Running in the Cold

The Best Jacket for Running in Cold Weather

It was Alfred Wainwright, the famous rambler who wrote in his book ‘A Coast To Coast Walk’:

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

And even thought he was talking about walking at the time, the expression is just as relevant for us runners.

Just because it is cold enough for brass monkeys to require welding equipment, it doesn’t mean you should shelve your planned run.

Get yourself a good running jacket and you are good to go.

As ever though, it is not so much of a lack of choice of running jackets for running in the cold, it is more likely there is just too much choice!

Therefore, over the following paragraphs I not only want to provide you with what you should be looking out for…

…I also want to provide you with my choices for the best jacket to choose for running in the cold.

So if you want to avoid overuse of the treadmill this winter, read on…

The Best Jacket For Running In The Cold For MEN – My Top Choices

GORE WEAR Men’s Running Jacket, R5, GORE-TEX INFINIUM

You can be pretty sure that if you are getting GORE WEAR, you are going to be getting something that is high quality, and that is exactly the case with the R5 Gore-Tex Infinium.

The jacket does exactly what you would want any good running jacket to do, in other words, it is windproof AND highly water-resistant.  However, this would be all a waste of time if the design didn’t allow your body to breathe while out running.  Fortunately, the technology used to produce this jacket ensures it is extremely breathable. 

And the reasons for investing don’t stop there.

It has a two way front zip for convenience and a high texture collar for extra warm on those extra cold days.

Practicalities are considered too, with 2 side zip pockets, an adjustable hem, and considering you are often out in the dark when you run in the winter, the jacket is designed to be seen!

Feedback for the jacket is also very good with the R5 Gore-Tex Infinium currently scoring 4.8 out of 5.


ASICS Lite-Show Winter Running Jacket

The first thing you notice about this particular cold weather running jacket, is the extra warmth created by the brushed softshell. Inside it also includes brushed knit panels to really insulate you against the worse of the winter cold.

These side panels also allow for maximum movement, therefore not restricting your movement in any way.

Although the focus of the jacket is on warmth, it hasn’t forgotten about the wind and the rain.  The fabrics used are wind and water-resistant, providing protection from light showers and winds.

There are secure pockets both inside and outside the jacket, giving you enough storage space for just about all the bits and pieces you might want to take with you on your runs.

When it comes to health and safety, although it doesn’t come in what you might regard as a hi-vis colour,  it does feature reflective detailing around the whole of the body making sure you will be seen on the darkest of nights.

The best people to listen to when deciding on any purchase, are the existing customers, and in this case the feedback score from these buyers is a huge 4.9 out of 5!


ASICS Lite-Show 2 Running Jacket

You might expect a jacket offered by a company with the reputation Asics having in the running arena to be VERY good…

…and with the this offering, you wouldn’t be wrong 😊

Whereas the previous jacket had its focus on protecting you against the cold, the ASICS Lite-Show 2 Running Jacket see wind and water-resistance as it primary objectives.

The water-repellent fabric offers good resistance to the rain, protecting you from the worst of any rain, while the windproof properties do a good job of reducing the chill factor, retaining optimum comfort.

In addition, this jacket provides you with a ‘stay-on’ hood to keep the wind and the rain out of your face.

Again, like the other cold weather jackets mentioned here, the design works hard to make sure you are seen, no matter what the conditions are.

You get both body-mapped, 360-degree reflectivity and added reflective strips on the lower arm to maximise your visibility.

Storage is also considered, with plenty of unobtrusive space for items like your phone, keys, and energy gels.


inov-8 Inov8 Stormshell Full Zip Running Jacket – SS19

If you are looking for a VERY serious contender for your winter running (at what is admittedly a very serious price), you are not going to go far wrong with the Inov8 AT/C Stormshell Full Zip Jacket.

The jacket comes with both a 20,000 HH rating, and a 20,000 BB rating.

(Just in case you are not aware, these two ratings refer to the waterproof and breathability rating, and 20,000 is as good as it gets!)

This jacket is specifically designed for racing and training runs in VERY wet conditions

It comes with a wired hood and includes something it calls Pertex Shield, which is a super soft fabric to make the wearing of the jacket as comfortable as possible.

One practical feature I did like was the ability to stow the jacket away in its own stow pocket when not in use.  Allowing you to easily carry it while running and therefore providing the ability to take it off or put it on at any stage depending on the weather you are presented with.

As you might expect from a jacket that has been so fully thought through, it provides 360-degree reflectivity, ensuring you stay seen and stay safe when you train on those dark winter nights.


The Best Jacket For Running In The Cold For WOMEN – My Top Choices

GORE Wear R3 Ladies Hooded Jacket GORE-TEX Active

This Gore Ware offering can be seen as a bit of an all-rounder.  Whether you want to go out for a run or jump on your bike, all the boxes are ticked with the GORE Wear R3 Ladies Hooded Jacket.

As you might expect it is waterproof, windproof, and exceptionally breathable, all thanks to the GORE-TEX Active technology.

The jacket is also highly practical in that you can just pop it in the washing machine on a warm wash to get it looking (and smelling 🙂 ) like new.

As ever, safety is important, and therefore as well as the highly visibly nature of the jacket, with the various reflective eements, the adjustable hood is designed for optimal peripheral vision.

So as you are out running with your hood up, you can see those things around you, allowing you to avoid any obstacles in your way.

Two zippered pockets on the front of the jacket provide storage for those bits and pieces you want/need to take along with you on your run.


Under Armour Women’s Coldgear Reactor Run Insulated Jacket Jacket

Under Armour is a company that is well known for creating sporting clothing that will insulate you against the coldest of days, and with the Women’s Coldgear Reactor Run Insulated Jacket that’s what they have done for runners.

It uses something called ‘UA Storm technology’, which is designed to repel water, but at the same time keep the breathability of the jacket.

And while we are on the subject of technology to help provide the warmth and dryness you want when you are out running, this jacket also utilises ColdGear® Reactor intelligent insulation.

This technology ensures the jacket can accommodate any set of circumstances to ensure your comfort is maximised during your run.

The jacket has a ‘4-way stretch’ construction which results in it being able to move better in every direction and prevents any kind of restriction to your movement.

You are also provided with elongated arms and thumbholes to provide protection for your hands as well as the rest of your core.

I think it also telling that 90% of the people who provided feedback gave the jacket a score of 5 out of 5.


Ronhill Women’s Infinity Fortify Waterproof Running Jacket

The first thing that stands out with the Ronhill Women’s Infinity Fortify Waterproof Running Jacket is its high level of water resistance AND breathability.

This impressive level of protection from the elements comes from the lightweight 15 denier polyamide fabric used in its production.

The fabric is also very practical in that it can just be lobbed into your washing machine following your run.

Ron Hill have always been a company that have provided quality running clothing for us runners, and with this jacket they have worked closely with ‘Mountain Equipment’.

This is a company who are one of the leading experts in producing waterproof jackets.

As well as creating a jacket that has been tested for running in VERY wet conditions, they have also ensured that it has been designed to fit to work with you when out running.

An example of this attention to detail with the fit, can be seen in the hood. The circular design fits better and the peak has been stiffened can be tightened, both features making sure you are protected against the most extreme weather conditions.


ASICS Lite-Show 2 Winter Running Women’s Jacket

Unlike some of the jackets in this list, the ASICS Lite-Show 2 Winter Running Women’s Jacket is more water-resistant than waterproof.

This means it’s ok to get out in a light shower, but perhaps not what you would want to select if it is monsoon type conditions.

However, where it does score highly is keeping the cold out.  It is wind resistant and the soft fabric works well at trapping heat within its fibres thus keeping the worst of the chill out.

The full length zip has a chin guard to make sure the fully done up zip is not going to rub on your chin and cause you discomfort on your longer runs.

When we get to the topic of safety, Asics’ has something it calls ‘Lite-Show technology’.  In short, this is a collection of reflective strips on the chest, back, and arms that reflect light back from where it originated from, ensuring you stand out to passing motorists as they pass you on those dark winter nights.

Finally it should be said that this jacket scores very highly on the comfort scale with being made from a brushed softshell fabric.


What to Consider When Choosing a Running Jacket for the Cold Winter Months

Running in the Cold

When you start looking for your ideal cold weather running jacket, where do you start?

Well apart from checking out the suggestions above there are several factors to bear in mind as you browse through what is on offer.

The min factors to bear in mind should be how warm it is going to keep you (obviously), protection against wind and rain, how breathable it is, visibility/safety, and finally extra features it might have.

Below I go through each of these aspects in more detail so that you know what to look for and what is important.

Warmth & Insulation

Possibly the major factor you are looking for if your main consideration is warmth will be a softshell.

This can be down, although in a jacket specifically designed for running in the cold, you are much more likely to come across a synthetic man-made version. Both are designed to trap the heat and have great insulating properties.

Under normal circumstances, the ‘soft shell’ variety of running jacket will only be shower resistant. 

The serious weather protection will come from hardshell variety of jackets.

Breathability

Although perhaps not as obvious as insulation and wind and rain protection, breathability is an essential part of run wear for the cold.

If you are out running, your body WILL create moisture as your body breathes, if this moist air has nowhere to go, it will be trapped and soak you just as much as any downpour will. 

If the external temperature is already low, the temperature lowering consequences of this personally created moisture can have serious repercussions.

So when you are looking for your cold weather jacket, make sure you don’t overlook the design features that allows breathability.  This could include mesh panels, a zipper that opens at either end to allow for extra ventilation, vents that allow air but not rain or wind in, or even ‘Pit-zips’, which again allow extra ventilation without impacting the protection against the elements. are also a great way to expel heat without letting in excess cold.

Wind & Rain Protection

When we talk about running in the winter, as well as the temperature we obviously need to be aware of the wind and rain.  Obviously both of these factors can make running VERY uncomfortable.

You will find that most running jackets are constructed with some sort of synthetic material that is designed to tackle wind and repel water.

If wind and rain protection is a primary objective for you, it is a good idea to look out for a HH score.  This is a measure of how waterproof the jacket is.  As you might expect, the higher the scores, the better the performance (earlier I highlighted one jacket with a HH score of 20,000 – this indicates a jacket that is basically waterproof, rather than just water resistant).

Be aware that the ‘hard shell’ jackets usually have a primary focus on being waterproof.  So, as good as they might be at preventing wind chill, they won’t have the insulation properties of a ‘soft shell’ jacket, and there you will have to consider extra base layers to provide extra warmth.

Visibility and Safety

Let’s face it, running in the cold goes hand in hand with running in low light or even dark conditions, and because of this, it is important to consider the visibility of the cold weather running jackets you are looking at.

A key feature to ensure you stand out will be reflective bands.  These work to reflect any sort of light back from where it originated, making you stand out from your environment.  

As a rule of thumb, the more reflective material found on a jacket, the more visible (and therefore safe) you will be.

Ideally you should be looking for 360 degree coverage so that you stand out from any angle.

Other Features You Might Want To Consider

Although I have covered the main practical aspects to consider when buying your jacket for running in the cold, there are several other things, that. although not essential. are worth bearing in mind.

The first feature I’ve listed on the ‘nice to have’ list, some people might consider as essential; the feature I’m talking about is a hood.

A running jacket with a hood is going to help prevent heat loss from the head, whilst also protecting the sensitive bits of your head from the elements. Anyone who has come back from a run with stinging ears will no doubt understand why this can be so important.

If the jacket does have a hood, it is a good idea to check on its adjustability.  You want to be able to adjust your hood to cater for the conditions and your preferences.

This adjustability also extends to not having it up at all. 

In other words, does the hood roll up and store away, or can it be removed altogether?  If you can’t remove it, or stow it safely away, you have the potential of it getting in the way if it is particularly windy.

And while on the subject of adjustability, this is something that can be applied to the rest of the jacket.  What sort of features does the jacket include to ensure you can get the best fit possible.  Things to look out for might be adjustable hems, or waists, or the use of Velcro cuffs to adjust the airflow within the jacket.

The other key feature you might want to factor into your decisions is storage. 

The number and positioning of any pockets might be something that could be important to you if you like to take various provisions when you are out running.

What sort of accessibility do the pockets have. Will they be easy to get into while you are running? 

Are they going to keep your valuable items dry? 

Is there enough storage being provided?

And of course the final aspect you will have to consider when looking for your jacket, is the price.

There is such a wide range of price points, but in general terms, the higher the price, the better the performance and durability.  

My suggestion is always to try to go for the most expensive running jacket you can sensibly afford and then make sure you check the feedback from people who have used the jacket.

The jackets I’ve chosen above are designed to cover a range of price point, and all have different positives.

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