The changing seasons require different running gear – and as temperatures drop, you’ll need additional protection from the elements.
Winter running jackets are designed to keep you comfortable, providing insulation around your core for warmth, but breathable enough to stop you from overheating.
Since ‘winter weather’ can vary quite considerably depending on where you live, not all winter running jackets have the same features. Some are designed to keep you snug on chilly days, some to block the wind, and others to offer protection against rain or snow.
The differences from one jacket to another can make it tricky to pick one that’s ideal for the conditions in which you’ll be running. That’s why we’ve put together this simple guide to help!
Read on to discover the features to look out for in winter running jackets and our recommendations for some of the best on the market right now.
What to Look for in A Winter Running Jacket
Thickness and warmth are your main considerations here.
You want a fabric that will keep out the chill, but that won’t become too warm as you start to sweat. It will also need to wick moisture effectively, so you’re not drenched by the end of a tough run.
Deciding on the thickness isn’t easy. It can be tempting to pick a bulkier jacket for additional warmth, but this is likely to feel cumbersome once you get going and will probably slow you down.
Ideally, choose the thinnest running jacket you can find that offers flexibility and breathability along with the insulation you need.
For temperatures under 50 degrees, a jacket that protects you from the wind should be adequate. For temperatures under 30 degrees, opt for a thermal running jacket to maintain a comfortable core temperature.
Look for other features that help keep out the chill, including a high collar and thumb holes. A zipper can be useful, too, as zipping your running jacket up or down gives you better control over your body temperature.
Other things to think about include:
#1: Water Resistance
If you are likely to be running in wet conditions, consider what degree of protection from the rain you will need. Winter running jackets tend to be either water resistant, water repellent, or waterproof.
‘Water resistant‘ means that the jacket will offer protection against a brief, light shower.
‘Water repellent‘ jackets offer better protection, and rain will bead on the surface of the fabric rather than soak in. Water-repellent coatings don’t last forever, but you can extend the life of your jacket by treating it with a waterproofing spray.
‘Waterproof’ jackets are designed to protect you against the heaviest downpours, even on very long runs. Very few, however, are truly breathable and can become uncomfortable with extended use.
Think about the items you take out on a run with you and decide how many pockets you need.
If you run with your phone, check that at least one pocket is zippered. This will keep it secure as you move and protect it from the elements.
Whether or not you want a hood is a matter of personal preference.
A hood can be useful for keeping out the wind, cold, and rain, but not everyone likes wearing them. Some winter running jackets have removable hoods which is an ideal compromise. It is also useful if the hood is adjustable, as this makes it more comfortable to wear and gives additional protection from the weather.
The 4 Best Winter Running Jackets For Men
#1. Little Donkey Andy Men’s Insulated Running Jacket
–Full zipper closure, drawcord adjustable hem, and stretchy sleeves, sides, and back panels
– Ideal for very cold conditions
Featuring a hybrid design, this jacket has quilted panels on the front to retain warmth in your core area and a brushed fleece lining to provide additional insulation. There is also a high collar that protects against chilly winds but doesn’t feel constrictive as you run.
The knitted material on the side panels and sleeves is breathable and wicks moisture effectively. It also contains 5% Spandex which gives it the flexibility you need to move freely.
Weighing just 430g and packing small for easy storage, the jacket has 4 pockets. The interior pockets are roomy, although the zippered pockets on the sides are a bit too small for a phone.
#2. GORE WEAR Men’s R3 Gore-tex Infinium Partial Jacket
– Runner-specific cut, highly water repellent, and breathable
– The most comfortable choice for changeable conditions
This jacket uses GORE-Tex Infinium and GORE® WINDSTOPPER® technology. Together these provide protection from chilly winds and light water resistance, with the breathability you need for maximum comfort.
The reflective details give you the confidence to run safely on gloomy winter days. The range also includes a neon version, if you are looking for a highly visible jacket for running at night.
Lightweight and easy to pack, this running jacket has some thoughtful design details. The hem is adjustable with a drawcord so you can cinch it in to keep out the cold and there are stretchable inserts at the cuffs. These help keep you snug but still allow you easy access to a GPS watch as you train.
The full-length zipper glides smoothly and there are 2 spacious zippered pockets on the sides. There are interior pockets too, although we found these too wide and shallow to be practical for use during a run.
#3. BALEAF Men’s Winter Running Jacket
– 3 layers of insulation, with wicking materials and two zippered chest vents
– Best winter running jackets for very cold and windy days
Designed for temperatures as low as 20℉, this fully zippered jacket from Baleaf has a warm, brushed fleece interior. It is highly breathable – effectively drawing moisture away from your skin – with the chest vents providing additional ventilation to prevent overheating.
The high, comfortable collar and windproof fabric protect you from chilly breezes, with the elastic cuffs and silicone gripper at the bottom ensuring the jacket sits snugly against your skin.
There are several reflective details that help you stand out in poor light conditions and although the jacket is form-fitted, there’s plenty of stretch for layering. The multiple pockets give you tons of storage space, particularly the two at the rear which are big enough to hold your winter gloves.
#4. SWISSWELL Waterproof Windbreaker Rain Jacket
– Taped seams, attached hood, and reflective stripe
– Great outer layer in wet weather
Stay dry on rainy days with this lightweight, waterproof jacket. Designed to pack small for storage, it adjusts at the hood and hem so you can draw it in tightly to stop water seeping in at any point. The bottom drawstring is conveniently hidden inside the jacket to stop it from snagging on branches as you run.
There is a zippered pocket on either side so you can safely carry your phone and keys, although there are no additional interior pockets.
As with most waterproof jackets, breathability becomes an issue over time. Whilst there is a mesh lining to help you maintain a comfortable body temperature, there are no vents elsewhere. This makes this jacket more suitable for shorter runs than long distances.
The best Winter Running Jackets For Women
#1. BALEAF Women’s Fleece Running Jacket
– Reflective elements, water resistant, with 4-way stretch
– Ideal for temperatures between 40-60°F
Featuring soft fleece, a high collar, and thumb holes to keep your sleeves down, this jacket is perfect for cooler days. It has a full zipper so you can control the ventilation as you need to, along with hidden underarm mesh vents to prevent overheating.
It will keep you dry during brief showers and has a pocket for everything, with two at the sides, a zippered rear pocket at the back, and two hidden interior pockets large enough for your phone.
This jacket has a very slim fit, so you might want to consider sizing up, especially if you want to layer something underneath in very cold weather.
#2. New Balance Women’s NB Heat Loft Jacket
– Lightweight heat retention, fleece insets, sweat-wicking
– Best choice if you prefer a looser fit
Made from quilted stretch fabric for warmth and freedom of movement, this jacket uses NB Heat technology to maintain a comfortable core temperature without overheating. The thumbholes help keep the sleeves securely in place, preventing chilly air from creeping in.
We found this jacket ideal for temperatures from around 40°F – any lower and you’ll probably want to wear a base layer underneath.
The athletic fit just skims where it touches which means your movements don’t feel constricted in any way. You also get two roomy zippered pockets on the sides, so you can securely carry your phone or keys as you run.
#3. BALEAF Women’s Insulated Running Jacket
– Quilted front panels, integrated hood, and thumb holes
– Works well as a mid-layer in very cold conditions
Resistant to water and abrasion, the front panels of this jacket are designed to trap and retain heat in your core area. The arms and sides are made from a soft, stretchy fabric that allows you to move freely, whilst the overall contour is tapered and flattering.
Despite offering you plenty of insulation, this isn’t a bulky jacket and is great under a hardshell coat in extreme weather conditions. It feels lightweight, too, so it won’t slow down your run.
There is a hidden pocket on either side, both with zippers and enough room for a small phone.
#4. ROWAI Women’s Packable Windbreaker Jacket
– High visibility, windbreaker fabric, and breathable inner layer
– Best convertible winter running jacket
Offering protection from light rain and designed to keep out the chill, this jacket has a soft feel and moves quietly. It packs easily into a small, self-contained bundle, yet isn’t as thin as many other windbreakers and feels substantial on cooler days.
Its features include reflective detailing (in addition to the already highly visible color!), plus mesh ventilation, and multiple pockets. The range includes a convertible option that allows you to detach the sleeves and use the jacket as a running vest instead. This makes it great value for money, effectively giving you two products for the price of one!
The fit is fairly slim so if you plan on wearing a layer beneath it we’d recommend sizing up.
The best Winter Running Jackets: Key Takeaways
Having the right running gear for cold or wet days can really help boost your motivation for training when temperatures drop.
These winter running jackets are all designed to protect you from the elements, helping you stay comfortable whatever the weather!
When is it Too Cold to Run Outside?
You can’t always expect perfect weather for your runs, but when temperatures plunge is it still safe to train outdoors? Read our 7 Tips For Running In The Cold and discover the risks to consider.