In the hot, humid summer months, the idea of running through a snowstorm might sound like heaven. But winter brings its own set of challenges. You want to keep your body warm, yet you don’t want to overheat. And achieving the perfect balance of layers to do that can feel like solving a college-level math equation, with temperature, run time, and windchill as variables. You’ll also have to factor in the prospect of rain or snow, which requires an outer shell that’s both waterproof and breathable so you don’t get soaked from precipitation or your own sweat. Of course, getting it right takes a bit of trial and error, which ultimately begins with finding a dependable running jacket.
Read on for helpful buying tips, followed by in-depth reviews of the best jackets from our testing.
How to Dress for Winter
Finding your next favorite winter running jacket will make a huge difference in your motivation to get out this season. But “winter weather” can vary widely from day to day and region to region, so the ideal outer layer for you will depend on the conditions in which you expect to run. Because you’ll warm up as you move, the trick is to dress for temperatures 20 degrees warmer, including the windchill, than the current forecast.
If you’re planning on running through rain or precipitation, you’ll also need a jacket that repels water. The ones below cover the range of winter weather, from cold temps to rain and snow and the occasional balmy day, so you’ll be prepared no matter what’s going on outside.
[Related: Winter Running Socks]
Age Grade Calculator
Every jacket here has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers, and use our own experience wearing and running in these jackets to determine the best. They have been carefully chosen based on their value, technical fabrics, comfort, looks, and ability to keep us warm through seemingly endless winters. Here are the jackets that help us avoid the treadmill—and will keep you off yours this winter.
This jacket is essential for runners who live for those 20- and 30-degree long jaunts. Trapping in enough body heat for hours on the road, the Outright also does an excellent job at wicking sweat on the inside, meaning you won’t get the chills with every hint of a breeze in the later miles.
“When I tried on this jacket, I was surprised by how well cut and flattering it looked, compared to other boxy jackets (or, you know, ragged sweatshirts) I’ve worn to stay comfy when it’s cold outside,” said our tester. The hemline hits right at the hip, with stretchy material on the sides and sleek, yet still incredibly warm, padding through the torso. And the sleeves—which feature thumb holes—end perfectly at the wrists.
This is the ideal jacket for runs with the temperature in the high 30s and some chilly gusts of wind thrown in. The Run Softshell is super lightweight, which initially made testers skeptical of how warm it would keep them. “It only took a few minutes to see that it holds in heat really well—the wind was going right through my gloves and freezing my face and ears,”said our tester. “But my torso stayed perfectly fine.” The jacket has pockets, which was great for carrying smaller items. The only negative, according to our tester, is that the cuffs are really tight. “They served a purpose when running—no wind going up my sleeves, especially with the thumb holes—but they were a pain to pull over my watch,” she said.
This affordable jacket has a high collar to serve as a shield from the wind and is made of three-layer bonded fabric, with a cozy brushed fleece liner. The Corp Ultimate isn’t waterproof, but it will repel light precip and breathe well as you’re moving.
Brooks put a lot of attention into small features that help the Canopy adapt to the weather or your preferred running style. For example, it comes with a hood, which can roll up with a small clasp when it isn’t raining so that it doesn’t bounce around and annoy you. The two spacious zipper pockets are enough for keys and energy gels. There’s also a small mesh pocket on the chest, which holds a phone—a nice touch because stashing your cell in a side pocket often creates too much annoying movement. What’s more, the entire jacket can be stuffed into its left zipper pocket. An elastic strap lets you carry it or hook it to a backpack.
When you don’t want to bundle up too much, there’s the Partial Gore-Tex Infinium Hooded jacket. “The breathable Infinium material traps heat well, so I’d be comfortable in the winter wearing a summer running shirt underneath in temps as low as 15 degrees,” said our tester. It’s not for cold rain, however, as it soaks up just about everything. Even so, the jacket is still light even sopping wet.
Though it’s stuffed with 800-fill down insulation, the Inlet is a standout for its coverage. Its water-resistant bonded nylon-spandex blend staves off the elements, while the long length blocks from the high collar down to the hem that reaches below the hips. The hood (which is removable) has adjustable toggles should you want to cinch it down against the wind. Thumbholes keep the sleeves secure and keep cool air from seeping in.