Running jackets have come a long way since the fluorescent multicolored windbreakers that many runners sported in the 80’s. Today, runners have the luxury to choose from many different types of running jackets. We can choose not only color but from many other added features! What is the best running jacket? We are going to find out!
Regulation of body temperature is important for the health of an athlete and can also help them achieve peak performance. Cool weather running is especially tricky. The first instinct of any runner when the heat starts to rise is to start shedding layers of clothing. This is where it gets tricky. Removal of an outer layer of clothing may gratify the immediate need to cool off. However, if training in extreme elements, it could be a fatal mistake.
Runners are challenged with finding the best running jacket that will allow them to perform and still keep them comfortable enough to wear the jacket while running.
Quick Look: Our Top Picks
Why Might a Runner Need a Jacket?
The main reason runners use jackets is to avoid cold-related illnesses, such as frostbite or hypothermia. Jackets can also be beneficial as they provide protection from other elements such as wind and rain.
The most severe complications that can occur from cold-weather running are frostbite and hypothermia.
Frostbite is a condition caused by lengthy exposure to cold or freezing temperatures, most notably those under 15C. Frostbite can vary in severity. If frostbite is bad enough, it can result in limb amputation. The frozen skin is essentially at risk for tissue death. Tissue death puts you at an even greater risk for an infection or worse, limb amputation. Runners who train in cold weather are at an increased risk for frostbite.
Hypothermia is a more severe cold-weather related illness and can be fatal. Again, runners training in extreme cold are at an increased risk. Dressing appropriately is one tactic to prevent hypothermia.
The above scenarios are worst case scenarios. Most often, when choosing the best running jacket, it is for an everyday run that happens to be in cooler weather. These types of runs are more about comfort and keeping warm. When choosing for an everyday, less severe weather kind of run, there are many options.
Now that we know that running in cold weather can be fun and dangerous, what should we look for in a running jacket?
- Moisture wicking
- Air exchange
- Keep elements out
- Keep cool
2. Weather resistant
4. Insulation (warm)
Other Bells And Whistles To Consider:
- Thumb holes
- Built in electronics
- Draw cord to adjust fit
- Removable sleeves
Our Top 5 Best Running Jackets
- Not reflective
- Comes with a ladies zipper
Don’t let the name “cycling jacket” fool you. This is a great all-around activity jacket. It comes at a very affordable price and was created for cycling, but is still great for many athletes. It fits true to size and provides many of the basic needs to keep runners warm. The big drawbacks are that it cannot be easily folded up and tossed in a bag; also, the zipper is on the left side.
A fun fact you may not know is that in women’s clothing, zippers and buttons are traditionally on the left. Once upon a time, women had assistants to dress them, and zippers and buttons on the left were easier for the assistant to work. That being said, for whatever reason, this men’s jacket was tailored with a women’s zipper placement.
- Affordably priced
- Has to be handled with care
- Affordable price means more prone to breaking
This affordable jacket seems to also meet basic running needs. This one seems to outperform in the safety department, with its highly-reflective properties. This jacket is very reasonably priced, but owners may have to handle with care to ensure a long relationship with the product!
- Very Lightweight
- Reflective trim
- Zippered pockets
This is a top of the line running jacket. So lightweight, one might not even realize they are wearing it! It has many functional bells and whistles. The only drawback to this product is the price.
- Light weight
- Not breathable
- Not water-resistant
- Not reflective
This is a dependable and affordable jacket for an everyday run. Just make sure to wear this on a perfect cool day with no wind or rain as warmth is the most protection one will get from this jacket that almost seems like a top. It seems like a reliable choice for perfect weather running, and if you are lucky enough to live somewhere with those conditions, this is your jacket!
- Many color options
- Stylish thumbholes
- Not great for extreme cold
- Not wind/water resistant
- Runs a size small
This jacket seems like a stylish and practical choice for running in cooler weather. It comes in a variety of colors and is affordable. Make sure to order a size up because it seems to run a bit small.
Which Is The Best For Running?
If you aren’t running a marathon in Antarctica, then you probably won’t need a heavy-duty running jacket that provides extreme cold protection. The Women’s Stretchy Workout Dri-Fit Hooded jacket seems like an appropriate choice for a lightweight running jacket for women. It will keep you warm and trendy for cooler running days.
The Craft Brilliant jacket would also be an amazing choice if budget was not a consideration. At a cost of double or more of the others, it certainly boasts a lot of features ensuring one is getting what they pay for. It provides the most protection against all forms of weather, is reflective, and lightweight to boot!
Runners should pay careful attention when selecting attire for running outdoors. Weather-appropriate clothing can ensure runners stay safe from Mother Nature. In addition to safety, when a runner is dressed in the best running jacket, they can still have productive training runs if they are dressed in the appropriate attire.
Runners should select a jacket to fit the type of cold they will encounter. If one is lucky enough to run an Antarctic marathon, they will likely layer jackets and choose bulkier, heavier duty jackets. If it’s a jacket for just a cool evening run, they may have more options