Our expert teams spent months in the field with all our jacket contenders in order to provide you with the most reliable information possible. We first decided on five scoring metrics to use in our evaluations and then gave each product a score from 1-10 by directly comparing it to its competitors. We also gave these five metrics a percentage that would ultimately be used to calculate each jacket's total score out of one hundred. Below, we describe exactly what we were looking for in each of the five testing metrics and explain what information we used to reach our decisions.
The testing process for breathability was entirely hands-on, direct comparison. We brought each jacket out into the field and ran up and down hills, in hot and humid weather. Our testers could frequently be found hiking and running around with a handful of jackets so they could try out many products in more controlled conditions. We learned that there were two factors that contributed to a jacket's overall breathability: materials and venting. We noted both of these features before heading out in all conditions to sweat, sweat, and sweat some more.
In an ideal world, every time we stepped out the door to run, the sky would part, the sun would shine, and birds would be singing. In California, that's kind of true, but we know it's not the case for everyone. Instead of canceling our workouts, we decided to find the jacket with the best weather protection so that we never have to miss a run. There are a few different types of inclement weather that we wanted to test for, so once again we marched off to the hills with as many jackets we could carry to see how these products held up in the real world. We ran in wind, rain, and frigid temperatures, all the while noting which contenders could keep us protected without feeling stifling. In order fully test for rain resistance in a controlled manner, we sprayed each jacket with small amounts of water to see how well the materials were able to repel the moisture.
Comfort and Mobility
Comfort can be a pretty subjective thing, so we needed to devise a solution to offset our own opinions. We decided the best way to do this was to increase our sample size, so we gave these jackets to friends, colleagues, and fellow runners to get feedback on their fit, mobility, and materials. Our favorite jackets were soft and smooth to the touch. Whether it was polyester, nylon, or wool, we awarded high marks for products that felt luxurious. We also wanted to reward a great fit, so evaluated each jacket based on its sizing. The highest scorers in this review were either stretchy or built with enough room to move freely. We quickly docked points for jackets that were too tight in the shoulders.
Running is hard enough already, and we don't want to invest in any products that are going to make our jobs harder. To us, this means shedding ounces and finding jackets that pack away easily. We placed each product on a scale and recorded the results. The lightest jackets in this review were less than three ounces, and the heaviest were close to ten. From there, we assessed packability. Many of the layers we tested have pockets and are able to pack themselves away easily. We packed and unpacked each of these jackets to see which were the easiest to operate.
There are a variety of features that our team identified can easily transform an everyday windbreaker or jacket into a true running item. Our process for assessing this was fairly simple. We dedicated ourselves to getting to know every little feature of each jacket. Our testers wore them everywhere they went, learning all their ins and outs and judging them, as always, side-by-side. We looked for visibility, storage, media adaptability, hoods, and thumb loops primarily, also making notes of each jacket's unique characteristics that appeal specifically to runners.