I have a bit of a confession. I ran for two years before I purchased a proper running jacket. More than once during that time I resorted to wearing a 10-year-old hooded windbreaker from GAP as my “running jacket.” It was time I went about selecting a running jacket.
As the researcher that I am, I made a point of looking into many brands and styles of running jackets in making my selection. At the time I had decided I would pay roughly $60 to $80 for a lightweight running jacket.
Selecting a Running Jacket
Why is a Running Jacket Needed?
My expectation was that I would purchase a jacket for running that would last me many years – and it has. What was less certain at the time was whether I would be able to find everything I wanted in a running jacket.
The plan was to use the jacket from about October through April in the Midwest. My estimate was that this jacket would be used while running, in conjunction with layers (as needed) from temperatures of about 30 degrees up to 55 degrees.
If you live in a colder region or run frequently during snowstorms – a heavier jacket could be needed. But for most runners, the above described jacket is quite adequate.
When running your body does heat up as it expends energy and calories – so it’s typical to dress lighter than normal when running outdoors. The body warms up in no time.
Types of Running Jackets
When I was eyeballing different styles of running jackets I created a list of four must have features in a running jacket. There are many features to consider including color – but I found that the running jackets I looked at almost all came in pink and I was fine with that as a bright color to help me stand out in the dead of winter.
Here are the following features fall under what I would consider the “need to have” category when selecting a running jacket.
- Windproof: Wind can quickly make a cool day much colder. Running while wearing a windproof or wind-breaking material is essential in staying warm.
- Waterproof or Water Resistant: Winter elements often include sleet and snow. During the spring rain is common. Having a jacket that is waterproof or, at the very least, water resistant is important for staying dry.
- Lightweight: Runners hate to carry more bulk than they need, and that even includes body weight. A good running jacket should be durable and warm, yet lightweight.
- Reflective Material or Accents: Safety is important when running outside, and even more so, when running in the dark or in the elements. A running jacket should be a bright color (such as fluorescent yellow) or should have strips and sections of reflective material
Considerations When Buying a Running Coat
Then there are a few considerations that are more optional, but important to think about when selecting a running jacket. I’m picky about the type of gear I use for working out, so when it comes to a jacket there was no exception.
- Hood or No Hood: This is largely a matter of personal choice and conditions. For me, I will run in the winter but only when skies are clear. A skull cap or Bondi Band hat is perfect for me. However, other runners may be fine with and frequently run while it’s snowing or sleeting out. In that case a hood might be helpful in providing an extra layer of warmth and resistance from the elements. When selecting a running jacket, some jackets have a zip off hood.
- Durability: Simply considering the quality of the jacket you plan to purchase is important. For me it was essential that the jacket hold up for many years. I didn’t want to be buying a new running jacket every year. Check purchaser reviews when considering a running jacket.
- Affordability: Lastly, your budget is important when selecting a running jacket. Some running jackets easily cost $100 to $150. I live on a budget and saving money is important to me. I also value high-quality items. For me, a mid-range running jacket was perfect.
Running Jacket Selection
After taking into consideration all of the above items that are important when selecting a running jacket, I came up with a list of finalists.
There are the jackets I considered when selecting a running jacket for fall and spring outdoor running. Running jackets I looked at during my search include:
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Key Features: Water Resistant Material, Fall Running, Night Running, No Hood
Key Features: Water Resistant Material, Very Lightweight, Fall Running, Night Running, Hood
Key Features: Water and Wind Resistant, Very Lightweight, No Hood
Picking Out a Runner Jacket
After careful thought and consideration, I selected the Brooks Women’s Essential Run Jacket. I’ve had the jacket now for six years and it has held up wonderfully, including through many washings.
I wash my running jacket in sports detergent along with my other running clothing. On a side note, I have found Brooks to be a high-quality brand when it comes to other running apparel, including running bras and running shoes.
I hope this post about selecting a running jacket is helpful in making your decision. If you have been running for a few years, you definitely want to invest in a running jacket.
Don’t wait as long as I did. And do know that a good quality running jacket will last you many years if cared for correctly.
What do you like in a running jacket?
*This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.