Nike Essential Jacket - Women's Review
Cons: Not very weather-resistant, inflexible and unflattering fit
Compare to Similar Products
Nike Essential Jacket - Women's
$79.99 at Amazon
$109.00 at REI
$100.00 at REI
$74.66 at Amazon
$30.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Affordable price, packable||Lightweight, super portable, comfortable, decently weather-resistant, affordable||Very wind-resistant, breathable, comfortable and stretchy, great hood, affordable||Lightweight, comfortable, flattering, breathable, semi water-resistant||Comfortable, warmer than some, spacious pockets, affordable|
|Cons||Not very weather-resistant, inflexible and unflattering fit||Lacks some features, nylon is thin, not very warm||Less rain resistant, lacks portability||Not very warm||Not 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 models||An easy-to-transport and lightweight running jacket that offers just enough protection from inclement weather||A wind-resistant and breathable running jacket with a great hood that is almost as good as our top scorers||An affordable and surprisingly functional running jacket that is loaded with unexpected features||A 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...|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Comfort and Mobility (20%)|
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Ally Arcuri
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More