Salomon Lightning Race WP - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Lightning Race jacket is a lightweight waterproof shell designed for high-output activities.
Because we're on the quest for the best running jacket, we need a piece that can breathe as we move. Compared to wind and rain shells, running jackets need to be able to handle our high-output cardio exercises without stuffiness or clamminess.
The Lightning Race is, to put this gently, not very breathable. The inner material is stuffy and clammy, clinging to our skin whenever we started to sweat. And with little airflow available, this came pretty quickly. As opposed to the vents of other jackets like the Smartwool Merino Sport or Arc'teryx Cita SL, this jacket has just one uniform material. We prefer jackets that have a more breathable material on the back and under the arms.
Here at OutdoorGearLab, we tend to prefer running in just a t-shirt, meaning that any time we don a jacket, the weather must be less than ideal. As long as our layers don't impede our performance, a running jacket's main target is to protect us from bad weather like wind, rain, and cold temperatures.
The Salomon Lightning Race is one of the highest scorers in this category for a few great reasons. This jacket is waterproof, with a seam-sealed interior that keeps out moisture and wind. The stretchy wrist cuffs and waist hem help block wind and rain, as well.
One of our favorite features of this jacket is the hood. The bulk of the hood material is the same as is found on the rest of the jacket, with a small, non-adjustable elastic band at the rear. The best part, however, is hidden inside. The inside of the hood features a stretchy inner lining that keeps the hood snug on the forehead. One of our biggest qualms with hoods on running jackets is that they tend to catch the wind and slide back when we're moving. Not so with the Lightning Race! Along with the burly Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket, this is one of the best choices for a true lightweight emergency shell for when the weather turns south.
Comfort comes in all shapes and sizes, so for this category, our team shared the love and got this jacket into the hands into a variety of runners to get their feedback on each jacket's pros and cons. We looked at material feel, fit, and stretch to award each product an overall score for comfort when compared to their competitors.
The Lightning Race has a great fit, but we didn't love the way the material felt on our skin. The waterproofing aspect of this layer creates a clammy feel on the inside that stuck to our skin with sweat. Even when not sweaty, this fabric is much less luxurious than that found on the soft Patagonia Airshed or Smartwool Merino Sport Ultra Light.
The fit was great, with just enough room to layer underneath but without being too baggy. We were surprised to find a bit of stretch in this synthetic piece, something that we appreciate when it comes to improving our range of motion. The hood is exceptionally comfortable thanks to the stretchy insert, and the fit length provides both comfort and protection from the elements.
Portability comes in two different factors: weight and packability. This may not matter as much to you if you're planning on keeping your jacket on the whole time you use it, but as we know well, weather can change quickly, so being able to carry this jacket easily if it's no longer needed is an important factor.
First, we put each jacket in this review on the scale to see how they measured up. The Lightning Race is on the lighter end of things at 4.16 ounces. While the lightest jackets we tested were less than three ounces (like the Arc'teryx Cita SL at 2.33 ounces), many were heavier, making this a good middle ground between weather protection and weight. The hood adds weight too, a feature that the Cita SL does not have.
The Lightning Race lost points in this category due to its lack of packability. If you usually wear a running vest or pack, this may not be as important, as it's easy to stuff this lightweight layer into a large pocket. That being said, being able to pack into its own pocket is a nice bonus feature and one we awarded highly in other jackets, like the Patagonia Houdini Air.
It may seem that the difference between a running jacket and a wind jacket is just aesthetic, but, as per usual, the devil is in the details. Jackets designed specifically for running have extra features like reflective markings, UPF protection, and thoughtfully placed pockets.
The Lightning Race has very few features and zero pockets. If you're using this solely as an emergency layer or if you usually wear a vest or pack, this won't matter much to you. If you're planning on using this jacket for small runs, however, this could be a dealbreaker.
This piece does have good reflective markings along the sleeves, but we wish there were more markings on the back to protect us from oncoming traffic. The hood is one of the best features of this jacket. While the Patagonia Houdini Air's hood is too baggy and always catches the wind, this jacket's hood stays in place thanks to its ingenious stretchy insert.
The Lightning Race is one of the more expensive jackets we tested; it's possible to find a running jacket that protects from weather and is more breathable - for less. That being said, if you really need something waterproof, this is your best option.
Running jackets come in all shapes and sizes, from breathable layers you'll never take off to emergency winter garments. The Lightning Race from Salomon is a great piece to carry along for those oh-crap moments in the mountains. While it's not the cheapest or most comfortable, it's a jacket you can rely on when the going gets tough.
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