If we had it our way, every run would start and finish in perfect weather. But Mother Nature’s idea of perfect isn’t always warm sun and a cool breeze. For those of us not living in a Nike commercial, sometimes the long-mileage day may start with a thunderstorm or a few inches of snow. On days like these, instead of rolling over and heading back to sleep, grab a good running jacket and start pounding out those miles. Whether you’re just heading around the block a few times, working on your interval training or putting in a marathon, these running jackets are made for soldiering through the tough stuff.
Additional reporting by Patrick Lapera.
La Sportiva Hail
Editor’s Pick: Apparel technology is improving every year. Increasingly, jackets no longer have to compromise between breathability and warmth. The Hail’s combination of light weight, flexibility and good ventilation makes it ideal for a wide range of conditions. What sets it apart is its weather resistance and packability, which makes the Hail jacket a great outer layer for everything from running in freezing rain to ski touring in heavy snow.
Brooks L.S.D Jacket
Best for Running on a Budget: Brooks’ latest update to its L.S.D line of waterproof running jackets is lighter than ever, coming in at under four ounces. With back vents, a reflective strip and the ability to pack into its own pocket, it’s perfect for distance runners. It also boasts a cinch hood. Its list price of $98 gives this fully featured jacket unbeatable value, especially considering that the the weight of gear is usually inversely proportional to its cost.
North Face Animagi
Best for Very Cold Weather: Runners in very cold climates need a jacket with insulation as well as protection from the elements. The Animagi pairs a windproof exterior with a FlashDry core to keep runners warm on January mornings. Features include reflector strips, a media pocket, and a high collar to keep the wind out. It’s essentially a winter coat designed for runners who refuse to be intimidated by what their thermometer tells them.
Westcomb Switch LT
Best for Extreme Weather: The Westcomb Switch LT’s minimalist design is designed to be bombproof first and foremost. Everything from its cinch cord to its fully taped seams is meant to keep heat inside the body and the elements out. It’s meant for alpinists, but its flexibility and comfort makes it the best choice for runners determined to go out in the worst winter has to offer. Features like media and bicep pockets and smartly placed ventilation will serve mountaineers and hardcore winter runners alike. It also breathes surprisingly well for such a heavy shell. For those determined to run outside every day, forecast be damned, the Switch LT will be invaluable — just remember that a snazzy jacket is no substitute for good judgement.
Nike Shieldrunner Flash Jacket
Best for Urban Running: If you’re more of an urban adventurer, the Nike Shieldrunner jacket has all the features you need to not only brave the weather but some of the obstacles you’ll encounter on a run through dark city streets. With storm flaps and bonded seams, it keeps water out with the best of them. An adjustable hood allows you to tailor it to the conditions. The Flash was designed with visibility in mind: the entire upper jacket is reflective, perfect for low-light running in a city.
ASICS Men’s Performance Run Lightweight Jacket
Best for Ultra-Distance Runners: This lightweight ASICS jacket has plenty of wind and rain protection for when you need it and packs down into an unobtrusive ball for when you don’t. And with a neck designed to prevent chafing, it’s perfect for ultra runners.
Lululemon Lightspeed Shell
Best for Chilly Fall Mornings: Few days feel better suited for a long run than a clear fall day, but you can easily ruin that by over- or under-layering. A fleece or hoodie provides the perfect amount of protection from the elements, but they chafe and absorb sweat like a camel absorbs water. The Lightspeed Shell is perfect for those days when a good long-sleeve shirt won’t cut it but a heavy jacket would cause just as much discomfort, and it’s designed top to bottom to keep the wearer dry.
Smartwool PhD Run Divide
Best for Layering: You don’t need a PhD to know a merino wool running jacket will be warm — but windproof? The Run Divide is both. It has all the features one would expect in a running jacket, like a chest pocket and reflector strips, but what’s really great about this jacket is the SmartWool insulation and the athletic yet comfortable fit. The SmartWool does a great job regulating moisture and body temperature, so a rain jacket or heavy shell can be placed over the Divide without sacrificing too much comfort, making it an ideal outer layer on cold days as well as a middle layer in bad weather.
Janji Men’s Windbreaker
Best Windbreaker: Build quality and stylish design aren’t normally something that one would associate with a windbreaker, but Janji’s offering is an exception. Its wind resistance rivals any jacket, and since it’s made of laminated jersey material, it’s perfectly comfortable for running and daily use. Its versatility is matched by truly eye-catching design. If only all running apparel was this good-looking. Plus, every Janji windbreaker purchased funds three years of drinking water for one person in Tanzania.