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Nike Essential Jacket - Women's Review

This would be a good warmup jacket for your track workouts, but it doesn't provide the fit and features of higher-performing models
nike essential jacket for women running jacket review
Credit: Nike
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Price:  $90 List | $79.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Affordable price, packable
Cons:  Not very weather-resistant, inflexible and unflattering fit
Manufacturer:   Nike
By Ally Arcuri ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 25, 2021
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
53
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 12
  • Breathability - 30% 6.0
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 4.0
  • Comfort and Mobility - 20% 5.0
  • Portability - 15% 6.0
  • Features - 15% 5.0

Our Verdict

The Nike Essential running jacket is soft to the touch, but the overall fit is more reminiscent of a baggy rain poncho than performance running apparel. The fit isn't very flexible and ultimately inhibits mobility, in addition to being quite noisy. When worn over a long-sleeved layer, it serves well as a warm-up jacket. It is moderately breathable but doesn't provide much protection from the elements. If you are looking for an affordable running jacket that you can wear over your workout attire on your way to track practice, the Essential by Nike would be a good choice. If you are in the market for a durable, fully-featured, and weather-resistant coat, though, we recommend looking elsewhere.

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Price $90 List
$79.99 at Amazon
$109 List
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$100 List
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$100 List
$74.66 at Amazon
$31 List
$30.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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54
Star Rating
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Pros Affordable price, packableLightweight, super portable, comfortable, decently weather-resistant, affordableVery wind-resistant, breathable, comfortable and stretchy, great hood, affordableLightweight, comfortable, flattering, breathable, semi water-resistantComfortable, warmer than some, spacious pockets, affordable
Cons Not very weather-resistant, inflexible and unflattering fitLacks some features, nylon is thin, not very warmLess rain resistant, lacks portabilityNot very warmNot weather-resistant, less breathable, heavy, low-tech portability
Bottom Line This would be a good warmup jacket for your track workouts, but it doesn't provide the fit and features of higher-performing modelsAn easy-to-transport and lightweight running jacket that offers just enough protection from inclement weatherA wind-resistant and breathable running jacket with a great hood that is almost as good as our top scorersAn affordable and surprisingly functional running jacket that is loaded with unexpected featuresA comfortable and stylish athletic jacket that doesn't hold up to the demands of running in unpredictable weather
Rating Categories Nike Essential Patagonia Houdini Salomon Bonatti Cro... Salomon Agile Full-... C9 Champion Women's...
Breathability (30%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
5.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
4.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Comfort and Mobility (20%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Portability (15%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
Features (15%)
5.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Nike Essential Patagonia Houdini Salomon Bonatti Cro... Salomon Agile Full-... C9 Champion Women's...
Measured Weight (size Small) 6.40 oz 3.10 oz 4.06 oz 5.20 oz
Number of Pockets 3 1 1 2 2
Main Material 100% Polyester, Water-Repellent Finish 100% recycled Nylon ripstop Body: 100% Polyester
Insert: 88% Polyester, 12% Elastane
88% Polyester, 12% Elastane, DWR finish 88% Polyester, 12% Spandex
Unique Features Soft material Chest pocket converts to stuffsack with a reinforced carabiner clip-in loop Press button keeps jacket in place while vents are open Lightweight Thumbholes
Vent Type Back None Front snap None None
Reflective Material? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Hood? Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Nike Essential running jacket wears like an old-school windbreaker, albeit less functional for actually breaking the intensity of the wind. This 100% polyester jacket feels poorly constructed, and its lack of other features negates its moderate breathability.

Performance Comparison


nike essential jacket for women running jacket review - we don't love the awkward fit of this jacket, but we do love moody...
We don't love the awkward fit of this jacket, but we do love moody rainy-day runs.
Credit: Ally Meller

Breathability


Breathability is the one metric in which the Nike Essential jacket doesn't disappoint us. It is fairly lightweight and loose-fitting, which allows air to circulate freely against your skin. However, the Essential jacket doesn't provide any further high-tech breathability features. As mentioned above, this jacket is a good choice for wearing over your workout gear for an added warm-up layer. Once the high-intensity running begins, though, the breathability and comfort are hampered by the overall awkward fit.

nike essential jacket for women running jacket review - you can easily increase the airflow by unzipping this jacket, but...
You can easily increase the airflow by unzipping this jacket, but there are no other vents or built-in ventilation features.
Credit: Ally Meller

Weather Resistance


The Nike Essential running jacket is mildly water-resistant but doesn't hold up to our high standards. When compared to some of the other jackets we've reviewed, this one might as well be a sponge out on the track sopping up every raindrop. Water soaked into the material much quicker than on most other competitors.

nike essential jacket for women running jacket review - after a run in the light rain, water starting soaking through the...
After a run in the light rain, water starting soaking through the material pretty easily.
Credit: Ally Meller

Furthermore, the Essential jacket doesn't offer much warmth when it comes to deflecting icy winds. It does provide a shell effect when paired with a long-sleeve layer and can keep you moderately warm. Ultimately though, the Essential jacket doesn't live up to the weather-resistant properties set forth by its competitors.

Comfort and Mobility


As mentioned above, the Essential jacket's material is soft to the touch. Upon our initial unboxing, we thought we were going to love this jacket for running. This was a gentle reminder that you cannot judge a book by its cover.

This jacket is comfortable enough, but its strange fit negates the overall comfort and performance. The shoulder panels offer plenty of real estate, but when we lift our arms, the shoulders bunch up in a weird way that is not typical of running jackets. We usually want our running jackets to move with us, not independently from us. Overall, the soft exterior feel of the Essential doesn't make up for its poor fit or its noisy, immobile shape.

nike essential jacket for women running jacket review - the awkward fit in the shoulders makes it feel like the jacket wants...
The awkward fit in the shoulders makes it feel like the jacket wants to move independently from us, which compromises the overall comfort and performance.
Credit: Ally Meller

Portability


While the Nike Essential doesn't provide any fancy portability options, we were surprised at how well this jacket scored in the metric. It was by no means our most packable jacket, but it can be conveniently stuffed into its own pocket. It doesn't bundle up to be quite as small as some ultra-light options, but it definitely packs down well enough to be considered an option on longer runs.

nike essential jacket for women running jacket review - the essential jacket is pretty packable, stuffing into its own pocket.
The Essential jacket is pretty packable, stuffing into its own pocket.
Credit: Ally Meller

The Essential jacket weighed in at 6.4 ounces for a women's size small. This is relatively heavy compared to other ultralight options, but it doesn't cross into "do not buy" territory because of its weight. It is light enough that you won't feel weighed down while running in it, but it is too heavy to appeal to the super weight-conscious.

Features


The Nike Essential has a few key features that help keep it on the shortlist of popular running jackets. The engineers designed this jacket with reflective properties, including but not limited to its reflective "swoosh" logo.

nike essential jacket for women running jacket review - the essential has some reflective elements for additional low-light...
The Essential has some reflective elements for additional low-light visibility.
Credit: Ally Meller

The back pocket is creative and useful but less useful than it could be because the jacket lacks a precise fit. If the jacket had a slimmer profile, we would love to store our nutrition in the back pocket. Unfortunately, all our gels did was bounce around against our back when we used this pocket. Another feature that misses the mark is the hood. While semi-protective, it is incredibly floppy and, frankly, too big. There isn't enough adjustability to secure it, thus creating another hood with the parachute effect.

nike essential jacket for women running jacket review - while protective, the hood is too big for our liking and lacks...
While protective, the hood is too big for our liking and lacks enough adjustment features to achieve a secure fit.
Credit: Ally Meller

The sleeves have Velcro strips that can be used to tighten them up. This is a unique but helpful feature when it comes to keeping severe weather out.

nike essential jacket for women running jacket review - we like being able to cinch the velcro on the sleeves of the nike...
We like being able to cinch the Velcro on the sleeves of the Nike Essential jacket.
Credit: Ally Meller

Value


Even though the Nike Essential doesn't hold up as well as others in most metrics, it is available for a reasonable price. It is not as durable or rugged as some of our higher scorers, but most others have stiffer price tags. If you are looking for a jacket to wear to and from the gym on a budget, the Essential will suffice.

Conclusion


We hate to pass on the opportunity to add more gear to our closets. Unfortunately, in the case of the Nike Essentials running jacket, that is exactly what we are going to do. It isn't necessarily a bad choice for a running jacket, but other jackets beat it out in every metric. If you want a packable jacket to provide some coverage pre and post-workout, the Essential running jacket has you covered.

nike essential jacket for women running jacket review - this immobile and absorbent jacket isn't our first choice, but if it...
This immobile and absorbent jacket isn't our first choice, but if it is our only option, we'll take it and hit the trails.
Credit: Ally Meller

Ally Arcuri
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