Winter is HERE baby! So the time for a good running jacket is now. For the most part, you can get by without graduating to a shell outer layer through the fall and early winter. But for days where the wind is whipping and windchills are in the single digits, a good jacket can make the difference between getting back from your run and saying ‘man, I feel good!’ or ‘man, I think I have pneumonia.’
While your baselayer and midlayers are made from a knit fabric (giving them stretch in all directions and a snug fit), your outer layer is typically constructed with a woven fabric. Wovens have very little stretch, keep their shape well, and are significantly more durable than knits. That extra durability and the added features in running jackets explain the higher price point. You’ll pay a little more, but you’re investing in a piece you’ll use for years.
Make sure it fits and can accommodate inner layers. Since the woven fabric of the jacket means it doesn’t stretch much, you’re looking for a slightly looser, boxier fit. Raise your hands over your head – if the jacket feels too tight when you do that, try going up a size. We’re going for full range of motion so you will be comfortable during your run.
Look for things like reflectivity and pockets. Chances are, you’ll be doing at least some running in darkness (whether in the morning or evening) and reflectivity is key for runner safety. And pockets are always a plus!
Finally – think about the conditions you’ll likely be running in. Do you tend to stay in when its raining or snowing but will gladly go out when its 10* and clear? Then look for something with more of a focus on warmth and wind resistance rather than a ton of water resistance. Love running in the rain and snow? Then you’re looking for something with a lot of water resistance and maybe not so much warmth. Running all winter, no matter the weather? Now we’re talking!