How to choose your winter running jacket

How to choose your winter running jacket

Amon Fearon - October 24, 2022

A running jacket is an essential piece of running gear. They protect you from the wind, rain and cold weather enabling you to maintain your running routine all year round. But with so much choice, how do you pick one that’s right for you?

This guide covers how to choose a winter running jacket that meets the demands to make athletes better.


Why do people wear a jacket when running?

Most people choose to wear a running jacket simply because of the weather. They are great for protecting you against rain, wind, and the cold. There are several different types of running jackets to traverse the elements. Some are optimised more to be waterproof while others are designed for strong winds.

Maintaining your body temperature in winter is really important. Unlike summer, you’ll need to layer up when you’re out for a run. Although you heat up while running, the initial warm up and cool down at the end is when you’re most susceptible to the cold. So, it’s better to layer up to start with and remove anything as you go. Just remember to throw your jacket back on while cooling down.

You also want to ensure your joints stay warm so they don't tighten and reduce mobility, muscle strength, and ultimately hinder performance.


Should I wear a jacket while running?

Wearing a running jacket ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you hate wearing a jacket while you’re running and don’t feel the need for you, that’s fine, everyone’s different. However, in the winter, it’s advisable to wear a running jacket to protect yourself not only against the colder, wetter conditions but health complications as well. Prolonged activity in low temperatures could lead to hypothermia, frostbite or dehydration as it's easier to forget to drink.

The shortfall of most jackets stem from their excessive weight and fabrics that trap heat for warmth. While you may want a jacket to counter the cold, you also need to remove heat from your body, allowing it to cool. Sweating and overheating still occurs during winter exercise once your blood gets flowing. So, choose a lightweight, breathable performance jacket to strike the right balance.

Sometimes it's tempting to skip training sessions during winter because trips outdoors can be a shock to the system and cause discomfort. But remember, better never stops. Whether you're running competitively or keeping up health and fitness levels, consistency is key. An athlete must persevere and build mental toughness to achieve their best, and a jacket might be the helper you need to push through resistance.


What to look for in a running jacket

As we said earlier, there are many different types of jackets tailored for men and women. So, which one do you need?

Generally speaking, there are three key features to look for in a running jacket. They are:


When to wear



Ideal for light rain or snow that is slightly more lightweight than fully waterproof alternatives.

  • Breathable
  • Moderate water resilience
  • Lightweight  


Best for heavy rain or snow as you will be kept fully dry underneath. Most waterproof running jackets are made with a Gore-Tex type membrane so you can run safe in the knowledge that you won’t get soaked through.

  • Water repellent Gore-Tex materials for total dryness
  • Some breathability (look out for good ventilation)
  • High MVTR (Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate) of 10k +


Windproof running jackets are specially designed to block out wind. You might not think it, but cold winds while you’re sweating can make you feel incredibly cold as perspiration rapidly evaporates, chilling you. So, a windproof jacket will keep your core body temperature balanced in all types of blustery weather.

  • Very breathable
  • Thin
  • Compressible
  • Affordable


Aside from the basics, there are a few other things that are worth keeping an eye out for when shopping for a running jacket. Here are our top suggestions:

  • Waterproof zips and seams for full protection
  • Adjustable cords for the perfect fit
  • Utility pockets for devices and keys etc.
  • Waterproof or water-resistant hoods
  • Reflective bands for running in the dark
  • Breathable vents to stop overheating
  • Stretchable fabric to facilitate mobility

Sand women's running jacketMens winter running jacket

Have a selection of sportswear jackets so you’re best prepared for the rapidly changing weather conditions, especially in winter. Here's the full guide on what to wear running.


How should a running jacket fit?

As with most activewear, you want to have a comfortable fit. When it comes to running jackets, you want to be striking the balance of a tight fit for aerodynamics and having enough room for movement.

Your running jacket should be a relatively close fit but allow plenty of space for flexibility. Giving yourself some room will also allow for layering meaning you can wear another lightweight top underneath, especially cold days, or a base layer for efficiency.

It’s worth noting that different brands may have different sizing. So, don’t assume you’re the same size in every jacket across all brands.

Now you should now have a better understanding on what running jackets are, when to wear them and which ones are best for you. Remember, running jackets are just one part of running gear you need. If you’re looking to keep warmer in the winter months, you’ll want to stock up on other cold weather running essentials, like hats, gloves, gilets, and 1/4 zips.