Holiday gift guide for the winter runner in Toronto

Toronto is a city of runners. Any park, any time of year, people can be found splashing through puddles, pounding the pavement or scampering through the freshly fallen snow. Yes, winter is not everyone's favourite time of the year for a jog, but at least it's not as crowded! Right? Anyone? 

The trick with winter running, more than any other time, is to have the right gear. Running in the summer, heck you barely need any gear at all. Some people just run barefoot with a little pair of shorts, and away they go. Where's the challenge? Throw in the snow, the sleet, the freezing temperatures and there are risks involved, preparation required. 

So, if you have a fleet-footed person to buy for this holiday season, here are a few choice items to ensure a safe return to running this winter. 

First: The Feet

Nothing is more important than protecting your feet when winter running and ensuring good traction over ice and slush. Feet need to stay dry, feet need to stay warm and feet need to stay on the ground. To this end, consider this swanky pair of Saucony Razor Ice+ winter running shoes, $219.99 (available at Sporting Life). The key with winter running is the overlay without the sewn seams where ice and snow can get in there and do its chilly business And, the Vibram Arctic Grip offers up serious traction, just what is needed. You won't clock the best times of the year, but you'll be bone dry. 

Second: The legs

Once the legs start pumping, they work pretty well in most conditions. But, a little insulation in the winter is a must, and even protection from the wind. The MEC Flyer Tights, $85, are a great gift item because they are good for running, and most any other activity from a little light luging to walking the dog or even some viking biking if you're so inclined. The front panels offer some windblock. The brushed inside feels warm and cozy, there are reflective strips aplenty and tidy zipped ankles. 

Third: Bring the base

Layering the body with a base that wicks away sweat, a second layer that adds warmth is the standard formula by which many a winter runner has survived even the chilliest of days. Icebreaker is a New Zealand company that has impressed with its line of merino wool athletic products that act as superior base layer for outdoor shenanigans. For example, this women's BodyfitZONE half-zip, $129.99, is a very lightweight merino wool base layer with plenty of ventilation for those long run days and flatlock seams so it doesn't chafe. 

Fourth: The wrapping

On top of your now wonderfully wicking layers, wrap a nice soft shell over top for maximum comfort and protection and minimum weight. And, don't forget that Nordic ski gear is a great and often more affordable option for winter running. This stunning Equippe softshell jacket, $180, is plucked from Salomon's Nordic collection but is absolutely perfect for a winter running garment. It weights just 520g, and it is infinitely breathable and comfortable. And it comes with that cute little chest pocket. 

Fifth: Fingers

Hand protection is key for winter running, and there is nothing wrong with wearing a warm glove as long as it's breathable and won't leave you with sweaty palm syndrome. The Runners 2 ETIP glove, $39.99, from The North Face will meet most needs: wind protection, reflective, water resistant, and they are light.

Sixth: Toes

Here's a trick: Never underestimate the value of a fine pair of warm running socks. Try these from Fox River Velox LX ankle socks with memory-knit construction and compression zones, and available at MEC. 

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO