The Brooks LSD running jacket is exactly what you would expect from a running jacket made in the mid-90s. It wears a lot of different hats but doesn't really excel at any of them. In the end, we felt like the LSD was a jack of all trades and master of none type jacket. It did a decent job of guarding us against the wind and rain and its fit was relatively comfortable with only a few niggles. It isn't incredibly heavy, or light weight. Although the original retail price was $100, it can often be found on sale, which isn't a bad deal when you consider it could handle most of what we threw at it. There were issues that arose even when we were running on a very flat three-mile trail around our home base. This run was one of our standard proving grounds for all of the jackets in this review and we found that this model was one of the least breathable of the bunch.
Brooks LSD Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Portable, weather protection
Cons: Limited breathability, no venting
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We eventually settled on the idea that the Brooks LSD is more of an emergency shelter type jacket than it is a running specific piece. It has no ventilation and rather thick nylon, making it a very humid experience even on very cold days such as in the above picture. If you're looking for an all around use jacket that you can wear all day, check out the Outdoor Research Boost or the Arc'teryx Incendo. The LSD kept us comfortable as we warmed up but as soon as our body had warmed the jacket just couldn't handle the extra moisture produced. We weren't exceptionally hot inside the jacket, though the moisture collection proved to be a problem. The breathability was on par with the Salomon Agile, both of these pieces seem to have sacrificed venting for more emergency protection from the elements.
Breathability and Venting
The overwhelming memory of the LSD was one of stagnant air. The air inside the jacket when we began our runs was probably the same air inside when we finished. Even on very cold days with temperatures hovering around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the Brooks couldn't find its pace. We eventually settled on having to wear extra layers so we could warm up in the jacket and continue our run with the jacket stowed away.
If we were just wearing this jacket with no other contenders to compare it to, we might think that this is status quo, and this is just how jackets are. Having worn a host of others during this review we know that isn't the case. The Outdoor Research Boost and the Arc'teryx Incendo have both figured out how to keep this situation from happening. They offer superior venting and material with adequate breathability to keep you from getting into a scenario where you have to choose between being wet inside your jacket or too cold without a layer.
An upside of having very little breathability in the fabric of the LSD was how well it was able to repel wind and water. While the Boost didn't give us weather protection that equalled the Arc'teryx Incendo (the top performer in weather resistance), it did come pretty close. Probably the biggest difference we noticed was that the seams of the LSD welcomed in water a bit quicker than the Arc'teryx seams. Other than that they were fairly comparable when it came to wind and water resistance. When we compared the performance of the LSD with The North Face Better Than Naked it was difficult to find any weather resistance differences. They both performed satisfactorily during light rain and both dried quickly after the rain clouds parted. During our downhill romp on the bike we felt like the LSD was slightly superior as it didn't actually have any venting to allow air to circulate.
All in all the Brooks LSD would keep the wind off your back and light rain off your shoulders in a pinch. This protection does come at a cost and like we stated in the previous section that cost is the breathability and venting. Brooks says that this jacket is an insurance policy to be used when weather is threatening your run. We found this sentiment to be a pretty accurate description of what it is. If you wear this jacket as a layer against the cold, inevitably you're going to get uncomfortable. If you bring it along as an insurance policy for a pop up rainstorm and don't have high expectations you won't be disappointed.
Comfort and Mobility
If we considered this jacket only an emergency shell from inclement weather, it really would be ranked pretty highly. However, it is marketed and sold as a running jacket and thus we put it through the same ringer that we did all of the other jackets. The fit of the jacket is relaxed compared to the others in the field except for the length of the arms. They are a bit short compared to the more comfortable jackets we tested such as the OR Boost or the Arc'teryx Incendo. Both of the top rated jackets had arms long enough to reach overhead without the arms restricting your movement. This wasn't the case in the LSD. It has to be said that our main tester has a +3 "ape index" meaning his arms are three inches longer than he is tall when outstretched. If we apply some logic and imagine that the general user of the jacket has arms as long as their height it will probably fit pretty good.
Other than the restriction of the arms when lifted overhead and the relatively short cut of said arms, the jacket is fairly comfortable. None of the seams are abrasive, the material is light and doesn't feel too intrusive or annoying when running. There is a nice, soft, band of material lining the collar to protect your neck and the zipper has a nylon flap to keep it from touching your face. In conclusion we feel that as a running jacket the fit, comfort, and mobility are pretty run of the mill and nothing too special. If we were to consider this an emergency shell, it really is quite comfortable.
In making the LSD, it appears that Brooks tried to do something unique. It seems like they have gone all in making this jacket as portable as possible with the idea that you are going to be carrying it around more than you will be wearing it, which is probably true. Unfortunately the carrying system isn't quite up to par with some of the better designs we encountered. Looking at the Patagonia Houdini, for example, it's compact, light, and easy to stuff into a pocket for those emergency situations. The LSD is a bit more on the bulky side despite its light weight of 3.7oz. It has a one size fits all band that is designed to fit around your bicep to carry the jacket. The obvious downside to this was that we couldn't adjust the band to fit our arms.
It was either too loose on our testers arms and would creep down as we ran or too tight on some, which might come in handy if you're bleeding profusely and need something to use as a tourniquet. So how portable is it? Well, if you were to subtract the elastic one size fits all band, it might even be lighter than the Patagonia Houdini, making it a pretty light jacket. It has a two sided zipper which is a big plus compared to jackets like the Salomon Agile and The North Face Better Than Naked, both of which have single sided zippers on their packing systems.
All in all, the LSD is very packable and a reasonable weight. While we would lose the elastic band, since you have to be exactly the right size for it to work comfortably, it is a decently portable emergency running shell.
Day and Night Visibility
While the LSD jacket didn't have the visibility of the Outdoor Research Boost or the Arc'teryx Incendo overall, it did have some strong points. The available colors are decently visible. The green and black jacket that we were sent stands out in the day and has some very bright reflective stripes.
A similar issue presented itself with the LSD jacket that we experienced with several of the others. There was a lack of side visibility.
Both the front and back of the LSD made for good low light and nighttime visibility. The addition of wrist stripes as bright as the stripe down the back would give the Brooks jacket a huge advantage over the others we tested as they have some of the brightest reflective material we tested available to them.
The LSD jacket is best reserved for those days when you need a layer to break through the rain and drizzle to get in a few miles. The Brooks is less at home when the going gets tough and it needs to vent excess heat and moisture. We found the LSD to excel at weather resistance far more than it did at any of the other testing metrics.
For the $100 list price, it is a strain to say that this jacket is good value for the money. For the same price, there are jackets that excelled in every testing category rather than specializing in just one or two. If we examined the LSD individually and didn't have other contenders such as the Outdoor Research Boost or the Arc'teryx Incendo to choose from we might view this jacket as a better bargain.
The LSD is well suited for emergency situations when the elements threaten to dampen your morning jog. It came well equipped with reflective stripes and a valiant effort to make a portable carrying system. We felt like this jacket wasn't suited for longer all day type runs or outings where we expected to encounter lots of varying terrain. It's light enough to throw in your backpack, though it is bulkier than some of the other "emergency running jackets" such as the Patagonia Houdini and the Montane Featherlight 7. If you simply need a jacket to bring along just in case and can find this one for cheaper than the Houdini, it should get the job done. If you're looking for a jacket to wear on a regular basis and expect the piece to have proper vents and perform while you are working hard, we'd instead recommend the Outdoor Research Boost and the Arc'teryx Incendo, as they provide everything the Brooks LSD does and much, much more.
— Brian Martin