Running in ice and snow may seem like the worst idea for some people. For others, it’s an ideal running environment.
Most runners begin training for spring or summer marathons in the winter months, so ice and snow is often unavoidable. The temperatures, whilst freezing, can actually be ideal for running as the chance of exhaustion from overheating is minimal.
Despite the idyllic temperatures, ice and snow can inevitably be dangerous for runners. Your body changes when it moves on uneven or slippery surfaces, as your muscles naturally tense up to maintain balance and control.
If you are running on snow or ice with your normal running shoes, you will find that you will spend more time worrying about not falling over rather than actually running.
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your regular running shoes for icy and snowy terrains.
We understand the importance of training all year around, regardless of the weather conditions.
That’s why we have found the best shoes for running on ice and snow, so you don’t have to worry about the ground you are running on! We have also compiled a useful buyer’s guide and frequently asked questions section.
In a rush? Our top pick is the Salomon Men's Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoes for their impressive traction and stability. These shoes come with deep lugs for gripping into harsh and uneven terrains, along with a new and improved upper for providing ergonomic support.
OUR TOP PICK
Salomon is a trusted brand in the footwear industry, as they consistently improve their designs to create the next best running shoe for a variety of terrains.
The Speedcross 5 Trail shoes are no exception to this, as the design has been improved by its deeper and sharper lugs. This is to provide better grip and traction to prevent slippage on ice and snow, as well as encouraging an improved push-off.
These shoes are all about providing the right amount of stability matched with the right amount of comfort. They come with a cradle on the heel to provide extra stability in harsh terrains, which in turn improves the push-off.
The upper is completely welded to offer freedom of movement and flexibility. They are designed so you don’t have to think about the weather conditions, as the shoes will adapt to the terrain regardless of how slippery it is.
These shoes also come in a women's version.
- Strong traction and grip with deeper lugs
- Comfortable mesh material
- Welded upper
- Designed for harsh and uneven terrain
- Elevated heel for better push-off
- Water-resistant, though not completely waterproof
Saucony is another highly trusted brand in the footwear industry. These running shoes are designed specifically for ice terrains, as suggested by the title.
The Peregrine 8 ICE+ running shoes feature a unique outsole and Wet Ice Tech to allow users to run without fear of slipping, which allows them to reach their full potential regardless of the weather. The terrain can range from ice, snow, trail, or grass.
The outsole lugs are 6 millimeters tall, which is enough to provide a substantial amount of traction in ice and snow. These lugs are matched with an arch to provide stability and comfort.
The midsole is made of a foam to allow for a cushioning system upon impact, which also works to prevent twisted ankles. Durable and safety-designed, these shoes are ideal for ice and snow.
- Comfortable and durable
- Suitable lugs for traction and grip
- Foam midsole for comfort upon impact
- Warmer than regular running shoes
- Not completely waterproof in sludgy snow conditions
The ALTRA Lone Peak running shoes stand out on the market for their unique fit. These shoes feature a FootShape toe box, which fits around the toes to provide complete comfort and relaxation.
This is really important for ice and snow terrains, as your toes will naturally try to grip on to your shoes to prevent slipping - which can ultimately affect the pace and technique of running. This toe box design eliminates this!
In terms of traction, these shoes have rugged MaxTrac rubber lugs and a foam midsole to increase resilience and grip. These shoes are comfortable and durable with its foam midsole for cushioning and quick-dry mesh upper.
Along with this quick-dry feature is an attached tongue to prevent snow and water from getting into the shoe.
- High quality and durable
- Toe box feature for comfort and grip
- Rugged rubber lugs for traction
- Quick-dry feature and tongue for water and snow
- Not recommended for those with high arches, as they might be constricting.
Another Saucony product, the Excursion TR11 shoes are the updated and improved version of the Excursion TR10 shoes.
These shoes are made of a breathable mesh that is as flexible as it is waterproof with its GORE-TEX upper. This material also works to prevent debris from entering the shoe.
The traction and grip is achieved through its XT-600 carbon rubber lugs on the outsole, allowing for durability in harsh terrains and weather conditions that would otherwise destroy the sole of running shoes.
These shoes are ergonomically designed to work alongside running feet that hit the ground upon impact.
With a cushioned inner sole and pronation control, they work to prevent ankles from rolling and to provide a push-off bounce.
- Breathable and waterproof material
- Cushioned for comfort
- Durable rubber lugs for traction
- Pronation control to prevent rolling ankles
- Shoes run slightly narrower and small in size
The last product on our list is another Salomon product. The Speedcross 4 Trail shoes are the less-developed version of our top product, the 5 Trail shoes, but they still deserve a worthy mention.
These shoes are lightweight and feature a Gore-Tex membrane for flexibility and freedom of movement - ideal for longer running sessions. The Gore-Tex lining is also good for water-resistance.
These shoes are designed with comfort and stability in mind. The Sensifit system is available to wrap around the foot without restricting it, which is perfect for providing balance and stability in slipper terrains. Traction is achieved by the Wet Traction Contagrip sole made of rubber lugs.
These particular shoes are designed for women, but there is also a men’s option available.
- Comfortable and slim fitting design
- Good traction
- Lightweight for long running sessions
- The 5 Trail is the successor to the 4 Trail design
Best Shoes for Running on Ice and Snow Buying Guide
What to look for in running shoes for ice and snow:
Whilst not everyone can afford to buy multiple pairs of running shoes for different environments, it’s not recommended to wear regular running shoes in ice and snow.
Your shoes may feel grippy and stable on a road or on grass, but this won’t be the same for slippery conditions.
Not only is this due to the design of the shoe, but our muscles naturally become more tense in an attempt to retain balance and control.
With tense muscles comes an unnatural running stance, that could be more redundant if you are training for a running event.
Here is what to consider when you are looking for running shoes for ice and snow.
The traction is the most important feature in ice and snow running shoes. Good traction and grip provides confidence with running on uneven or slippery surfaces, which is highly beneficial for training purposes.
The best shoes that offer traction include shoes that have rugged lugs. These lugs look similar to soccer cleats, and they act in a similar way as they grip into snow or ice rather than glide over it. This is beneficial for the push-off as well.
Unfortunately, no running shoes will ever be 100% waterproof or water-resistant. Snow will always find a way to soak through, but some shoes are better equipped for this than others.
Mesh-based materials are generally the best for running shoes as it provides breathability and freedom of movement, however it isn’t entirely waterproof.
Shoes that are more water-resistant than others will have a cap on the upper by the toes, which will act as a barrier to prevent water from seeping through. The best way to prevent water from affecting your run, however, is to invest in thermal running socks.
Regular running shoes are designed to be breathable as your feet become warmer and warmer, but for ice and snow shoes this is another story.
These shoes need to provide the right amount of breathability with warmth to prevent your feet from getting so cold they no longer work.
This is usually achieved by a slim-fit design. You should never have to sacrifice your comfort for what you assume to be “good” shoes.
Every foot shape is different, so you may need to kiss a few frogs and try more than one running shoe to see what works for you.
There actually is a limited amount of running shoes specifically for snow and ice on the market, because there are other options available.
If you don’t want to buy another pair of running shoes as you are so comfortable in your own shoes, why not look into attachable cleats?
These literally clip on to the bottom of regular running trainers, and provide great traction. However, you may struggle with the warmth and water-resistance that specific ice and snow running shoes offer.
Other accessories that are important for running in ice and snow conditions include socks, gloves, and appropriate clothing. Running socks provide comfort, warmth, and an extra barrier of water-resistance.
Likewise, shoe covers sit between the ankle and shoe to offer extra security. Running in cold weather is hard enough as it is, so you need to be prepared for your own comfort and safety!
When running on ice and snow, take it nice and slow. These are harsh conditions that could create injury to stop you from running in the future. Sure, running on snow and ice might be an ideal condition for you if you prefer taking shorter strides!
If you are on a trail that looks like there is black ice, avoid it like the plague. It’s not worth trying out your new shoes for black ice, because there really isn’t anything that is designed to grip it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I wear my normal running shoes in ice and snow?
Regular running shoes are designed for normal terrains, such as road or grass. The soles of these shoes are flat, which means they provide no traction or grip on ice or snow.
This means it is highly not recommended to just wear your normal running shoes in these conditions, as you will risk injuring yourself.
However, if you don’t want to buy a separate pair of running shoes specifically for these conditions, you can purchase attachable cleats. These clip on to the sole of your regular running shoes, which gives them a more suitable amount of traction.
However, remember that your regular running shoes may not be as water-resistant as the running shoes we have recommended.
Should I run in ice and snow?
Generally speaking, this isn’t recommended unless you are an expert in running in these conditions.
Sometimes you may encounter a trail that has an unexpected amount of ice or snow, in which case you can’t prepare yourself.
Due to the risk of injury, you should only run in ice and snow if you have the right footwear and equipment, and if you have a good running technique for these conditions.
How do you run in ice and snow conditions?
The best way to run in ice and snow conditions, other than not at all, is to take it slow. Your strides need to be shorter and your run will not be fast, so it’s more of a stamina-building terrain than a speed-building one.
Running in these conditions takes time and practice, and should only happen if you are aware of the risks and your own techniques to avoid these risks.
Though this is common sense, avoid ice and black ice more than anything. Snow provides slightly more grip if it has not turned to sludge, but ice does not offer any traction or grip.