Part 2 - Bottoms

What to Wear When Cold Colder Coldest

Welcome Back Fleet Feet Friends

As noted in yesterdays newsletter, this week I will be sending out mini education debriefings on what to wear when cold colder coldest. Each Fall I give this seminar in person, and it is one of our most popular talks. When living in Upstate NY, you need to find a way to remain active all year. This educational debrief will help teach you on what to wear so you can walk or run outdoors all cold weather season long. The Fleet Feet Team is always ready to help you in store to find the right gear for you.

I will also share that this coming season is one of the BEST times to get outdoors. So, read on for some tips.

Yesterday we covered Your Feet. As we move up the body, today we discuss below the belt and the topic is


To Recap from yesterday, typically when seeking the correct cold weather apparel you do not want COTTON. In the run industry, we say Cotton in Rotten for exercise because it holds moisture, remains wet, gets heavy, can chafe and will not move moisture away from the body.

So, what should you look for?

Look for Wool or Polyester. Wool is organic and amazing for keeping you warm, wicking moisture and can last a long long time. Polyester is a man made fabric and is becoming more sustainable. Both fabrics are. Typically for Bottoms, the polyester will also have a blend of nylon or spandex, among other "polyester" type fabrics. depending on what the goal of the bottom is. It isn't uncommon to see a wool/poly blend either.


In our talk I find it important to explain that cold weather gear construction is not like making shorts, short sleeves or tanks for the warm months. The craftmanship that goes into making cold weather gear is tremendous, and as such it will last a long long time, especially if you make the proper investments in it. So, please do not fear what the price tag may say, because these pieces last years, thus it is money well spent on your health, your safety and your wardrobe. In addition, when you see the detailing of this gear, you can see how much effort goes into thinking about the pocketing, the fabric layering, the pattern, zippers, reflective touches etc... As a former Apparel Product Mgr and now Apparel Buyer for over 20 years we hand pick every piece that is on our floor to serve your needs. Therefore we take everything into consideration when making sure we have the correct gear in our stores for you.


While yes there are "gender specific" denoted styles, this is one season where we tell people based on their body frame that they may find the men's garment fits better or a women's garment may fit better. For example, tall women often find success in men's pants or tights because it will cover their whole leg and not ride up. Conversely men who are shorter or more slight may find women's bottoms more suitable. Likewise, I (Ellen) have wider hips and have found some men's bottoms more comfortable than women's. The patterning is very similar and we are all built differently so please do not feel you need to stay with a garment that specifically says men's or women's. Plus especially if it's a black bottom, no one has a single clue what gender type you are wearing..

We basically tell people when looking for the right bottom, grab a few of the size you are from the racks and try them all on. This way you do not have to keep exitting the dressing room and you can see the breadth of options that can work. Each may fit differently. In addition, if you find a bottom that works, get a second one. We liken it to women's jeans. Once you find a pair that fits, get a second one. A third may not hurt either. Being comfortable in what you wear is a big part of Cold Weather Exercise success. And of course, the Fleet Feet team can walk you around the stores and help select the right pieces and even get you sizing.

Bottoms and Layering

When it is really cold, you may find that your legs and hind section becomes really cold and turns reddish hue. Cold tends to settle in the fattiest part of our bodies, thus thighs and hind section for women and bellies for men. This indeed can change per person, but this tends to be the more common outcome. In conditions where the temperatures are below 25 and especially add wind this takes the real feel down to a level where you will feel your lower extremities get really really cold.

Luckily there are solutions. Depicted is a Kari Traa women's baselayer tight that you can wear under Pants or Tights. This is a great solution for those more extreme cold days. This will move the moisture away from the body and keep you warmer. For men, they definitively need to have protection, because it can become dangerous, but there is a solution so you can still play. Polyester or Wool underwear, wind front pants or tights or thinner tights under pants. We still go outdoors in the coldest of cold and if you have the right gear you will be ok in Upstate NY.

Depicted at the top are examples of in-store Women's Pants and the bottom pic are Men's Pants. To the Right at the top are Women's Tights and the bottom right are Men's Tights. These are just a sampling of options in store.

Pants VS Tights

Which one is better? The short answer, neither are better than the other, they both work great. It comes down to a personal preference. Some people prefer exercising in looser clothing, some people prefer exercising in tighter clothing. Both Pants and Tights will work in the Cold, Colder, Coldest. What you do need to look at is the temperature outside and the wind and/or precipitation occurring with it.

All garments have different weight fabrics. Thinner weight is perfect for those that don't need to wear a lot of clothing because their bodies are basically heaters unto themselves or if the temp is milder, say 45 degrees and up.

When the temps start dropping this is where brushed back fabrics or wind front bottoms play a role.

What is brushed back? If you stick your hand inside the garment and feel a soft brushed like feeling this is brushed back. Its a specific process they use to make the fabric do that. The result is a fabric that will provide a little extra warmth. So when shopping for bottoms and you know you want something warmer feel the inside or have the Fleet Feet staff show you.

Let's get it colder outside - sub 25 or 20 degrees with lots of wind. In this scenario, some will wear a wind front garment. This will help repel the wind so it doesn't go through the fabric and make you colder. You will find this garment most appropriate around these parts in late December, January and February (basically sub 20 degrees). Because you will still be exercising out there in those months. It is some of the best times of the year and often the sun is shining. And if there is snow occurring, it won't make you wet and you'll have gorgeous scenery.

What Works for Me?

First you need to determine if you run "hot" or "cold". What does this mean? When you go home on any regular day and get changed into something comfortable, do you put on shorts and short sleeve or do you put on your coziest, snuggliest sweat pants and sweat shirt? If you are the shorts and short sleeve person you typically run "hot", which means you can withstand colder temperatures than most people, thus you may not need to wear as thick of fabric or as much fabric. If you are the sweat pants and sweat shirt wearer, you likely will need to go to the warmer fabrics once the temps dip towards the 40s and for some people 50s. And in the 20s and below, you wear the warmest of warm bottoms. In essence, you run "cold".

Now, if you are neither you're pretty lucky because you can acclimate a little better in all conditions. Still wearing pants or tights, but may not need the heaviest until it gets 20s or below.

Admittedly, you do need to try it out and see what works best for you. But keep in mind the colder it is and if your skin is exposed the higher the risk of frost bite and hypothermia. This can even happen in 45 degrees and rain.

Thank you for reading Part 2, the debrief on the types of bottoms, layering of bottoms and fabrication of them based on weather. As mentioned, the Fleet Feet Team is ready to help! Stop in anytime. We want to help you remain outdoors all cold season long.

In Part 3 - we will move up the body and discuss what type of tops to wear.

If you missed Part 1 - see below for the link.

Regards, The Team at Fleet Feet

Part 1 - Your Feet (What to Wear when Cold, Colder, Coldest)

You can view Part 1 here:

Fleet Feet Rochester: 155 Culver Road, Rochester, NY 14620

Fleet Feet Buffalo: 2290 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14216

Fleet feet Victor: 239 High Point Ext, Victor, NY 14564