Throughout the last 6 years, our team of experts has tested over 20 of the best running jackets. In this update, we purchased 10 of today's top models for our latest head-to-head analysis. From rainy slogs around the neighborhood to windy, exposed trail runs, we put each jacket through its paces across a variety of weather conditions and terrain to push its design features to the limit. Whether you need a comfortable, breathable layer for casual training runs or a lightweight, protective barrier for rugged mountain adventures, we'll show you what to look for to help you find the best jacket for your needs.Related: Best Running Jackets for Women of 2020
Best Running Jacket for Men
|Price||$139.00 at Backcountry|
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|$225.00 at Backcountry||$119.95 at Amazon|
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|$105 List||$325.00 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Lightweight, good breathability, packs into pocket||Breathable, warm, comfortable||Comfortable and stretchy material, good weather protection, breathable||Stylish, lightweight, recycled materials, breathable||Very water resistant, lightweight, small packed size|
|Cons||Not the most weather resistant||Heavy, no hood||Hood is not adjustable, slightly heavier than others||Stuff pocket is larger than it needs to be, weather protection isn't great||Not as breathable as a softshell, very expensive|
|Bottom Line||When you're heading out for a run and not sure what jacket to take, this one is never a bad choice||This is an excellent companion to ward off cold and keep you cranking out the miles with a smile on your frozen face||An affordable jacket that blends comfort and performance in a fairly lightweight package||A good-looking jacket for cool temps in the spring and fall||The incredibly light and best performing wet weather running layer we tested|
|Rating Categories||Arc'teryx Incendo Hoody||Arc'teryx Trino||Brooks Canopy||Cotopaxi Palmas||Arc'teryx Norvan SL Hoody|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Comfort And Mobility (20%)|
|Specs||Arc'teryx Incendo...||Arc'teryx Trino||Brooks Canopy||Cotopaxi Palmas||Arc'teryx Norvan...|
|Measured Weight (ounces)||4.6 oz (size M)||16.2 oz (size L)||6.6 oz (size M)||5.3 oz (size L)||4.6 oz (size M)|
|Number of pockets||1||4||5||2||0|
|Main Material||Lumin 100% nylon 20D Ripstop fabric||Gore Windstopper w/ DWR treatment||DriLayer Seal 100% ripstop polyester||Recycled polyester||Gore-Tex ShakeDry|
|Unique Features||Media Pocket||Rear pockets with angled, easy access||Elastic cuffs, packs into pocket||Thumb loops, elastic hood||Super-lightweight waterproof material, minimalist design|
|Vent Type||Mesh panels under arm||Atreus stretch knit fabric under arms & back panel||None||Open back vent||None|
|Reflective material?||Logo and blazes||Yes||Yes||No||Logo|
Best Overall Running Jacket
Arc'teryx Incendo Hoody
If you're looking for a lightweight, high-performing running jacket with the right amount of features but without a bunch of extras to weigh you down, the Arc'teryx Incendo is one of our favorites. The Incendo continues to impress our team of testers due to its solid weather resistance, comfortable form-fitting design, and large side mesh panels that provide excellent breathability. All of this comes in a lightweight package that compresses down into its own pocket — and with a surprisingly reasonable price tag.
There are only a few circumstances in which we might forego the Incendo as our go-to running jacket. While every runner has a different tolerance for cold weather, when the mercury drops below freezing, we would opt for something warmer with a bit more insulation, like a softshell jacket. Similarly, when there's going to be a significant amount of precipitation, we would look to a fully waterproof jacket rather than the water-resistant treatment on this jacket. But for the majority of runs across varying terrain and conditions, nothing matches the lightweight versatility of the Arc'teryx Incendo.
Read review: Arc'teryx Incendo Hoody
Best Bang for the Buck
The Brooks Canopy runs away with our outstanding value award thanks to its comfortable design, solid all-around performance, and affordable price. The foundation of the Canopy's stellar performance is its DriLayer Seal polyester fabric that feels much softer, quieter, and more flexible than most other nylon fabrics while still providing good weather protection and excellent breathability. It also sports a hidden zippered chest pocket with a headphone port, zippered hand pockets, and internal stuff pockets. On top of that, it can be compressed into a built-in stuff sack inside one of the hand pockets, with an elastic armband for easy carrying.
One minor drawback of the Canopy is that it is slightly heavier than many of the other ultralight jackets in our lineup. We're only talking about two or three ounces in total, but we know that every ounce matters to some runners. And although the soft Drilayer Seal material is quite capable of keeping out the elements, it's not as weather-resistant as some other nylon materials or those with fully waterproof fabric barriers. The lack of adjustability on the hood also reduces its effectiveness when you're on the move. Overall, however, the Canopy is a versatile, comfortable, and well-priced jacket worthy of consideration.
Read review: Brooks Canopy
Outstanding Value for an Ultralight Model
Patagonia Houdini Full-Zip
Once again, the Patagonia Houdini continues to impress with capable performance in a ridiculously lightweight package at a surprisingly affordable price. While other competitors jockey to introduce new fabrics or updated designs, the Houdini maintains its classic style that supplies great wind protection in any situation, good warmth, and decent weather protection with a water-resistant coating. All of this performance also packs down into its own chest pocket while tipping the scales at only 3.7 ounces.
Although the nylon material offers decent protection from the wind, it lacks the breathability of some other jackets with different materials, built-in vents, or mesh panels. The only way to increase ventilation with the Houdini is to unzip the main zipper, which can catch the wind like a parachute and make running awkward. We also noticed that the nylon material can be noisy, a potential turnoff to some runners. Overall, we feel these are minor drawbacks for such an ultralight, surprisingly warm jacket that provides tremendous value and earns one of our outstanding value awards.
Read review: Patagonia Houdini Full-Zip
Best for Winter Running
The Arc'teryx Trino offers unmatched temperature regulation during high-output activities in cold weather. The multi-layer Gore-Windstopper material on the chest feels like a shield when the wind is blasting, but highly breathable materials utilized in key areas make overheating almost impossible. While plenty of other jackets might perform perfectly in a narrow temperature window, the zone of excellence for the Trino is massive. After months of testing, this became our go-to winter training jacket despite its huge weight disadvantage.
If you're getting out for some serious winter training, running intervals on hills, or skinning up mountains, the Trino is amazing. If you're simply heading out around the neighborhood during cool mornings, this model may be a bit overkill, though the temperature regulation is stunning. If you want to avoid the need to shed layers or put more layers on mid-activity, the Trino could go a long way to helping you stay comfortable.
Read review: Arc'teryx Trino
Best for Minimalist Wet Weather Protection
Arc'teryx Norvan SL Hoody
The Arc'teryx Norvan SL Hoody offers superb all-around weather protection in an extremely lightweight package. The secret to its performance is its Gore-tex Shakedry material, which provides reliable wind and water protection in a lightweight single-layer construction. With reasonable breathability for such a protective material, the Norvan SL makes a great choice for high output activities in unforgiving conditions. At a measured weight of 4.6 ounces for a men's size medium, including its nylon stuff sack, there's no better choice for minimalist wet weather protection.
If you're on the hunt for the lightest wet weather jacket that money can buy, this indeed might be it. But the high-end performance of the Norvan SL comes with a high-end price tag that could turn away many runners. If you're simply on the market for a capable running layer to get you out the door during cooler weather or a light drizzle, this is probably overkill. For the price, you could buy two or three of most other jackets in this review, some of which will include more features and better versatility. That being said, we are astounded by the performance of this jacket for its intended purpose, making it an undeniable top choice when performance is paramount.
Read review: Arc'teryx Norvan SL Hoody
Why You Should Trust Us
Our OutdoorGearLab testing team of Nick Bruckbauer and Brian Martin combined to tackle this review. Nick is a former NCAA Division I track and cross country athlete who turned his attention to hiking, trail running, and backcountry skiing throughout the last decade. He still laces up the running shoes several days a week and keeps in touch with his running roots by volunteering as a track and cross country coach at his local high school. Brian is a multi-discipline mountain athlete who can be found doing anything from rock climbing to alpine ski touring to long-distance trail running. His most recent obsession is multi-day bikepack racing. Brian is also a former member of Yosemite Search and Rescue, where he was tasked with all aspects of maintenance and acquisition of outdoor equipment.
This review began with extensive market research, sifting through over 60 of the best running jackets on the market. We then selected 10 of the most promising models to purchase for our head-to-head testing. This testing took place over the course of several months, through many different weather conditions, from winter storms and high winds to unpredictable spring rainstorms. In addition to the field tests, we measured each jacket's weight and water resistance in controlled environments. What has resulted is a comprehensive review that will set you on the right track in your search for the perfect jacket.
Related: How We Tested Running Jackets
Analysis and Test Results
Mother Nature can be a real son-of-a-gun. Without the right equipment, it's easy to get sidelined by inclement weather, cold temperatures, or biting wind. Having the right equipment can be the difference between being able to get yourself out the door in the morning or staying in bed for a few more minutes. The running jackets we tested span a large spectrum of designs, with varying levels of protection from the elements. We logged some serious miles on the roads and trails to help you figure out which model will work the best for you.
Related: Buying Advice for Running Jackets
We compared all the jackets head-to-head based on five separate rating metrics: Breathability and Venting, Weather Resistance, Comfort and Mobility, Portability, and Special Features. Our testing included multiple runs in each jacket through rain, cold, and wind, in urban environments and on the trails, on the flats, and up some serious inclines. We purposefully bought some very highly-rated jackets which claim both weather-resistance and breathability to determine which ones deliver on their claims and which ones fall short. We were pleasantly surprised by several of the new contenders but ultimately found the Arc'teryx Incendo to be worthy of our highest honor.
The 10 jackets in this review span a surprisingly massive price range. Some of the most expensive models cost over three times as much as some of the more affordable options. Although there is definitely a huge range of prices, finding an outstanding value isn't as simple as looking for the lowest upfront cost. We painstakingly analyzed each model's performance to help you understand what extra value you might get by spending more money, or what performance features you'd sacrifice to save a few bucks.
For example, if you're looking for the absolute most capable and protective lightweight jacket for wet weather, shelling out hundreds of dollars for our top choice Arc'teryx Norvan SL Hoody might make sense and could actually provide pretty good value for this specific use. But if you just need occasional wet weather resistance, and you're willing to sacrifice the higher-end material and waterproof protection, the Patagonia Houdini is a versatile, ultralight jacket that offers capable performance at a fraction of the cost. The Brooks Canopy, our other value award winner, is another contender that masterfully balances price and performance.
It doesn't matter if you're fresh off the couch or a seasoned professional; you're going to sweat while running. Ideally, a running jacket will not only shield you from the elements but also help shed excess heat and moisture. Jackets that don't offer adequate breathability can end up feeling like a plastic trash bag, while models with breathable materials, zippered vents, or mesh panel inserts stood out in this metric.
One of our top-ranked models in this metric is our top choice for winter running, the Arc'teryx Trino, with its Gore-Windstopper material complemented with strategically placed air-permeable panels under the arms and across the back. Additional standouts are the Editors' favorite Incendo Hoody with its large mesh panels under the arms, and the Cotopaxi Palmas with its lightweight material and sewn-in back vents. The Brooks Canopy also boasts lightweight breathable materials, but no built-in vents or mesh panels.
Some type of breathable mesh panel system seems to be essential for providing the necessary air movement and breathability for high output activities. Otherwise stellar jackets like the ultralight Patagonia Houdini utilize lightweight fabric that isn't as breathable as others while also lacking any sort of built-in ventilation system. Similarly, waterproof jackets like the Patagonia Storm Racer and the Arc'teryx Norvan SL provide excellent protection from the elements but lack any kind of ventilation system except for unzipping the main zippers.
Although all of the jackets we tested claim some level of wind and water resistance, two models stand out for being fully waterproof. The Arc'teryx Norvan SL has a lightweight, single-layer waterproof Gore-Tex Shakedry material, and the Patagonia Storm Racer is constructed from Patagonia's 3-layer H2No waterproof fabric.
Most other models in our lineup are constructed from a nylon or polyester material that comes treated with a Durable Water Resistant (DWR) coating to repel water from the surface of the jacket. While this certainly offers suitable protection from light drizzle or dew as you brush past trailside plants, these DWR coatings tend to wear off quickly, and any heavy rain will likely permeate these layers rapidly.
Although most of the jackets that we tested aren't fully waterproof, many have an impressive ability to shield you from the wind. The Patagonia Houdini, our outstanding value for ultralight models, provides noticeable wind protection at an absurdly low weight of 3.7 ounces. As also one of the consistently top-ranked models in our windbreaker jacket review, the Houdini is certainly impressive, especially considering its price is less than a third of the waterproof Arc'teryx Norvan.
Related: Best Windbreaker for Men of 2020
Comfort and Mobility
Comfort and mobility are of paramount importance to a running jacket because these garments are designed to be worn during prolonged aerobic activity. A restrictive jacket can physically hinder your movement, while a poorly-fitted, baggy one can weigh you down or bunch up uncomfortably. Both issues can impact your mental performance as well, forcing you to focus on the discomfort of the garment instead of the workout in front of you. To evaluate this metric, we tested how each garment moves with the runner and considered the materials and construction.
Comfort is certainly a subjective metric, but we found that certain attributes impact a jacket's comfort regardless of the shape, size, or preferences of the user. Lightweight materials and an athletic performance fit (not too loose, not too tight) are widely appreciated, while flat, taped seams are much more comfortable than raised, exposed seams that can be uncomfortable and annoying.
Standing out in this metric are the Patagonia Airshed Pro with its soft, lightweight material and snug performance fit, and the Brooks Canopy with its soft, flexible material. Arc'teryx also seems to have a good handle on the market for comfortable jackets with the three models that all scored well. The Incendo, Norvan, and Trino all impressed due to designs that feel perfectly sized, including body mapping panels that are never too baggy or tight and tapered cuffs that give the arms a full range of motion without causing the sleeves to ride up.
This review is all about efficient aerobic movement. We want to make sure that the contenders we recommend don't impede your actions but rather aid in performance. This means that the garment should be easy to unpack, put on, remove, and re-pack while remaining lightweight on your body or in your backpack.
Factors we examine when establishing the overall portability of a jacket include how easily it fits into its storage pouch (if one is included) and if that pouch is adequately sized to fit everything without too much difficulty. Additionally, we threw each of the jackets onto our scale to get an accurate weight. Overall, it's safe to assume softshell jackets are less portable and heavier, while single-layer shells are more lightweight and packable.
The Patagonia Houdini, Arc'teryx Incendo, and Patagonia Airshed Pro all top the charts in this category with sub-5-ounce weights and easy to use stuff pockets. The Airshed packs into a convenient stuff pocket on the back of the hood, while the Houdini and the Incendo stuff pockets are perfectly sized, with double-sided zipper pulls to make the job of packing and unpacking painless. Most impressively with these three models is how much performance and protection is offered in such tiny and portable packages. These jackets are so light that it's easy to forget they're in your running pack until the temps drop and the wind kicks up.
Most of the jackets in our lineup are similarly lightweight and have some type of convenient carry system. We were very analytical when scoring this metric and adjusted scores for very slight differences in weight, packed size, or the convenience of packing.
While the main purpose of these garments is to protect you from wind, rain, and cold, each model has its own built-in features to enhance the comfort, performance, and convenience of your running experience. Seemingly little things like pockets, reflective trim, and hood adjustments can go a long way in this regard.
We used each jacket in low light conditions with a watchful friend in an automobile to give us a sense of how visible they were. Arc'teryx seems to have a pretty solid understanding that visibility is incredibly important for running jackets. The Incendo, Trino, and Norvan all provide impressive visibility with the key areas on the wrist and forearms sporting reflective markings. The least visible jackets, in contrast, have only one reflector on the chest pocket or no reflective trim at all.
Another important feature that we found noticeably absent on a number of contenders is a hood adjustment. We found this out the hard way while running into the wind in the rain. No matter how well-fitted a hood is, an adjustable cinch mechanism can help keep it snug against your head, which is especially critical when running at faster speeds. The Patagonia Houdini stands out for its excellent hood adjustment.
Although the main purpose of these jackets is lightweight protection from the elements, having a pocket or two for your phone, a snack, or some cash is a nice bonus. Most jackets in our lineup have a pocket or two, but the Brooks Canopy has five pockets: one chest pocket, two hand pockets, and two internal stuff pockets.
Softshell vs. Single Layer Ultralight
Our review spans two distinct types of jackets, including heavier softshells and ultralight single-layer running jackets. While these two types provide very different levels of performance, we believe they can both prove useful and sometimes necessary in their own right. Softshells, like the Arc'teryx Trino, supply unparalleled warmth and temperature regulation during hard aerobic workouts in the cold. On the flip side, single layer jackets, like the Incendo, offer competent protection in a tiny package, often weighing in at four ounces or less and able to disappear into the corner of a running pack. Although the single-layer jackets usually have narrower optimal temperature ranges, they can go a long way to protect users from wind, which can significantly increase your comfort level in a wide range of conditions.
There is no way around it; running is an intense activity. Having a jacket that is capable of regulating warmth and keeping moisture moving while still protecting you from the elements is essential. Our lineup provides a range of options from ultralight wind layers to warm and breathable softshells to completely waterproof models. Once you've determined the type of weather you'll be running in, your training environment and terrain, as well as the features that are most important to you, use this guide to identify the best jacket.
— Nick Bruckbauer & Brian Martin