We can’t control Mother Nature, but we can control how comfortable we are when running.
If clouds are showing their ugly faces, or you have a hydration vest (see our hydration pack buyer’s guide here) that has ample storage for clothing, a running jacket will take you that one step closer to comfort.
But, first, it’s worth spending a minute or two to understand what types of jackets and tops are available, and which one is most suitable for you.
We’ve split up our 5-minute guide to the best running jackets into the following sections:
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Best Running Jackets – The Essential Criteria
Some features, you’ll need to pay extra for. Some, are just non-negotiable.
The more specific you are with your purchase, the more suitable the jacket will be. So first, determine what type of weather you need the jacket for.
Examples might be:
- To reduce wind-chill
- Protection again rain
Ventilation & Breathability
There’s no compromise here; you must have a jacket that’s got adequate ventilation. Otherwise, you’ll use it once, and toss it in the trash.
We’ve only included the best running jackets that are highly breathable.
Best Lightweight Running Jackets
If you’re looking for a lightweight running jacket around the $150-$200 mark, look no further than the Montane Minimus.
Featuring a ¾ zip, it’s ridiculously lightweight, weighing in at just 144g, and that includes the stuff sack!
It’s a snug fit, with an elastic in the hood, cuffs and hem. And, there’s a tiny bit of storage to be had from the chest pocket which is suitable for essentials.
If you plan to use this in windy conditions, you might find the hood becomes a little annoying; it’s got too much flex in it so tends to go wherever it wants.
The Montane Minimus isn’t just lightweight, it’s waterproof too. So, it’s the perfect companion for an all-day run, or a race where conditions are looking to be unpredictable.
For a similar price to the Montane Minimus, we’ve got the OMM Kamleika.
It’s a direct competitor in terms of overall features, but does weigh a “back-breaking” 266g, compared with the 144g from Montane.
Like the Montane, it’s got a handy ¾ length zip featuring the large front pocket. The difference here is the zips are adjustable both at the bottom and the top, so extra ventilation is available on tap.
There’s a sturdy draw cord hem, elasticated cuffs and an adjustable hood, allowing for an incredibly snug fit.
Montane Minimus Or OMM Kamleika?
Both jackets are an excellent choice in the best lightweight running jacket category.
If you’re a runner that’s not afraid of harsh conditions and regularly run hood-up, you’ll want the OMM Kamleika, as the hood is the biggest downfall with the Montane Minimus.
However, the Montane Minimus does offer more practicality and comfort wise (barring the hood). So, if the hood isn’t a big deal-breaker, grab the Montane Minimus.
Best Waterproof Running Jackets
Ultimate Direction Ultra
We’re becoming more and more impressed with what’s coming out of the Ultimate Direction factory. This time, it’s the Ultra Waterproof Jacket, specifically designed for runners.
Instead of providing runners with a stuff sack, they’ve managed to design the Ultra so it packs into an internal pocket. Yup, it packs into itself – no stuff bags to carry around, or lose!
The comfort is there, it’s waterproof, and it’s incredibly breathable. Even on those muggy runs, temperature regulation is perfect.
Inov-8 Stormshell 105
Better known for their running shoes, Inov-8 land on our list with a strong entry, in the form of the Inov-8 Stormshell 105.
Weighing just 205g, it’s could easily be a contender in the lightweight category too, but it’s strength really lies in protecting you from the rain, and keeping you cool at the same time. Even when it’s not raining, it’s an excellent defence against wind-chill.
It’s fully adjustable, and that makes it extremely comfortable. In fact, so much so, most of the time you won’t even notice you’re wearing it.
Ultimate Direction Ultra Or Inov-8 Stormshell 315?
I don’t see any real competition here; the Ultimate Direction Ultra wins hands down.
Best Women’s Running Jackets (Our Top 3)
Let’s face it, most jackets aren’t designed for women. They just don’t fit correctly.
That’s why we’ve dedicated a section to the best running jackets that have been designed specifically for woman.
Women’s Brooks LSD
Nope, it doesn’t come with a free high, but the value for money on offer here is going to put a smile on your face, at the very least.
Depending on the colour and size you’re after, you could be grabbing a real bargain here.
Brooks place this in the “super-light” category, and it certainly feels like it. It’s also the ideal jacket to take as a precaution. If you run with a small hydration pack or vest, you’ll be able to fit this in, and a load of other stuff too; as it packs down to be incredibly small.
What this jacket is not, is a jacket to brave all the elements. Let’s call it…weather-resistant. If it rains, you’re going to get soaked. If it’s incredibly windy and low in temperature, you’ll feel it.
An ideal jacket to get you home when the weather turns.
Women’s ASICS Lite-Show Winter
If you’re looking for a really solid winter jacket, the ASICS Lite-Show jacket is a definite contender.
What you’ve got here is both wind and water repellence, and the soft interior makes this a much more comfortable than any of its nearest competitors.
What’s interesting, is the level of ventilation. It almost feels breathable enough to be an all-season jacket. And, that’s partly thanks to the vented panels both at the side and the back. They allow moisture to evaporate quickly.
Women’s New Balance Lite
The New Balance Lite is perfect for those that run at dawn or dusk, thanks to its reflective strips.
At the harsher end of the weather scale, this jacket is going to struggle. It’s an all-rounder rather than being winter or summer specific.
Its breathable construction means you’ll be kept cool in the summer and warm in the winter, but in either extremes, you’ll need something else.
Let’s talk about price.
If you’re average size, and looking for pink or purple, expect to pay towards the $100 mark. On occassion, odd sizes and colours are on offer for much less.
Brooks LSD, ASICS Lite-Show Winter Or New Balance Lite?
The Brooks LSD and New Balance Lite are very close in terms of what they do, and price.
For women looking for an all-rounder, but something that won’t necessarily hold up in harsh conditions, the New Balance Lite is the one we’d recommend. It just feels higher quality, and is slightly more breathable than the Brooks LSD.
But, if you’re looking for something to cover you in the mid-low temperature range, the ASICS Lite-Show Winter is going to be the best option.
Best Running Jackets For Winter Weather
Patagonia don’t do anything in half doses, so their products tend to be at the higher end of many people’s budgets. That’s certainly the case with the Houdini jacket, priced at under $200.
Compared with a lot of winter running jackets, it has a loose fit. It’s highly breathable, and highly waterproof. Suitable for those runners toughing out the worst of conditions.
New Balance Performance Merino Hybrid
Merino wool is known for its excellent moisture wicking properties. That means sweat and rain evaporates quickly.
And, the New Balance Performance Merino Hybrid is 65% Merino, 35% Polyester. Moisture doesn’t have a chance here.
So, this is about as comfortable as you can get.
Patagonia Houdini Or New Balance Performance Merino Hybrid?
How hardcore are you? If the tip of your nose regularly has icicles hanging off it, go with the Patagonia Houdini.
But, if you tend to draw the line at freezing cold temperatures and torrential rain, you’ll be making a good saving and have an excellent jacket with the New Balance Performance Merino Hybrid.
Best Running Jacket Winner: New Balance Performance Merino Hybrid
It’s not the most expensive, or the cheapest. It’s close to offering maximum protection against the elements, but is still highly breathable.
And, being 65% Merino wool, it wicks away moisture, keeping you comfortable and fresh for the duration of your run.
Thanks for reading our best running jacket reviews.
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