Your Introduction to Trail Running in the Winter

At ASO Mammoth we’re obsessed with getting outside, no matter the time of year. Our favorite way to do that during the winter is by skiing and snowboarding, but we also know that not everyone has one of the world’s best ski mountains in their backyard like we do. For that reason we’ve put together a short guide to another way to get outside during the winter, trail running.

From how to dress to how to make sure you don’t slip, we have your introduction to trail running in the winter below! Check it out before you hit the trail, and if you need any gear to do so then stop by ASO Mammoth for the best outdoor gear in Mammoth Lakes!

Dress for Success

Obviously you need to dress against the cold if you’re going to trail run in the winter, but a successful run depends on much more than just how warm your clothes keep you.

For starters, your mobility is greatly affected by what you wear and how thick it is. That matters when you’re doing something with as much movement as running. Still, one of the biggest keys to a great run is proper layering that keeps you warm, dry, and free to move. What works for you will depend on personal preference, but you can start with a thin and tight base layer made of a material that wicks away moisture. Although cotton is comfortable, it’s a bad choice for cold weather because once it gets wet it holds water. Any water trapped in your layers will keep you cold, and whether it’s sweat or moisture from snow there is plenty of moisture involved with winter trail running.

From there you’ll want a looser layer on top of the base that protects you from moisture and wind. While there are plenty of options and features for this type of gear, one thing you’ll want in any top layer is vents that can release heat and moisture if it builds up inside. Don’t forget to cover your hands and head either! Keeping both warm are essential to a good run.

Outside has a great article on exactly what apparel to wear, and we recommend checking it out before you hit the trail!

Light the Way

Everyone knows that the days are shorter in winter, but not all new trail runners realize that it means they could be running in the dark.

If you’re running near sunset or after, then make sure you have a headlamp that lights up the trail and any obstacles on it. You should also consider other lights that attach to your body so that you’re easy to spot and avoid if you’re running near a road. You should also consider carrying other safety gear like extra layers and even basic survival gear if you’re running in a sparsely populated area.

Get a Grip

Not all winter trail running involves snow and ice, but if you live somewhere with snow covering the ground in winter then you’re going to need a good set of microspikes or a similar device to run safely. Although you can get traction on snow with a good set of trail runners, you can’t always predict where ice patches are. Microspikes are the perfect option for trail runners because they’re small enough to not impede your step on snow, but still offer great traction.

woman running up snowy mountain

Have Fun with It

Use trail running as an opportunity to explore. You’ll probably never have as a good of a place to work out than the trails that run through nature, so enjoy every step!

Check out the Mammoth Lakes hiking trails before you start running to prevent getting lost!