The outer layer you wear on any run is always the key layer, which is why it’s important you get the best running jacket to suit the activities you do most often.
The best running jacket needs to perform an array of functions; it may need to keep you warm or let you breathe, keep you dry, as well as let you be seen. It may need to be able to carry your car key, as well as maybe your lunch.
With so many competing objectives, it is hard to find a true all rounder. This is because the weather is rarely the same on two days, and your objectives from two particular runs may differ to the same degree.
- Help your feet perform to their maximum level with the best men's trail running shoes and best women's trail running shoes
- Keep your legs warm with the best men's running leggings and best women's running leggings
- Keep toasty while running with the best base layers
In this buying guide we acknowledge that this is a somewhat intractable problem. Having a number of jackets in your wardrobe is likely the best way to go and here we will look at a range of specialist jackets, and jackets of different budgets, so you can find the best running jacket to suit your needs, which matches the climate and locations you like to run in.
Advnture's best running jackets were reviewed by two running fanatics who live and work in the world of running; running events, parkrun, running tours and running groups. Tom spends most of his runs on trails, in muddy woodlands, open fields and up mountains. Helen spends time on the roads, leading run groups at night in the city and spends the weekends on the trails.
The best running jackets you can buy
The best reflective running jacket on the market
RRP: $140 (US) / £90 (UK) | Gender specificity: Male / Female versions | Weight (variable by size): 5.99oz/170g | Compatibility: Reflective, night trails, city runs, cold weather, night race | Colors: Silver and black
The Proviz360 is made of millions of tiny, highly reflective glass beads, which reflect light back from vehicle headlights. During the daytime the jacket is silver and black and when it catches the light even on a gloomy day, the reflective material bounces light back.
At night the jacket comes into its own. It’s highly visible when car lights hit the jacket grabbing the attention of all onlookers. It’s also great on the trails as headlamps bounce off the jacket resulting in you becoming a beacon of light for others to follow.
The Proviz360 running jacket has a thicker material than most and has mesh panels on the back, sides and arms for breathability. However when worn with a running vest it can get quite hot as this blocks the main mesh panel on the back of the jacket.
This jacket weighs in at just 170g (size variable), it has a collar but no hood and there are two pockets on the front of the jacket. It also has elasticated cuffs and waist to stop the wind from penetrating.
We highly recommend this jacket for running at night on colder nights. It keeps you warm and more importantly helps you to be seen.
A superb all round jacket for the experienced or long-distance trail runner
RRP: $230 (US) / £180 | Gender specificity: Male / Female versions | Weight (variable by size): 6.2oz/175g | Compatibility: Trail running, waterproof, windproof, reflective, breathable, lightweight, soft fabric | Colors (men’s): Black/Blue/Red | Colors (women’s): Black/Blue/Red/Pink
The Inov-8 Stormshell is as close as it gets to an all-round running jacket. This well considered design has extra features that make it handy for an array of climates throughout the year, but it really comes into its own in challenging conditions.
Small thumb holes at the end of the sleeve mean you can easily pull the jacket down over your hand to help keep yourself warm on chilly mornings, and so that you don’t have to burden yourself with carrying gloves around in your pocket for most of your run.
A well fitted hood and high front zip means the jacket can quickly envelop you when the weather turns for the worse, so only a small portion of your head is exposed to the elements. The lightweight and breathable fabric means this jacket is very easy to wear. The jacket comes in black as well as some brighter colours. The logos are all reflective but a couple of additional reflective strikes would make for a valuable addition.
The silky smooth jacket does come at a price, and for a new runner there are probably better entry options. However an experienced, long-distance runner will certainly appreciate all the features that it offers.
Evadict Waterproof Trail Running Jacket
All the features of a more expensive jacket for a bargain price
RRP: $90 (US) / £70 | Gender specificity: Male / Female versions | Weight (variable by size): 7.4oz/210g | Compatibility: Trail running, waterproof, windproof, reflective | Colors (men’s): Black | Colors (women’s): Honey
There is a whole lot of value packed into the Evadict Windproof Trail Running Jacket. We tested this jacket on several sub zero degree runs and once we eased into the run, the jacket retained our heat very nicely. The fabric has a reassuring, yet sometimes distracting rustle, akin to a full on waterproof coat so you know it will put up a good fight against the elements. The flip side to these insulating properties is that you can easily get quite hot and sweaty as the fabric is not as breathable as higher end jackets, but you could argue that a quick unzip to let air circulate will help restore homeostasis.
The jacket has simple yet stylish reflective lines on the front and some smaller lines on the back. A tight fitting hood, along with a high front zip will offer your face a lot of shelter on wetter days. When you try the jacket on you will soon find a small carry bag nestled in one of the two front pockets, which is a nice addition. These features are often reserved for higher end jackets, finding them all in this very well priced jacket makes it a strong buy in our book.
Rab Vital Windshell Jacket
A no fuss jacket to beat back the wind and the rain
RRP: $89 (US / £50 (UK) | Gender specificity: Male / Female versions | Weight (variable by size): 4.4oz/125g | Compatibility: Trail running, lightweight, windproof | Colors (men's): Shadow/Acid/Ink/Pine | Colors (women's): Peacock/Geranium/Ink/Shadow/Acid
When the weather is turning and you want to head out for a 30- to 60-minute run, the Rab Vital Windshell Jacket is a good choice. It is also well suited for the mountains and trail walking as lightweight layer which can be ported without taking up loads of space in your bag; the jacket actually folds in its own pocket which becomes a tidy carry bag - a very nice feature as we all know separate carry bags like to wander off from their jacket at times.
The jacket fends off the wind nicely and it’s hydrophobic coating will keep off light rain. To help you keep cool on the move, when you unzip the jacket you can secure the two sides together three quarters of the way up with a little buttoned tab, which stops the sides flapping around, whilst at the same time making the jacket nicely breathable. Aside from a couple of small logos, there are no other reflective markings, which makes this a jacket best used on traffic free routes and trails if you are running at night.
This is a very good value jacket for running, walking and hiking which saves the bank account from a big hit.
Salomon Sense Jacket
Super lightweight and compact jacket
RRP: $150 (US) / £110 (UK) | Gender specificity: Male / Female versions | Weight (variable by size): 2.82oz/80g | Compatibility: Super lightweight, compact, fair weather running only, stylish | Colors: White/Opal blue/Dark denim
This stylish running jacket has a tapered fit. The fabric is beautiful to touch and very soft on the skin. It has laser cut air holes for breathability and is water repellent and wind resistant.
The Salomon Sense is superlight, so much so that it doesn’t feel like you are wearing a jacket. It folds away into a tiny pocket and can be stored easily. This jacket comes in two colour ways; white and opal blue. Both are very light colours so I would avoid wearing this jacket on wet trails as I would fear that it would get covered in mud and would be difficult to clean.
This minimalist jacket doesn’t have any pockets or a hood so I would wear it as an extra layer on warmer and dryer days.
This jacket is perfect for those early morning chilly starts so you could whip it off later into the run when it warms up or for those chilly evening runs in the city. It is the softest running jacket I’ve experienced and looks the best on but I’d avoid wearing it on wet muddy trails and in poor weather.
Columbia OutDry Ex Lightweight Shell Jacket
A waterproof and wind resistance lightweight jacket that performs well when worn on its own in mixed weather conditions
RRP: $199 (US) / £180 | Gender specificity: Male / Female versions | Weight (variable by size): 6.7oz/190g | Compatibility: Waterproof, Wind resistant, lightweight | Colors: White
This fully waterproof running jacket from Columbia is a nice fit and longer than most jackets with reflective detail. It has elastic cuffs and drawcord adjustable waist.
It has a hood which isn’t adjustable but when tested withstood very high speed wind and it can be stowed away on dry days. There is a large chest pocket with a drawcord for easy access and the jacket can pack down into this pocket.
This jacket is fully waterproof and has that noisy crunchy sound whilst running but does a fantastic job at keeping you dry. It has a vented back to allow airflow and the seams are fully sealed.
Since it’s breathability is mostly provided through the back, we would recommend not wearing this jacket with a running vest or bag.
If you are looking for a stylish waterproof at a great price then this jacket is a great option. We’d recommend that you wear it without a running vest to ensure that you don’t overheat.
R7 Gore-Tex Shakedry Trail Hooded Jacket
A fully waterproof and windproof jacket
RRP: $300 (US) / £300 (UK) | Gender specificity: Male / Female versions | Weight (variable by size): 5.64oz/160g | Compatibility: Waterproof, windproof, breathable, all weather conditions | Colors: Black
This shiny, jet black running jacket from Gore is completely windproof and fully waterproof. It’s breathable fabric doesn’t have any mesh or vents which is one of the reasons it's such a great windproof and waterproof.
The R7 Gore Tex shakedry has an adjustable hood with a visor to keep the rain off your face, and a drawcord at the waist. There is stretchable fabric at the cuffs to keep the sleeves in place and allow easy watch usage. There is a large pocket on the back of the jacket to store your essential items.
The jacket is made of tear resistant fabric, fantastic for rugged trails and for use with a running vest or bag.
This jacket really is all singing and dancing. Although it’s the highest priced jacket we’ve reviewed, it is definitely worth the price tag especially if you are looking for a jacket that can handle all weather conditions over long periods of time. If the majority of your runs are less than an hour then we would say stick to a cheaper model but if you’re out for hours in all weather conditions then this is the jacket for you.
What to look for when buying the best running jackets
The best running jackets can be quite an investment, so you need to consider what you will need from the garment. Does it need to be suitable in all weathers for long periods of time? Will you need to store things in it or will you be wearing it with a running vest or bag?
If you’re looking for the best running jacket for short runs, as an extra layer, then perhaps you don’t need to spend the big bucks. Water-repellent jackets are much cheaper than fully waterproof and they can be lighter jackets to easily stow away or carry.
However, if you are looking for the best running jacket for adventures in all weather conditions, and for long periods of time, then you should up your budget and look for fully waterproof and windproof jackets. Breathability is key here, and whether or not you wish to wear your jacket with a running vest or bag as some materials may not cope with the friction from a bag.
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