More fashionable than a poncho but not as heavy-duty as a raincoat, a lightweight jacket is an essential item to have in your arsenal of outerwear—even after traditional jacket season has come to an end. A water-resistant and windproof shell will make running tolerable during unpredictable spring and fall weather, and even the occasional brisk summer morning.
What makes these jackets indispensable is their overall lightness and packability. Each of them packs down into a zipper pocket, making them fit into the tiniest corners of your gym bag or running backpack, and some can even be worn around your wrist or as a mini-backpack mid-run.
These jackets were vetted by 50-plus local wear-testers, who wore them on runs and evaluated them on their fit, breathability, and resistance to wind and rain.
According to our permeability test, this jacket is extremely breathable; it weighed the heaviest post bain-marie sauna. The Canopy has a stowable hood so it won’t flop behind your head as you run, and front pockets with a snug compartment to slide your phone into. Its light weight and packability make it the perfect for unpredictable weather when you may have to stash or zip up.
Like Brooks’s Canopy, the Zephyr Runner has a chest snap, which allows you to unzip the jacket while running with minimal flappage. In fact, every detail was added with running in mind: Vents in the back allow even more airflow, the entire shell can be stuffed into the front zipper chest pocket, and reflective logos on the back and front provide some visibility in low light. The water-repellent finish is also PFC-free, making it eco-friendly (PFCs are man-made chemicals that break down very slowly once released into the environment).
The Off Roads Packable Jacket is woven with Swiss fabric that’s treated with a Nanosphere DWR finish, which gives it a thin water- and dirt-repellent layer. Our testers were impressed with the workmanship that went into this incredibly featherlight shell. The upper back has a mesh vent for airflow, a zipper garage prevents neck chafing, and the cuffs have smooth, elastic stitching. The jacket packs down into a zippered pocket and can be worn around your hand with an elastic band.
The April Showers Anorak packs down into the front zipper pocket and has a stowable hood with a collar closure. Our tester praised its fit—not too tight, not too loose—and was impressed with how it cuts through the wind during a 10-mile subfreezing run. For such a lightweight jacket, the price may be a little steep for some.
The Stretch Ozonic is made of soft fabric that’s waterproof and abrasion-resistant. You can secure the cuffs around your wrists or upper arm by adjusting the Velcro tabs. The jacket packs down into a zippered pocket for portability (though likely for packing into a suitcase or duffel, since it’s too bulky to carry on your run). Testers were kept dry running in the Stretch Ozonic, but found themselves becoming sweaty later in their run due to little ventilation. Zippered underarm vents provide more airflow, however, unzipping them results in “a lot of exposure to rain,” said a tester.