A weatherproof outer layer is an essential item for running in lower temperatures and changeable weather conditions – and let’s face it, you’re much more likely to go out the door in inclement weather if you know you will be warm and dry to some degree.
As with cycling jackets, the key elements of a running jacket are breathability (the ability of the jacket to allow water vapour to escape), wicking (the ability to draw moisture away from the skin) and weatherproofing (resistance to wind and water ingress).
Modern running jackets will use hi-tech microporous fabrics that allow moisture vapour (from sweat) to get out but prevent bigger drops (rain) from getting in. Where running jackets will differ from cycle jackets is in having a more ‘normal’ cut (without the ergonomic adaptations of a cycle garment) and in being slightly looser and less restrictive, to allow for freedom of arm movement where aerodynamics are not such a consideration. Many running jackets will however have nifty features such as waterproof zipped pockets and/or pockets for smartphones and digital audio devices, reflective tabs for low-light visibility, removable hoods and elasticated cuffs.
The type of running jacket you need will depend on the seasonal conditions and the type of running you do – a 20-minute training loop in April showers is different to a two-hour trail run in January, so dress accordingly. There are two main types of running jacket – light and packable showerproof shells and more substantial waterproof jackets.