So you’ve decided that you are soon going to battle the cold weather this winter and you are going out running in those temperatures.
And so you’ve been thinking about cold weather running gear.
You’ve been thinking about what to wear and how to dress for your winter run.
You figure that when it’s super cold out there, strategically dressing in layers can not only help to keep you warm, but it can help to keep you more comfortable while running as well.
Now you’re at the stage of this thinking process where you’ve got your base layer taken care of.
And you’re on to figuring out how the great outer layer (running jacket!) can finish the job to help to keep you warm and comfortable on your run!
And that is what has you thinking about trying to figure out the best winter running jacket for your cold weather run!
Covered on this page below to help choose the best running clothes for cold weather running:
- Features of the best running jackets for cold weather
- Suggested gear: Cold weather running jackets to consider for your winter running gear
The list of more things you may want for cold weather running:
- Head: Running headband — Running hat
- Hands: Running gloves
- Core: Breathable base layer – Zip-up long-sleeve insulating layer
- Legs: Thermal running tights
- Feet: Breathable warm socks
- Shoes: Put this over your shoes so you won’t slip on ice
best running lights when running in the dark
make sure your dog is ready for cold weather too — paw wax so pavement’s not too cold | winter dog clothes
So what makes a running jacket so great that it makes a fine clothing of choice as part of your winter running gear on those frigid days?
With so many winter running jackets on the market, how do you decide which one to choose?
Do you go for a cheap running jacket, or go for the brand name that you know you can trust?
What do you look for in a running jacket? Let’s discuss some of the best qualities of the best winter running jackets for cold weather!
- It’s breathable
- It’s windproof
- It’s lightweight
- It’s reflective
- It’s warm
So while you are on your hunt for the best running jacket for your winter running activities, these are some things to look out for as you weigh your options regarding which aspects and qualities you want to place emphasis on.
Why would you want a breathable winter running jacket?
In short, because you’ll sweat, and so that sweat won’t turn your winter run into a negative experience.
Being extra sweaty in really cold temperatures is not ideal.
Depending on just how cold it is, that sweat can turn cold quickly when you stop running.
Another scenario might be that you’ve driven to the park to run.
That means you probably won’t be returning to a warm car as you wait for your car to heat up, so that’s extra time in which you can be soaked in cold sweat in cold weather. Not good!
You also might become a bit uncomfortable running while extra sweaty with extra layers on.
Wearing a sweatshirt may keep you warm, but since the material the sweatshirt is made from doesn’t breathe well, it can trap the moisture from your sweat and keep it close to you.
A running jacket is likely to leave you less sweaty because it is built to be more breathable, letting go of some of the sweat.
So how does it breathe? Some of it has to do with the fabric material, and some of it has to do with the ability for air to flow through.
It is able to breathe through panels located on the jacket that allows the moisture from sweat to escape.
Some jackets may have flaps instead of, or in addition to, the panels. As you’re looking at different running jackets, look for how well ventilated the jacket is and where these panels are located.
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Why would you want a windproof winter running jacket?
Another point of consideration is that you likely want to look out to make sure the running jacket you’re looking at breaks wind. This is important because you know that wind can make those cold temperatures feel even colder!
The best running jackets will also do well with the varied weather elements, including wind and rain.
Your typical waterproof clothing will resist water, but that waterproof material used will also tend to be anything but breathable.
Running jackets try to balance out breathability with being weatherproof.
That said, running jackets may not be perfect when it comes to certain harsh elements of weather.
For example, those ventilated panels that allow for air flow may also prevent from completely shutting out wind or water.
But in terms of breathability, which is an important factor to consider when running in cold weather, it is far better than a straight up rain jacket that doesn’t consider the ability to breathe in its design.
Why would you want a lightweight winter running jacket?
Also consider, what type of running are you doing? Should having a jacket be lightweight factor in as an important feature for you?
Think about what type of running you’ll be using the jacket for.
If you are planning on running a cold weather race that may require a jacket and you’re trying to set a PR, you may place a greater importance on the weight factor of a running jacket.
If you have no plans to use the jacket in a performance run, whether it be individually or at a race, you may not be as concerned about the weight of the jacket.
Or maybe all of your runs are short enough that it’s not a big factor for you. From there, it would become a matter of personal choice and personal comfort.
Even if you have no intentions of a performance-based run, you may find a lighter jacket to be more comfortable.
Also, one of the benefits of layering up on cold weather runs is the ability to be able to easily peel off clothing if you do start to feel overly hot.
If you decide to take off your jacket and wrap it around your waist, how important is the weight factor around your waist for a comfortable run?
That said, if the weight of the jacket is of little concern to you, it also can open yourself up to other winter running jacket options!
There are jackets out there that add extra features that you may find as a trade off as a part of the jacket weighing slightly more.
This includes added pockets for convenience and hooded jacket options.
These sorts of options may be seen as a disadvantage for running performance-wise, but if that’s not really an issue for you and extra pockets sound good to you, it’s something to be on the lookout for in a running jacket.
Why would you want a reflective winter running jacket?
When running jackets are being designed, there is thought put into the safety of the runner as well.
For this reason, you’ll find that there are a lot of options for brightly colored running jackets.
This better helps you to be better seen by drivers when you’re running on the road during the day.
Designers of running jackets also recognize that not everyone wants to wear a bright neon yellow jacket when they’re out running.
This means that there are running jackets of all colors, including colors that aren’t bright.
Regardless of the color, a feature that a good running jacket will have is reflective stripes. This allows for a greater chance of making sure you’re seen by drivers when you’re running at night.
If you go running without these types of safety elements on your outer clothing, be sure to get yourself some reflective gear or running lights for safety if you’re heading out the door when it’s starting to get dark!
What makes an insulated winter running jacket special?
One of the first things to think about in your search for a cold weather running jacket is just what type of temperatures you will be enduring on your runs in the coldest months.
If you’ll be running through freezing temperatures throughout the winter, it’s a good idea to have some insulation built into your running jacket to keep you warm in those cold temperatures.
When you think of wearing clothing to stay warm, you probably think of bulky clothing.
This is what can make winter running jackets great.
They are designed with insulation, but at the same time, the best winter running jackets will also have features helpful to cold weather runners.
This includes the above mentioned features of being breathable, weather-resistant, and made of lighter material.
What’s one of the most important things when thinking about what to wear running in cold weather?!
Making sure you know how to dress in layers! (This can apply to both top and bottom!)
A winter running jacket would be considered the “outer layer” but you’ll want a good base layer, and depending on how cold it is, you might want to wear extra during your run too.
Suggested gear: Best winter running jackets to consider
And now, here are a few of the best winter running jackets for you to take a look at to help keep you warm and comfortable during your runs through the winter.
Keep in mind that different people have different levels of comfort when it comes to running in cold weather, so think about what your tendencies are to choose the best running jacket for you.
Also remember that if you find that a jacket is not keeping you warm enough during your run, you can always add a layer or two underneath.
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Pearl Izumi Flash Insulator Jacket
The Pearl Izumi Flash Insulator Jacket is soft and comfortable, and for the insulation it provides, it’s a lightweight running jacket.
The jacket may feel a little less loose in the arms than you’re used to for a running jacket, but the comfortable semi-form-fit also helps to keep your arms warmer in the cold temperatures.
Because of this, it’s an ideal jacket to wear without a ton of layers underneath.
The jacket was designed to maintain warmth down to the 30s and 40s. If you think you’ll be running in rainy weather elements, this jacket probably isn’t the best choice, as it wouldn’t be considered all that waterproof.
From Pearl Izumi: Core warmth and maximum mobility combine to keep you moving in the harshest weather.
Pearl Izumi carries this running jacket for women and men: Women’s Flash Insulator Jacket and Men’s Flash Insulator Jacket.
Some of the key features of the Pearl Izumi Flash Insulator Jacket include:
- Made with lightweight fleece
- High quality insulation material for warmth
- Hand warming pockets
- Reflective elements
- Full front zipper
Sugoi Firewall 180 Jacket
The Sugoi Firewall 180 Jacket is designed to provide superior protection from the wind to block cold air so you can maintain warmth while running.
It was made with winter in mind, and for cold and really cold temperatures.
This means the thermal elements of the jacket provides comfortable insulation during the cold winter months while being breathable.
The way the cuffs are designed help to keep wind and snow out. It also gives you flexibility with a fabric that stretches to provide you with comfortable mobility as you run.
From Sugoi: Cold weather training jacket with powerful windproof protection for superior winter performance.
Sugoi has this jacket for women and men: Women’s Firewall 180 Jacket and Men’s Firewall 180 Jacket.
Some of the key features of the Sugoi Firewall 180 Jacket include:
- Hooded jacket
- Lightweight and thermal
- Breathable material
- Stretch fabric for mobility
- Back zip pocket and two front pockets
- Reflective elements
Pearl Izumi Fly Softshell Jacket
The Pearl Izumi Fly Softshell Jacket can keep you running comfortably warm in the 20s and 30s F.
Its windproof properties provide you with protection from the cold wind on your winter run.
The fleece fabric that this jacket is made with gives you good warmth and breathability so that you’ll have comfortable running conditions in cold weather.
The jacket was designed for running in harsh winter conditions so it can make for an ideal winter running jacket.
From Pearl Izumi: Made with our innovative Thermal Windblocking Softshell fabric for the perfect balance of protection, warmth, and breathability so you can run comfortably during the harshest weather conditions.
There is a women’s version and men’s version of this running jacket: Women’s Fly Softshell Jacket and Men’s Fly Softshell Jacket.
Some of the key features of the Pearl Izumi Fly Softshell Running Jacket include:
- Special thermal fabric that’s insulating and breathable to keep you warm and comfortable
- Wind blocking fabric for harsh winter conditions
- Thermal fleece panels in key areas for optimal moisture transfer
- Zippered pockets
The North Face Isolite Jacket
The North Face Isolite Jacket is made with a material designed to be breathable and dry your sweat quickly for a more comfortable run.
For the warmth it provides, it is a lightweight jacket.
This is a running jacket that was designed for cooler temperatures, but not frigid temperatures, making it an ideal jacket to wear on crisp fall days or when spring is approaching. It can also be a good jacket choice during the winter when you’re layered up appropriately underneath.
This means this jacket can be convenient to use as a multi-season jacket.
From the North Face: When lightweight coverage in cool fall conditions is paramount, cover up in this weather-resistant running jacket that moves with you like a second skin and features stretch panels with wicking FlashDry fibers.
The North Face carries this as a women’s jacket and men’s jacket: Women’s Isolite Jacket and Men’s Isolite Jacket.
Some of the key features of the North Face Isolite Jacket include:
- Made with lightweight fabric that helps to regulate body temperature
- Moisture-wicking to help sweat move away from your body
- Reflective elements
Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket
The Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket was designed as a cycling jacket, but it can serve as a good choice for blocking cold wind when running in cold temperatures too.
It is a lightweight, soft, and breathable jacket that is easy to run in. With adequate layering underneath, this jacket can complete your winter running outfit to keep you warm on those cold days.
This jacket is another one that was designed with milder temperatures in mind, but if you wear it with layers, it can work well as the wind-blocking outer shell to keep you warm.
This makes it another jacket that can make for a useful multi-season jacket. The jacket can convert into a vest by removing the sleeves in warmer temperatures.
In addition to being a reflective jacket, this jacket comes in a variety of high visibility colors so you can be more safe out on the road!
If you prefer not to have that bright yellow or bright orange, the jacket also comes in a black color, in which you will still get the reflective features.
From Pearl Izumi: One of the most versatile pieces you can own for changing weather conditions, this great design gives you a wind jacket and a vest in one.
Pearl Izumi has this jacket for both women and men: Women’s Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket and Men’s Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket.
Some of the key features of the Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket include:
- Designed to maximize breathability
- Good wind protection
- Convenient pockets
- Reflective elements
- Zip-off sleeves to convert into a vest
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