Like shoes, a running jacket is a piece of kit that's largely based on your own individual needs and surroundings. There's no such thing as the best running jacket, but getting the one that matches your training can mean the difference between an enjoyable winter run, and one that never happens.
That boils down to many factors, from how changeable the weather is near you to how long it takes you to overheat and start breaking down in pools of sweat.
For some people, the solution may be one all-rounder jacket that ticks a lot of boxes, for others it could mean investing in one to take the edge off and another to battle the effects of ice-age-level conditions.
What jacket do you need?
When picking your running jacket your first choice is whether you want a fully waterproof or water-resistant top. Waterproof jackets naturally provide the most protection from the rain, and if you sign up for adventurous trail races you will often have to have one in your pack as part of the essential kit list.
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However, there are very few waterproof jackets that wonât make you uncomfortably sweaty on a run, to the point where you might prefer getting wet from precipitation than your own perspiration.
If youâre training in sub-zero conditions that probably wonât be a problem, but if youâre in more temperate climes, then a water-resistant, windproof jacket is usually the better bet. Youâll still avoid getting wet during light rain, and the jacket will be far more breathable so you wonât get too sweaty.
Beyond the level of water-proofing, itâs also worth looking into what kind of storage a jacket offers, and also what reflective details it has on the outside. Most jackets are used in the winter when youâll often have to train in the dark, so reflective details are handy to make you more visible on your runs.
Best waterproof jackets
The North Face Lightriser Futurelight Jacket
Buy now: The North Face (UK) / The North Face (US) | $300
The Lightriser Futurelight jacket does not come cheap, but if you're looking for a premium running jacket that balances protection from rain without sacrificing breathability, it's well worth investigating. The technology behind the design combines a seam-sealed 3L outer shell that features a DWR water-repellent finish â the result being an impressively lightweight jacket that can tackle downpours with ease.
Normally with high protection against the rain, there's a trade-off with breathability. That trade-off is significantly lessened with the Lightriser Futurelight, allowing perspiration to leave through the waterproof fabric, without letting the rain in.
As with most The North Face kit, the jacket comes in a slick series of subtle colorways and also includes the ability to stash the jacket in its own pocket. There's also an easy-to-adjust hood that you can strap down when the wind really picks up.
Inov-8 Stormshell Waterproof Jacket
Buy now: Inov-8 (UK) / Inov-8 (US) | $230
When the weather is truly awful but you still have to head out for your run, the Stormshell is the jacket you want to have at hand. The taped seams, high zip, and peaked hood ensure the rain is kept at bay, and the thumb holes on the sleeves keep your hands cosy as well.
The Stormshell is a lightweight jacket too, built with intense racing in torrid conditions in mind, and it packs away into its own pocket to slip into your backpack to fulfil any essential kit list requirements your event might have.
It also comes in a pleasingly bright range of colors, rather than just the usual black, navy and grey options.
Under Armour Storm OutRun The Cold Jacket
Buy now: Under Armour (UK) / Under Armour (US) | $150
If your fashion preferences veer more towards the colorful end of the spectrum, the Storm OutRun The Cold Jacket is sure to turn a few heads. However, there's more to this piece of kit than its eclectic appearance thanks to a host of features built to withstand the weather.
At the top of that list is Under Armour's clever Storm technology that repels water without sacrificing breathability. Combine that with materials specifically designed to hold the wind off and you've got a powerful ally in the winter months. We've also found that despite the impressive protection from the elements, it's a jacket that doesn't feel too bulky, meaning it's light enough to use in spring and autumn.
Other features include two zipped pockets, with the right side incorporating an interior media pocket, a bungee adjust hem, reflective elements and raglan sleeves
Best weather-resistant jackets
Soar Winter Anorak
Buy now: Soar (UK) / Soar (US) | $364
Soar specialises in making running kit that is incredibly lightweight without sacrificing any of the technical features that you would expect. The Winter Anorak is one of the best examples of this across Soar's range, combining an incredibly lean design with a formidable level of protection against the elements.
Many waterproof jackets tend to be dual-layer, often with a thick outer shell to repel water. This tends to mean that they can be heavy, restrictive and limited when it comes to ventilation. The Winter Anorak avoids this by using a single layer of fabric that's shrunk at high temperature to produce a tightly woven structure. In addition, there's a double-applied water-repellent finish to keep you dry, even in the worst conditions.
Despite that technology, the fabric is light and stretchy, with a brushed inner that feels soft against the skin. It also features reflective detailing, a close-fitting hood that doesn't blow around in the wind and both front and back pockets to store valuables or gels.
As with most of Soar's kit, it can be on the tight side when compared to other brands. So you may need to go for a slightly larger option if you want something with a more relaxed feel.
66Â° North Straumnes Jacket
Buy now: 66Â° North (UK) / 66Â° North (US) | $325
Many of the jackets on this list are designed to give you added protection when the weather takes a turn. The Straumnes jacket, however, is built for tackling outdoor activities when you need complete protection from the worst it can throw at you, whilst still delivering the performance you need to train at your best.
Unsurprisingly for a company that's based in Iceland, its range of kit sits firmly at the serious end of the spectrum when it comes to weather. Wind, rain or snow, the Straumnes jacket is tough enough to tackle anything, whether you're running, cycling, or fast hiking.
That protection often comes at a price, with many all-weather options being bulky or limiting movement when it comes to training. But thanks to the breathable 4-way stretch shell of the Straumnes jacket that's not an issue, offering an impressive level of mobility regardless of the activity that you're doing. Stretch panels across the jacket allow added movement to ensure that you can easily move your arms â especially important if you're a cyclist.
As well as GORE-TEX Infinium technology to protect from the weather, the shell is also designed to be breathable, so you can train hard without having to worry about getting hot and sweaty. A sweat-wicking liner also helps to move moisture from the skin while feeling soft and comfortable.
The Straumnes jacket also features reflective stripes on the sleeves for safety and you'll find two handy zipped pockets to keep your hands warm or to store essentials.
One thing we would say is that it's a jacket designed for performance, which does generally mean it has a noticeably snug fit. So if you're looking for something a bit more loose-fitting, it may be a little bit tight.
New Balance Marathon Jacket
Buy now: New Balance (UK) / New Balance (US) | $134.99
Whether you've taken part in the marathon or not, having a piece of branded kit from one of the world's biggest running events is no bad thing, especially when the kit is as good as the Marathon Jacket from New Balance.
Although the brand mentions it's made from a lightweight fabric, we actually found in testing that it's a fairly thick piece of kit that works best when being used in the colder winter months. The sturdy design is an impressive weapon when fighting the wind and rain, and helps to make colder training months more bearable.
As well as pockets in the front, the jacket features reflective details for running at night and a lower cut-back design to offer additional protection from the rain. Unfortunately, there's no hood on the Marathon Jacket, but if you're the kind of person that doesn't use one it means you don't have to worry about it slapping your face in gale-force winds.
Best budget running jacket
Kalenji Run Wind Jacket
Buy now: Decathlon (UK) / Decathlon (US) | $19.99
There are plenty of cheap running jackets out there that promise full protection from the elements, and indeed no rain will penetrate them, but youâll probably not notice that because youâll be sweating so much owing to their lack of breathability. As a result, if youâre working to a tight budget we recommend going for a windproof jacket.
The Kalenji Run Wind puts all its protection onto the front of the jacket, to help you push through headwinds, while the back has a ventilated panel on it to avoid overheating.
The fabric is also water-resistant enough that light showers wonât drench you, and there are reflective details on the front, back and hood.
Best reflective running jackets
Proviz Reflect360 Running Jackets
Buy now: Proviz (UK) / Proviz (US) | $140
If being seen on night runs is your one and only concern, Proviz is a brand you should get to know, since it offers a range of clothing and accessories all designed to make you as visible as possible.
The Reflect360 jacket is a fine example of this. The entire front of the jacket is made from a reflective material that shines brightly when light hits it, turning from a muted grey color into a beacon that no driver can miss.
The reflective fabric is used for the arms as well, while a ventilated panel on the back ensures the jacket is also breathable.
On Weather Jacket Lumos
Buy now: On Running (UK) | ÂŁ210
Reflective gear doesn't have to make you look like you're running around wearing tin foil. In daylight, this number from On looks as sleek as they come, but shine a light on it at nighttime and the subtle design elements will make you visible to oncoming traffic to ensure you stay safe on the run.
There's much more to this jacket than visibility, though. The ultralight design means that it doesn't feel bulky, despite its impressive ability to protect you from the wind and rain. It's also pleasingly breathable, so you don't need to reserve it for slow runs as the smart design and micro-ventilation system means you can even stick it on when you're training hard.
Other elements we liked about the jacket are the extended cuffs that you can pull over your hands for extra protection and a handy chest pocket that even acts as a storage pocket when you want to take it off.
Vollebak Solar Charged Jacket
Buy now: Vollebak (UK) / Vollebak (US) | $495
The Solar Charged Jacket from Vollebak is by far one of the most technically impressive pieces of running kit you're likely to see at the moment. Like something from a Luc Besson film, the jacket is made from a material that absorbs light and then emits it via an eery glow.
That light can come from the sun, indoor artificial lighting or via a handheld torch or smartphone. It's also so responsive to light that you can actually write words on the material â which may be an issue if your friends get hold of it when you nip out of the room.
Aside from the impressive futuristic tech, the Solar Charged jacket is no slouch when it comes to more terrestrial features. It's constructed from a 3-layer stretch fabric, is waterproof to 2,500mm (that's 'light to average rain'), has a rear zipped pocket, an elasticated hood and incorporates a number of breathability features across the design.
It is, inevitably, an expensive piece of kit though. So unless you're the most wanting of tech fans, you may need to wait until the technology becomes significantly more widespread.
Best lightweight running jackets
Hoka Full-Zip Wind Jacket
Buy now: Hoka (UK) / Hoka (US) | $110
The Hoka Full-Zip Wind Jacket is the epitome of lean design that doesn't skimp on performance. The lightweight material twinned with the fact it can pack neatly into its own hood makes it the perfect companion for runners that want to carry the bare minimum.
If you're the sort of runner that gets hot after a couple of miles, there are few jackets that offer the same level of versatility. Once it's done its job of taking the edge off a cold winter morning, just unzip it to cool down or pack it into the hood and clip it to your belt until you need it again.
As well as offering a surprising level of protection against the wind, the reinforced hood is a powerhouse when you're caught in a shower. It also features reflective detailing for low-light runs and has a handy open-ended zipper to make covering up nice and easy.
BAM 73 Zero Running Jacket
Buy now: BAM (UK) / BAM (US) | $135
BAM's 73 Zero is a great option if you're looking for a lightweight jacket that punches above its weight when it comes to protection from the wind. The sleek design is one of the most attractive designs we've seen, hiding a surprising amount of features in its simple look.
It's a great piece of kit to pick up if you want something you can stow away neatly until the weather hits â or you start to get sweaty. You can pack it neatly away into its own pocket and attach it to a belt using the in-built carabiner or stow it in a backpack, making it a perfect choice for those living in erratic climates.
The main focus of the jacket, apart from wind protection, is breathability. The mesh fabric lining is one of the best we've tested for ventilation, which means that you rarely have to take it off when the weather subsides. There's also a back vent for extra airflow and a half zip on the front to let more air in.
It's also 100% circular, so it can be fully recycled when you eventually want to update your kit and leaves no carbon footprint.
Saysky Pace Luxe Jacket
Buy now: Saysky (UK) / Saysky (US) | $230
The worlds of fashion and performance running have become increasingly synonymous in recent years and few brands have combined the two as much as Saysky, a Copenhagen company that has made a name for itself by producing kit that's sought after by runners and fashionistas alike.
The Pace Luxe Jacket is the perfect example of that, offering an incredibly light and comfortable design that's packed with features for runners that want form and function. The thin polyamide fabric is one of the leanest we've tested out, which makes it a good option for those runners that want extra protection from the elements without the bulk of many options out there.
Despite its sleek appearance, the Pace Luxe Jacket is far from minimal, with ample protection offered from the material for lighter wind and a snug hood to keep your head warm. There's also an elasticated drawstring to tighten up any drafts from your midsection.
For evening runners, Saysky has also included reflective detailing across the jacket. There are also two zipped pockets at the front to store essentials like keys or bank cards, and laser-cut holes in the back section to ensure maximum breathability.
Brooks Canopy Jacket
Buy now: Brooks (UK) / Brooks (US) | $120
When versatility is your main focus, this lighter option from Brooks is resilient enough to protect you from moderate weather conditions whilst still remaining thin and breathable. That's due to the breathable DriLayer seal fabric that's built to allow excess heat to leave from the inside, without letting the wet and cold in.
It's a great option for those spring/autumn runs when the weather can turn from wind and rain to warm, dry spells in an instant, offering a comfortable level of protection without being an annoyance at the slightest increase in temperature.
Our favorite feature of the Canopy Jacket is the ability to take it off when things heat up and stow it away into its own little mesh backpack â a clever design that makes carrying it around in the heat almost unnoticeable. For storing items, there's also a small zipped pocket in the chest as well as two larger hand pockets on either side of the waist.
There's also a fitted feel to the jacket, without being too tight or restrictive, which makes it one of the most comfortable options on the list and also helps with breathability.
New Balance Printed Impact Run Light Pack Jacket
Buy now: New Balance (UK) / New Balance (US) | $104.95
The Impact Run jacket is one of the lightest jackets we've run in and, to be completely honest, it doesn't offer a great deal of protection when it comes to the wind and rain â so if you want something for tough conditions it's unlikely to hack it.
The reason we like the Impact Run jacket so much is that it is so thin and light. It's perfect for those runs when it's just a bit chilly outside and you want something to take the edge off without making you sweat 2km into the run. The fabric is almost paper-thin so it's barely noticeable, but it does offer a nice extra level of coverage from light rain and wind, especially if you're only wearing a t-shirt underneath.
Our favorite feature of the jacket is a strap that's packed away in the pocket that means you can pack it in on itself and wear it around your waist when you start to heat up. A really nice little feature that's perfect if you're unsure whether you might need a jacket or you think the weather might turn when you're out.