For when a base layer and a tee isn’t enough, a lightweight water-resistant running jacket can be a saviour of your off-season run training. Given many on test here will tackle the rain, wind and even the cold, a well-chosen jacket can also provide the pathway to a massive mental surge for your mid-winter psychology.
Escaping the sofa and Loose Women (sorry, working from home) for log leaping, puddle prancing and ditch dodging will reaffirm that love of outdoor exercise and will provide a welcome boost to those flagging Vit-D levels (research increasingly suggests levels of the latter may help to prevent Covid).
The eight jackets here feature water-resistant and lightweight windproofers, the most versatile of run jackets but not for sub-zero conditions. When picking your garment of choice, think about the conditions you’ll be using it in. Is it for mountain running, city loops or rural lanes? Night or day?
We use these jackets for anything lower than 10°C. They’re also far better at thwarting wind and rain chills than a base layer and run tee combo. Elsewhere, the hi-vis aspects are a smart safety addition, and the pocket(s) will ensure you can comfortably carry your phone, a key and gels.
While most here stretch over £100, we’ve used our own run jackets for many seasons and some will easily double as casual wear, so having something that looks good in both the trails and the tavern is an added bonus.
Best running jackets for men
Soar Ultra Rain 2.0
Fit is a subjective thing, but the 144g Ultra Rain Jacket 2.0 from Soar Running just sat perfectly on us, with the wrist and waist hem keeping things in place and the mesh collar sitting cosily on the neck. Comfort aside, it’s the jacket here we’d trust the most for MET weather-warning runs, offering a high waterproofing rating of 20,000mm, a zipper guard and taped seams. While that usually means a sweaty mess come warmer efforts, the polyimide/nylon construction also boasts fine breathability. It’s easily stashed into the rear zipped pocket for easy carrying (yet the bag is tricky to reopen due to the one-way zipper) and there’s enhanced visibility (if no pub points) from the yellow colour scheme, but the lack of a hood may nudge you towards the Odlo or On. soarrunning.com
Verdict: A hoodless wonder that ticks the waterproofing box 89%
On Running Weather
For such a slender construction, the features list for On’s Weather Jacket is long, with arm cuffs that extend to two different lengths depending on the conditions and an engineered hood that, no matter how many headwinds we face, just won’t fall down. There’s a split design along the ribs to heighten ventilation, yet not at the expense of water intrusion, but it can look a little odd if the wind whips under it. The jacket folds into the water-resistant chest pocket and has a neat carry handle, but it comes in twice the size of the others once stashed. The DWR water-repellent coating is okay at preventing precipitation ingress but can’t match Odlo or Soar, something we’d hoped for given the price. We’ve had this a while so can vouch for its durability.
Verdict: The best for breathability, less so for waterproofing 79%
Odlo Dual Dry
The Odlo is easily the most expensive here, with the 135g weight of the Dual Dry material coming in at £1.63 per gram, close to Iberico ham prices. So, will the ISPO-award winning Dual Dry have us (we’re sorry) squealing in delight? There’s no escaping that this is a serious rain jacket, with taped seams and a 20,000mm waterproof rating ensuring serious aqua thwarting. Once stashed in the pocket, it’s quite hard to undo at speed, yet the adjustable hood with peak stays stubbornly in place (and stretchy hems on the sleeves and waists help prevent draughts sneaking in). The waterproof pocket and hi-vis details add further appeal, as does the translucent material’s breathability, but whether this is £220-good will depend on your pay packet. odlo.com
Verdict: A mighty jacket but there’s no avoiding that price tag 80%
Decathlon’s £45 Van Rysel bike jacket scored highly versus the £100+ contenders last issue and, while it’s too much of an ask for the £25 top to compete with the £175+ gang here, the Evadict has some neat touches for the price. The 96g shell folds into the smallest stash here, with a smart two-way zip and carry handle adding to the portability prowess. The adjustable hood might be a touch small for some, but refuses to shift once on the bonce, although the thumb loops are too gaping to be fully effective in preventing chilly air ingress. Decathlon tout this as windproof and it’s just about effective at that, but it’s only adequate in deflecting the lightest of rain. Yet there are certainly worse ways to spend £25 on a spring/autumn running backup.
Verdict: Not for heavier rain, but a cheap run backup, 77%
Best waterproof running jackets for women
Designed to pack up small and weighing just 99g, this jazzy jacket boasts taped seams and two-layer 10,000mm HH fabric to keep us bone-dry in heavy downpours, while the female-specific fit and dropped hem are nice touches for keeping our bum dry. It felt less warm than the Montane or Inov-8 and is also the only jacket on test to make a rustling noise as we ran – you don’t really notice it so much in rainy conditions. There are no pockets and the hood isn’t adjustable, but it fits snugly round the head with an elastic peak and elastic cords adjust the hem and it meets all the requirements for essential race kit. Grey and grey/purple colourways are also available if pink isn’t your thing, although we liked the touch of neon pink for safety. theomm.com
Verdict: No-frills design for when functionality is key, 85%
Previous Inov-8 jackets have long been our trusty ally and the Trailshell, although not cheap, continues that streak. Taped seams and a 2.5-layer fabric with a 20,000 HH (hydrostatic head) rating Pertex Shield fabric meant rain bounced off this jacket and, when we got caught in a Cornish coastal path deluge, our only problem was the water running off it soaked our run tights through! An elasticated hem and cuffs ensure a neat fit (if a touch snug on the hips on this pear-shaped tester), while vents under the arms add breathability. A wire edging to the hood is a neat touch, as it means you can mould it to the right shape for waterproofing and visibility. An internal zippy pocket fits keys and a card and it comes in at 140g versus 183g for Montane.
Verdict: Stripped- back design with mean waterproofing, 87%
The Canopy from Brooks may lack taped seams, but the ‘Drylayer Seal’ fabric is extremely light and breathable, feeling more like a light top layer than a waterproof. It performs well in light showers and doesn’t get hot or sweaty. Yet, in real downpours, we did see a bit of water ingress and rain got in through the elasticated cuffs that, although handy for pushing the sleeves up in warmer weather, don’t offer as much security against winter storms, plus it felt a bit chilly in strong winds. You get a well-fitting hood, two spacious zipped pockets and a clever mesh bag inside with drawstrings that turns the jacket into a mini backpack. Overall, this is a clever warmer-season jacket but not one for long wintery runs.
Verdict: Great choice for spring, less so for its winter criteria 75%
Within this women’s test, the Montane is up there with the Inov-8 in that it also features a 2.5-layer Pertex waterproof design, again with taped seams. In testing it does a superb job in very heavy rainfall and, with only £15 between the two, it comes down to detail with these two top-end jackets. Whereas the Inov-8 is a stripped-back design, Montane have given you a few extra features including two outer zipped pockets with easy pulls, a press-stud halfway down the zip to keep it closed but vented, an iPod wire vent, and a more adjustable hood with bendable peak and pull cord. When it came to fit, the Montane sits better over curvy hips and the bright blue colourway is more visible in misty, murky conditions.
Verdict: Top-end buy with top-end waterproofing 92%