Windbreakers, lightweight shells, rain jackets-- our testers have long had a difficult time finding a layer that was truly meant for running. Until we found the Patagonia Airshed. Lightweight, packable, and breathable, this was the best all-around jacket that we tested. This product is a comfy, stretchy pullover with a long zipper for ventilation. While it is lacking in a few of the special features and burly weather resistance of some of its competitors, this jacket is the perfect companion for cold and windy days. We're happy to award it our Editors' Choice Award for its stellar mobility and lightweight breathability.
Patagonia Airshed - Women's ReviewPrice: $119 List | $119.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightweight, affordable, comfortable
Cons: Not as resistant to rain, fewer features
Bottom line: The Airshed is light, breathable, and comfy; the perfect summer adventure layer.
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Our Analysis and Test Results
What the Airshed lacks in water resistance and fancy features it more than makes up for in comfort, breathability, and portability.
So many of the jackets that we tested are marketed for runners, but few seemed to be really designed for runners. Breathability is a huge factor in a running-specific jacket, as it's easy to quickly work up a sweat no matter how cold or windy it might be outside. The ability to get adequate ventilation is crucial to running jacket success, so our testing team evaluated material choice and ventilation for this highly important category.
The Airshed, to be frank, blew us away. Despite its lack of vents in the back or armpits, the singular nylon fabric made for an incredibly breathable layer. The fabric is surprisingly thin and delicate, nearly translucent, and it lacked the "trash bag effect" that we found in some other lightweight jackets, like the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Lite.
Not everyone who tried this jacket was a big fan of the pullover design, but there was unanimous agreement that the long front zipper allowed for excellent airflow. This jacket's stellar breathability is no-doubt one of the main reasons we could so easily award it our top award.
As much as we like running in the sunshine in perfect spring temperatures, that's not always what we get. And since we're not going to let a little rain or wind get in the way of our workouts, we need a layer that can keep up with us. Weather resistance comes in a few different forms, so we looked at each product's ability to protect us from wind, cold, and precipitation.
The Airshed is many things, but it is not warm. The lightweight shell is nearly see-through and provides a bit of insulation from the elements but would definitely not be our first choice for cold winter mornings. If you're getting out consistently in sub-freezing temps, we'd recommend a heavier, burlier jacket, like the Icebreaker Cool-Lite Rush. But, if you're just trying to beat the chill until you get your blood pumping, the Airshed might be all you need.
One element this jacket excels at protecting us from is the wind. While not as foolproof as some other contenders, like The North Face Flight RKT, the Airshed is exceptionally resistant when compared to its high level of breathability.
The Airshed is not a rain jacket, and it doesn't pretend to be one. Our testing team found that it performed surprisingly well at wicking moisture away during a short sprinkle of rain, this would not be our choice if we were heading out in a downpour. Since this jacket doesn't have a hood, it's also a bit limited in that sense. While we admit that the Airshed isn't designed for truly burly weather, the amount of protection is impressive for its weight and breathability.
Ah, comfort. After reviewing running-specific categories, like shoes and packs, we came to learn that comfort really is a performance factor. Running is hard, and if we're being constricted or held back by our gear, it's even harder. To test the comfort of each running jacket, we judged their materials, fit, and mobility.
The Airshed is easily one of the most comfortable layers in this review. First, we loved the materials. The bulk of this jacket is made of 100% ripstop nylon. Its built-in stretch is unique in this review, as every other jacket we tested was limited in its elasticity. We loved the soft, stretchy waistband and arm openings that this jacket includes, as well.
This jacket's fit is spot-on. It strikes the perfect balance between being form-fitting and athletic. Our range of motion was never, ever limited, which was a huge plus when compared to stiff products like the other pullover we tested, the Altra Performance Half-Zip. As far as style goes, the Airshed has a nice cut that is loose enough to promote airflow but tight enough to keep us warm.
The one thing we wished the Airshed had was a bit more stretch in the collar. When zipped all the way up, we felt a bit constricted by the reinforced neckline. Overall, though, this jacket quickly became one of our favorite go-to products.
Whether you're working out on the track, vying for a new personal best on the race track, or romping through your favorite trails, no one wants to feel held back by their gear. We wanted to know which of the twelve jackets we tested were the easiest to bring along, no matter where we were headed. Our testing team evaluated both weight and packability to come up with an overall score we call "portability".
The Airshed is one of the lightest jackets we tested. There are a few that came in under three ounces, but at 3.1 ounces, this jacket is pretty dang close. Without a hood, this jacket could be easily compared to the Brooks LSD (2.95 ounces), though the two have very different looks and feels. At such a low weight, there's no excuse to ever leave this jacket behind.
Something we considered crucial for portability was the ability to pack down into a pocket. The Airshed does just this, as it easily fits into its one chest pocket. This pocket has a small clip loop for easily attaching your Airshed to a backpack or harness, and its small size can easily fit into the pocket of your favorite running pack. That being said, we can't help but admit that the armband feature of the LSD (and of the heavier Brooks Canopy) was a really nice touch for runners specifically. If you're out and about with the Airshed but no pack or vest, your only option for shedding this layer is to fold it up and carry it in your hand (or maybe stuff it into your waistband, as we've been known to do).
To separate all wind and rain shells from running-specific jackets, our testing team wanted to see what features the manufacturers included to appeal directly to runners. A few of the products stood out for their thoughtful designs, while some were a bit more simple.
The Airshed is definitely on the simpler side. This layer features a reflective logo on the front hip and the back neckline, though we found this neckline could be easily covered by long hair. Compared to some other products we tested, like the Performance Half-Zip, we would have liked to see a bit more reflective properties for night running.
The chest pocket of the Airshed does fit an iPhone 6, though we think it'd be a bit uncomfortable to run with it there. Our testing team thought that retractable thumb loops could have been a great addition to this jacket, as were found on many of the other products we tested. This shell also has no hood, which we prefer while running but does limit a jacket's weather resistance.
As our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Airshed is at home in a wide variety of environments. This jacket is perfect for chilly mornings and evenings thanks to its great blend of breathability and weather resistance. It would not be our go-to for really bad weather, but its lightweight design makes this an easy choice to throw in the pack for iffy days.
At $119, the Airshed is on the less expensive side of average. With jackets in this review costing up to $190, we were happily surprised by the price of this favorite layer. For decent weather resistance and top-notch comfort and breathability, this jacket is an awesome value and a great investment.
Once again, Patagonia has put out an outstanding layer with the Airshed. It's comfortable, stretchy, and built for fast-paced, sweaty activities. The breathability is impressive, with decent weather resistance.
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Most recent review: August 8, 2018
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