As we get ever-closer to winter, the temperature will continue to drop and the weather will continue to worsen. If you’re keen on keeping up your training through springtime, you’re left with two choices: invest in a treadmill or tough it out through the cold. Sure, the first option is preferable for some, but for others, it may be impossible because of space restrictions, impractical because of budget constraints, or simply undesirable because of the monotony. So, run outside it is then.
But if you’re going to brave frigid mornings and unpredictable precipitation, you can at least prepare yourself for the task. Traditional outerwear won’t cut it — it’s simply too heavy and loose-fitting to get you moving anywhere fast. Instead, your best course of action is to invest in a reliable running jacket. With their tailored fits and lightweight materials, they’re hardly even noticeable when worn. And thanks to their packable designs, they’re easier than ever to carry should the weather change while you’re out on a run. Just in time for winter, we’ve scoured the web for the best running jackets available. Read on to see what we’ve picked.
Choosing The Right Jacket For Your Needs
What To Look For
Fit: One of the defining features that sets running jackets apart from your standard technical shell is their fit. Typically built with a tapered construction and elastic hems, running jackets are designed to stay close to your body and out of the way, leaving you free to move through your stride. Some of these options even come with four-way stretch fabric to guarantee an unrivaled range of motion.
Weatherproofing: When buying a running jacket, it’s important to determine the worst conditions in which you’re willing to run. For instance, if a light drizzle is the most you’ll encounter, a completely element-resistant offering is going to be overkill. On the other hand, if your training stops for nothing, no matter how gnarly the weather gets, a jacket with minimal waterproof provisions is going to leave you soaked. It’s important to note that water-resistant and waterproof are not the same thing; while the former may allow for some ingress with enough saturation, the latter is completely impervious to moisture.
Warmth: The warmth of your jacket will depend entirely upon your individual preferences. If you’re one to run hot, we suggest that you spring for a shell or some other lighter weight offering and layer up when the temperature dips. Otherwise, you’ll start out comfortable and quickly become too warm, leading to sweating and — as a result — unwanted cooling. However, if you need a truly winter-ready running jacket, your best bet will be a model with some in-built insulation. Blocking the wind will only go so far if you don’t have the right layers to keep you toasty.
Packability: Given that runners are a fickle breed, many manufacturers have started including a pocket for easy packing on the run. In practice, this means that instead of suffering through a sweat fest when things get too warm or hauling your jacket along in your hands, you can instead stow it inside itself for convenient carry. As an added bonus, some even come with a strap to minimize their packed-away presence.
New Balance Impact Run Light Pack
Although New Balance’s Impact Run Light Pack jacket comes in at the lowest price point on our list, it offers a solid value proposition. For starters, it’s a perfect pick for those who frequently find themselves struggling with temperature fluctuations over the course of their run. Built to fold away into its zippered chest pocket, it can then be worn as a waist pack for convenient hands-free carry. And just because it’s packable, don’t assume that it isn’t a solid rain jacket in its own right. With a water-resistant ripstop woven outer shell and a dropped back hem, it offers plenty of protection from the elements in a pinch. Top it off with an athletic fit built to hug your chest, waist, and hips, and the result is a jacket that makes for a capable addition to your closet while being easy on your wallet.
The Patagonia Houdini jacket has been a consistent favorite since its debut and it’s for good reason. At just 100 bones, it’s a welcome alternative to other higher-priced options. What’s more, it’s made from 100% recycled nylon and is Fair Trade Certified, so you can take pride in knowing that your purchase is paying it forward. And that’s not even mentioning its technical specs. Coated in a durable water repellent (DWR) finish and weighing just 3.7oz, the Houdini jacket is incredibly lightweight while also offering solid weatherproofing abilities. Should you find yourself in an unexpected downpour, there’s even an adjustable hood that you can cinch down with just a pull of the drawstring. Like the previous offering from New Balance, Patagonia’s Houdini jacket zips into its own chest pocket; however, it includes a reinforced carabiner with a clip-in loop for extra storage potential.
With its classic aesthetic and modern engineering, Nike’s Windrunner running jacket should be on your radar if you’re after a pick that can back up style with pavement-pounding performance. For instance, it features updated seam placement — including dropped shoulders and specially stitched underarm panels — for improved movement while on the run. Complemented by a featherweight polyester fabric construction as well as a large back vent, the Windrunner is guaranteed to keep the air flowing and keep you cool in the process. But that’s not all — Nike has even treated the jacket to some handy pocket upgrades. So, in addition to being a place to pack your jacket when you need to ditch an extra layer, they’re also spacious enough to stow all of your essentials. Available in six different color varieties, each jacket comes with a host of reflective elements to keep you visible, whether that’s on an early morning run or during some whiteout fog.
Brooks makes some of the best running apparel on the market, and their Canopy jacket is no exception; each element has been carefully considered to deliver the perfect combination of comfort, fit, and element-proof performance. Made from DriLayer Seal polyester ripstop fabric, the Canopy jacket is wind- and water-resistant while still being breathable to allow excess heat to escape. It also comes with a host of helpful items like a no-bounce hood that can be stowed when not in use; a zipper garage and chin guard to keep the zipper from rubbing; as well as a hanger loop that allows for quick, efficient drip-drying. And while it packs away into its own pocket like the above offerings, the Canopy has another trick up its sleeves — it stuffs into a built-in mesh backpack for a comfortable carry that won’t get in the way.
Arc-Teryx Incendo Hoodie
It should come as no surprise that Arc-Teryx would earn a spot on this list — they know how to put together a piece of quality active outerwear as well as anyone. When it comes to the Incendo Hoodie, Arc-Teryx has designed the jacket with an ergonomically efficient trim fit, ensuring that it stays close to the body without restricting motion. It also features gusseted underarms and articulated sleeves, leaving keep your arms free to move throughout your run, whether that’s a gentle jog in the park or a trying ascent on the trail. Made from Arc-Teryx’s proprietary Lumin material using Composite Mapping technology, the Incendo includes strategically placed fabric and mesh panels for the perfect balance of weather protection and temperature control. The result is a jacket that’s super light, resistant to wind and water, and permeable enough to assist with evaporative cooling.
Salomon Bonatti Race Waterproof
If you’re looking for the lightest weight fully element proof jacket on the market, the Bonatti Race Waterproof from Salomon is without a doubt your best bet. Coming in at just 160g (5.4oz), it’s had to make some sacrifices (like pockets), but with a jacket that’s svelte enough for racing, those are luxuries we can stand to do without. But the best part is that even without the added bulk, it’s still 10k/10k waterproof rated because of its innovative Advanced Skin Dry fabric and fully taped seams. In other words — no matter how gnarly the weather gets on your run, you can rest assured knowing that this jacket will keep you dry. And if that wasn’t enough, Salomon has also fitted the Bonatti Race Waterproof with a smart hoot, elasticated hem, and athletic fit to ensure that everything stays in place without the need for uncomfortable hardware.
The North Face Essential H20 Jacket
Like all of The North Face’s offerings, the Essential H20 Jacket comprises several key ingredients that together guarantee a recipe for success. For instance, it’s made from the brand’s DryVent 2.5L fabric, ensuring that, in addition to being water-repellent, it’s also highly breathable. What’s more, The North Face has given the Essential H20 jacket a mesh panel back vent to further improve its heat-dumping ability, ensuring that you stay dry inside and out. And with features like an adjustable hood and hem as well as some alpine-style zippered hand pockets, the Essential H20 offers a customizable fit with the added benefit of being able to stash your essentials securely. Top it off with 360-degree reflectivity and what results is a dependable performer that’ll last you for many seasons to come.
On Running Weather Jacket
Ever since On burst onto the running scene in 2010, the Swiss brand has been churning out eye-catching products that are equal parts functional gear and fashionable statement. The Weather Jacket keeps with the trend, pairing a minimalist aesthetic with a plethora of performance elements. Made out of lightweight Japanese technical fabrics, it offers 360 degrees of ventilation while being tear-proof and fast-drying. And thanks to its four-way-stretch polyamide on the back for an extra dose of weather protection, any rain you encounter will roll right off. But that’s not all — the Weather Jacket also features practical additions like a hood with a built-in cap as well as a convenient carrying strap for when it’s packed down. If you’re looking for a jacket that passes up the flash in favor of understated reliability, be sure to check out this offering from On.
Gore Wear R5 Infinium Insulated
With an ISPO Product of the Year Award notched in its belt, the R5 jacket has already proven to be a cut above its competitors. And it’s for good reason. The outer layer is made from a totally waterproof GORE-TEX INFINIUM shell, beneath which you’ll find a layer of Gore Windstopper as well as some warm POLARTEC ALPHA insulation. In practice, this means that the R5 can act as a capable standalone option, even as temperatures dip near freezing. And when it comes to ergonomics, the R5 Infinium has been specifically optimized for running efficiency thanks to Gore Wear’s Form Fit construction, adjustable hem, and close-fitting hood. All in all, this is one jacket that is ready to take on whatever winter has to offer. Because your workouts shouldn’t come at the expense of a little bad weather.
Soar Running All Weather Jacket 2.0
Founded in 2013 by racing junkie Tim Soar, Soar Running is a small British brand that’s quickly earned a reputation for its timeless technical running apparel. So, while the All Weather Jacket 2.0 carries a hefty price tag, it also comes with the performance to back it. For starters, it’s made from stretch-woven Italian fabric that’s twice-applied with a DWR finish to ensure maximum adherence to the weave. And thanks to the material’s built-in micropores, the All Weather jacket does without the internal membrane of most technical shells. Instead, a brushed inner face makes for comfortable wear, whether that’s directly on the skin or paired with a base layer. Top it off with features like reflective panels and logos, as well as a reflective film on every seam, and the result is a jacket that’ll be good for everything from crisp spring mornings to frigid winter nights.
The 15 Best Winter Running Shoes
While a reliable jacket is a good first step towards preparing yourself for a winter of running, having the proper footwear will keep you making forward progress. Head on over to our guide to the best winter running shoes to see what we’ve picked.