The Nike Impossibly Light was one of the brightest jackets during our nighttime urban excursions. It's great for daily use when you want to throw on some extra visibility in low light conditions. For a wide variety of environments and weather conditions, it wasn't our favorite. We had some issues with how restrictive the forearms were, as well as the very narrow range of temperatures we felt comfortable in. In order to obtain the light weight of the Impossibly Light, the necessary protection from the elements seems to have been sacrificed. The Nike sits in a similar pricing bracket to our award winners but isn't suited for the same wide variety of conditions. While the Nike will shield you from unobservant eyes in the dark, it wouldn't be our choice for a go-to daily running shell.
Nike Impossibly Light Review
Cons: Weather resistance
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nike Impossibly Light running jacket is a fine jacket. It was pitted against 8 of the highest rated running jackets in the field for 2017. This year marks some impressive milestones for running jackets and while maybe even two years ago the Impossibly Light would have blown us away with its weight and performance, today it isn't at the front of the pack. While it had excellent breathability, it was bested by the Outdoor Research Boost, and its weather protection was lacking. We were impressed with the brightness of the night time reflective accents.
Breathability and Venting
The Impossibly Light scored quite high in breathability this year. It was on par with the Patagonia Houdini Pullover and was slightly better than the Montane, North Face, and Marmot. The OR Boost far outperformed it. The Boost has strategically placed venting panels juxtaposed to weather resistant panels. Nike has gone all the way towards the breathability end of the spectrum and sacrificed nearly all protetion from the elements. While we did feel that this jacket was very breathable even without any venting, we felt that it didn't retain our heat until there was an excess that needed to be vented. We started our warmup feeling the wind howl through and struggled to obtain a comfortable temperature. If a jacket with a surplus of breathability sounds appealing, give the OR Boost a try as it retains protections from the elements as well as provides superior breathability.
We awarded the Impossibly Light a 3/10 for weather resistance. During our host of weather relevant tests it became apparent that the Impossibly Light wouldn't be a contender for its resilience against the elements. The first day we set off on long run in wet conditions we realized that this jacket wasn't suited for even the lightest of rain. Before we had warmed up water was soaking through the jacket over our shoulders. By the time we had finished our five mile jaunt, we were soaked to the bone. It was much the same story with wind resistance.
The fabric is simply not a barrier against the wind. Yes, it was better than having nothing on as we ripped down Emigration Canyon at 30mph, but just barely. Overall, we didn't find the Impossibly Light to be suited to a variety of conditions; this contender was best used when the mornings are on the warmer side of 45 or 50 degrees.
Comfort and Mobility
The soft, highly breathable material of the Impossibly Light is quite comfortable. The only issues we found regarding comfort and mobility were the restrictive forearms. Compared to the rest of the relaxed fit jacket, the forearms were incredibly tight. We couldn't pull the sleeves up more than an inch before the jacket was completely stuck to our forearms. Standing around, this wasn't outrageously uncomfortable but while running it was an annoyance.
The feeling of restriction was always in the forefront of our thoughts as the miles added up. Because the forearms are so restrictive it feels like overall mobility is hindered. Some stretch material, or gussetting, would go a long way in freeing up movement in this jacket. The Salomon Agile was also equally restrictive and both jackets left us longing for the movement mirroring designs of the Outdoor Research Boost or the Arc'teryx Incendo. We don't doubt that there is a certain body type that would accommodate the Impossibly Light, but it certainly isn't cut for the masses and with its lack of elastic material is limited in its abilities to conform to the user.
One of the highlights of the Impossibly Light is how portable it is. Nike has done a good job creating a storage pouch suited to the size of the jacket.
They also utilized a double sided zipper for the closure system, and add an elastic strap so you could tote the jacket around when you aren't wearing it. We found the elastic carrying strap to be uncomfortable and gimmicky and had a better time carrying the jacket when it was stuffed into an elastic pocket in our running shorts or in our hydration pack. The Nike tipped our scale at 2.8oz making it the second lightest jacket in the field of nine.
The Impossibly Light only lost points for the flimsy elastic carrying straps and foregoing a secure attachment point. As far as donning the jacket while moving, this model performed well. The two-sided zipper, adequately sized pocket, and soft forgiving material made the unpacking and packing process easy.
Day and Night Visibility
Starting with the positives first, this contender had the best nighttime visibility of any jacket we tested. When tested in low light and nighttime conditions, our test driver had no issues seeing our tester in the Impossibly Light. The reflective strips on the wrists offer truly fantastic visibility. If you're looking for a running jacket and your sole consideration is reflectivity, this is your jacket. The Impossibly Light was the most consistently visible during our nighttime testing. The reflective stripes along the wrists were especially good as the swinging arms of the runner created quite a visual display.
Daytime visibility was decent as the black did stand out against the green of Salt Lake City. Overall the colors available seem pretty dull and less than optimal for both day and night visibility.
The Impossibly Light is best suited for urban environments where weather protection isn't at the top of the priority list. We found this jacket to be very breathable making it well suited for high output running on colder days. If you are looking for a simple training jacket this might be the ticket. Keep in mind that we found the forearms of the jacket to be very tight, so give it a try before you buy.
For $90, the Impossibly Light is a decent value. It does offer good breathability and some weather protection. If you plan to mostly train and run in urban environments where the reflective markings will offer extra safety, the Nike might be a good value for you. Comparatively, you can get all of these features for less if you consider the Patagonia Houdini Pullover.
The Nike Impossibly Light is indeed very light weight. It offers superior nighttime visibility and some buffering from the elements. All in all, we felt like this jacket lacks the necessary comfort and features of a dedicated running jacket and would probably reserve this garment for times when we wanted extra nighttime visibility.
— Brian Martin