard rubber, but not quite as well as a spiked sole. The plus side is that when you transition to smooth sections of road, you’ll really appreciate the absence of spikes.

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Hoka One One Speedgoat 4

With its big, toothy lugs providing traction in snow and mud, the Speedgoat 3 trail running shoe does well in winter conditions on both road and messy, post-snowstorm trails. The upper isn’t waterproof but, when paired with a thick wool sock, it proved a solid combination in all but frigid temps. The massive foam midsole also keeps feet far from the cold ground.

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Altra King MT 2

These extremely grippy shoes are ready for all sorts of winter slop, and the Velcro strap across the midfoot means the shoe stays on no matter how sticky the mud. Another benefit of the strap is that it secures feet on downhill runs, so toes don’t jam up against the front of the shoe. The upper is completely redesigned from the 1.5 model, Though not completely weatherproof, the durable mesh dries quickly.

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