Inov-8’s entire range is tested in Cumbria and it shows; their trail shoes have the best traction of any we’ve tested. For preventing the cold and winds, the Thermoshell, made with Polartec Alpha insulation, replicates this fine form, swatting away Storm Angus and keeping us toasty on a 90min trail run. The effectiveness of the double zip became clear on the run for venting purposes and preventing wafts of air from entering down the neck.
Given it’s a harder shell, we’re surprised the Thermoshell wasn’t touted as being water resistant as it handled a severe downpour before minimal ingress on the sleeves. If it looks fairly large, the 223g jacket stashes into the chest pocket so you can slot it into your backpack. We would’ve liked some lower pockets and we’re not sold on the half zip length (for weight-saving and stashability, say Inov-8), but it’s among the best here for daily use.
Verdict: Maintains your warmth on the run and swats away the winds. Stylish if pricey 86%
Haglöfs’ Gram Comp reminds us of The Simpsons’ scene where Bart folds his starchy PE kit into a paper aeroplane. On all our runs, it sounded like Gary Lineker was chasing us with a crisp packet. Noise pollution aside, and the
Gram Comp comes top of the class in swatting away precipitation, with the 100% Polyamide Gore-Tex construction and front zip combing to produce a Fort Knox of the waterproof world.
Breathability is surprisingly adequate for such a hardshell and wind protection is superior, helped by the elasticated cuffs, hem and peak hood. But the giant elephant in the room is that £250 price tag. For that outlay we’d demand more warmth and comfort, and additional pockets to the single chest compartment. The result? One for hardcore mountain runners (with a thermal base layer) only.
Verdict: Stylish and excels in the wet but with niche appeal and a sky-high price 65%
As ever with Proviz, the USP of the PixElite is the brand’s hugely reflective fabric that makes this a potential life-saver for night running. The lean 222g weight makes it just a tad heavier than the Saucony, and the winning features continue with a full-length zip buffer, elasticated hems and a duo of easy-to-access pockets.
Onto the urban run loop and high-intensity efforts were rewarded with impressive ventilation, with the trio of large rear vents keeping air circulating throughout. Windproofing is only satisfactory and, like the Odlo and Asics, a long-sleeve base layer will be needed for single-digit sojourns. The water-resistant fabric also bats away the aqua to complete a recommended package at a wallet-friendly price, even if it’s a jacket unlikely to be worn away from the run routes.
Verdict: Not the warmest but huge reflectively adds to the winning features 86%
The final verdict
The quality of the run jackets tested here is generally high, and we’d have no qualms about recommending half a dozen for running this winter.
The Haglöfs puts the hard into hardshell and for serious trail runs in heavy rain or snow (with a heavy duty base layer below) we can see the appeal. But for the day-to-day runner, that price is prohibitive and there are other hardshells here – the Brooks, Saucony and Inov-8 – that offer water-resistance at half the price. Of that trio, the Saucony and especially the Brooks suffer with breathability, but the Inov-8 is ideal for both warmth and windproofing. We’d pass on both the Pearl and North Face for their lack of versatility.
Although its USP is the reflectivity, the Proviz is a hard-to-fault and well-crafted creation that performs well in a number of conditions. Likewise, the Asics ticks nearly every box apart from superior warmth, and ditto the stylish Odlo, which is the jacket we’ve worn more than any other on test but will require more warmth for low single-digit runs.
The title charge is led by two jackets that can handle the cold, wind and water. The Gore, like most of the brand’s output, is understated, high-performing and well-crafted. If the price seems high, we can vouch for their durability over time and we know this’ll last a number of seasons. At £45 less, the Zoot just edges the Gore to the post. It’s slightly leaner for a wider variety of temperatures and also does everything you want a run jacket to, with the surprising waterproofing the icing on a very fine cake from the tri pioneers.