People who say that there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing, have probably never trained for a marathon through the winter without a good running jacket, because trot out that maxim in front of a runner whoâs just logged 20 miles in the wind and rain wearing an old jumper and youâre not going to make any friends.
However, while there definitely is bad weather, itâs true to say that getting the right gear for your runs in inclement conditions can make a big difference to how comfortable you are. Thereâs no jacket out there that can make torrential rain a joy to run in, but there are plenty of great options that will help you shrug off showers and power through a nasty headwind.
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
Gore R7 Shakedry Hooded Jacket
When it comes to waterproof jackets, you really do get what you pay for, and the pricy Gore R7 Shakedry jacket is almost impossibly light and breathable given that it offers full protection from the rain. Itâs so lightweight, in fact, that we tend to pull it on for runs on frosty days even if itâs not raining, which is always the sign that a waterproof jacket really is as breathable as they all claim to be.
The R7âs featherweight design also means you can easily pack it into a pocket or small bag to carry with you in case the weather turns, and the front chest pocket is well-positioned so it can take a large phone in a way that stops it bouncing around when running.
Once youâre done with your run in the rain, you can quickly shake the jacket to get rid of the water on its surface, so you donât have to wait for it to dry before you pack it up again.
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 cozy 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 fulfill 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.
Castore Lorenzo Waterproof Jacket
If youâre anything like us, what will first attract you to this jacket is how good it looks, but let us assure you that it backs up its style with plenty of substance.
The Lorenzo jacket is 100% waterproof and warm enough that youâll be able to use it with just a base layer layer for runs in the low single digits, or even sub-zero temperatures.
The jacket feels soft on the skin and the exceptional temperate regulation it offers means that you can wear it for easy runs on cold days â even when itâs not raining â without overheating. Though if youâre planning an intense session then it might be a mite too cozy.
Best weather-resistant jackets
On Weather Jacket
This jacket is one of the most versatile weâve 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 weâve yet to run in a shower that the water-repellant coating couldnât handle, and the cap design of hood means your face is well protected. Unless itâs really tipping it down, this jacket is the perfect breathable top later for your cold weather runs.
The loose fit of this jacket allows you to run without restriction and add whatever other layers you might need underneath comfortably. While itâs not completely water and wind-proof, it provides more than adequate protection from both, so unless you have a day on mountain trails in midwinter planned itâll more than suffice to keep you warm and dry.
However, what we like most about the Nike Shield range is the designs. Even the black version will stand out more than most thanks to the green flashes, while the purple and green jacket is a real head-turner, if you like to make an impression when you run. And with reflective trims around the pockets, youâll be seen at night as well.
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 â 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).
Best budget running jacket
Kalenji Run Wind
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
Brooks Nightlife Jacket
Sometimes a picture says more than words ever could, and once youâve seen the Brooks Nightlife Jacket weâre really not sure youâll take much convincing of how visible it makes you on the run.
The fluorescent pattern on the top of the jacket is ideal for making you stand out on twilight runs, and when the sun has completely gone down the reflective strips positioned all over the jacket light up like a Christmas tree when light hits them.
The Nightlife jacket is water and wind-resistant, rather than proof, to ensure breathability, and it packs away into its own pocket, which has an elastic strap on the outside so you can wear the packed jacket on your arm.
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.