When subjected to cold temperatures, our bodies begin limiting blood flow to our extremities and limbs in order to conserve heat for the vital organs in our core and head. The problem is, running relies heavily on the proper function of both our extremities and our limbs. So, if we want to have a good run on a frigid day, we have to do a little extra to help our bodies out. In addition to wearing clothing that covers the limbs and extremities, another key way to keep our legs moving is to wear a jacket. Wait what? By conserving heat around our cores, our bodies can be less intent on survival and a bit more liberal with the dispersal of that precious blood flow.
As every seasoned, frozen-boogered, winter runner will tell you, wearing just any jacket won’t do. Much like Goldilocks, we want to keep our bodies at just the right temperature. For that reason, wearing a jacket with the right specifications is key, and we’ve created a guide with our top picks for running jackets under a variety of conditions.
With a warm fleece interior that buffers against the chill without soaking up sweat, this is the jacket you want on a cold winter day. For added warmth, the jacket also features a hood and elastic banding at the cuffs to retain heat. If the forecast looks dodgy, the wind- and water-resistant exterior can weather light squalls as well. Storage is available in the form of zippered hand pockets at the waist.
Runner-up: Brooks Men’s Canopy Jacket
Engineered to stay warm in the most frigid conditions, this jacket pulls out all the stops. Polyester insulation with a seam-free interior traps heat against the body while a fitted hood, elastic at the wrists, and an adjustable waist allow for a fit that is truly snug. For added protection against wind and rain, a DWR finish coats the entire exterior. To stash your small essentials you can use either of the two zippered chest pockets or the zippered pocket on the right hip.
Runner-up: Salomon Men’s Escape Jacket
For running, it’s important that a windbreaker blocks chilling drafts without creating the sauna effect. Ventilation openings on the upper back of this jacket allow enough heat to escape while maintaining the protection provided by the windproof and water-resistant fabrication. You can also pack this jacket into the chest pocket should conditions improve, or tighten up the fit with a cinch cord at the waist if they get worse.
Runner-up: inov-8 Men’s AT/C Windshell Full Zip
When a light rain transitions into an unstoppable deluge, having a jacket that can batten down the hatches makes getting out the door a little less daunting. The challenge for running apparel is somehow creating enough breathability to prevent overheating once you’ve warmed up. Enter Dri Shell, Sugoi’s specialized fabric that delivers complete wind- and waterproofing as well as rapid moisture vapor transmission to prevent that soggy slog. For an adaptable fit, cinch cords on the hood and waist, as well as hook and loop closures at the cuffs, let you create a personalized level of protection. Zippered hand pockets and a zippered chest pocket are also waterproof to keep your gear safe.
Runner-up: ASICS Men’s Storm Shelter Jacket
For a highly reflective piece that doesn’t scream “LOOK AT ME” in the daylight, this is the jacket. All-over reflective stitching and a glow-in-the-dark logo along the center back present a high-vis package without excessive pizazz. To provide further benefit, the fabric is wind- and water-resistant with eyelets on the underarms for ventilation. Should the weather change for the worse, cinch cords at the hood and waist can secure the fit, and should the weather change for the better, the entire jacket can pack into its chest pocket.
Runner-up: Nike Men’s Essential Flash Jacket Hooded
Will has been running competitively since high school, and is currently running with the HOKA Aggies, a post-collegiate club here on the central coast of California. With a preference for the humorous and the verbose, he enjoys playing the wordsmith almost as much as his daily runs.