Anatomy of an ‘Extreme Sub-Zero’ Runner – The $750 of Gear That Keeps Me Safe and ‘Warm’

Arctic Blast Gear_a

As I mentioned on Saturday, I loved Amanda’s post at Miss Zippy about how to make running more affordable. After reading it I was thinking through just how expensive all of my gear is … and then Laura posted about not being able to afford being an Ultramarathoner at And This Is Thirty.

I recounted my cost estimate of what I wore out to run in -15F 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 botton to see the actual total!So here goes.

Inner Gear_1

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.

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.

Outer Gear_1

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

8. Under Armour Extreme Coldgear Infrared Gloves = $40 – I have gone on and on about these things (currently sold out at Under Armour and elsewhere), but the reason is that my hands are my ‘#1 cold point’, so how well these work for me is just … incedible.

9. Under Armour Compression shorts – $45 – The ones I wear are apparrently 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 onesfrom Amazon, and I have not run without them since Christmas.


12. New Balance Minimus MR10 shoes – $100 – 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. Shoe prices are variable, but MSRP remains at $100 at Running Warehouse and Joe’s New Balance Outlet, where they sell for $70 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 – 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.

MY TOTAL? – $807. 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?

15 thoughts on “Anatomy of an ‘Extreme Sub-Zero’ Runner – The $750 of Gear That Keeps Me Safe and ‘Warm’

  1. Now that it looks like our winter is going to be seriously prolonged, I am thinking I might just bite the bullet and get the YakTrax. If anything I’ll be able to use them next year. Thanks for the UA link as well! They have some good women’s stuff on sale! 🙂

    My essential gear is always my running tights (I like the C9 ones from Target…inexpensive and do the job), calf sleeves, currently a C9 base layer turtleneck that is thick enough that I can sometimes make do with just a running jacket over it, but if not, I’ll throw a tech shirt on over that before I put the jacket on. My gloves with the pads on them that let me operate my phone still, Bondiband and a hat. It’s cold here, but you have it WAY worse up where you are. 🙂

    • I will be glad when I can go back to my regular Nike tights (in one of the group pictures) … I will wear those above 30F for runs. I agree that Yaktrax are one of those things I should just grab at some point just to have. I really need some trail shoes as well. They would help in some of the slop I think.

      This winter definitely feels extra long … hey wait, didn’t you just come back from Florida, posting all of those ‘tough life’ pics?!? No sympathy for you! haha!

  2. Isn’t it amazing how quickly all the gear can add up? Since I don’t have anything meant for really cold weather (I’ve never really needed it before!) I have just been layering up the clothes that I already have. It takes so much longer to get ready in the winter, compared to the summer when I throw on shorts and a tank top and I am ready to go!

    • I know – most of the year I can get up, get dogs & cats out and fed, dishes done, coffee made, water and email and still breeze out easily by 4:30 … but in the winter it is a struggle to layer up and get out!

  3. It’s funny-I was telling Jeff how I’m shifting my focus to running because it’s a sport that requires minimal investment-“just a good pair of shoes”. And then you start thinking about all the other stuff you need…I can make do with layers a lot of the time in winter here since I don’t put in the daily miles that would let me get super cold. But gear really adds up-we’re looking at getting me a hydration backpack now that my belt is just getting way too annoying and attention hogging.

    • Just saw (and commented on) hydration on your Sunday post … and it really SI key. I got a Camelbak (yet ANOTHER $70) last year and worse it several times – for long runs it is just really amazing.

      And I totally agree on the ‘quick add-up’ – when I finished my winter gear, I had no idea my summer stuff would hit $300 so quickly! Sure the GPS watch is nearly half, but still!

  4. It’s amazing how quickly things add up! My essentials in the winter are similar to yours. I usually wear two tops with a lightweight jacket, tights, compression socks, face mask or hat, neck warmer, shoes, GPS watch, Flip Belt or fuel belt, and I have yak trax but haven’t worn them yet. Whoever said running is a cheap sport lied 🙂

  5. For cold weather I have to have warm hands, feet, and head. If any of those get cold my run goes down hill fast so I really focus on making sure those are warm. I just make sure to wear lots of layers and then once I get moving I tend to warm up pretty quickly. Sadly one of my must haves for running is my Garmin, I am a slave to it!

    • The good thing for me in the winter is that I wear my GPS watch UNDER my layers, so while it is tracking, I am oblivious to what is going on. And on the Magellan I turned off audibles (since I know my routes anyway) … this gives me a ‘tech free’ feel … but with tracking 😉

  6. I went minimal with my last watch purchase and just got a cheap garmin ($80). It’s fine for ultra training, but I do a lot of heart rate training when I training for marathons (starting in April) so I’ll need a new watch then (or a HR monitor and wear two watches)… I definitely need a baklava too so I’ll check out these links.

    Interesting about the livestrong gear – I spent a month or two being straight up angry at Lance Armstrong not necessarily for lying, but for being a first rate jerk and for the demise of a very successful charity. Still makes me sad. There are two brands that I own things for (Livestrong and Lululemon) that I still own gear from but either can’t or won’t (lulu) but there stuff again. In the case of lulu, I wish I could remove the branding from the apparel, that’s how embarrassed I am to wear them, but can’t exactly afford to replace it all. One thing in terms of cost efficiency – we definitely wear that stuff until it is literally in shreds!

  7. This is a great post, fun to compare your choices to mine in a slot-by-slot way. Very similar gear across the board, I’ve become a huge fan of the Nike Pro Combat line (not necessarily the Livestrong variants, but still Pro Combat). I go with mittens instead of gloves, I find that my fingers never warm up with gloves, and I usually retreat my thumb out of the designated thumb location and just have all 5 fingers together in the main compartment.

    For prices, I do most of my shopping at a discount store like Marshall’s, Burlington Coat Factory, or an outlet mall. The options are limited, they only have what they have, but the prices are frequently half of normal retail. Doing it this way I have more money to spend on the GPS and illumination/visibility goodies.

    Thanks for the post, very fun to read!

    • I think for next year I definitely need to get mittens to wear over my gloves for the coldest of days.

      Burlington Coat Factory, eh … hmmm, will have to check that out. I have not had much luck getting great deals, but did snag some shorts last year at the Under Armour outlet store!

  8. I have that Livestrong sweathirt as well. It’s great for keeping warm (I’ll wear it with just a tech t-shirt down to about 20 degrees), and is great for daytime visibility with it’s color.

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