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February 8, 2016 Comments (0) Featured, Gear Reviews

Winter Running Gear Review – Jackets, Hats, Gloves & More

The NorthFace looking south

Our goal for this review was to feature brands who could easily provide a one stop shop for all your winter running needs. We were happy to put these outfits to the test for countless runs in mild, moderate and extreme conditions. We also wanted to give our readers a sense of value, function and fashion. Enjoy our article and give us your thoughts in the comments!



We started our Winter Apparel search with one of the more dominant and common names in the running market at The North Face.  From head to toe, The North Face decks runners in some amazing gear. This review includes the Illuminated Reversible Jacket,  Ascent Beanie,  Runners 2 Etip Glove,  Isolite Half-Zip, Winter Warm Tights. All of this, including the jacket comes in at a price of $417.99 on The NorthFace’s website. This is certainly an outfit that will give you the extra motivation and encouragement to get out and run in some of the coldest weather.


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NorthFace Ascent BeanieThe Ascent Beanie is lightweight, soft and very comfortable. The material is not very thick and it does not provide a lot of insulation. The Ascent Beanie was warm enough for 30°+ days, but the construction doesn’t imply it was intended for colder (or wetter) weather. This is an excellent hat if you just want something to cover your ears in mild wind or cold. The beanie did breathe very well. The Ascent Beanie is a pretty standard running beanie, it works well enough for most of your winter runs, but there is nothing particularly remarkable or noteworthy about how it performed

NorthFace Warm TightOverall, we were very impressed with the Winter warm tight. In very cold conditions, the NorthFace Winter Warm Tight performed every time. Whether in deep snow or temperatures around 0°F, our legs were never cold. The NorthFace Winter Warm Tight provided excellent insulation and protection from the wind as well. These tights were perfect for harsh winter conditions.
NorthFace Winter Warm Tight and Womens Thermal Tights have a great fit with a good length and comfortable waistband. The brushed/fleece-like inside makes them very comfortable to wear and easy to layer over other tights. The zipper leg is comfortable and stays in place without being tight. The back zippered pocket is a great size for gels, keys or Chapstick. They did shrink a little bit when washed and dried, but this only impacted length, not overall fit. The NorthFace Winter Warm Tight  worked well in the snow without soaking up a lot of moisture but also while still being breathable and warm. Overall, the NorthFace Winter Warm Tight is a great cold weather tight. we didn’t find anything about the tights that we did not like.

The Runners 2 Etip Glove is a very great looking and stylish running glove with a built in e-tip fingertips. Thee-tip fingertips on the Runners 2 Etip Glove do work very well on smartphones. We really like the touchscreen capability and that we did not have to take our glove off when doing something on our phones or cameras. We would recommend this for cool temperatures only and not extreme NorthFace Etip Gloveweather. The gloves are very light and comfortable and our hands did not heat up while running in them. They also provided adequate protection from the wind. We had them out on a windy day and were impressed with how well the Runners 2 Etip Glove performed.  The material soaked up sweat immediately, but didn’t wick it away. It also soaked up moisture from the snow the second it touched it. After taking them off to let them dry out for a few minutes while running, there were sweatcicles inside both gloves all the way to the fingertips. Otherwise, the Runners 2 Etip Glove was a nice looking glove for less technical days in dry conditions.

We were extremely impressed with the NorthFace Isolite 1/2 zip shirt. It performed very well in every test. The shirt is very light, form fitting and comfortable. The NorthFace Isolite 1/2 zip shirt also breathes very well and wicks moisture away from the body. We really liked the zipper and mock neck because it NorthFace Isoliteprovided a lot of flexibility and movement. The NorthFace Isolite 1/2 zip shirt also helped manage the variations in temperature from the cold morning to the later warming temperatures.  The zipper allows runner to have their neck covered in cold temperatures, but then to be opened up once the temperatures have warmed up. It is a very flexible product. The NorthFace Isolite 1/2 zip shirt has an interior elastic gripper that helps to keep it from sliding around, which works exceptionally well. The NorthFace Isolite 1/2 zip shirt is very comfortable and we were very impressed with its capabilities. After utilizing it on several runs it has now become one of our testers favorite pieces in their running wardrobe. There wasn’t anything we disliked about the NorthFace Isolite 1/2 zip shirt.

NorthFace Reversible JacketWe loved the concept of the Illuminated Reversible Jacket. Reversiblity, water resistancy, reflective patterns stitched into the material all in a stylish way, the Illuminated Reversible Jacket was a nice addition to the winter running closet. The fit was a little awkward through the shoulders and we felt the notch in the tail on the bottom back hem makes a running jacket look almost like a tuxedo jacket, which seemed like a style that was a little out of place. The Illuminated Reversible Jacket wasn’t very breathable, so it had to be worn over a layer that was very good for wicking moisture to keep from getting sweaty and cold. The colors of the reversal are great, and we enjoyed the pocket feature on one side, but would have liked another on the other side. Overall, the Illuminated Reversible Jacket a good jacket, but not the best of its type.


4 out of 5


Pearl Izumi Logo

Pearl Izumi is no stranger to the winter apparel market. With a wide variety of options, we wanted to hone in on a more urban line that would ‘reflect’ the needs of a large part of the TAUR audience who runs at night or early in the morning. Fortunately, Pearl Izumi has an entire line dedicated to this thru its BioViz apparel. For this test we included the Thermal Conductive Gloves, Thermal Run Hat, Fly Tight, Mens Flash Run Pant, and Womens Barrier Convertible Jacket or Mens Flash Insulator Run Jacket. With an emphasis on dynamic illumination, these products come in at an illuminating price point. Only $235 for the ladies outfit and $275 for the mens.


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Fly TightThe women’s Fly Tight capris fit very snug. These Fly Tights are a very light weight capris with strategic visibility features on the legs. They were very breathable and did not have hot spots when running. Due to their slim fit, runners should purchase after trying them on. The Fly Tight has a cool pocket on the side of the leg, which we liked a lot. We wore them on an overcast days, hazy dawn runs and late night urban runs.  The bright yellow and the reflective strips really stood out. The zippered pocket on the back waist was bright yellow, too, and was very roomy.

Barrier Convertible JacketThe Womens Barrier Convertible Jacket was amazing! First, it fit well and the color was spot on for visibility. Again, on the overcast day or early morning, it really stood out. The sleeves were generously long, and very lightly elasticized. The coolest thing is that the sleeves and upper back of the Womens Barrier Convertible Jacket zip off in one piece. The large zipper pocket in the back of the jacket is where you can store this if you take it off during a run. Two front zippered pockets are actually big enough for your hands. The Womens Barrier Convertible Jacket is lightweight, and comfortable and perfect for mild winter runs. There are reflective strips on the back waist of the jacket, the front shoulder,  and along the sleeve zippers for added visibility. The upper back vents really well with the sleeves off.

Partner these with the Thermal Conductive Gloves and Thermal Run Hat for a perfect combination of visibility and warmth. The Thermal Conductive Gloves are very warm and highly visible. The gloves are soft and plush, with booming BioViz features on the top of the gloves. The Thermal Conductive Gloves work excellently with any touch screen phone, so as to prevent those fingers from getting mind numbingly cold. The Thermal Run Hat is a bit loud for many folks, but for those needing a warm hat with high visibility, look no further.

Flash Run Pant

Flash Run Pant

The Mens Flash Run Pant and Mens Flash Insulator Run Jacket we similarly very bright and ade our tester fell extremely safe on urban night runs. The material construction of the Flash Pant was exceptional. Very fluid feeling and with a comfortable amount of room. The only potential downside of the Flash Pant was how long they were. Almost abnormally long, so all you tall fellas go get them. The Flash Insulator Jacket was contrasting in fit. More snug and almost over the top with BioViz features. While it was differently warm on extremely cold runs, it did not feel like an athletic wicking material at first. That being said, the Flash Insulator Jacket performed well on cold days near the single digits, but does not have any water repellency.



outdoor research



This outfit included the Women’s Catalyzer Liners (gloves), Catalyzer Beanie, Uberlayer Hooded Jacket and Radiant Hybrid Tights from Outdoor Research. A much more casual appraoch to a winter outfit the Outdoor Research set veers away from the spandex so dominat in the running community and highlights comfort and warmth. Our tester, was at easy transitioning to a coffee shop, stopping for an errand or putting on these Outdoor Research set just to stay warm at home. All of these for a price of $435.

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The black Women’s Catalyzer Glove Liners were comfy, light weight, perfect for cool but not cold run, or to layer under heavier gloves or mittens. The Catalyzer Beanie was a super light weight beanie.  Perfect for running!  not too hot, also would be good under my snowboarding helmet 😉 I’m not usually one to wear a beanie when running because they’re too hot, but the Catalyzer Beanie would be just right because it’s so light weight. comfy & cute too.

At first, I was skeptical of the Women’s Radiant Hybrid Tights  because they didn’t look like much, but I’m already in love after wearing them!  They’re super comfy, soft, functional with a key pocket and drawstring.  I’d say they’d be good on a run if it were in the single digits, or if you prefer to run warm.  They’re very warm.  Good for pre & post run I’d say.

I love, love, LOVE the Women’s Uberlayer Hooded Jacket. It is SUPER cute, comfy and warm!  I wouldn’t be able to run in the coat, but it is perfect for a pre & post run jacket.  The Uberlayer Hooded Jacket is very well made, has lots of pockets and extras, which make it extremely nice! The Uberlayer Hooded Jacket is not bulky at all, but super toasty!

4 out of 5


Smith PivLock OverDrive

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I really like the glasses. The fit is pretty spot on; not too tight and not too loose. The nose bridge is pretty standard, semi-flexible and adjustable. I spent about 4 hours in them on a single run and didn’t have any problems with discomfort.

I felt like with the dark lens in it was a pretty standard glass. Where it really stood out was when I switched to the rose lens. Even in bright light the lenses offered a unique vision experience that made running in the glasses fantastic.

The color scheme is good, but I’m not all crazy about camo, so while it has its place, it really isn’t my thing. Hasn’t stopped me from wearing them though. Great sunglasses overall.”



Optic Nerve Micron & Reactor Sunglasses

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Optic Nerve will be soon releasing a pair of sunglasses called the Micron and Reactor. They are very similar in format and shape with only slight differences in appearance. They are generally for smaller framed faces and fit well. They provide great air movement around the lens and the nose pads adjust significantly.  The lens did not provide full lens coverage, a trade off for a lens that never fogged up. One fo the testers really struggled with finding the best nose pad adjusts and therefore the fit just didn’t work.  We really liked the look and fit of them as around-town glasses or for other lower-impact activities, but they did not remain as secure on the top of the head, which eventually happens with any sunglass during trail runs.


4 out of 5



Smith PivLock Arena Max

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These are very good, full coverage glasses with excellent clarity. Well ventilated, I only had issues with fogging when it was very cold with hard exertion. The styling may not be for everyone, and certainly not for casual wear. They were comfortable and performed very well on long days, including tough mountain races like the Bear 100.

4 out of 5


Smith Captain’s Choice

The Smith Captain’s Choice glasses were an all around amazing sunglass. Certainly, a little pricey, $249, but you will feel like a million bucks in these bad boys. They look amazing and the visuals with the ChromaPop+ Polarchromic are outstanding. The articulating arms of the glasses gave the tester confidence that a little wear and tear would not do the Captain’s Choice in. The only down side was that the frames bounced on steep down hills or fast fartleks. Ultimately, this is a cruiser sunglass, not a race. Let the Captain choose a mellow route.

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