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 won‚Äôt make you uncomfortably sweaty on a run, to the point where you might prefer getting wet from precipitation than your own perspiration.
If you‚Äôre training in sub-zero conditions that probably won‚Äôt be a problem, but if you‚Äôre in more temperate climes, then a water-resistant, windproof jacket is usually the better bet. You‚Äôll still avoid getting wet during light rain, and the jacket will be far more breathable so you won‚Äôt get too sweaty.
Beyond the level of water-proofing, it‚Äôs 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 you‚Äôll often have to train in the dark, so reflective details are handy to make you more visible on your runs.
Best waterproof jackets
Richmond Hooded Waterproof Jacket
When it comes to balancing performance with classic design, Iffley Road is a brand that knows what it's doing. As well as always sticking to a core, instantly recognisable style, the company has consistently made improvements to the technical features of its products.
The Richmond Hooded Waterproof Jacket is no exception. At first glance, it's a subtle piece of kit that wouldn't look out of place in the wardrobe of any fashion connoisseur. However, beneath that sleek exterior is an impressively functional running jacket that combines a host of performance features.
The thick triple-layer softshell is built to take a beating from both the wind and the rain, as well as keep you warm in the winter months due to a bonded wool liner. However, despite that hardwearing and sturdy fabric, the material is also designed to offer a high level of stretch and freedom of movement when you're out running.
For us, the Richmond Hooded Waterproof Jacket is a great option if you want a heavy-duty jacket for the winter months but you also want something that you can wear when you're not out running. It's not one of the lightest jackets on this list though and works best when the weather is at its worst.
Inov-8 Stormshell Waterproof Jacket
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.
Best weather-resistant jackets
On Weather Jacket
This jacket is one of the most versatile we‚Äôve come across, offering protection from the elements while being stylish enough to wear when not running. It's also easily packed into its own pocket so you can carry it with you when you don't need it.
The Weather Jacket is not completely waterproof, but we‚Äôve yet to run in a shower that the water-repellant coating couldn‚Äôt handle, and the cap design of the hood means your face is well protected. Unless it‚Äôs really tipping it down, this jacket is the perfect breathable top later for your cold weather runs.
New Balance Marathon Jacket
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.
Salomon Bonatti Waterproof Running Jacket
Unlike some weatherproof running jackets, which can feel restrictive, the Bonatti offers a surprising level of movement whilst still feeling tough enough to take on the wind and rain.
Made with something Salomon calls 'Advanced skin DRY', the jacket aims to balance comfort, breathability and protection against the elements. For all of those factors, it does an extremely good job, coming in as one of the softest and least rigid of the technical outdoor jackets we've tested. When running that's most noticeable in the fact it manages to avoid the rustling sound made by stiffer jackets.
That comfort is, however, a tradeoff and although it works perfectly in most conditions the waterproofing does struggle in more extreme wet conditions ‚Äď something that tends to happen when you incorporate a high level of breathability into a fabric. For training up to middle distances, it's the perfect balance of fit and function, for long-distance trail running in the wilderness, you'll probably need something more formidable when taking on the rain.
Other features include a snug elasticated hood, the ability to pack it away in its own pocket and taped seams (a feature often required by races).
Adidas Terrex Agravic Pro Trail Running Rain Jacket
The Adidas Terrex range has consistently released a series of evolving kit choices for trail runners looking for performance features, and the Pro Trail Running Rain Jacket is no exception.
The lightweight design incorporates three layers of fabric to keep the water out whilst still ensuring that it's ventilated from the inside. The result is a lean piece of kit that works perfectly in conditions where you want protection from the wet, but not from the temperature.
Despite those three layers, the jacket feels noticeably thin and offers a good level of movement and range of motion when you're out on the trails. That also means you can easily use it over the top of whatever else you're wearing, whether that's a vest or thicker base layers.
When the rain stops you can also easily pack the jacket into its own dedicated pocket and stuff it into a running vest until you need it again.
Best budget running jacket
Kalenji Run Wind Jacket
There are plenty of cheap running jackets out there that promise full protection from the elements, and indeed no rain will penetrate them, but you‚Äôll probably not notice that because you‚Äôll be sweating so much owing to their lack of breathability. As a result, if you‚Äôre 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 won‚Äôt drench you, and there are reflective details on the front, back and hood.
Best reflective running jackets
Proviz Reflect360 Running Jacket
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.
Iffley Road Marlow II Waterproof Reflective Jacket
Function doesn't need to replace fashion when it comes to the best running kit, and British brand Iffley Road is a testament to beautifully designed kit that delivers when it comes to the technical features.
Made from a triple layer Italian softshell, the Marlow II is a formidable jacket when it comes to tackling the elements in style. Not only is it impressively light at 160g but the inner membrane offers a high level of water protection whilst ensuring breathability and comfort.
There's a full-length zip card, fully taped seams and the ability to stow it away in its own rear pocket, and the reflective stripes, as well as piping on the rear pocket, means that you'll be seen when running at night.
The only downside we've found from the Marlow II, aside from the hefty price tag, is the fact it doesn't have a hood. Which isn't a deal-breaker, but it does mean some trail race may not allow it as part of your kit list.
Vollebak Solar Charged Jacket
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 ‚Äď which may be an issue if your friends get hold of it when you nip out 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 pice 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 jacket
Brooks Canopy Jacket
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 ‚Äď a clever design the 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.
Columbia FKT II Windbreaker Jacket
If you're layering needs veer towards the minimal end of the spectrum, the FKT II Windbreaker Jacket from Columbia is by far one of the best options out there.
First and foremost, it's a lean piece of kit that packs a punch. Our first impression of it when opening the packaging was that it couldn't possibly offer any sort of protection against the elements. Luckily we were wrong. Despite the incredibly light and thin material, it's an impressively tough jacket when the weather starts to turn.
It's not an all-weather option, so don't expect it to keep you safe in a storm, but for lighter showers and early winter temperatures, it should keep most runners happy. As well as Omni-Shield technology designed for water repellency, the outer material does a good job at taking the brunt of the wind in moderate conditions.
Other features include the ability to pack it into its own pocket, thumb-holes, an elasticated hem and reflective detailing for night-time running.
ImportedSoar Ultra Jacket 3.0
Soar's range of running kit doesn't come cheap, but when you experience the intricate level of design and quality that goes into every item, it's obvious why.
This is the third iteration of Soar's popular running jacket, designed to offer the perfect balance between weather protection and weight. Constructed using the brand's Rainout fabric, it's built to cover you for anything up to heavy rain, without being too heavy or thick.
The stretch-woven Italian fabric manages to feel secure yet relaxed as your upper body moves and the single membrane material means that you won't overheat on hotter days. The sleek fit also combines taped seems with a high neck to keep the cold and wet out.
As well as a drawstring waist, the Ultra Jacket 3.0 features a zipped rear pocket large enough for gels or smaller run essentials ‚Äď although you may need to add a running belt to carry your phone ‚Äď and you also receive a 300ml bottle of Grangers Performance Wash to keep the jacket performing at its best.
Arc'teryx Incendo Hoody
If you're looking for a super lightweight running jacket that you can carry around at even the slightest threat of drizzle the Incendo Hoody is a great choice.
In comparison to some of the weightier options on this list, it may lack some of the waterproofing power, but that's a trade-off you make when you want something as thin as this. For the depths of winter, it's probably not going to give you the level of protection you need but if you want something for the spring/autumn that will take the edge of the wind and tackle a lighter shower, you won't find anything as well balanced.
Designed specifically for running on the trails, the Incendo offers impressive freedom of movement while the light breathable material is made to offer a high level of ventilation. It'll also stow away into its own little bag that you can easily strap onto your belt for when the weather turns.
Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket
The Helium II is a formidable piece of kit when you want the lightest most compact jacket out there, whether that's because you're heading out on the trails and want to be carrying the absolute minimum or because it's just one of those days where anything could happen.
At 180 grams you'd expect that Outdoor Research may have limited the technical aspects of the jacket. Fear not though, the functional aspects of the Helium II are impressive, especially for something ultralight. The lightweight 30D ripstop nylon face fabric is surprisingly durable and offers an excellent level of breathability, whilst the waterproofing is beyond what you'd expect ‚Äď although not as competent as some of the weightier options on the list.
Considering the price and the weight, the Helium II offers an impressive level of protection against the elements. It is, however, a trade-off, so if you're expecting the most hard-wearing weather-proof jacket on the market you'll need something considerably bulkier.
Features include an easy to use and secure adjustable hood, a zip chest pocket, an internal pocket/storage pack for the jacket, reflective logos and a carabiner loop.
New Balance Printed Impact Run Light Pack Jacket
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 ‚Äď 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.