The 2016 Fall Running Gear Guide
The fall is one of my favorite seasons to run. With the weather getting a little cooler, the leaves starting to change colors, and the crisp fall air, running feels incredibly refreshing. Waking up to a brisk 40 degree morning is both a sign of the turning season, and an indication that it’s time to dig out the fall running gear.
Dressing for fall running used to be tricky for me. Temperatures and weather that feel cold at the start of a run, can quickly become too warm by the end. Sometimes I’d drop a layer, or tie it around my waist, only to become annoyed for the remainder of the run. The next time, not wanting to repeat the same mistake, I’d under-dress, then freeze running around the lakes, or Mississippi River road when an unexpected breeze would pick up.
The below suggested items in our fall running gear guide aren’t exactly rocket science. In fact, as Claire put it, “My fall wardrobe is by far my least sophisticated.” Still, we asked our writers, and a few pros, to send us their favorite fall running gear items.
Head to your local running specialty store, or click on our Amazon affiliate links, and spruce up your fall running gear wardrobe! Like a pumpkin spice latte, it’s never too soon to get into the season.
Hats, Caps, and Headbands
If you wear something too warm, you risk sweating too much and becoming cold and wet. If you don’t wear enough, you may be surprised by your chilled extremities.
Meghan Peyton of Team USA Minnesota swears by her Saucony Omni Ponytail Headband. She says, “It covers the ears which keeps them warm when the slight chill of fall sets in, but not overly warm like a full hat causing you to sweat.” Krysta prefers to go with a bandana/buff, specifically this one from Territory. “The fabric is wicking and soft, and the tube shape makes it easy to wear as a bandana, headband, hat, sweatband, etc.”
Rich and I take a slightly different approach to their fall head warming fashions. We both agree that until it gets down to about 40 degrees, a hat with a brim to keep sweat and rain out of your face is all you really need. Below 40, Rich wears a Smartwool beanie that he bought on clearance for $5, and I don a Craft Skull cap that I’ve had forever. Both are excellent at wicking, and boast great warming to size ratios…if that’s a thing.
Long Sleeve T-Shirts, Vest and Jackets
Rich noted that “fall runs can often start off feeling cold but then can feel way too warm in a hurry.” Nearly everyone we talked to thought an easy solution to that problem was layering with a 1/2 zip long sleeve, followed by a light running jacket or vest.
Both Rich and I try to push our luck, and run in t-shirts for as long as possible, which ends up being somewhere in the low 50s. Any colder, and we reach for our 1/2 zip long sleeve shirts with thumb holes. The Nike Elements, or similar Brooks Dash are favorites, but anything similar will do. The 1/2 zip is essential because it can help you adjust your core temperature by several degrees.
Molly and Krysta also enjoy a 1/2 zip long sleeve. Molly says, “I love my Nike half-zip running top, but any light, long-sleeved top with thumbholes is a winner in my book. On crisp fall mornings, I pull the sleeves over my hands to keep them warm, and when both the morning and I have warmed up, it’s easy to push up the sleeves or unzip the top. I layer it with an Under Armour tank on colder runs or wear it alone on warmer fall days.”
Krysta and I are huge vest fans. Krysta raves about the Oiselle Gillman Vest. “This vest is the perfect fall layer - it’s light and breathable but warm enough to keep your core toasty. The fabric is water resistant for those cool, foggy, or drizzly mornings, and the chest design and zipper lining are reflective, making it an obvious choice for early morning or evening runs.”
I am a huge fan of the Nike Aeroloft Vest. It’s crazy expensive (unless you get it on clearance, or know someone who works for Nike), but amazing! Insanely lightweight and warm, this keeps me comfortable from 50 degrees all the way down to about 25-30 degrees when paired with the above 1/2 zip. It feels like you’re not wearing much, but it’s powerful. For something more reasonable, my Asics Race Vest (or similar model) provides great wind and water resistance to get you through some of those “it’s not quite cold enough for a winter running jacket” runs without bulk.
Shorts, Capris and Tights
Since most runners find their legs stay considerably warmer than their top, fall running gear for your legs isn’t very exciting. Again, Rich and I enjoy shorts down to about 40 degrees. Colder than that, and we’re getting into winter running tights territory.
Molly and Krysta have a different take. Molly loves capris and says they are “perfectly suited for a variety of fall temperatures, offering a little extra warmth without the full commitment of long leggings.” She looks for capris with a wide waistband and a large pocket for long run fuel.
Krysta appreciates the additional warmth of the . “Their lighter weight fabric and huge zippered back pocket make them perfect for runs of any distance.The burgen color is my favorite; I’m totally guilty of wearing them for casual wear, too!”
Misc. Fall Running Gear
Hands down (pun intended), the best way to keep your hands comfortably warm, but not too sweaty, this fall is with a pair of cheap knit gloves. Buy a few from, Amazon, Target, Home Depot, the Dollar Store, etc. and use and abuse them. They are great for ditching in an emergency or in the middle of a fall race.
I have run in some form cheap gloves for a decade, but now own a pair of “real” lightweight running gloves similar to these. Their huge advantage is how warm they stay when it’s wet outside. Knit gloves are nearly useless, but these do a decent enough job of helping your hands retain some warmth.
Krysta also recommends getting yourself a Road ID bracelet. “When the seasons change and the mornings get darker, I always strap on my trusty Road ID.” This simple silicon bracelet has customized identification and emergency contact information, should anything happen while on your run. Krysta notes, “It is comforting to know that if something were to happen, I could be identified and my loved ones would be contacted. Safety first!”
Speaking of safety, don’t forget your reflective gear! Running in the fall more often than not involves running when it’s dark. I’ve found a simple suspender style reflective vest helpful to make sure cars see me, but any reflective, blink-y, or bright gear will do.
Your Fall Running Gear
What have you found to be really helpful for running during the fall months?