I started jogging regularly about three years ago, but this year is the first time I’m keeping up with it through winter. Having been a good weather runner so far, I needed some warm, but functional attire for winter and being me, that meant going on a quest for the perfect product.
As you may know, I’m always trying to go for the most ecological (yet feasible) option and avoid plastics and synthetics wherever possible, which is why I’m extra excited about some of the items on this list: The merino wool functional wear.
- Winter running in this case refers to running on forest tracks in Switzerland, at temperatures of usually around -10°C to +5°C (14°F to 41°F), and a runner who usually feels hotter than most people around him.
- Note that all of these items are used, and some have been in use for well over a year. So if they don’t look brand new, that’s because they aren’t.
- Many items may not-, or no longer be available (in your location). Their example may be representative of similar available items though and serve as inspiration.
- While there may be some Amazon affiliate* links within the post, I recommend products I love regardless of being sponsored or not, and there are no brand sponsors for this post. it’s all me and my opinions.
So without further ado:
Roman’s 2021/22 Choice of Winter Jogging Clothes – Eco Wherever possible and Feasible
Hoodie and base layer shirt: Hessnatur
These are the pieces I’m most excited about. A 100% organic merino wool hoodie and shirt that feel soft and smooth enough to make you wonder if it’s really sheep’s wool you’re wearing. In the case of the shirt, it almost feels like cotton.
Wool fulfills all the promises polyester functional clothing makes (and usually fails to keep), and then some:
- Wool insulates extremely well for its weight.
- Wool is temperature regulating and well ventilated, meaning it doesn’t feel too hot and stuffy when it’s not all that cold.
- Wool wicks moisture extremely well, keeping you nice and dry (if ventilated (without jacket/backpack)).
- Wool keeps you warm even when it’s wet, for those times when the wicking action isn’t enough.
- Wool neutralizes or prevents smells for a long time. At some point it becomes “saturated” and will have to be washed, but there’s a good chance all it smells like after one or two runs is… wool. I only have to wash the shirt once a week and hoodie once a month, both increasing the lifetime of the fabric and saving detergent, energy and water.
- Wool is naturally antibacterial (which is how it neutralizes smells.) The really interesting part here is that the antibacterial action is mechanical, not chemical. The bacteria get killed by microscopic spikes on the hairs. That also explains how it can get saturated over time and work well again after washing.
It’s fair to say I love this material and its modern applications by brands like Hessnatur, making natural functional clothing. I use the hoodie as a base layer for hiking and skiing and couldn’t be happier with it.
For running, I use just the shirt for temps above 5°C and add the hoodie on colder days. They may seem too thin for such conditions, but the combination of both layers and intense physical activity makes 5°C feel like a summer’s day.
The shirt and hoodie are both available at Hessnatur.de (Germany)
There may be similar options available in your location, for example, here is an Amazon US search. (Affiliate Links*)
Running Pants / Tights: New Balance Impact (Not Eco)
I bought these three years ago, before I realized how much damage on our health end environment polyester clothing inflicts. As the damage of producing and buying them has already been done, I have decided to keep using them until they break, even though with every wash they shed micro plastic into the water. It helps that Swiss sewage operators claim to filter 98% of such microplastic pollutants from the water, even if it’s not 100%. The situation in your municipality may vary.
Now I did do my research on sustainability at the time of buying, which is how I arrived at New Balance as a brand choice. While they have similar issues as all other big sporting goods manufacturers, they seem to do better on the social and environmental aspects of production. Not nearly good enough, but at least not completely horrible.
As for the tights themselves, they’re meant for summer, or at least not specifically meant for winter, but I find my legs keep warm enough through the intense activity for most temperatures. I may add some (wool) thermal pants as a base layer if they go much lower this year. Ecological aspects aside, I like them very much. They’re well made, feel good on the skin, and have been very durable so far.
If I had to buy new running pants today, I would place the highest priority on natural materials. For summer, that’s easy: Cotton-wool blend tights and shorts exist. For winter, these would be suboptimal, as cotton doesn’t wick moisture well and the 50% or so wool they contain wouldn’t be able to keep up, leaving you with sweaty wet pants in freezing temps. Or that would be the case for me at least.
As for 100% wool tights, I could swear I saw a pair intended for running on Hessnatur.de at some point, but now they only have blends. 100% wool thermal pants certainly do exist, however, and who says they can’t be used for running? I would certainly give it a try. Due to the temperature regulating nature of wool, they may even be suited for summer.
If you can’t find anything suitable, or insist on polyester, I’d definitely recommend the New Balance running tights: they’re available at Amazon (Affiliate Link*).
Since I haven’t bought any myself yet, I don’t have a recommendation for wool tights, but they certainly do exist. Here’s a quick Amazon search:
Running Socks: CEP (Not Eco)
Unfortunately, this is another Polyester Item I’m still using. As opposed to the tights though, it’s going to be difficult to find a replacement made from natural materials once these give out.
Sure, you can go running in basically any socks, and of course wool socks do exist. The thing is, I’ve gotten used to not getting blisters when going on long runs and hikes, and I have yet to make the same experience with any other type of sock. I may try thin cotton business socks with wool socks over them, reducing friction between sock and foot, but for the time being I don’t have to because these are still far from breaking.
CEP socks come with a five year warranty and I have been using this pair for three years. In that time, I’ve been absolutely happy with them and use them for hiking as well (with thicker socks over them).
If you know a good alternative from natural materials, please let us know in the comments. In the meantime, here they are on Amazon (Affiliate Link*)
Trail Runners: On Cloud Venture (Not Eco)
Is there such a thing as an ecological running shoe? I’ve wondered the same for hiking shoes, and the micro plastic left behind from the rubber soles rubbing off on the trail. With them, at least it’s only the soles, as opposed to running shoes which are completely synthetic.
On is a Swiss sports apparel start up, which made them simpatico to me when shopping for light trail shoes some five years ago. Their Cloud Venture model’s first edition was the most comfortable and lightest shoe I had ever worn up to that point. It just had a fatal flaw: The soles would only last about 300 kilometers before disintegrating.
Luckily for me, their customer service is top, which is how I got two free replacements over three years (which is more than a bit wasteful, granted. But would you say no to free $200 shoes?).
Now with their second generation, they’ve much improved the sole’s durability, with this pair lasting me more than two years already. The only gripe I have is that in an effort to save weight, they made the distance between the profile elements so great that medium sized chunks of gravel keep getting stuck there while running, which isn’t exactly comfortable. But that’s a minor issue when the shoes are this comfortable and well suited to trail running otherwise.
I will continue using these and their newer iterations until I find an ecological alternative.
They can also be found on Amazon (Affiliate Link*)
I hope you found this post interesting and maybe found some inspiration for your future running wardrobe. Please leave a comment if you know of better options for the currently not so eco items on my list, or of course just in general if you have something to add. Have a nice day 🙂
*Affiliate Links placed on this site mean that if you click one of them and end up buying a product, roman-reviews will receive a commission on that sale at no extra cost to you.