The top 3 characteristics for great winter running jackets are:
- warm without getting you too sweaty
- optionally they need some reflective elements so you are easy to spot by drivers when you run at night
Again the last one is totally optional but believe me, as a runner who runs at night, ideally you want the jacket to be seen easily to keep you away from trouble.
Curently, I have two winter running jackets, one is Sugoi Rs 180 Jacket (mine is neon green, see picture below) and another from Saucony. I love both but for different reasons. Saucony is warm and has more pockets than Sugoi. It also has some padding so I can run usually in a thin long sleeve underneath when of course is not too cold, I think the coldest I could run like that was around -7C. But Sugoi is neon green and has a more sporty feeling to it, also great for biking providing a good low cover of your back.
This is my Saucony winter running jacket:
There is a lot of personal taste when choosing running gear but no matter what are you going for after reading this article, I’m here to save you some time and present you with a couple of options. Ready? Let’s go!
Personally I’m not a big fan of hoodie jackets for running as the hoodie can get in the way but this jacket from Marmot is a steal, let me explain why. It’s light, easily packable when going for running trips other the ones in your neighborhood. It’s warm but breathable keeping the body warm and cozy without overheating. There is no jacket put there, not even the ones at a thousand dollars and up that won’t get you sweaty, I promise you that but Marmot Men’s Neothermo Hoody does a decent job and I was able to run at -20C with it and one of my long sleeves thin shirts and it felt great. It comes in multiple colors but I recommend darker colors, preferably black like the one in the picture below, as there is some sweating along the way and I don’t like showing it through my clothes. I’m guessing neither do you.
Here in grey color which I don’t like that much as I prefer darker colors for my running gear…
Sporting a modern look is comfortable being lightweight and versatile meaning that you can grab some milk from your convenience store on your way back from running. Is made of Polartec fleece and offers a small but functional zip chest pocket, great for a key and maybe that Starbucks card. As you could see in the pictures it has elastic bound cuffs with integrated thumb holes. I don’t think I took advantage of the thumb holes more than a couple of times with all my jackets as I wear gloves but there have been a couple of times when I went meeting my running friends and I had forgotten my gloves home and those thumb holes kept my hand warm, at least partially.
Thing I like:
- simple but stylish running jacket that can be worn for neighborhood little shopping at the end of the runs
- warn and breathable, the Polartec will retain body heat but not much of the moisture
- thumb holes but this is with a few exceptions the standard these days with winter running jackets
- big sports brand committed to continuous improvements and innovation
- pocket with zip helps not losing things like mittens, keys, phone, cards, etc
- fit construction, looks great if you have a great body
Thing I don’t like:
- only one pocket
- no reflective elements for night run
- not water repellent or waterproof
- runs in a smaller size, something to consider if you buy online
Mizuno hits spot on with their running gear, at least with me. For example, one of the jackets I love from them is this Mizuno Running Men’s Static Breath Thermo Softshell Jacket. Don’t ask me what “static breath” means and why is it part of the jacket name but I’m telling you once you put it on you don’t want to take it off. Actually, I just looked into it and apparently there is some proprietary technology they use called Breath Thermo which makes the jacket feel warm in cold temperatures having an extremely lightweight outer shell bonded with Breath Thermo. This combination is supposed to keep the sweat away during running. It’s wind and water resistant.
Thing I like:
- Silver Grey reflective Mizuno Runbird logo with a 360 degree high candle safety reflectivity
- light made out of a nice fabric inside out
- 3 zip pockets
- Thumb holes
Thing I don’t like:
- depending where are you finding it to buy it, the price may be a bit steep
- the end part of the sleeves where the thumb holes are, is not waterproof so if it rains or if you sweat a lot these areas will be dripping wet
- not as breathable as other winter jackets I tried
And because I love Nike, I couldn’t have not mentioned this winter running jacket, a simple one with no bells and whistles but sometimes this is all we need. Think about coming back from a running, all sweating, hands and face cold, trying to find the entrance key. Would you want to have tons of pockets and an overly complicated jacket with layers and such or something simple? My running philosophy is: put it on, zip it up and go for a run.
So let’s talk about Nike Men’s Element Shield for a bit. I would really love to talk about this instead, but hey there is still -10C outside so I will leave that for later :/
But I digress, so back at our Nike Men’s Element Shield. Something that I truly enjoy about Nike is their Dri-FIT technology they use in a lot of their products.
I have 2 pairs of running pants from Nike, both with Dri-FIT and I gotta say they stay warm on me even on the most intense running (the sub 5 min per kilometer). So it comes to me that Dri-FIT is a great thing to have. This jacket is made of Dri-FIT 89% polyester with 11% spandex. Features a clean look and lightweight sporty fit with a soft feel fabric. Another thing I enjoy with Nike running gear is that they all have some sort of reflective elements that enhance visibility at night. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, reflective running gear is great to have.
I don’t know where you live but down here there is 4-5 months of winter in a year which means a lot of darkness, low visibility and bad weather so if you can go for something reflective.
Thing I like:
- Dri-FIT to keep you warm and dry
- simple construction, easy to put on and take off
- very breathable
Thing I don’t like:
- no pockets
- the price might be higher than your usual
- no protection for wind and rain
As with everything in life, a lot of our purchases are based on personal preferences and winter running jackets make no exception. However if I had to recommend something is going with a big brand like Marmot, Saucony, Sugoi or Nike. The continually improve their products and even if their price might appear steep at first, it pays off in long run. Pun intended.
My favorites remain Saucony, Sugoi and Marmot. Not a big fan of Saucony running shoes just because they always have some rubber / plastic going around the toes box (I prefer knit fabric) but I must say they know how to make great running jackets.
As always let me know in your comments what did you like and end up buying. Cheers, your running mate.