The Best Running Jacket Review

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Credit: Jared Dean
Which running jacket is the best? To find out, we picked out six of the top rated and most popular models and tested them side-by-side. We wore these pieces on runs through rain, snow, and freezing temperatures, paying special attention to each one's performance. Some kept us warm on snowy trail runs and others left us soaked in sweat on short jogs out the front door. Then, we ranked every product in categories ranging from breathability to wind resistance. If you're going to brave the elements for a run, let us help you choose which layer you should have in your runner's wardrobe. Read on to learn more!

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Running Jackets Displaying 1 - 5 of 6 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Arc'teryx Incendo Jacket
Arc'teryx Incendo Jacket
Read the Review
Marmot DriClime Windshirt
Marmot DriClime Windshirt
Read the Review
Saucony Sonic
Saucony Sonic
Read the Review
Brooks Infiniti Jacket
Brooks Infiniti Jacket
Read the Review
Montane Featherlite Marathon
Montane Featherlite Marathon
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award     
Street Price $115
Compare at 7 sellers
Varies $81 - $95
Compare at 5 sellers
Varies $66 - $82
Compare at 2 sellers
$78
Compare at 1 sellers
Varies $58 - $89
Compare at 4 sellers
Overall Score 
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Editors' Rating
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User Rating Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
Pros Lightweight, Packs into pocketWarm, Breathable, Good wind resistanceBreathable, Good water resistance, High visibilityGood water and wind resistance, Lots of featuresLightweight, Packable, Water resistant
Cons More expensiveHeavy, No reflective material, Less water resistantHeavyHeavy, Poor breathabilityPoor wind resistance and breathability
Best Uses Long distance and trail runningCold weather runningUrban running where reflectivity is keyShort runs, WalkingLong distance and trail running
Date Reviewed Feb 05, 2014Feb 05, 2014Feb 05, 2014Feb 05, 2014Feb 05, 2014
Weighted Scores Arc'teryx Incendo Jacket Marmot DriClime Windshirt Saucony Sonic Brooks Infiniti Jacket Montane Featherlite Marathon
Breathability - 25%
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7
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7
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5
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5
Wind Resistance - 20%
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5
Features - 20%
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5
Water Resistance - 20%
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Weight - 15%
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Product Specs Arc'teryx Incendo Jacket Marmot DriClime Windshirt Saucony Sonic Brooks Infiniti Jacket Montane Featherlite Marathon
OGL Weight 5 oz 9 oz 9 oz 10.75 oz 5 oz
Main material Lumin⢠100% nylon 20D Ripstop fabric 100% Polyester Ripstop DWR 1.5 oz/yd Primary 100% Polyester, Secondary Legacy Knit 56% Polyester, 44% Sorona 82% polyester/18% polyurethane 52g/m² 100% Polyamide mini rip-stop weave
Unique Features Packs into own pocket, small media pouch Insulated lining USB LED Rechargable Clip on Light Waterproof Media Pocket Comes with a separate pouch to pack into
Vent Type Mesh Panels Mesh Panels, wicking inner layer One large overlapping vent flap, across back None Four overlapping vent flaps
Compressible? Packed Dimensions Yes, 5.5" x 3.75" x 3" Yes, 6"x8"x3.5" Yes, 6"x6"x3" No Yes, 3.5" x 4.5" x 3.5"
Number of pockets 2 1 5 5 0
Media pocket? Yes No No Yes No
Reflective material? Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Hood Available? Yes No No No No
Other versions? Yes No Yes No No
MSRP $115 $95 $100 $120 $95
Colors available Cayenne, Maize, Nighthawk, Riptide Black, Dark Azure/Green Envy, Acid Yellow/Cinder, Sunset Orange/Slate Grey Black/Sipher, Enduro Blue/Black, Strong Red/Black Galaxy/Midnight, Nightlife, Fern/Black, Black, Plasma/Black, Brite Orange/Anthracite Steel / Shadow, Ink / Shadow, Fluoro yellow / Shadow, Electric blue / Shadow / Tangerine zips, Red / Shadow, Kiwi / Shadow

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners
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Saucony Sonic
$100
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Marmot DriClime Windshirt
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Sugoi HydroLite
$90
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Brooks Infiniti Jacket
$120
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Montane Featherlite Marathon
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Selecting the Product
Why would you ever want or need a running jacket? It's entirely optional to leave the comfort of your home to go for a jog in nasty weather, but here at OutdoorGearLab, we're determined not to let a little precipitation stop us from going on that daily five-mile run. But, we're also determined to be prepared…nobody wants to get soaked to the bone, or feel gusts of wind piercing through their outer layers. If you're planning on doing some long distance running or a lengthy trail run, the last thing you want is to get halfway through your run only to find the sky opening up and dumping on you. A running-specific outer layer offers protection from the elements and can help you have a more pleasant run.

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L to R: Saucony Sonic, Arc'Teryx Incendo, Montane Featherlite Marathon, Brooks Infiniti IV, Marmot Driclime Windshirt, Sugoi HydroLite. We tested size large in all models.
Credit: OutdoorGearLab

To help you find the piece that will meet your needs and keep you dry we chose five performance metrics: breathability, water resistance, wind resistance, features, and weight. After months of testing, we discovered that our Editor's Choice winner, the Arc'teryx Incendo Jacket, breathed remarkably well and did an excellent job of repelling water. Meanwhile other pieces, like our Best Buy Award winner, the Saucony Sonic earned top marks for nifty features like a rechargeable LED light and copious amounts of pockets. All the pieces we tested in this review are non-hooded, although some do come in hooded versions. For more discussion on whether you should opt for this extra feature, check out our Buying Advice guide: How to Choose the Best Running Jacket, or to see how each of these unique products compare in our head-to-head tests, read on!

Criteria for Evaluation

Breathability

It's no surprise that breathability is one of the most important qualities of a good jacket. Running is a highly aerobic activity, and whether you're cruising ten miles down a trail, trying to run a five minute mile, or training for a marathon, you're going to sweat. And no matter how water resistant the piece may be on the outside, if it doesn't breathe well, you'll be sweaty inside, which is just as bad as having no protection from the rain at all. It's important to find a model that has adequate breathability because it'll keep you drier and more comfortable longer. The last thing you want is to feel soaked in your own sweat. Plus, if you're sweaty and it's freezing outside, you might just find out what it means to be so cold it hurts.

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Brooks Infiniti IV has no vents of any kind, which means air circulation is minimal. On a cold day the lack of vents may be a plus, but it could also mean condensation on the inside jacket, resulting in a very cold run.
Credit: Jared Dean

We found through our testing that breathability is related to both the type of fabric that's used and the design of the vents. The fabric used in the Marmot DriClime Windshirt (our Top Pick for Cold Weather Running) wicked away moisture while its mesh pit vents allowed moisture to escape through the vents. The Arc'Teryx Incendo also scored highly in breathability; it has two large mesh panels, which worked incredibly well at circulating air and regulating our body temperature. On the other hand, the material on the Montane Featherlite Marathon locked in moisture, and the vents were too small to really offer any significant amount of air circulation.

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The Featherlite out on a trail run. We wished this piece offered some better breathability.
Credit: Jared Dean

Water Resistance
Every piece in this review has a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. This is a chemical coating manufacturers apply to the outer material to repel water. By and large, this method of water resistance works well. When we ran in the rain, the DWR coating caused rain water to roll right off us, which made for an overall better running experience. One challenge with DWR is that the coating will start to come off over time and your shell may begin to soak up the rain. But, you can always purchase after-market products that reapply the DWR to your gear, so never fear!

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The Incendo uses a DWR finish to repel water. Here you can really see the water resistance at work as water beads on the surface of the jacket. In a light and heavy rain, water rolls off quickly without being absorbed into the fabric.
Credit: Jared Dean

Of all the pieces we tested, the Sugoi HydroLite had the best water resistance. The HydroLite's material may look like a shower curtain, but it actually has large woven mesh incorporated into the material, allowing water to evenly disperse over the surface area and thus decreasing drying time. Unfortunately, we found in our testing that the HydroLite sacrificed breathability for its water resistance, which is a common problem with waterproof gear. Not ready to give up breathability and still want standout water resistance? Consider the Saucony Sonic.

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The Sugoi Hydrolite has an interesting texture, but it repels water amazingly well.
Credit: Jared Dean

Wind Resistance
Wind is sometimes a welcome relief in warm weather, but when the temperature drops below forty degrees, you really begin to take notice of how a strong wind can chill you to your bones. How well the wind penetrates your running jacket can ultimately determine whether you are going to be freezing or comfortable on your next run. Every piece we tested boasts that it is wind resistant, and indeed, in a light breeze, we seldom felt the wind penetrate through these products; however, when the wind really started to gust, we began to notice a bigger difference between each model's performance.

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Saucony Sonic stops the cold wind so well we were comfortable using it in the middle of winter.
Credit: Jared Dean

With its thick inner layer, the Marmot DriClime Windshirt was the best model for keeping the wind out. This piece holds in warmth well, while never letting the wind penetrate fully through the insulating fibers. Another important feature to look for if wind resistance is a priority is a wind flap behind the zipper. All the contenders in this review had one except for the Sugoi HydroLite and we noticed a huge difference in wind protection.

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If there's encroaching vegetation on a trail run, you may want to reconsider the Marmot DriClime due to the loose fitting and baggy nature of the jacket. We were a little concerned that it could be caught on a branch and torn.
Credit: Jared Dean

Features
When a high-performing product comes loaded with features well, that's just icing on the cake. Some features, like reflective material, are almost a necessity on a running jacket. We found it really unfortunate that some companies skimped on this feature, since it can be so critical for safety. Without built-in reflectivity, urban runners may have to buy a separate reflective vest or clip-on light if they want to run during dusk or at dawn. Though it's not necessary, drawstrings around the waist are also a plus, especially if you live in an area known for its wind. The drawstrings will help prevent wind from entering the bottom of the piece, which will keep you warm and comfortable on those cold days when the wind is at its worst.

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The Brooks Infiniti IV comes loaded with pockets, enough to store anything you could imagine bringing with you on a run.
Credit: Jared Dean

Other features like pockets are more of a tradeoff than a sole benefit. You can find models that have as many as five pockets, though you are going to sacrifice weight for the sake of more storage space. But if you carry a lot of items with you, like keys, media devices, or your wallet, the added weight may be worthwhile. Most of the products in this review have at least one pocket, though the Montane Featherlite and Sugoi HydroLite have none. The Brooks Infiniti Jacket has a plethora of pockets, and the most features overall, including a specially designed water-resistant media pocket, drawstrings, and reflective material. Our Best Buy winner, the Saucony Sonic also comes loaded with features, including an LED strobe light.

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The nifty weather resistant media pocket is large enough to fit your phone or MP3 player, and keep it safe from the elements, whether it's from the rain or your own sweat.
Credit: Jared Dean

Weight
Weight is significant for two real reasons: long distance running and times. You don't want to wear a heavy layer that will, after your first ten miles, begin to feel like you're wearing a weight vest. Likewise, if you are trying to best your times or win a 10k, shedding a few ounces may make the difference, and so the lighter the model, the better. Lightweight layers may also be more comfortable than heavier ones, especially since you're less likely to notice they're even there. However, body type and jacket fit will also determine how comfortable you are in a particular piece. When we tested the Featherlite, which weighs five ounces, we found that it had very restrictive construction, as opposed to our Editor's Choice winner, the Arc'teryx Incendo, which weighs the same, but offered greater range of motion.

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A navel orange placed next to the Featherlite for scale. This was one of the lightest jackets we tested.
Credit: Jared Dean

If you need a model that is so light you won't even notice that you are wearing it, the Arc'Teryx Incendo is the piece for you. However, if you're just stepping out of your door for a short jog, more than likely, you won't notice the extra weight of a layer like the Brooks Infiniti IV.

Editor's Choice Award: Arc'Teryx Incendo
Hands down, the best running jacket we tested was the Arc'teryx Incendo Jacket. Our Editor's Choice Award winner earned some of the highest marks in breathability, thanks in part to two large mesh panels that promote air circulation. We were also impressed by its wind and water resistance, not to mention that it weighed in at a mere five ounces, making it one of the lightest pieces we tested. On top of all this, it has drawstrings to help keep the wind out, reflective material for added safety during those dusk or dawn runs, and a media pocket as well. Did we mention that the Incendo can also pack down into its own pocket?

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The Arc'Teryx Incendo is so light that the extra weight of a jacket is not even a factor. We didn't notice it at all, which made it one of the most comfortable jackets we wore.
Credit: Jared Dean

Best Buy: Saucony Sonic
If you need a high-performing layer, but don't want to break the bank, the Saucony Sonic is the model for you. At only $100, the Sonic is almost a steal, which is why we've given it our Best Buy award. It comes with a lot of features, including a unique USB LED rechargeable light, but it was its the Sonic's high scores in breathability, water resistance, and wind resistance that really sold us. The only downside is that this piece weighs in at a whopping 9 ounces, nearly twice that of the Editor's Choice winner.

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The Sonic is one of the heavier jackets we tested. That aside it's a great choice if you're just stepping out the door for a short jog.
Credit: Jared Dean

Top Pick for Cold Weather Running: Marmot DriClime Windshirt
If you're looking for a layer that's perfect for runs in during the dead of winter, look no further than our Top Pick Award winner: the Marmot DriClime Windshirt. This layer has a unique inner lining, which is a combination of large and small fibers. This design pulls moisture away from your body quickly, and disperses it over a large surface area, keeping you dry as you run. With the added help of mesh panels in the arm pits, it keeps the air circulating. Not only does that inner liner keep you dry, but it is excellent at keeping you warm during a run in subfreezing temperatures…and when the wind picked up, we hardly noticed. Running in the Marmot DriClime in the middle of winter is like never knowing that it's cold outside.

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Is it cold outside? We can't tell in the Marmot DriClime Windshirt. The inner lining does such an excellent job at retaining body heat, all the while wicking away moisture to keep you dry.
Credit: Jared Dean

Jared Dean
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