Cold, wet and windy weather has a nasty habit of turning motivated runners into lazy couch potatoes at this time of year. The solution? A reliable running jacket that’s ready for the bleakest of British winters.
Choosing a jacket is a delicate balance, depending on your priorities, of warmth, waterproofing or wind resistance. If you want to run in heavy rain, opt for a waterproof jacket with a hydrostatic head rating (the technical measurement of waterproofing) of 20,000mm.
But beware, fully waterproof jackets can make you sweat lots, so keep a close eye on breathability ratings. A 20,000g/m2/24hr rating – a measure of how quickly moisture is wicked away from the body and released through the fabric – is the benchmark to aim for.
If you’re more worried about the cold than the rain, a jacket with added insulation will keep you cosy and a windproof jacket can take the edge off a bitter wind. Or if you’re a casual, fair weather jogger, a showerproof jacket should suffice for your needs. Remember too that layering is the key to running in winter – every jacket should be paired with a suitable base layer, such as a synthetic T-shirt or long-sleeved thermal.
We’ve graded the jackets in terms of waterproofing, warmth and price – and outlined what type of conditions they’re suited to, be it gnarly rainstorms, light showers or cold but dry days. Particular attention has also been paid to build quality, fit, materials, features and all round performance.
Testing took place in the Lake District across late October in everything from light showers to hail storms to bitterly cold snaps. We pounded the tarmac, hit countryside trails and even ran (slowly) up and down a few mountains, with each run between 5km and 15km. And here are the results – the 12 best men’s winter running jackets, whether you’re a city jogger or an ultra-running pro.
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Berghaus hyper 100 waterproof shell jacket £173, Outdoor GB
It’s a favoured running jacket of Sabrina Verjee – the ultra-runner from Cumbria who’s been smashing long-distance records all summer, including the 268-mile Pennine Way – so it must be good. The Berghaus hyper 100 is billed as the “world’s lightest three-layer mountain jacket”, weighing just 97g. Yet it’s still fully waterproof and breathable, thanks to its 20,000mm waterproofing and 50,000g/m2/24hr breathability ratings. If you want to stay dry – and move fast and light without sweating like crazy – this is the jacket for you.
The next-to-nothing weight is achieved through a minimalist design, including precision seaming, intricate detailing and premium materials. You get one small internal pocket, a snug (non-adjustable) hood, zipper with storm flap to keep rain out, pre-elasticated hem and cuffs for a draught-excluding fit, and a stuff sack (about the size of a pack of Hula Hoops) for hassle-free storage.
There’s everything you need and nothing you don’t, resulting in a jacket that’s so featherlight you’ll almost forget you’re wearing it – and the gram-saving might just help you go faster and longer. New PB here we come.
Buy now £173.00, Outdoor GB
Montane minimus stretch ultra jacket
It’s a three-way race (pun intended) between inov-8, Berghaus and this Montane jacket for the title of most waterproof. They all have identical lab test results – a 20,000mm hydrostatic head rating (which means a 20m column of water can stand on the fabric before water penetrates it) – and they all keep you dry in heavy rainstorms. But this Montane jacket might just lunge for the finish line and claim waterproofing gold place. It feels marginally thicker and more durable than the others, and its attention to waterproofing details – high-density stitching, taped seams and internal storm flap on the central zip – give it a slight edge.
The hood, which is highly adjustable and features a stiffened peak, is excellent, while the chinguard is lined with a fleece material for enhanced comfort around the mouth and chin. There are two mesh-lined hand-warmer pockets, elasticated cuffs, a waist hem drawcord, a hanging loop, and press stud buttons, which enable you to unzip the jacket for ventilation without it falling loose.
We wore this up a rainy mountain in the Lakes and it felt like a hybrid jacket: the reliability and protection of a well-built hillwalking jacket, and the lightweight breathability of running-specific apparel.
Buy now £137.26, Sports GB
Gore R5 GTX gore-tex infinium insulated jacket
This futuristic-looking jacket won running product of the year at the influential ISPO 2020 conference – and it gets our seal of approval too. It’s the best insulated jacket in our list, striking a superb balance between warmth, breathability and weight. Innovatively combining Gore-Tex’s windstopper lining with Polartec’s alpha insulation – a warm, breathable fabric originally designed for the US special forces – this jacket is a great all-rounder. It blocks the wind, keeps out the cold, breathes so you don’t over-sweat, and copes fine with light rain (although it’s not designed for wet conditions).
You get a shapely hood, two zipped hand pockets, a waist drawcord and reflective tape for increased visibility. But the jacket’s most eye-catching feature is its transparent outer layer, underneath which the intricately-precise, zig-zagging rows of insulation can be seen. We wore this on a run up Sale Fell in Cumbria.
The ultra-light, thin design unnerved us (an encounter with some thorny brambles could do it serious harm), but the technical performance was excellent. It felt light and airy, yet warm and protective – the best of both worlds.
Buy now £197.99, Gore Wear
Adidas Terrex agravic rain jacket
Another lightweight, minimalist running jacket designed for measly British weather, this is waterproof, breathable and windproof with top-notch features. It’s made from Adidas’ in-house RAIN.RDY fabric (that’s its Insta-friendly, Gen Z-enticing way of saying “rain ready”). It keeps out the rain and wind, while simultaneously breathing effectively when you’re working hard.
The four-way stretch nylon is very comfy too, moving with your body, and the cuffs and hem are elasticated for a fine-tuned fit. There’s one chest pocket, into which the jacket stashes compactly, and the full-length zip has an excellent storm flap and press button for sealing out the rain and cold. We wore it on a tough, steep fell run near Keswick in the Lake District.
We loved the sculpted hood. It fitted excellently and the wire brimmed peak kept raindrops away from our face, while the overall waterproofing was pretty good considering how lightweight the jacket is (175g). Agravic means zero gravity – and, while our post-lockdown lack of fitness meant we weren’t quite running on thin air, the ultra-thin jacket certainly didn’t slow us down.
Buy now £130.00, Adidas
“Forged in the fells” is the strapline for Lake District-based outdoor brand Inov-8 – and its stormshell jacket is certainly designed for mountain runs. It is fully waterproof with an impressive 20,000mm hydrostatic head and the taped seams prevent water ingress. During our test run around Buttermere, raindrops beaded on the jacket’s fabric before shedding off it neatly – exactly how it should work (compared to lower quality jackets, which retain water and get saturated quickly).
The fit is sleek and athletic, featuring an adjustable hood, stretchy waist hem and elasticised cuffs with thumb loops – it really does look the part for trail running. Despite being impressively waterproof, the stormshell jacket weighs only 175g and has good breathability (20,000g/m2/24hr), helping to prevent over-heating. You also get a zipped chest pocket and a full-length central zip (which has an annoying tendency to bulge in the middle) – but that hardly matters when you’re busy racing through the mountains, high on endorphins.
Buy now £180.00, inov-8
On weather jacket
Made by a Swiss brand using Japanese fabrics, this jacket is ultra-light, superbly ventilated and very stylish. It’s not made for heavy rain – the durable water repellent (DWR) coating will cope with light showers but nothing more – and instead this jacket is all about ventilation. Several flaps are created where the upper torso portion overlaps the lower section, providing an airy feel with great breathability. These huge mesh-lined vents let hot air out but prevent wind and rain getting in, ensuring you’ll never feel stuffy in this jacket.
The main fabric is stretchy and thin, and the cut is fitted. A single chest pocket is handy for your keys or phone and the adjustable hood, which has a visor and an internal headband, works well. The jacket only weighs 175g and packs down very compactly into its own pocket. It’s a little off the mark with the waterproofing (we’d liked to have seen stronger performance in rain), but for milder conditions where ventilation is key, this is on point.
Buy now £190.00, On
Brooks carbonite hoodie
If you’re a pre-dawn or post-dusk jogger, you don’t have to resort to the high-vis vest – someone call the fashion police – to be seen in the dark. There is a more stylish alternative. New for 2020, Brooks has released a run visibility range, based on scientific research into how people differentiate humans from objects. The clothing enables runners to be seen from up to 500ft away in low and no-light conditions. Reflective panels are strategically placed at critical motion zones to ensure drivers recognise you for what you are – a runner on the move – while the fluorescent yellow and brilliant white colour scheme is as bright as it gets.
The range features tights, gloves, cap and a weather-resistant jacket, but we tested the carbonite hoodie – a warmer option designed for cold, dry conditions. There is no waterproofing, but you really do get a warmth boost, especially with the hood up. The super-stretchy materials are comfy and soft, and you get some nice features too including thumb loops, elasticated cuffs and hoodie-style front pockets.
The bright white colour seems a little impractical for muddy, sweaty runs and it’s rather easy to over-heat in this. But, ultimately, we loved this jacket during our evening test runs around the market town of Cockermouth. We’ve never felt so safe out running in the dark.
Buy now £80.00, Brooks
Paramo ostro windproof jacket
Unless you’re a super-serious runner, total gear geek or ardent rain hater, you’ll probably baulk at the lofty prices of the premium running jackets in our round-up. But, thankfully, you don’t have to break the bank for weather protection. The well-priced Paramo jacket serves up solid protection against wind and rain at an affordable, sub-£100 price. Made from a Nikwax windproof fabric with a water-repellent treatment, it will keep you dry in light showers (but not a torrent) and block out the chilling effect of gusting winds.
It’s super-lightweight (168g) and packs down compactly into either of its two internal pockets. The hood, which can be adjusted at the back and sides for a tailored fit, has a semi-rigid peak, while the sleeves and shoulders are shaped for freedom of movement.
The scooped tail covers your bum (no-one wants to run with a wet derrière) and you also get reflective flashes for improved visibility in the dark. But our favourite features were the two side vents for effective temperature control. Whenever we felt hot or sweaty – on an ascent or a higher-intensity lap – we simply unzipped the vents for increased breathability.
Buy now £85.50, Castleberg Outdoors
Proviz reflect360 explorer:
This is the running version of Joseph’s amazing technicolor dreamcoat. Proviz’s innovative reflect360 technology – a fabric engineered using millions of tiny glass beads – gives this jacket a multi-coloured, astonishingly reflective surface around the hood, neck and arms. When out running in the dark, you don’t light up in monotone fluorescent yellow, instead you dazzle in a kaleidoscope of vibrant blues, greens, oranges, pinks, purples and yellows. If being visible in the dark is crucial to your runs, but you don’t fancy high-vis yellow, then this is a great alternative.
The jacket has a water-resistant coating that can cope with light showers, but not heavy ones. You get two zippered hand pockets, an integrated hood (which is rather large) and a vent at the back to aid breathability. The brushed polyester lining is soft against the skin and, courtesy of a slightly heavier build, it feels warmer than many of the ultra-light offerings in this list. It’s a good, if not spectacular, performer as an all round running jacket, but as a reflective layer it stands out from the crowd with brilliant multi-coloured clarity.
Buy now £99.99, Proviz Sports
Salomon bonatti 2.5L waterproof running jacket
If you want more than just showerproof protection, but you don’t want to fork out for a premium jacket with a 20,000mm waterproof rating, the bonatti 2.5L is an excellent halfway house. Its so-called advanced skin dry fabric has a 10,000mm waterproof rating, providing a solid barrier between you and the wrath of Mother Nature. Of course, it’s not as protective as a 20,000mm jacket (such as the upgraded Salomon bonatti pro), but it does the job if you’re caught in a moderate downpour.
Breathability (10,000g/m2/24hr) and wind protection are good and the cut strikes a nice balance – close fitting but with freedom to move too. There’s a streamlined hood, waterproof zip, chest pocket (which the jacket stashes away into for ultra-compact storage), reflective details and a smart vent. All of this for sub-£100 is a bona fide bargain.
Buy now £99.99, Sports Shoes
Black Diamond deploy wind shell jacket
This jacket is very, very light – 48g to be precise, about the same as a KitKat chunky. Designed for ultra-running and mountain marathons where every fraction of a gram counts, the jacket really is as minimalist as it gets. It’s made from an ultra-thin, five-denier Japanese fabric and features a half-zip. We tested the jacket, which has a smock-like pullover design, on a night run around town. It felt gossamer-thin – almost as if a black bin liner had been magically infused with cutting edge running technology – and performed surprisingly well in the rain. Waterproofing isn’t its modus operandi, however. It’s far stronger at cutting out the wind and, of course, being so lightweight you barely know it’s there (except when it crinkles as you run).
There’s no hood or pocket, but you can tighten the waist hem and the jacket stows away cleverly into the collar. For many it’s probably way too thin and flimsy, but if you’re aiming for a PB or taking on a hardcore running challenge, this is miraculously lightweight at a good price.
Buy now £56.00, Wiggle
New Balance impact run jacket
This no-nonsense running jacket from American running brand New Balance offers decent performance at a sensible price. It’s wind and water-resistant (translation: happily take it out in drizzle but not Storm Alex) and provides a little insulation too. The fit is athletic but not overly tight, with some wriggle room for active movement, and the stretchy polyester-spandex material is comfy and reasonably well ventilated. There’s no hood, but there is a high collar, and you also get two zippered hand pockets, banded cuffs and a dropped back hem to cover your backside. It’s a little heavy at 285g (men’s medium), but doesn’t feel overly bulky. Conclusion? It’s nothing special, but for the casual runner it does the basics well at an affordable price.
Buy now £67.40, Keller Sports
The verdict: Men’s running jackets
For striking a fine balance between weight, waterproofing and breathability, the ultra-light Berghaus hyper 100 is simply unbeatable – it’s a brilliant choice for dynamic winter runs. A close second for all-round performance is the Montane minimus stretch ultra jacket, while for runs in cold, dry conditions the Gore R5 GTX gore-tex infinium insulated jacket is a revelation.