Any trail running shoe worth its lugs has enough traction to keep you upright in sloppy conditions. But a good pair of winter running shoes takes it up a notch.
While summer conditions have a bias for lighter, airy kicks, winter shoes will sacrifice breathability for waterproof membranes, shells, higher collars, and gaiters that shed the icy snow and mud.
You pay a little more for the bells and whistles, but the goal is to keep feet warm, dry, and safe as you run through winter.
Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for. Also, be sure to check out our handy comparison chart, buyer’s guide, or FAQ sections at the bottom of this article.
- Best Winter Trail Shoe: Saucony Peregrine 11 GTX
- Best Winter Roadrunner: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 Shield
- Best Winter Zero Drop: Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Low 2
- Most Supportive and Grippy: inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTX
- Best for Road to Trail: Brooks Cascadia 16 GTX
- Best for Icy Conditions: La Sportiva Blizzard GTX
- Best of the Rest
- HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4 GTX
- Adidas Agravic Tech Pro
- Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 GTX
- Merrell MQM Flex 2 GTX
- Brooks Ghost 14 GTX
- Scarpa Ultra Spin GTX
The Best Winter Running Shoes of 2023
After logging long winter miles in dozens of shoes this year, we found these winter-worthy kicks for 2023. And because winter in Minnesota is heaps different than in Portland or Boston, we’ve identified a gamut of shoes that meet multiple definitions of winter.
Here are our best picks as you run into winter this year.
Saucony Peregrine 11 GTX
- Plenty of toe volume
- Firm, supportive ride
- Lacks full-tongue protection from moisture
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 Shield
- Stellar upper fit
- Smooth, cushioned ride
- Minimal traction
Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Low 2
- Fit Runs wide; otherwise, true to size
- Weight (per shoe) 13.2 oz.
- Drop Zero (25mm stack height)
- Spacious toe box
- Superior traction and protection
- Can be an adjustment for those not used to zero drop
inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTX
- Super supportive and comfortable
- Solid stability over rough terrain
- On the heavy side
- Awkward lacing system
Brooks Cascadia 16 GTX
- Great on technical terrain
- Can feel somewhat stiff at times
- Not super fast
La Sportiva Blizzard GTX
- Fit Narrow. Go up a half size from street shoes.
- Weight (per shoe) 13.3 oz.
- Drop 6 mm (18-12 mm)
- Lugs 7 mm
- Lightweight for what it offers
- Carbide spikes for added traction
- Somewhat difficult to put on
While the shoes below aren’t the most recently released running shoes, they’re still some of our favorites from past winter running reviews and worthy of a mention.
Because the perfect shoe varies widely from person to person and depends on your preferences and winter weather conditions, we want to give you the complete rundown.
Our editors and testers have put countless miles on these runners. From icy Minnesota road running to wintry Colorado trail running, these shoes have held up.
Best of the Rest
HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4 GTX
- Max cushion and comfort
- Roomy toe box
- Not super stable
- Not the most aggressive traction
Adidas Agravic Tech Pro
- Stellar full-winter protection
- Super comfortable
- Pulls on and off easily
- On the heavy side
Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 GTX
- Extremely comfortable fit
- Firm and protective
- Not the best traction
- Not super cushioned
Merrell MQM Flex 2 GTX
- Voluminous feel for wide feet
- Solid traction
- Can feel sloppy if not sized right
Brooks Ghost 14 GTX
- Pretty breathable for a waterproof shoe
- Not super cushioned
- Somewhat constricting toe-box
Scarpa Ultra Spin GTX
- Roomy and comfortable
- Can often feel stiff
Winter Running Shoes Comparison Chart
|Winter Running Shoes||Price||Weight||Drop||Fit|
|Saucony Peregrine 11 GTX||$150||11.5 oz. (per shoe)||4 mm||True to size|
|Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 Shield||$130||12 oz. (per shoe)||10 mm||True to size|
|Altra Lone Peak|
ALL-WTHR Low 2
|$180||13.2 oz. (per shoe)||0 mm||True to size with |
|inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTX||$190||12.6 oz. (per shoe)||8 mm||Narrow|
|Brooks Cascadia 16 GTX||$160||11.7 oz. (per shoe)||8 mm||True to size with |
|La Sportiva Blizzard GTX||$199||13.3 oz. (per shoe)||6 mm||Narrow|
|HOKA ONE ONE |
Speedgoat 4 GTX
|$160||12 oz. (per shoe)||4 mm||True to size|
|Adidas Agravic Tech Pro||$250||15 oz. (per shoe)||4 mm||Comfortably snug|
|Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 GTX||$200||10 oz. (per shoe)||6 mm||N/A|
|Merrell MQM Flex 2 GTX||$140||12.5 oz. (per shoe)||8 mm||Runs a half-size large|
|Brooks Ghost 14 GTX||$160||10.7 oz. (per shoe)||12 mm||Snug but true to size|
|Scarpa Ultra Spin GTX||$170||24. oz (per pair)||6 mm||N/A|
Why You Should Trust Us
Steve Graepel, the author of this guide, has been running for 30 years. During his time on his feet, he’s clocked a sub-3-hour marathon, won the Superior Trail Ultra 50 miler, and made the first known rim-to-rim-to-rim of Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest canyon. Steve can be found lugging a backpack with a spare pair of shoes in and around the Boise foothills with his two dogs.
To complement Steve’s personal expertise, GearJunkie has a crew of three runners collecting miles and feedback throughout the year.
A fitness-focused runner who logs miles for both cardio and agility, Adam Ruggiero run-commutes on pavement daily, and adds box jumps and stairs to his regular routine. Ruggiero logs 20-25 miles a week, with mid-distance trail runs at elevation on the weekends.
Fast is slow, and slow is M.T. Elliot. A recreational runner — and our resident Clydesdale runner — Elliot prefers the crunch of dirt over asphalt but runs on both.
Sean McCoy is a middle-of-the-pack ultra runner who, when not leading the Denver-based GearJunkie team, gets lost running and racing the Colorado high country.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Winter Running Shoe
Staring at a wall of shoes or endlessly browsing an online retailer can be overwhelming. We’ve broken down some helpful tips to find the right shoe.
Consider Where You Run
These days, manufacturers have dialed shoes for nearly every niche of running. This even applies to winter. A quick way to hone in on the right shoe is to identify where you run.
Winter road running shoes tend to be built off of a brand’s stalwart training shoe. Brands want to invest in a winner, and a winter winner will be a shoe that is also a summer winner. The traction on these trainers will already be beefier than a racing flat and are suitable for running on wet roads.
But they’ve added a waterproof breathable membrane to keep dedicated runners on the road through winter on a familiar last. If you already run in Brooks or New Balance, their winterized road shoes will be a good bet for cold, wet conditions.
Consider the Type of Tread
Winter trail running shoes have an aggressive lug pattern that bites into dirt, sand, and mud. But not all treads are the same. A blocky, cleat-like tread will shed mud in the Pacific Northwest but can feel clunky on hardpack found in the Southwest and can cause trips and falls.
Some brands, like Salomon and La Sportiva, offer shoes with integrated spikes. These are for runners who live in regions prone to ice, like the Northeast or the Columbia River Gorge.
Spikes can be wonderful on ice, but feel sketchy on rocky terrain and godawful on the pavement. Another option is to buy aftermarket crampons. We’ve paired our running shoes Yaktrax and Black Diamond’s Distance Spike.
These aren’t going to feel as stable as lugs embedded with carbide spikes, but they provide more flexibility in your winter quiver, pairing with a variety of shoes. We’ve found these lightweight crampons capable of crossing over into fast and light mountaineering junkets, too.
Consider the Durability of the Shoe
Trail shoes also have a more durable upper, a robust toe bumper, and a firmer sole or even a rock plate — all to protect the feet from underlying roots and rocks. Trail shoes with lower lugs can be a little more runnable on roads, making them a suitable choice for snow-choked road runs.
All of the shoes on this list have a waterproof breathable membrane to keep melting snow and water from creeping in while keeping the toes warm.
Like spikes, integrated gaiters are a fantastic addition and worth the cost for those who frequently run in deep, snowy conditions. They shed snow weight quickly and keep feet warmer and drier. But because they trap heat, they can quickly become uncomfortable on milder days. Like crampons, gaiters can be purchased aftermarket for $25-50.
With so many options to choose from, it can be challenging to choose the right trail shoes. Here are three things to consider as you shop:
- Set realistic running goals. If you dream of running a 100-miler one day but realistically will use the shoes for 5-mile training loops around your local park, buy shoes for the latter use first.
- Consider shoe width. For folks with wide feet, or those running very long distances, a wide forefoot can be a bonus that lets toes splay. The downside is that wider shoes are less precise, can be a little more clumsy, and won’t fit well on people with narrow feet.
- Test out the tongue. Does it fit comfortably? Will it keep rocks out of your shoe? Shoes with gusseted tongues help keep snow and debris from creeping into the shoe.
Stack & Drop
Unless you’re running barefoot, every shoe has a stack. Measured in millimeters, the stack refers to how high the insole sits off the ground. Shoes with more cushion inherently have a higher stack. Furthermore, most shoes have a drop in stack height from the heel to the toe.
If you’re new to running, experts recommend a lower heel drop; it builds a wider range of motion and strength, which makes you a healthier runner. We also find a lower stack keeps your center of gravity closer to the ground. This becomes even more important on unstable terrain, with snow covering hidden obstacles.
Flexibility is your friend on the trails. You need variability to match the variable terrain. Trail runners and those running in winter — where obstacles can be hidden under snow — will prefer a shoe with a firm outsole and less cushion but a firm toebox to push off of.
Flexibility and torsion can help the foot adapt to the trail and objects obscured by snow. But too much flexibility can feel unstable. Without stability, the ankle can be exposed to rolling.
The life of a shoe depends on a variety of factors, including running style, weight, and how often they’re used. But in general, 300 to 500 miles is a good rule of thumb.
So if you run 10 miles per week, your shoes could last 8 months to a year. If you’re logging 20 miles per week, plan on replacing your running shoes every 4 to 6 months.
And if you see excessive wear patterns, holes, or tears, or if you notice a decrease in footbed comfort, it’s probably time to grab a new pair of sneakers.
Durability aside, we typically don’t wear our winter shoes daily. Winter-specific running shoes supplement our running quiver, rotating into the queue as the weather calls for it. This increases the shelf life of our winter shoes and stretches our dollars out over several years of use.
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