Runners know that in most cases there simply aren’t any viable alternatives to running outdoors. Some will cite folding treadmills. But treadmills are dreadfully boring and don’t work the same muscles as plein air running and besides, not everyone has access to a treadmill. So while outdoor running is the only game in town for most it comes with its own set of requirements and one of those is the running jacket. A good running jacket negates many of the weather-related negatives associated with outdoor running and makes it much easier to stay committed to your routine. Below are 15 of the best running jackets on the market today.
The Best Running Jacket
The Apex Bionic Soft Shell Jacket from The North Face has plenty of pockets to stash your smartphone, gloves or polypropylene hat. It’s a stylish, lightweight, warm, comfortable and affordable way to keep old man winter at bay during your run. It’s cut a little roomy so as not to constrict your running motion and to allow for a light sweater underneath. In a nice twist they’ve located the hem adjustments in the pockets so they’re not hanging loose. Find more warm jackets like this by checking out our guide to the best down jackets on the market.
Adjustable drawcord in side pockets
Shell TNF™ Apex ClimateBlock polyester
Machine washable cold
100% polyester lining
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight8 ounces
The Venture 2 is one of the company’s most popular running jackets. Its shell is both waterproof and windproof and the adjustable hood makes sure wind and water stay off your head and neck while you run. The Venture 2 boasts a relaxed fit that doesn’t interfere with movement and the breathable DryVent 2.5 shell helps ensure you don’t overheat. There’s Velcro cuff tabs, an effective flap over the zipper and a cinch cord at the waist. If you are looking to upgrade your running equipment, then make sure you read our running shoes review.
100% windproof jacket
DryVent waterproof shell
Fully adjustable hood
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight15 ounces
The Men’s Essentials 3-Stripe Tricot Track Jacket is designed for those cold mornings when the bracing air hits your face as you leave the house. It’s stylish protection against the elements whether you’re running a marathon, hiking or just going for your morning constitutional around the park. As stylish as it is functional and reasonably affordable the adidas Men’s Essentials Track Jacket is a must have for runners who want to look as good as the jacket makes them feel. Make sure to combine this with some good running socks from our list.
Raglan sleeves with adidas 3-stripe styling
- Weight1 pounds
The Helium II from Outdoor Research is incredibly lightweight at only 6.4 oz. It’s also 100% waterproof, boasts a loose fit that doesn’t impinge movement while you run and the 30D ripstop nylon fabric also happens to be breathable and extremely comfortable. The Helium II is intended to protect you from flash weather events. To that end it’s great to take on a hike and there’s a nifty carabiner loop on its stow bag that lets you clip it to your belt loop.
Seam taped throughout
30D ripstop nylon
Extremely lightweight at 6.4 oz
Pertex® Shield+ 2.5L
- BrandOutdoor Research
- Weight7 ounces
The Tesla Men’s Performance Long Sleeve hooded running jacket is a brilliant synthesis of style and substance. With its sleek lines, trim fit and subtle coloring it’s a fashion statement with a difference. By itself it’s suitable for all but the most extreme cold. The shell is 91% polyester and 9% polyurethane that stretches to accommodate your natural movements while you run. The hood is comfortable and the unique cuff design alone is enough to convince many a skeptic. Make sure you also check our denim jackets review for more great products like this.
91% polyester, 9% polyurethane
Excellent wind resistance
Unique thumb hole cuff gator
Built in contoured hood with drawstring
- Weight9.6 ounces
The Under Armour Men’s Storm Softershell is winter running gear to be reckoned with. It’s a 100% windproof jacket with the company’s ColdGear thermo conductive lining that allows you to warm up fast on those bone-chilling mornings. It’s water resistant, which is fine because there’s plenty of room in the comfy side pockets for a serious rain shell. There’s also a zippered chest pocket with cable outlet for your workout headphones so you can listen to your favorite tunes while beating the pavement.
ColdGear Infrared technology
- BrandUnder Armour
- Weight1.26 pounds
This is a great looking winter running jacket that’s determined to keep you warm even when the polar vortex has other ideas. The DryVent™ 2L shell brushes off winter winds while keeping the warmth inside next to you where it belongs. The Resolve 2 uses a multi-layer approach to cold weather comfort. One that ensures you stay dry, stay warm and that the wind is kept effectively at bay. The hood though is where the Resolve 2 really achieves separation from most competitors. It’s the warmest and most comfortable one out there. For more durable and affordable jackets, check our guide to best Carhartt Jackets.
Thoroughly tested to ensure optimal performance
DryVent™ 2L shell with breathable mesh liner
Covered, zippered hand pockets
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight2 pounds
Baleaf emphasize function with their Men’s Woven Lightweight Hooded Running Jacket and that’s good news for cold weather runners. This is an extremely lightweight, water resistant jacket with a breathable polyester taffeta lining that wicks away moisture in a flash. The elastic in the cuffs is effective and reliable and the built in hood with drawstring fits snugly without binding. Materials, stitching and zippers are all first rate.
Adjustable drawcords in hem and hood
Zipper garage at neck protects your chin
Dual zippered hand pockets
Polyester taffeta lining
- Weight10.6 ounces
The adidas Men’s Essential Woven Jacket utilizes the same dobby weave typically found in polo shirts to produce a unique, stylish look. But the Men’s Essential Woven Jacket is more than just a pretty face. That same dobby fabric makes for a very comfortable fit that accommodates your every move with aplomb. No more feeling pinched in the shoulders while you run. The ribbed hem and cuffs work with the built in hood to effortlessly turn back the cold while helping you retain heat and there are 3 pockets for your phone, gloves, protein shake or whatever.
Zippered chest pocket
Moisture wicking Climalite fabric inside
Dobby weave is both stylish and functional
Adjustable hood with drawstring
- Weight2 pounds
Arcteryx does not have the name recognition of an adidas but if you want a running jacket that will truly turn heads while keeping you warm and dry there’s none better than their Men’s Norvan Jacket. Arcteryx has spared no expense in designing the Norvan. There’s breathable GORE-TEX throughout, GORE C-KNIT backer for unsurpassed breathability and comfort, a molded hood that rises seamlessly from the shoulders, an internal zipped pocket for your valuables and tailoring that’s second to none.
Ultra-lightweight 215 grams
GORE-TEX fabric with GORE C-KNIT backing
Contoured hood with elasticized opening
Zipper garage to protect your chin
- Weight2 pounds
The Columbia Outdry Ex Caldorado Shell is a jacket that approaches the issue of cold weather running gear from a practical standpoint and delivers practical solutions. The molded hood forms a protective shell around your head that retains body heat on even the chilliest mornings. The OutDry™ waterproof shell is completely seam sealed and breathable. The elasticized cuffs and hem are snug without binding and the 100% ripstop nylon prevents damage when you encounter branches or shrubs on park trails during your workout. You can also combine it with you walking shoes, for those cold morning walks. Our handy guide to the best windbreaker jackets features more great products like this.
OutDry™ non-PFC waterproof shell
Fully seam sealed
Elasticized hem and cuffs
Built in hood with zipper garage
- Weight10.6 ounces
The Patagonia Men’s Houdini Jacket is stylish, breathable, lightweight and durable. It’s built with the cold weather in mind and features 100% ripstop nylon with a high degree of water resistance, high quality stitching throughout, a zippered chest pocket with clip-in loop for your hydration pack and a reflective logo for protection. It’s tailored close though there’s still room for a midlayer should you need it and the hood effectively seals against the wind. Handsome, effective and affordable comfort for the all-season workout. Find more great jackets like this by checking out our guide to the best Patagonia jackets.
Built in contoured hood
100% ripstop nylon with water repellent finish
Elasticized cuffs, drawstring hem and hood
The 3-Layer Reflective Jacket from New Balance is ideal for those in-between days of fall and spring and those not so extreme days of winter. It boasts a tailored silhouette, a water-resistant, breathable shell, fully taped seams throughout and knit gator cuffs with thumbholes that keep the cold off your arms. It’s just loose enough to accommodate running movements and there are reflective stripes all around for security. Make sure you also check our guide to the best fleece jackets for more great options like this.
Velcro cuff closures
Fully taped seams throughout
Knit wrist gators with thumbholes
Zippered hood vents
- BrandNew Balance
- Weight1 pounds
The Men’s Vigor Jacket from Saucony is an outstanding 3 season running jacket. There’s seam sealing all around this waterproof jacket including on the zippered pockets and just enough reflective material to keep you safe without detracting from the overall look. It’s a beautifully tailored 100% polyester windproof jacket with 2 generous zippered side pockets and a slight dip in the backside to prevent cold air intrusion.
Waterproof flex shell
Reflective touches front and rear
- Weight1 pounds
This is another outstanding 3-season companion that’s going to keep the wind and rain at bay while allowing you to look and feel great in the process. The Accelerate is an ultra-lightweight, waterproof shell with zippered vents that provide comfort control and sealed seams that keep that cold air from sneaking in. There’s a reflective logo and a string of reflective dots down the spine that alert vehicles to your presence, a zipper garage at the chin, 3 zippered pockets and Velcro cuffs for good measure.
Durable, waterproof finish
Lightweight, breathable, 10K WR/10K BR stretch
Chest pocket with earphone slot
- Weight1 pounds
Running Jackets Buyer’s Guide
How We Chose Our Selection of Running Jackets
Few running jackets will earn top scores in every one of the following categories but we look for those that rank high in most of them:
- Quality - Like any other article of clothing the quality of a running jacket starts with things like materials and progresses to the cut, the stitching, finished seams, overall comfort and the quality of the zippers. If a jacket doesn’t impress in those basic areas all the waterproofing in the world isn’t going to turn it into a “high-quality”, high-value garment.
- Material - The best running clothes are made from materials like 100% polyester, ripstop nylon, GORE-TEX and the like. There’s no compromising on material considerations if your running jacket is going to last more than a single season. You’ll also want to consider the quality of the zippers, whether the hem and cuffs feature elastic, drawstring or Velcro and whether the lining is able to effectively wick away moisture so that you’re not swimming in sweat.
- Durability - While many good running jackets can be described as “affordable” that’s not the same as “cheap”. And since it’s going to cost you real money you want to make sure your running jacket is going to hold up for at least a few years. If the materials, stitching and hardware are all first rate it should.
- Design - The design you choose for your running jacket is the one thing that is purely subjective which means the ball is in your court on this one. Just keep in mind that choosing a certain design that is void of some important features doesn’t make a lot of sense. The selection process ought to go something like this: look for several jackets that have the features you want and need and then from those, select the design that best speaks to your tastes.
- Venting and Breathability - There are different types of vents including the straightforward zippered slots, mesh pockets that will vent hot air if you open them and even Velcro cuffs that can be opened all the way to allow hot air out. Breathability is venting without the zippers or Velcro. Breathable material will let just enough air pass through it to prevent you from needing to vent in some cases. Although don’t expect breathability alone to suffice when you’re running a marathon.
- Weather Resistance - Some running jackets are waterproof and some are not. Which you get will depend in large part on the climate where you live. But most people will need to account for the possibility of rain. There’s two ways you can do that. Either buy separate rain and wind jackets or buy a windbreaker that’s also a waterproof jacket. Which you choose is up to you but it’s hard to beat the convenience of having 1 jacket that can handle any eventuality.
- Comfort – It goes without saying that the fit of your jacket will play a huge role in determining how comfortable it is. But there’s more to comfort than just fit. The elasticity of the fabric is important as well as how it feels against your skin and how the jacket feels when it’s wet. Are the seams sealed? If they’re not they could allow cold air and moisture in that could make things very uncomfortable indeed. Is there a “garage” for the zipper near your chin? Does the hood pull down on your head?
- Mobility - Mobility and comfort go hand in hand. If your running jacket restricts your movements when you run then it’s not much of a running jacket. When you try your running jacket on raise your arms and put them through standard running motions. Twist, turn, bend forward and backward. If you find that the jacket doesn’t go with you send it back.
- Day and Night Visibility - Having reflective material on your running clothes is crucial. Especially during the winter months when the days are short and it’s often dark whether you run in the morning or the evening. No matter how alert you are cars move so fast that it only takes seconds for things to get ugly. You cannot assume they will see you. You have to take steps to make yourself visible. That means a reflective running jacket.
- Season – Running jackets aren’t designed for Miami or LA. They’re designed for people who get up at dawn to get their cardio in Central Park or along Storrow Drive in Boston or Lakefront Path in Chicago. These, and a thousand others like them, are towns where the weather changes drastically throughout the course of the year and where your running jacket will need to compensate for the chills of October, the arctic blasts of January and the late frosts in April.
- Storage - Many of the top running jackets will fold up into their own pockets. But that ability is mostly important to backpackers and maybe rock climbers. Most runners store their jacket in the closet or on a hook in the foyer.
Running Jacket FAQs
Q: What’s the difference between a waterproof jacket and a water-resistant jacket?
A: Water resistance is the most basic level of protection. Essentially it means that it’s not easy for water to penetrate the garment, although if the rain is heavy or persistent enough it’s going to get through, like it or not. Waterproof means the garment is impervious to water. So you could wear it for hours in the pouring rain and whatever part of you is covered by the jacket is not going to get wet. The thing about waterproofing is that in most cases it’s achieved by treating the fabric in some fashion and these treatments can wear off over time. So a running jacket that was completely waterproof when you first got it may let water through after a couple of dozen washings. In which case you’ll need to retreat it.
Q: Are windproof and waterproof jackets breathable?
A: The better ones are. They have an outer fabric layer that’s typically treated with a water repellant and an inner layer that’s breathable; meaning it has tiny little holes that are too small to allow liquid water to penetrate but are just big enough to let water vapor escape so you stay dry inside.
Q: Should the jacket be loose or tight?
A: To a certain extent it depends on the elasticity of the fabric. If the fabric gives only a little the jacket will need to fit pretty loose. If the fabric has plenty of play it can be cut tighter to the body. If you live in a place where the winters get brutally cold you’ll probably want a jacket that’s loose enough to accommodate a mid-layer beneath it.
Q: How do I re-waterproof my running jacket?
A: You can usually tell if a jacket needs re-waterproofing by hand washing and drying it in the dryer according to instructions. Test it when it comes out. If the DWR (durable water repellent) isn’t revitalized and water is soaking into the surface it’s time to re-waterproof. To do so hand wash the jacket again. This time using a commercially available cleaner/waterproofer. Dry the jacket in the dryer according to instructions. The jacket should now be re-waterproofed.
Q: How do I clean my running jacket?
A: Different jackets will have different care instructions but as a general rule you should remove any stains or trouble spots by hand using a spot remover that’s approved for the material. When the tough spots are out fill the sink with lukewarm water. Put the jacket in the water with a teaspoon of mild detergent. Gently wash the jacket by hand. Gently wring it out. (Conversely if the care instructions call for machine washing follow those instructions.) When the jacket is clean either hang it to dry or place it in the dryer following the garment care instructions on the label.