Anyone who has experienced the runner’s high knows that come wind or rain, snow or sleet, there isn’t much that can stop a runner from lacing up and heading out for their daily meditation.
There are debates as to whether the runner’s high even exists, or whether it’s due to endorphins, or rather endocannabinoids — biochemical substances similar to cannabis that are naturally produced by the body — but the bottom line remains: there’s a reason many of us get addicted to running, even if it can’t be explained. Yet.
That said, it’s important to support your running habit in as many ways as you can. The elusive promise of the fabled runner’s high hiding just around the bend doesn’t negate the fact that running is, well, hard. Supporting your daily mile meter means stepping into the proper shoes, stretching your muscles, properly fueling and, of course, finding the right running jacket.
This guide provides all the information you’ll need to pick the best one for you, including breathability, protection and more.
How to Choose a Running Jacket
Like any other outer layer, your running jacket should work to protect you from the elements. After all, what’s the point of wearing one if it’s no different than running in your normal attire? But, unlike other exceptional jackets that thrive in inclement weather, running jackets also need to be breathable. As you move through your cardio goals, your body temperature will rise and sweat will begin to accumulate. This can hinder your performance and, in less than ideal temperatures, become an issue of runner safety. Look for running jackets that provide plenty of ventilation, so your body heat can dissipate properly and you can stay as dry as possible.
Speaking of staying dry, it’s important to understand the difference between “water-resistant” and “waterproof.” Many of the running jackets we’ve chosen feature a Durable Water Repellent (DWR), which is an exterior coating that can help protect against morning dew and drizzles. While this technology can be suitable for many runners’ needs, if your conditions are more damp, consider looking at waterproof options with laminate layers or coatings better suited for more intense rainfall. Keep in mind, however, that waterproof jackets can sacrifice breathability for added protection.
You should also look at your jacket’s wind resistance when gearing up to face the elements. As is the case with waterproof jackets, though, more protection can sacrifice breathability. Try to find a running jacket offering wind resistance in key areas, like your chest and outer arms, while also showcasing vented components at the back and underarms. This balance can help you stay comfortable and warm enough to perform without that bone-chilling cut of a strong gust.
Finally, running is, naturally, a physical activity. The last thing you want when logging your miles is to feel constricted in your gear. Look for a running jacket that provides plenty of mobility in key sticking points like the shoulders and armpits. Shorter jackets can begin to ride up as you run, so length is also important. When trying on jackets, note any tightness when moving around. Bend down and tie your shoes. Reach around you to grab essentials from your pack or pockets. Flex. These little movements might not seem critical, but can be the downfall of an ill-fitting piece. Just because running is physical doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be comfortable.