A well-made, high-quality, reflective but slightly heavy windproof top, brilliant for short, dark road runs when you’re unlikely to take it off and carry it.
Extremely comfortable brushed inner that you can wear directly next to the skin or with a base layer underneath
Quick-drying, stretchy fabric
1/4 zip up front for venting
Collar for warmth
Reflective logo and strips
Durable and high quality
Eco-friendly, sustainable manufacturing
Ethical European factory working conditions
Rear-zipped rear pocket obscured if wearing a running pack
No elastic cuffs
Zip toggle could be longer for easier use with gloves
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Meet the tester
Claire is one of our leading trail running experts. The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine now runs her own YouTube channel and loves nothing more than hitting the trails. She’s tested countless trail running shoes in her time and knows a good pair when she sees one.
SOAR Windbreaker: first impressions
If you’re a runner who feels the cold throughout your whole run and doesn’t usually wear a running backpack, the SOAR Windbreaker (available direct from SOAR) will be a really comfortable mid-weight base layer/smock-style jacket for you.
• List price: $230 (US) / £170 (UK)
• Weight (women’s size L): 237g / 8.4oz
• Colors: Women’s: Orange / Red / Black; Men’s: Green / Gray / Black
• Fabric: 78% PES, 22% Elastane / 78% Nylon, 22% Elastane
• Sizes (both sexes): XS-XXL
• Best for: Cold, windy weather on trails and roads, any distance without a running pack
Firstly, the brushed inner is divine – you can wear this fleecy-feeling windbreaker top next to the skin or with a tee or base layer underneath. It’s great on roads as there are multiple reflective stripes back and front, plus around the cuffs and hem.
The quarter zip and collar provide a nice amount of venting, as do the fairly open, loose cuffs without elastic or velcro closures. The drawcord across the lower back is also a nice touch for drawing the jacket in warmly around a woman’s waist rather than around the bum where it can make the jacket ride up.
But while it’s warm and securely windproof, it’s also heavy. Runners who feel the cold and won’t take it off for the entire run will appreciate this. However, if you have your own built-in insulation (ahem, some normal-person fat, like me) or run hot, it’s a tad heavy and bulky to carry once you’ve warmed up.
The rear zip pocket on my test piece opens the wrong way to get your right hand inside, but I notice that on the website the zip appears on the correct side so I’m guessing mine’s a prototype. Either way, this pocket would be obscured by a running pack if you wore one, so it’s less useful as a trail running piece and best suited as a road running layer for short, super-cool runs.
SOAR Windbreaker: on the trails
I’m possibly not the best tester for any mid-weight, long-sleeved garments because I run very hot, even in winter and especially with a running pack on, weighed down by snacks, water, GoPro and other test gear.
Rather than a mid-weight layer like the SOAR Windbreaker I personally prefer a much lighter, tiny pack-sized, versatile cold weather combination of long-sleeved base layer (100g / 3.5oz) combined with a superlight (50g / 1.8oz) full-zip windproof with elastic cuffs and hem. So I tend to use this SOAR Windbreaker on shorter, really cold, windy runs on the dark streets of Stamford, Lincolnshire because of the excellent bright orange-colored fabric and highly reflective strips.
I’m a size 12 but I take a Large in this one, which means that my longish arms are sufficiently covered and if needed I can fit a tee or long-sleeved base layer underneath easily. I also really like the drawcord across the lower back which you can cinch in around the waist; hem drawcords around the hips tend to make the jacket ride up if you have a pear-shaped figure.
Once I start running in the cold for more than an hour I’d usually wear a running pack with extra gear and food in, so the rear pocket gets obscured which is a shame. If you feel the cold or are heading to the freezing Arctic Circle, this is definitely a piece to consider. Every bit of gear has its time and place for certain situations and runners.
The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.