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The 10 Best Vests for Running

Regulate your warmth when the weather is unpredictable

best running vests

Did your mom (or your favorite running buddy) tell you that hats and gloves are the most important gear for staying warm in unpredictable weather? Well, sorry, but they were wrong. As scientists and mountaineers on freezing expeditions have discovered, keeping your core warm is the key to staving off cold.

Let us put it scientifically: The average human body core temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. If your body gets colder, it will prioritize blood flow to your vital organs, robbing extremities (like fingers, toes, and ears) of circulation and, in turn, warmth. That means the key to keeping warm isn’t covering everything up, but instead layering to preserve your core heat. (That way, all your fingers and toes get to keep their blood).

And what easier—or more stylish—way to do that than to throw on a vest? These underappreciated sleeveless wonders can keep you warm without inducing those terrible elbow-crease sweat patches or adding too much bulk.

How We Selected

We rounded up our favorite running vests from brands we know and trust. To make the cut, each vest had to have pockets, weather-resistant properties, and some style—making adding the perfect Goldilocks piece of apparel to your gear closet a little bit easier. Most have been tested by our staff, and those that haven’t have been carefully chosen based on their value, technical fabrics, comfort, looks, and ability to keep you warm and cozy when the temp dips. Here are our picks.

Arc’teryx Incendo Vest

Arc'teryx Incendo Vest

We love the Arc’teryx Incendo jacket for its rare intersection of two sacred and opposing qualities: weather resistance and breathability. The vest version tweaks that formula a bit by cutting off the sleeves for even more ventilation with targeted core protection from rain. Made from a light ripstop nylon with a water-repellent coating, the Incendo beads off moisture so you can stay dry in most conditions. Mesh panels and vents keep you from overheating. And a zipper side pocket has plenty of space for your fuel and keys—or for storing the entire vest when you’re ready to peel it off.

Saucony Snowdrift Vest

Saucony Snowdrift Vest

Below-freezing runs demand added insulation, but you don't want to pile on so many layers that you can’t pump your arms. The Snowdrift has lightweight Primaloft padding along the front and back with stretchy spandex panels along the sides—so it’s plenty warm without feeling bulky or constrictive. It has two small zipper hand pockets for stashing your gloves, hat, or other peeled-off layers. The whole vest zips high on your neck to block out the windchill.

Smartwool Merino Sport Ultralight Vest

Merino Sport Ultra Light Vest
$49.83 (50% off)

Don’t be deceived by the hood—this Smartwool vest is no winter shell. True to its name, it’s an ultralight layer for those drizzly days when you want a little protection from the elements but know a full rain jacket would get too steamy. When the sky clears, just pack it down into its own pocket for easy travel. The vest is made from recycled nylon with a DWR coating for full wind- and water-resistance.

Lululemon Another Mile Vest

Lululemon Another Mile Vest

The Another Mile Vest has everything we loved about the Another Mile Jacket with none of its shortcomings—like its too-snug shoulders and tendency to get too hot. Instead you get the same warm PrimaLoft insulation and water-repellent exterior in a snug, flattering fit that stretches to move with your body. The hood can be zipped off, if you prefer to run without. And it’s got zippered front pockets, with a phone sleeve.

On Running Weather Vest

On Running
Weather Vest

In-between weather calls for an in-between layer that can keep your core dry and warm in light rain without becoming stifling when the sun pops out. This stretchy, well-ventilated vest can do all that, plus hold your phone, keys, and snacks in waterproof zipper pockets. It’s made of lightweight, high-quality fabric and is small enough to pack down easily when not in use.

Brooks Cascadia Vest

Cascadia Thermal Vest

On super-chilly runs, polyfill insulation in the Cascadia keeps your core cozy without ever making you feel over-bundled. The vest is water-resistant and quick-drying, so a light drizzle or snow won’t dampen your runner’s high. Two front zipper pockets plus an internal pocket hold all your small essentials. The vest also has front and back reflective detailing for added visibility in low-light conditions. Just make note that it runs on the smaller side.

Oiselle April Showers Vest

Oiselle April Showers Vest

This time of year, it helps to have a packable, water-resistant layer on your person at all times, even when the forecast looks clear. This stylish-as-heck vest from Oiselle packs down into a pocket when you don’t need it and then protects your core when the sky starts to open up. Just don’t expect it to keep you dry in a deluge—it’s best suited to a light Pacific Northwest drizzle. Two zipper hand pockets and a small chest pocket hold your cards and keys.

Gore Windstopper Light Vest

Courtesy of Gore
Windstopper Vest

Designed for cycling, the Windstopper vest is versatile enough to make a good running layer—especially in low-light conditions, when the neon yellow shade and reflective piping are clutch. Cold October mornings are no match for its windproof and water-repellent fabric. Like any good cycling jacket, the best is also longer in the back for more warmth and weather coverage.

Eddie Bauer Microlight Down Vest

Microlight Down Vest
Eddie Bauer

This synthetic down vest works well for Polar Vortex season, whether you pair it with a long-sleeve shirt to keep your core heated while running or tuck it under a parka to stay warmer while walking around. It’s surprising how toasty it is, given its light weight and lack of puff. It’s also durable and a great value. One tester said, “I’ve had mine for years, with zero signs that I didn’t recently tear off the tags.” The DWR finish sheds light rain and snow; two zipper hand pockets hold your gloves, mask, and cash.

Nike Aerolayer Vest

Aerolayer Running Vest

The Aerolayer vest has undergone a few minor design changes over the years, but it’s always been a perennial favorite for its combination of lightweight warmth and water-resistance. Made of a thin, streamlined polyester fill with stretchy side panels, it’ll keep you dry and cozy without adding bulk or restricting your movement. Two zipper pockets hold your stuff or warm your hands while you wait for the group run to start. Get it in one of Nike’s "Wild Run" styles (pictured above) or just a standard black or neutral color.

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