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The Best Men’s Running Jackets for Every Season

Foul weather calls for an extra layer of protection. Find it in one of these waterproof, lightweight, or winter jackets.

best men’s running jackets
Staff, Courtesy of Nike

When cold, wet weather comes around, you have two options: Run through it, or head for the treadmill. Although there’s nothing wrong with logging miles indoors, many runners prefer the fresh air—and with the right gear, you can get your run in even when the forecast looks dour. To stay comfortable, you’ll need to layer up, and a good running jacket is one of the most important layers to have in your closet.

The Expert: I have been covering running and outdoor gear for years, both on-staff at Runner’s World and as a freelance journalist. I’ve been a runner for even longer: ever since I got my first pair of Brooks running shoes in middle school. In addition to covering running shoes and other topics for RW, I’ve written extensively about outdoor and fitness gear for other outlets, including Men’s Journal, InsideHook, Field Mag, and more. These days, I evaluate gear by running, hiking, and biking around Los Angeles, where I live. (And before you ask, yes, you can find chilly conditions in southern California—just head up to the mountains.)

Choosing the Right Men’s Running Jacket

Running jackets can block rain, snow, and wind and help you stay warm as you run. At the same time, a running jacket should also be flexible, light, and breathable; that way it won’t restrict your movement, weigh you down, or cause you to overheat.

Materials: Broadly speaking, there are two main categories that are useful for comparing running jackets: protection and warmth. The materials used in the jacket will have a strong influence in how the jacket stacks up in both areas. Many running jackets utilize synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester. Nylon has the advantage of being lightweight and durable, while polyester wicks moisture well. The addition of stretchy materials like spandex or elastane make a jacket more flexible. Some jackets also incorporate natural materials like wool, which offers great temperature regulation properties (it traps heat when you’re cold but breathes and vents moisture when you’re hot).

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Weatherproofing: Synthetic fabrics won’t absorb much moisture, but if you plan to run in the rain or snow, look for jackets that are specifically designed to be water-resistant. Some jacket manufacturers achieve this with a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating over a base fabric. This treatment is good for light precipitation, but it won’t keep you dry in a heavy rainstorm. For more robust weatherproofing, look for fully waterproof jackets. They’re usually built with a water-impermeable membrane (like Gore-Tex) and taped or bonded seams to keep moisture from seeping through the jacket. They do come with a trade-off, however: Fully waterproof running jackets are less breathable.

Insulation: Some jackets are also designed with insulation to keep you warm. This can take several forms, including a fleece-lined interior, synthetic insulation, or even down. Each has its advantages: Fleece is soft and comfortable against the skin; synthetic insulation will keep you warm even if it gets wet; and down is lightweight, resilient, and easy to compress, which makes it more packable. Keep in mind, though, that insulation isn’t always necessary when you’re working up a sweat—you can also pair a simple shell jacket with a warm midlayer. By pairing it with different layers depending on the conditions, a shell can be more versatile than an insulated jacket, which is designed specifically for very cold weather.

Features: Finally, there are a few other features to consider. If you expect to run in rain or snow, a jacket with a hood will keep your head dry. If you tend to run hot, look for jackets with vents that will dump warm air and keep you cool. Jacket pockets can offer convenient storage, and many running jackets are designed to pack down into a pocket, which is helpful for traveling (or just saving space in your closet).

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janji jacket
Photo by Lakota Gambill // In addition to Michael’s own testing and evaluation, he considered feedback from Runner’s World staffers, including Photo Editor John Hamilton (above).

How We Evaluated

To compile this list, I used my own experience with running jackets, considered feedback from the RW test team, researched a wide range of options from top running brands, and talked with brand representatives to get more information on the latest running jackets for men. Below, I recommend a variety of options—from ultralight windbreakers to heftier insulated layers—to suit different preferences, budgets, and weather conditions. I evaluated each jacket based on its materials, weatherproofing, and warmth, and when possible, I tested jackets personally. To help you quickly sort through these options, see each review’s Key Specs section, which shows the size range (based on the manufacturers’ websites), weatherproofing, and weight of each jacket.

Ultralight Jacket
Columbia FKT II Windbreaker Jacket

  • Very light
  • Breathable

  • No hood

Key Specs

  • Sizes: S–2XL
  • Weight: 2.8 oz
  • Weatherproofing: DWR treatment

For brisk days when you want an extra layer but don’t want the extra weight, the FKT II Windbreaker Jacket makes a great pick. This 100-percent nylon shell is amazingly light, but it’s also quite soft, so it felt comfortable against my skin. Although this jacket lacks vents, I found it had great breathability, even in mild temps. Columbia’s Omni-Shield treatment repels light rain or mist, and an elastic hem and thumb loops help block out chilly winds.

Most Affordable
Baleaf Triumph Hooded Windbreaker

  • Affordable
  • Lots of pockets
  • Adjustable hood and hem

  • Some customers noted issues with breathability
  • Runs small

Key Specs

  • Sizes: S–3XL
  • Weight: 12.2 oz
  • Weatherproofing: Wind- and water-resistant

Designed for running and cycling, the Baleaf Triumph Hooded Windbreaker is a versatile option for windy, wet weather. This polyester shell features a drawcord hood and hem for an adjustable fit that blocks wind and rain, and it comes with plenty of storage pockets, including two interior pockets, a zippered chest pocket, and a stash pocket at the rear. Strips of reflective material will help you stay visible at night, too.

Weatherproof Shell
Arc’teryx Norvan LT Hoody

  • Highly protective weatherproofing
  • Lightweight

  • Expensive

Key Specs

  • Sizes: XS–2XL
  • Weight: 6.7 oz
  • Weatherproofing: Gore-Tex membrane

The Norvan LT was designed specifically for trail running, and it’s built to keep you protected from the unpredictable weather you’ll often encounter in the backcountry. It’s made with a dense circular-knit Gore-Tex fabric that’s less bulky and more breathable than comparable water- and windproof materials. That helps keep the jacket light, and the silhouette is cut to allow maximum freedom of movement. Bottom line: It offers dependable protection that won’t slow you down.

Tracksmith Franklin Fleece

  • Very soft fabric
  • Warm but highly breathable

  • Doesn’t block wind

Key Specs

  • Sizes: S–XL
  • Weight: 12.2 oz
  • Weatherproofing: None

Tracksmith’s Franklin Fleece delivers big on warmth and breathability. This full-zip layer is made with Polartec double velour fleece for exceptional comfort and warmth (seriously, it feels like a blanket). At the same time, it’s highly breathable, thanks in part to stretchy nylon side panels that vent heat as you run. The fleece created good airflow on my test run and kept me from overheating, but on really frigid, blustery days, you might need another layer to block the wind.

Hooded Fleece
Columbia Park View Full-Zip Fleece Hoodie

  • Soft, comfortable fabric
  • Flexible

  • Won’t keep you dry in wet weather

Key Specs

  • Sizes: XS–2XL
  • Weight: 14.2 oz
  • Weatherproofing: None

The Park View is a versatile everyday layer for cold-weather running. It’s made with polyester fleece for a warm, comfortable feel, and it’s also designed for optimal breathability and moisture wicking, so you don’t roast. The low hem offers good coverage from road spray and splashes, and the jacket’s trim fit and flexible fabric won’t restrict your movement.

Best Breathable Jacket
Brooks Canopy Jacket

  • Lightweight
  • Innovative snap-button front for generous venting

  • Not suitable for heavy precipitation

Key Specs

  • Sizes: XS–2XL
  • Weight: 5.7 oz
  • Weatherproofing: Weather-resistant fabric

The Canopy jacket is a capable layer that fits the bill for most runners. At just under 6 ounces, it’s lightweight, and with its hood and water-resistant DriLayer Seal fabric, it provides protection from light rain and wind. It also packs down into a backpack-style pouch for easy carrying, but one of its best features is the hidden snap-button front: It keeps the jacket in place but allows you to fully unzip it for extra breathability.

Synthetic Insulated Jacket
Janji Thermal Zephyr Runner Jacket

  • Lightweight
  • Balances warmth and breathability well

  • No hood

Key Specs

  • Sizes: S–XL
  • Weight: 5.9 oz
  • Weatherproofing: DWR treatment

Janji’s Thermal Zephyr Runner Jacket offers targeted insulation to keep you warm. The sleeves, front, and shoulders are stuffed with PrimaLoft Gold insulation—a lightweight material that offers great heat retention—while a thin panel at the back vents excess warmth. Elastic toggles at the hem help you get a snug fit, and a snap-button closure under the zipper (similar to the Brooks Canopy above) keeps the jacket from blowing around when you unzip it.

Best for Long Runs
Patagonia Storm Racer Jacket

  • Very weather-resistant
  • Innovative front-zip system for accessibility and venting

  • No pockets
  • Expensive

Key Specs

  • Sizes: XS–XL
  • Weight: 7 oz
  • Weatherproofing: Waterproof membrane

The first thing you’ll notice about the Storm Racer Jacket is its strange zipper setup: Two zippers on the front, only one of which goes all the way to the bottom of the jacket. This system allows you to pull the jacket over a pack and partially unzip it to access a water bottle or gels mid-run (or get some extra ventilation). With its taped seams and three-layer waterproof fabric, it offers dependable protection from the elements as well.

Wool Jacket
Smartwool Smartloft 60 Hybrid Half Zip

  • Merino wool offers natural breathability and moisture management
  • Partially insulated for extra warmth

  • Heavy

Key Specs

  • Sizes: S–2XL
  • Weight: 15.9 oz
  • Weatherproofing: DWR treatment

Merino wool is nature’s performance fabric. It keeps you warm in the cold but vents heat and sweat when you warm up, and it also resists odors. This half-zip from Smartwool puts those qualities to work with a Merino wool interior lining. That’s combined with a synthetic outer fabric for weather resistance and wool insulation on the top half of the jacket for extra warmth in cold conditions.

Best for Below-Freezing Runs
Nike Therma-Fit ADV Repel

  • Very warm and light
  • Snug, tailored fit
  • Easy-to-use vents

  • Not ideal for very wet weather
  • Expensive

Key Specs

  • Sizes: XS–3XL
  • Weight: 11.6 oz
  • Weatherproofing: DWR treatment

Lacing up for a frigid morning run takes a lot of willpower, but this jacket could make it a little easier. It’s made with a combination of goose down (a rarity in running jackets) on the front and synthetic insulation elsewhere for exceptional warmth. The ADV repel is made with a lightweight woven polyester fabric and features a tailored fit, so it stays out of your way and doesn’t feel bulky while running. I especially liked the venting system: Zippered slits at the chest and back have easy-pull loops for on-the-fly temperature adjustment.

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