If you live in a cold climate and enjoy a bit of winter running, you need to add a pair of the best earmuffs and ear warmers for runners to your cold-weather gear collection.
Trust me, having cold ears is not fun! Not only can the outside of your ears suffer (especially in icy wind), but leaving your ears unprotected in winter weather while running can open you up to an ear infection.
The good news is that you can wear earmuffs or ear warmers even with your earphones in, so you won’t have to sacrifice your music.
They just keep your ears cozy and protected from nasty winds and icy air. If we had to pick just one, we’d go for the 180s Fleece Ear Warmer. It has a comfortable, behind-the-head design, can be adjusted to fit just about anyone and is resistant to both wind and a moderate amount of water.
In the first half of this article, we’ll cover ear muffs. In the second, we’ll review headband-style ear warmers. Here are our top ten earmuffs and ear warmers!
Top 4 Best and Favorites
180s Fleece Ear Warmer
Sprigs Earbags Bandless Ear Warmers
Luther Pike Seattle Ear Warmers
Columbia Thermarator Headring
1. 180s Fleece Ear Warmer
This fleecy ear warmer is super comfortable. It’s built for deep winter, using polyester insulation that’s wind and water-resistant to keep your ears as protected as possible.
A unique behind-the-head design means they fit comfortably. The soft material leaves no chance for chafing, and it’s adjustable so it can fit almost any size head without discomfort or tightness.
You’re also able to fold them up so you can carry them around and store them in small spaces quite easily. They’ll fit perfectly inside a gym bag, a backpack, or a glove compartment.
They’re warm, comfortable, unobtrusive, and we really like that they don’t interfere with glasses or earphones. These ear warmers are just a small but extremely useful thing you can add to your gear, and you’ll soon wonder how you ever ran in the old without them!
As with everything you buy online, it’s wise to do your research before choosing a seller. There are cheap imitations everywhere, and you want to buy from someone reputable in order to receive the great quality product we’re talking about!
- Comfy behind-the-head design
- Adjustable click-to-fit frames
- Wind and water-resistant
- Can be worn with glass or earphones
- Slightly more pricey than others
- The foldable band has a tendency to twist, which can cause it to break easily
Top Bandless Ear Warmer
2. Sprigs Earbags Bandless Ear Warmers
They can look a little weird, and like you just have naturally extremely fluffy ears, but there’s no denying these bandless ear warmers are pretty cool. There’s no need to worry about an uncomfortable strip of plastic causing a tension headache, or messing up your hair.
Although they look pretty small, they’re super warm! The inner fleece lining keeps the surface of your ear toasty, and between that and the fluffy outer shell, there’s a double layer of Thinsulate (a wind-resistant type of fabric).
These little ear warmers use something called “Snap-On technology”, which means you simply place them over your ear and click them down to snap into a holding position.
They’re light and small, and very easy to slip into any kind of bag or even a pocket. Buy a few pairs and leave one in each bag!
These ear warmers come in three sizes, more than 10 colors, and can be used with small earrings, and even work with earphones.
- Bandless for extra convenience
- Double layer of Thinsulate
- Interior fleece lining
- 90-day warranty
- They may fall off easily if they’re not properly snapped in place
Best Budget Ear Warmers
3. Luther Pike Seattle Ear Warmers
Just looking at these ear warmers, you can see how warm they are! The inners are fluffy and will insulate your ears really nicely while feeling soft and comfy.
You’ll find them in a variety of colors and patterns, some plain and some fancier. These ear warmers are also of the behind-the-head variety, which means there’s less chance of them ruffling your hair.
You can adjust them to fit you comfortably, and fold them up to a small size when you’re not using them, so they don’t take up a lot of space. You can fit them quite easily into a pocket or gym bag compartment.
We’ve chosen these as our best budget ear warmers, but don’t let the nice price fool you into thinking they’re of lower quality. They’ll do their job well, and won’t leave your ears feeling sore or irritated.
- Easily adjustable for a snug fit
- Comfortable and soft fleece lining
- Provides full ear coverage
- Variety of colors and patterns
- Runners with larger head circumferences may find that these don’t extend enough to fit them
4. Lambor Studios Ear Warmers
These unisex warmers are neutral in color and have a few patterns to choose from. They’re smart enough to be worn casually as well as in business settings.
Their extension is a bit more than most other warmers. You can adjust these from 15.7 inches to 17.3 inches in diameter, so no matter the size of your head, you should be able to wear these comfortably and snugly.
They’re large enough to fully cover the ear and they’re also fairly thin. Despite that, they keep the warmth in nicely and are soft on the skin, with a faux fur lining. They’ll also keep wind and water out, to an extent.
You’ll still be able to hear quite well with these on, and you should also be able to wear them over a small set of in-ear earphones.
- Adjustable and foldable
- Soft faux fur lining
- Doesn’t affect your hearing
- Wind and water-resistant
- The faux fur lining can be slippery and cause them to move around on your ears
Best Traditional Ear Warmers
5. 180s American Wool Ear Warmer
Wool is known to be a warm material, and it’s great for use in colder weather. 180s designed the first behind-the-head warmers back in the 90s, and this one is a replica of the original.
As well as prime wool, the inner is a Sherpa lining that can withstand extreme cold and employs something called Primaloft insulation. Also known as “synthetic down”, PrimaLoft retains heat extremely well, having been developed for the US Army.
A Click-to-Fit frame allows the strap to fit just about any head. They’re also foldable, so you can easily carry them with you wherever you go, whether it’s work, the gym, or on an outdoor run.
Just a few buyers have mentioned that the headband could do with some more padding, so be aware of that before you get one if you’re sensitive to things like that!
- Made with premium wool
- Unique Primaloft insulation
- Collapses into a very small size
- Click-to-Fit frames
- The headband is not very padded and may hurt some people’s heads
Best Reflective Ear Warmer
6. Asics Lite Show Ear Cover
If you’re already used to running with a headband in warmer weather, you may prefer a cold-weather, ear-warming headband instead of a set of ear warmers or earmuffs. This is our top choice for a reflective ear warmer headband.
Safety is as important as keeping your ears snug in the winter. Light is generally a little less, so a reflective element is a good idea to increase your safety on the road. This headband is super easy to use and unisex, so anyone can wear it.
They use their patented Lite-Show technology to create highly reflective branding on the headband, which will light up when hit by a vehicle’s headlamps.
It’s crafted from a soft fleece knit fabric, so there should be no irritation of the skin or hairline. The material is also wind and water-resistant and makes use of MotionDry technology to wick away sweat at the same time, keeping your dry.
- Lite-Show technology
- Soft knit fabric
- Wind and water-resistant
- MotionDry Technology
- It’s one-size-fits-all, but it may not stretch enough to fit some runners
Top Breathable Ear Warmer
7. Brooks Greenlight Headband
Breathability is underrated when it comes to headbands. If your headband isn’t breathable enough, you can end up feeling like it’s constricting, uncomfortable, and far too warm (even in the cold).
Made from a mix of polyester and spandex, this handy headband is stretchy, durable, and breathable. The DriLayer fabric wicks away moisture and allows for good ventilation, helping your body to thermoregulate properly so you stay at the optimal temperature.
It’s designed with side insulation to fit all the way around your ears so no part is left to the elements. The flat seams prevent chafing and keep a snug fit. We like that they’ve added reflective detailing on the front and back to make you more visible in murky winter weather.
- DriLayer sweat-wicking fabric
- Reflective elements on front and back
- Flat seams prevent chafing
- Added side insulation for full ear coverage
- Slightly more pricey than some ear warmers
Best Thermal Headband
8. Columbia Thermarator Headring
If you live somewhere that snows and you don’t have a treadmill (or you just like running in the snow!) it would be a good idea to consider a thermal headband.
The Columbia Thermarator Headring is crafted from reflective polyester fleece. Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective technology uses a vast array of tiny silver dots inside their headbands (which you can see if you turn it inside out).
These little dots retain and reflect your own body heat back to you, keeping your body temperature constant, even in icy conditions. Pretty cool!
- Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective technology
- Made from soft 100% polyester
- One size fits all
- Flat seams for comfort
- The headring runs small and may not stretch to every size
Best Nike Headband
9. Nike Knit Headband
Nike has made sure your ears will stay warm and protected with this double-layer headband. It’s wider than average, so it provides maximum coverage without feeling like you’re being smothered.
The inner fleece lining traps warmth and keeps you cozy while wicking away moisture to keep you as comfortable as possible.
It’s also super for keeping long or unruly hair in place when running. These headbands are one-size-fits-most, and although they should be able to stretch nicely, they may not fit runners with larger heads.
- Double-layer design
- Soft fleece lining
- Stretchy, elastic material
- Flat seams for less chafing
- Although one-size-fits-most, it may not fit everybody
Top Headband for Ponytails
10. Trailheads Ponytail Headband
Ladies with ponytails, I feel your pain when it comes to wearing headbands or anything that wraps around the head. A cap is helpful but won’t provide the insulation you need in the cold.
Thankfully, the Trailheads Ponytail Headband combats the problem in an easy and effective way!
A ponytail hole at the back of the headband allows you to slip your ponytail through and fit the rest of the headband snugly, with your tied-up hair out of the way and safe. You can even wrap your hair into a bun once you’ve pulled it through.
It’s quite wide, so it will provide a good bit of coverage over the forehead. It’s also contoured to cover the ears nicely, and the brushed fleece interior will provide warmth while staying lightweight.
The four-way stretch material should allow for a decent fit on just about any head. But it’s said to run slightly small, so it could be a good idea to go half a size up. Also, be aware that if you have a very thick ponytail, you may struggle to fit it through the standard-sized hole in the headband.
- Ponytail-compatible opening
- One-size-fits-most headband
- Four-way stretch
- Soft, polyester fleece
- This headband can run small and may feel tight
Not sure which of the best earmuffs and ear warmers for runners you should get? Here are some frequently asked questions to help you understand how to choose the right ones.
How Do I Keep My Ears Warm While Running?
One of the best ways to keep your ears warm when running in cold weather is to use either earmuffs or a headband.
There’s a range of cool products to choose from that will not only keep you warm but will satisfy the fashionista in you, too!
Anything that covers your ears while running will keep them warm, but hats, normal headbands, and makeshift ear warmers aren’t quite going to do the trick.
They simply don’t have the insulation to keep you warm, which is why it’s a great idea to go for ear warmers or a headband designed specifically for that purpose.
What Do You Need to Consider When Buying Earmuffs?
When buying your earmuffs, take the following into consideration:
Choose earmuffs where the outer shell is made from weather-resistant material. This will help keep the chill out and they’ll withstand the elements.
For the inner material, go for soft fabric that will help retain the heat, but without irritating your skin.
The material used can also affect your hearing. It’s preferable not to get a pair that blocks sounds out completely – you still need to be aware of your surroundings!
You don’t need earmuffs that cover up half your head! Choose a pair that will fit comfortably over your ears without too much extra space.
If you like to listen to music while you run, take that into consideration when choosing a pair. You don’t want your earmuffs to be too tight and turn your headphones into pressure points on your ears.
In that case, you may be better with a size up. They should be a snug fit and require minimal adjustments while you’re running.
You can also choose from a variety of colors. If you like to color-coordinate your running gear or if you prefer bright neon colors with funky patterns, you’ll find an earmuff that will satisfy your wardrobe needs.
Many earmuffs and headbands also have reflective details on them to help you remain visible in low light.
You don’t need to worry about hat hair anymore or having to place your ponytail higher on your head just to have a comfortable fit.
You can choose a pair of earmuffs that wrap around the back of your head, the traditional over-head type, or those that you simply slip onto your ears. It all depends on what you’re most comfortable with.
If you prefer something that feels more snug, a headband that’s designed to keep your ears warm could be the best bet.
Very few things compare to the discomfort of cold ears as you run! Make sure that the material used to line the earmuffs helps to insulate the heat. This will keep your ears warm, even on the windiest of mornings.
Not all material is created equal. Some don’t retain heat as well as others, or they’re too breathable… Or not breathable enough.
Fleece has long been used for its warming properties, and its softness often means that there’s no skin irritation either.
Standard or Bandless
This will come down to personal preference and what you’re most comfortable with while running!