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Best Winter Running Jacket: Run Fast Without Feeling the Cold

Couple running in winter
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

When it comes time to find the best winter running jacket your personal needs will be the deciding factor in the coat you choose. Nevertheless, there are different features in winter running coats that you can benefit from considering before you buy.  Some features lend additional warmth to the coat, and other coats might have better ventilation then others.

Of course, you’ll also need to consider things like reflectivity, the temperatures you plan to run in, and the type of fit you are looking for as well.

Blue winter running jacket

Making the right feature choices is important given the fact it can make the difference between a safe, warm, comfortable run and one where you are sweating, cold, and even potentially in danger due to low visibility concerns. 

The Importance of Breathable Materials 

Breathable materials and a winter running jacket are two things that go together.  Since running is exerting the body through strenuous aerobic activity, you’ll soon start sweating.  While sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling itself down it is a surefire way to make you cold, wet and uncomfortable in a winter jacket absent of breathable fabric.

You will need to seek out a coat with light fabrics that breath, mesh panels that allow for ventilation, or you should look for fabric that wick away moisture consistently while you wear the jacket during your run.  Otherwise you are in for one miserable, cold, chill filled run session – one you likely won’t want to repeat!

Winter running jacket minimalist design

Several factors determine winter jacket breathability:

  • Fabric type – polyester is the most common, but some coats have spandex elements as well.
  • Design of the coat: ergonomic designs and consideration of keeping cold out and warmth in, all while allowing for the wick away of moisture calls for a highly professional coat design. 
  • Ventilation: This is added to the jacket to ensure that the fabric can breathe or let out some warmth and let in a bit of cooling without diminishing overall body temperature. The inclusion of mesh panels or the use of vent flaps add the necessary ventilation to keep the coat comfortable. However, vent flaps allow less breathability than mesh panels.  Bear in mind that the panels or vents must be properly placed to offer adequate breathability. If the panels are positioned improperly, it can allow in cold wind, rain, snow, and expose you to the elements. Pit zippers offer additional ventilation if you require it. 

Weight of the Winter Jacket

Jackets for winter tend to run the gamut in terms of weight. Some weigh as little as 12 to 14 ounces and others weigh up to 2 pounds. If you want a fast run and you don’t want to be bogged down by heavier materials, than lighter fabrics are in order when you are ready to buy a winter run jacket.

If you plan on long distance runs, again lightweight running jackets are the best solution. If you plan short runs in super cold weather, then, by all means, opt for the heavier coats.

If you are choosing a running jacket for hiking or long walks or you are only getting a coat suitable for the rain, you might want to go with a packable option so you can tuck it away in a bag if you find you don’t need it. Basically, the weight of the coat will play a big role in just how comfortable you are during a short versus a long run in cold weather.

Waterproof, Water Resistance, Windproof, and Wind Resistance

When seeking winter coats, consider the type of weather you are running in. There is a big difference between the words “resistance” and “proof.” When shopping for a jacket for winter runs where you are dealing with very light winds or light precipitation, then water resistant and wind resistant features might prove ideal, but they are features with limits.

Wind resistant running jacket

When you get a jacket that is waterproof and windproof you are getting something that can withstand colder temperatures, winds, and heavier precipitation exposure. Of course, waterproof does not mean you can submerge the coat in water without consequence, but it is a heavy-duty alternative for keeping out rain and snow along with the winter chill.

Day Runs Versus Night Runs

When you are buying a run jacket for day or night there is the extra factor of visibility to consider.  Even during daytime hours in heavy fog, visibility can be low so it pays to have a running jacket with reflectivity integrated into the coat.

Some coats have LED lighting integrated into the coat, others feature patches of reflective areas, but even more modern coats are including reflective threading woven right into the material thereby allowing the entire coat to be reflective from a 360-degree angle.

Night running during winter

These options are ideal in low lighting conditions and especially if you plan to run at night alone. It allows drivers and cyclists to spot you from afar.

Reviews of the Top Six Winter Running Jackets

Choosing the right coat for your outdoor run sessions is important, seeing as it can either enhance or hinder the session entirely. You want the right fit, design, and features to make you truly comfortable during the entire run.  Below are reviews of the top six winter running jackets as well as some information on some decent alternatives if you are looking for something more affordable or of a similar design.

Brooks Men’s Infiniti Jacket IV

Brooks Mens Infiniti Jacket IVWeight: 1 pound

Size: M

Color: Mars/Anthracite

Specifications: Made of stretch material; light, waterproof; retro-reflectivity, critical seams covered in reflective tape and welded; semi-fitted, internal media pocket and two side zip pockets.

Best Uses: Winter run and outdoor wear 

Description: The Infiniti Jacket IV by Brooks is made of stretch fabric to ensure a super snug fit so you don’t have to worry about the jacket creeping up on you as you run.  The jacket is light so you won’t feel any extra weight bogging you down as you try to maximize your run speed and distance.

With waterproofing, you can remain dry even if it is snowing lightly or there is a light rain outdoors. The reflective tape and the 360-degree retro-reflectivity are excellent safety features ensuring you can be easily seen by vehicles and cyclists during a nighttime run.  The semi-fitted fit ensures your comfort, and the internal media pocket means you can use your electronic device to listen to tunes for an inspired run all while keeping your electronic equipment warm and dry.

The two side zip pockets are great for extra storage. You can stash a protein bar or two for when you take a break during long runs.  Best of all you get all of this for a decent price of $199.95.

Related: For something a bit less pricey but still worthy of the Brooks label you can opt for the Men’s Essential Run Nightlife Jacket with a much smaller price tag of $79.99. While not waterproof, the piece is water resistant as it is fitted with a water-repellent coating.

The jacket also comes with the 360-degree retro-reflectivity feature making it suitable for night runs. You’ll find the 100% polyester material highly breathable, light, and well ventilated.  A moisture proof pocket inside the coat awaits your electronics.  Another alternative is the Brooks Men’s Run-Thru Jacket priced between $49.99 to $87.99.  The coat is made of nylon and has water resistant shoulders.  Meshed paneling gives the coat good ventilation.

The Saucony Men’s Nomad Jacket 

The Saucony Mens Nomad JacketWeight: 13.3 grams 

Size: Slime Medium

Color: Black/ViZiPRO

Specifications: fitted jacket, compressed and semi-fitted; relaxed fit; medium thickness, 100% polyester FlexShell; waterproof membrane made of drylete. Vented back for wick sweat control; breathable fleece thermal interior; reflectivity; and windproof features.

Best uses: Cold weather wear, outdoor use, good up to 30 to 45 below 

Description: The Nomad Jacket by Saucony is so popular it is hard to get your hands on, and consumers are even setting up price alerts to find out when the coat will next be available for purchase.  The coat comes with a drylete membrane made of 8% spandex and 92% polyester to keep the coat complete dry during precipitation and to keep the chill out.

The coat has a medium thickness so it is light enough for long runs and the 100% polyester FlexShell ensures an exceptional degree of breathability so you are snug and warm, not sweaty and uncomfortable.  The upper and lower back, sleeves, and FlexShell are windproof to keep the cold outside. The thermal aspect of the jacket ensures a good degree of warmth and the fleece lining breaths.

The back vent is responsible for controlling sweat and keeping you cool.  Back and front reflectively ensure your lasting safety during night runs by increasing your visibility.

Related: While the above jacket is for men, Saucony makes the same jacket for women, available in three colors including Black, Bordeaux, and Vizipro Pink. This coat is priced at $55.54. The Saucony Mens Razor Jacket is $53.89 to $175.00.  The jacket is made of 100% polyester. The coat was waterproof and windproof, and it’s light enough to make you run session enjoyable.

Asics Men’s Storm Shelter Jacket

Asics Mens Storm Shelter JacketWeight: 15 ounces 

Size: small 

Color: Slate Red/Heat and Deep Sea /Electric Lime

Specifications: laminated fabric, water repellent finish; 360 degree reflective threads in stripes; mesh lines and seam sealed; center zipper water resistant; hand pockets, vents, zipper closed storage, inside collar media loop, cuffs adjustable with thumbholes and gaiters, and removable hood. Fitted with extra reflective logo. 

Best Uses: Outdoor, light rain, light snowy conditions 

Description: The Storm Shelter winter jacket by Asics runs anywhere from $64.86 to $130.00.  The jacket has laminated water repellent fabric to keep you dry and warm in light rain and snowy conditions.  The strips in the jacket have special 360-degree threads woven into them so you can be seen at a distance by drivers and cyclists during night time runs and during low light conditions.

The logo on the jacket adds an extra reflective element.  The pockets and vents zipper closed so you can keep your personal items dry. Bring along your media and use the interior media loop to tote it along.

The hood is removable in conditions allowing you to freely do so.  The zipper keeps water from getting in because it too is water resistant. With the adjustable cuffs, you’ll find the coat ease to fit to your comfort.

Related: The ASICS Men’s Team Storm Shelter Jacket is another option from the same manufacturer that is good for daytime run sessions. Priced at $39.99, you’ll find this option affordable and an easy investment.  The coat is 100% polyester, breathable, and features side zipper security pockets.  If you want a warm up jacket for high lighting conditions, the ASICS Men’s Approach Warm Up Running Jacket costs just $24.99, is made of 100% polyester.

Pearl Izumi Women’s Ultra Wind Blocking Jacket

Pearl Izumi Ultra Wind BlockingWeight: 1 pound

Size: Small, Medium, and Large 

Color: Orchid and White/Black 

Specifications: Polyester material, easy washing, and handling; new softshell fabric material; water resistant; wind resistant; breathable design. Snug fit; four core fabric technologies including transfer, barrier, thermal, and softshell. Fully warranted against defects.

Best Uses: Outdoor use, long climbs, and long descents. 

Description: The Ultra Wind Blocking Jacket by Pearl Izumi is a great light coat for women looking for a suitable coat for running during the winter weather.  The coat is available in two color themes and priced between $81.50 and $160.00.

The polyester material lends to the ease of coat care and breathability when wearing the jacket in question. You can wash the coat with simple detergents and it requires no special additives.  The coat blocks out wind and water through resistant properties to ensure your warmth and comfort.  The laminate feature is absent on this jacket to lend to more breathability.

The jacket is designed to remain snug and fit even when you are moving, and the four core fabrics help to maintain adequate body temperature during colder weather conditions, but also to make the coat adjustable to warmer conditions as well.

Related: Pearl Izumi Women’s Infinity Jacket is available in four colors and is available for about $80.00.  The coat is also made of 100% polyester and has Ice-Fil® technology. The coat is water resistant and windproof serving as a comfortable alternative.

The Pearl Izumi Women’s Select Thermal Barrier Jacket is priced at around $81.83, comes in four colors, and is made of 95% polyester and 5% elastane; This coat also offers great comfort, water resistance, and wind protection.

Pearl Izumi – Run Women’s Fly Softshell Hoodie 

Run Womens Fly Softshell HoodieWeight: 1 pound 

Size: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large 

Color: Screaming Pink/Screaming Yellow or Algiers Blue

Specifications: 100% polyester materials; thermal winding blocking; breathable, thermal fleece panels; superior movement; superior moisture transfer; form fitting; thermal hood; Zippered pockets, and fist mitts.

Best Uses: Outdoor use, winter run sessions. 

Description: The Run Women’s Fly Softshell Hoodie by Pearl Izumi is between $79.95 and $146.99.  The coat is made of 100% polyester easy to wash, highly breathable materials. The thermal wind blocking feature keeps wind out and body warmth inside the coat. The thermal fleece panels also keep in your body heat while blocking out the cold.

The moisture transfer of the coat keeps you dry and warm, and the thermal hoodie is great for keeping all your body heat in while you run.  Fist mitts inside the coat are great for hand wearing and you can keep your personal items protected from the elements thanks to the inclusion of zip-up pockets.

Related: The Pearl Izumi Women’s Fly Softshell Run Jacket is a nice light alternative priced at $130.00.  The jacket carries similar features including being made of 100% breathable polyester materials, wind blocking features, thermal fleece fabric for warmth, and zip up pockets.  For $79.97, men can take advantage of the same coat design: The manufacturer also makes the Fly Softshell Run jacket for men with identical features.

4ucycling Windproof Full Zip Wind Jacket with 3-layers

4ucycling Windproof Full Zip JacketWeight: 10.2 ounces

Size: Small, Medium, and Large 

Color: Red and Black 

Specifications: Three layers; stretch fabric; breathable materials; thermal lined fleece interior; windproof middle layer; ergonomic design, professional style; slim fit; full open zipper design; left hand oriented zipper; shorter front side/longer back side design.

Best Uses: Mild wintry use outdoors give or take -5/+5 degrees below/above zero. 

Description: The Windproof Full Zip Wind Jacket by 4ucycling is available for $39.99.  The coat has three layers of fabric so you don’t have to layer your attire. The middle layer provides windproof protection thereby keeping cold out and body heat in.

The ergonomic design makes it a coat ideal for running, jogging, cycling, hiking, walking, and other outdoor activities.  The thermal lined interior keeps in body heat but also keep the coat breathable.  The zipper is sturdy and durable, and the back side is longer so it keeps the waste warm while cycling. The front size is a bit shorter for comfort.

Related: If using this item for cycling, you might want to consider coupling the jacket with 4ucycling Windproof Athletic Pants made of fleece and ultra-warm, wind resistant synthetic materials priced between $29.99 and $35.99. There is also the Lambda Wind Jacket by the same manufacturer priced at $29.99.

The coat is made of polyester breathable materials, high-quality materials, and it has a 3D anatomical design.  The zipper is durable, and this jacket is good for low lighting conditions because it features a reflective fluorescent logo.

The Bottom Line is to Know Your Needs

Before buying a winter running jacket, you will have to clearly define your outdoor weather protection needs. If you are taking short runs you can opt for a heavier coat in the super cold weather, but if you are doing long distance runs, day or night, you’ll likely want something light, sleek, warm, and reflective.

Winter running with huskies

Consider the weather you run in too; if you only go out when there’s a clear day or a few drops of rain, a water-resistant piece should do nicely, but if you then to run in rain, snow, and harsher weather conditions, a water-proof and windproof selection is more likely the coat you can benefit from the most.  Make a list of desirable features for your jacket before shop – it will make it easier for you to narrow down your choices.

And don’t forget to leave a comment down below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Kenneth Wong

    The quality of the cold weather jacket in your running outfit should never be overlooked. Investing in a solid quality jacket is one of the best things you can do, after selecting the right shoes, in my opinion. The fact that many of the jacket suggestions you make are ones that can be utilized at night or during the day is also key, as they fit most every routine or spur of the moment run.

  • Jerry Mueller

    Thanks for your comments Kenneth! I feel that everyone must invest in a top-notch winter running jacket in order to keep safe and warm even in subzero temperatures. I often go for jackets that are versatile and hardy, even if they are a bit pricey. I don’t see the point why people must change jackets when a single one can do the job right. 🙂

  • Liz Edwards

    I think that aside from the quality of the jacket, a good design is important too. I feel that it is an additional boost that can motivate you especially during running. This is one of the reasons why I bought Pearl Izumi’s wind blocking jacket. I find it perfect for temperatures between 30-50°F, and I can always use an extra shirt if it gets colder. The best thing is that it has an inner stretchy layer around the wrist and waist. Definitely a must buy!

  • Jerry Mueller

    We agree. You want to look good as well as be comfortable. The Pearl Izumi is a great choice and we also find that it can withstand some cold temperatures. We are glad that it works for you!

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