The thought of running in colder weather can be daunting, but wearing the right gear can make training in the winter a lot more comfortable.
A warm running jacket and a good pair of gloves are essential. But it’s not until we get out into that biting cold that we realize our ears could use some protection against the elements, too!
When it comes to ear covers for running, many of us think of using a beanie. But a beanie covers your entire head, and – unless you’re running in truly Arctic conditions – you’ll often find yourself getting TOO hot!
Fortunately, there are a few great products on the market designed to keep your ears toasty whilst still allowing heat to escape from the top of your head. In this guide, we’ll have a look at our favorites!
What to Look for in Ear Warmers for Runners
Before we get to our top six ear warmers for runners, let’s cover the features to look for when choosing the right type for your needs.
Ear covers for running come in a few different styles. There really isn’t a ‘best’ style to opt for – it’s more a matter of personal choice.
One option is to buy a headband. These are great at keeping you warm as they cover quite a lot of your head. They are also ideal if you prefer to hold back your hair. Headbands are very popular as they fit snugly and securely, with little chance of slipping as you run.
Earmuffs are another good choice. Whilst they don’t really hold back your hair and may not fit as snugly as headbands, they are better at preventing overheating as the focus is solely on warming your ears.
Some pairs are designed with a band that goes over your head, but better choices for runners are those that sit on the back of your head. These make it easier to wear a hat, should you need one.
Alternatively, you might want to give bandless earmuffs (sometimes called ear cups) a try. These are elasticated and slip right on – rather like socks for your ears! They may look a little quirky – and won’t do anything to secure your hair – but they are lightweight and so comfortable you’ll barely notice they’re there!
When choosing running ear warmers, make sure they fit you perfectly. They should feel snug and secure so that they don’t move or slip as you train, which can quickly get annoying!
But make sure that they are not TOO snug – any band that’s too tight will cause unwelcome pressure on your head. Remember, too, that you might want to wear earphones as you run, so make sure there’s enough room for you to do this comfortably.
Ear warmers for running come in a variety of fabrics. Those made with spandex or elastane tend to be more stretchy and are the best choice if you’re looking for a snug fit.
Merino wool is another good option. It has great moisture-wicking properties, able to absorb up to 30% of its weight in water whilst still insulating you against the cold.
Make sure that the lining fabric will feel soft against your skin, without causing irritation. Something else to consider is to what extent your earmuffs will block out sound.
For safety reasons, it’s preferable to choose a pair that won’t completely muffle the surrounding noises.
The Best Ear Warmers for Running
#1. Turtle Fur Original Fleece Triple-Layer Headband
– Extra warm Turtle Fur Fleece, regular fit, soft and warm
– Best ear warmers for runners in very low temperatures
This snuggle fleece headband was designed in Vermont by folk who know a thing or two about very cold weather!
Offering UPF protection of 50+ and blocking 97% of UV rays, it has a quality feel and is soft against your skin, with no irritation.
There are five different colors to pick from, and the headband is versatile, fitting most adults along with juniors and teens.
It washes well – with no pilling – and is a great ethical choice, too! If you tag and share a pic of yourself in your headband, Turtle Fur will donate one hat or cold weather accessory via the Project Warmth initiative to someone in need.
#2. Smartwool Thermal Merino Pattern Reversible Headband
– Versatile, soft, and made from thermo-regulating Merino wool
– Best ear warmers for runners who look for maximum coverage
We love the reversible design of this headband that allows you to change up your look.
It’s wide enough to keep most of your head warm without overheating and is perfect for holding back your hair.
The great thing about the Merino wool used for this headband is that it’s both softer and thinner than regular wool. This means it won’t irritate your skin and provides just the right level of insulation, quickly transporting away sweat as your temperature rises.
Wool is also an environmentally-friendly choice, being both natural and renewable.
The seams are flat, so you get a sleek look without bulk, and the interlock knit construction provides a stretchy, comfortable fit.
#3. TrailHeads Ponytail Headband
– Moisture-wicking and lightweight, made from a stretchy polyester/spandex blend
– Best ear warmers for runners with long hair
It’s not always easy to wear a headband if you have a ponytail, but TrailHeads has you covered with this design, which easily accommodates your hair!
There is a stretchy 4 1/4-inch opening at the back to secure your hair when you need to, but it’s subtle enough not to notice if you choose to wear your hair loose instead.
The reflective details are great for improving your visibility when running in low-light conditions, whilst the soft-brushed fabric keeps you warm without overheating.
The only downside? Because of the positioning of the opening, this headband will only work if you wear your ponytail very low.
#4. Winter Fleece Ear Warmers
– Brushed thermal lining, non-slip design, and available in multiple colors
– Best budget ear warmers for runners
Made from a cozy but stretchy combination of 75% high-density fleece and 25% polyester, this headband is breathable and comfortable.
It is easy to wash, dries quickly, and won’t lose its color. It’s also very lightweight and fits snugly, so you won’t find yourself having to constantly adjust it as you train.
One size fits pretty much everyone, although the manufacturers recommend the headband for a head circumference of 21 to 24 inches.
Whilst this headband isn’t quite cut out for very low temperatures and freezing winds, it works fine for moderate winter weather and is great value for money!
#5. Sprigs Earbags Bandless Ear Warmers/Earmuffs with Thinsulate
– Fleece lining, snap-on technology, compact design for storage
– Best band-free ear warmers
Most ear covers for running wrap around your head, which can really play havoc with your hair. The answer is to try these bandless ear warmers that snap securely over your ears instead!
They come in three different sizes, so it’s easy to get a good fit, and they are incredibly warm, with a fleece interior lining to keep out the winter chill.
There are also 2 layers of Thinsulate between that and the outer shell for maximum insulation.
These ear warmers are so small that you can easily pop them into your pocket after use.
The manufacturer even suggests treating yourself to several pairs, so you can store a set in each of your running jackets!
You can wear these Earbags with smaller earrings but bear in mind that you’ll need to take out larger hoops.
#6. Degrees by 180s Winter Ear Warmers
– Foldable, adjustable, and with a snug fit for security
– Best all-around ear warmers for runners
These are the original behind-the-head ear warmers, with a patented design that makes them more comfortable for runners than traditional over-the-head earmuffs.
The design is also ideal if you’re looking for a product to keep your ears warm without messing up your hair!
Available in 8 different colors and sold singly or in pairs, they fold to a compact size for storage and have adjustable frames that allow for a custom fit.
This means they’ll stay firmly in place throughout your run without feeling uncomfortably tight.
The coverage over the ear area is generous – even for larger ears – and they feel nice and warm, with wind- and water-resistant polyester insulation.
The Best Ear Warmers for Runners: Key Takeaways
Dropping temperatures don’t have to signal the end of your training, and the right cold-weather accessories can keep you running throughout the winter.
These ear warmers are specifically designed to stay in place as you move and make the perfect alternative to the full coverage of a beanie in chilly conditions.
We hope this guide has helped you identify the right product for your needs so you’re ready to face the coldest days with confidence!
Need Some Motivation to Keep Running Through the Winter?
Falling temperatures affect our bodies in different ways. Preparing properly for running in the winter can help prevent problems and keep you training, even on the chilliest days!
Find out more in our Guide to Cold Weather Running.