Winter is coming. But don't get all disheartened by the spitting rain; just don the best waterproof running jacket and keep the moisture away from your skin as you venture out for your daily 5k. Unlike those disposable rain ponchos you are given at running races, the best running jackets are more than just a thin layer of plastic that keep the rain slightly away from your body and clothing. In many climates, the best running jacket is the ultimate part of your best winter running gear arsenal.
Modern, high-quality running jackets use almost as much technology as some of the best running watches and best running shoes, making it possible to wick moisture from the inside as well as repel rain on the outside. Top-tier running jackets also have other convenience features such as zipped pockets, reflective details and more.
How to choose the best running jacket
Not all running jackets were created equal. Some protects wearers from the wind but aren't waterproof while others might be waterproof but not insulated. They may or may not also feature additional details such as hoods, zipped pockets, cable holes, integrated gloves and so on.
Truth to be told, there is no such thing as a running jacket being fully breathable and also being 100% waterproof. It will be either somewhat stuffy and seal you away from the outside world well or let your skin breathe and let in some rainwater. Some jackets have no outer water-repellent layer, such as the Gore Shake Dry, which makes the jacket waterproof and breathable, but also far from being durable.
It is worth keeping in mind what you need the jacket for and find a jacket that best fit that need. You shouldn't choose a slightly more expensive jacket that has another three features than the one you were eyeballing before as those additional features might actually make your running experience worse. For example, insulation might come in handy in real cold weather conditions but if you run in mild weather, an insulated running jacket can make you too warm too soon.
Best running jackets
With the Flight jacket, The North Face has produced a surprisingly soft, mercifully rustle free design that weighs just 250g. It’s not the lightest, but it is wonderfully comfortable to wear, with the waterproof membrane sandwiched between a durable, recycled outer layer and an inner lining.
It’s also astonishingly breathable, to the point that we didn’t have to unzip during a run, which is a first for this sweaty reviewer, and it remained resolutely waterproof without feeling overly clammy when we upped the effort. TNF claim Futurelight has a permeable rating of 1.5 ft³/minute. Most waterproof-breathable fabrics only manage between 0.07 to 0.09 ft³/minute. Fundamentally, ask any regular runner and they’ll pull your arm off for a wind and waterproof jacket that doesn’t need taking off after the warm up.
If you are an early-morning or late-evening runner, you will appreciate the visibility and flexibility the Asics Lite Show Jacket provides. As a matter of fact, this running jacket has a '360-degree' visibility so you will be seen, no matter the angle of the observer.
The Asics Lite Show jacket is wind- and water resistant to keep you dry and cosy, and although it is not insulated, it can be used a shell on top of other layers to keep you warm. For the same reason, it is ideal for runs where taking off some clothes might be necessary, such as long-distance session. The two zip front pockets will keep your keys and phone safe.
If you want a decent waterproof jacket for less than £50/€50 and live in Europe, look no further than the continually under rated Decathlon. This Kalenji jacket is exclusive to Decathlon, and its great value design features a waterproof rating of 10,000mm with fully taped seams. That's significantly better than a lot of winter running jackets from leading high street brands.
The design is also suitably stylish with no garish blobs of colour or odd shapes to detract. It’s just a well thought out slender shape with a peaked snug fitting, elasticated hood that keeps rain from dribbling in your face. Two pockets take care of essentials, an one doubles as a stash for the jacket when you want to pack it away.
It’s also impressively windproof and makes for a good extra layer on cool days. While not the most breathable design, it did offer enough air circulation to stop us feeling like we were trapped in a plastic bag. Our only concern is that the waterproofing is only rated for five washes, so make sure you invest in some Nikwax wash-in treatment to maintain performance.
The UA Storm Jacket promises water-tightness without compromising breathability and lives up to this promise as best as it can. As well as not making you super clammy, the Storm Jacket is also comfortable to wear thanks to the 4-way stretch construction.
To increase air flow inside the jacket, the Under Armour Launch 3.0 Storm Jacket features a 'back vent' plus the stretch-woven fabric is pretty breathable as is. The jacket has an eye-catching, all-over print and sports reflective details too, all for a very friendly price.
A remarkably light jacket that weighs just 120g and packs down so small it can fit in your jean’s pocket. It’s made from just two layers of Gore-Tex SHAKEDRY, the tech fabric brand’s most breathable option to date. But in direct contradiction to the typical waterproof jacket construction Gore have ditched the face fabric, helping to reduce weight and expose the waterproof membrane to the elements. The result means water never saturates, it simply beads on the surface and either rolls off or can be removed with a quick shake, hence the name.
In a long run through a horrible downpour the G7 kept the wind and rain out and would not saturate. As a result, inside remained 100% rainwater free, but as we heated up it did start to get a bit sweaty. We we’re possibly a little overdressed for the conditions but would recommend minimal layering if you don’t want to end up feeling like you’re training in a bin liner. Something so waterproof can only be SO breathable.
And speaking of layering, be warned, the Gore R7 Shake Dry has an extremely snug fit. This helps reduce any billowing and minimizes rustling (it’s good, but not as impressive as the North Face Futurelight). The hood is also snug and neatly elasticated, and irritates significantly less than most available, plus there are plenty of reflective strips for night running and the cuffs are deliberately tight to keep long sleeve layers in position.
It’s an investment piece for serious runners who demand the lightest possible kit. If this is you, you’ll love how it performs in the wet and wind, but a word of caution, by removing the fabric top layer and exposing the waterproof membrane, it’s not robust enough to wear with a backpack as the straps will ruin the performance.
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