Making the commitment to run outdoors in the winter is no joke: it’s often dark when you’re hitting the pavement, icy, treacherous and frankly, freezing. And yet, it’s a beautiful way to stay active and be outdoors when the temperature drops.
You’ll want your running gear to be lightweight, warm, breathable and safe. When temperatures are low, layers will be your best friends. A solid outer layer in the form of a fitted running jacket is essential.
Many running jackets tend towards the puffy side — yes, they’re warm, but how much extra volume are you carrying around? — and others are so thin, they’re barely more than a base layer. A happy medium can be struck with jackets containing an interior fleece lining: they retain warmth without so much bulk.
Consider, too, that a cold wind can be a run-killer, so you’ll want to explore jacket options with a wind-blocking feature. Often, these will be thicker panels stitched into the front, back and arms. They are lifesaving should you get caught on a drafty route.
Mesh and breathability in areas where you want heat and sweat to escape (think underarms, especially) is ideal. This will help regulate your body temperature and prevent you from becoming sweaty-damp in the cold. If you plan to layer underneath your jacket, take that into account when choosing your size.
Lastly, wintertime means less daylight, so if you plan to run in the mornings or evenings, chances are you’ll be in dim-to-dark conditions. Look for jackets in brighter colors or with reflectors along the zippers and seams to ensure you’re visible to drivers, cyclists and other pedestrians.
Here are some of our favorite running jacket options for winter 2018 from retailers in the US, Canada and the UK.
1. Brooks LSD Jacket
This jacket is lightweight and awesome in windy conditions. While it’s not waterproof, it’s water-repellent enough to keep you comfortable. While not the warmest of our selections here, it’s a terrific option for cooler temperatures, especially if you layer well underneath.
Buy it now: Brooks LSD Jacket, $56 – $105
2. North Face Ventrix Hoodie
North Face is a great brand for warm, durable gear. Their insulated Ventrix Hoodie jacket is designed to keep you toasty: the panels inside capture and distribute your body’s heat, while perforated sections expand with your movement to release heat and sweat. (They close when you stop moving, which means you’ll retain warmth when you’re not generating it.) We also love how effective it is without looking uber-voluminous.
Buy it now: Flight Ventrix Jacket, $220
3. Cotopaxi Paray Shell
If you don’t know Cotopaxi, allow us to be the first to introduce you. This good-for-the-planet, good-for-people brand is all about environmental responsibility and making outdoor activities widely accessible. Their Paray Shell is primarily designed as an “element-blocking fortress” for outdoor running, according to Cotopaxi. It’s made from wind-resistant, breathable nylon and comes with a scuba-style hood to keep your head, neck and ears protected. It also includes pockets in the chest, sides and back for your phone and keys and little touches of reflectivity for safety.
Buy it now: Cotopaxi Paray Shell, $100
4. Under Armour Storm
If you’re on the hunt for a jacket that’s a perfect fit for even the most intense of outdoor workouts, the Under Armour Storm is a super option. The stretch-fitted design helps keep warmth in while the fabric repels water and allows breathability. We love the thumb holes and asymmetrical sleeves to keep hands and wrists warm; plus, Under Armour has some severely cool patterns, many of which include a reflective element.
Buy it now: Under Armour Storm, $57
5. Tracksmith NDO Jacket
Embrace the elements in this stylish and functional piece from Tracksmith. Their gear is made for the harshest east coast climates, including water-repellent fabric and panels in the front and back to effectively block the wind, even as you huff and puff along the waterfront.
Buy it now: Tracksmith NDO Jacket, $198
6. Decathlon Showerproof Jacket Kiprun Light
Particularly if you’re in the market for a jacket for speed workouts in winter, the Decathlon Kalenji Kiprun is a great way to go. It’s made from a lightweight, durable knit blend along with ventilated patches under the arms and upper back, plus additional honeycomb panels on the neck, lower back and stomach to protect against extreme cold. Overall, it offers a flexible, close-fit cut that allows for quick movement and agility, sans extra bulk.
Buy it now: Women’s Showerproof Jacket Kiprun Light, $59