Reviews You Can Rely On

The 5 Best Running Jackets for Women of 2022

We ran countless miles testing running jackets from Patagonia, Salomon, Lululemon, Smartwool, Brooks, and more to find the best models
Best Running Jackets for Women of 2022
Credit: Ally Arcuri
Friday November 4, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Over the last few years, we've bought and tested over 25 of the best women's running jackets. For this review, we rounded up 12 of the most impressive contenders, which we tested side-by-side for months. We took them on trails and city streets from California to Washington to South America and beyond. From chilly days of full sun to whipping rain and downright frigid temps, we found the limits of these lightweight, weather-protective sheaths. Along the way, we ranked their merits, like weather resistance, comfort, and breathability. There are a lot of great options out there, and we've found some of the best for every situation. Keep reading to find meet the next piece of gear you won't want to run without.

We've tested lots of running-related products. If you need a new pair of kicks, check out our top running shoe picks and our comparison review of the best shoes for trail running. Whether you are looking for our top picks for hydration vests or a pair of the best running shorts, we can help you find the products worth your time and money.

Related: Best Running Jackets for Men

Editor's Note: This review was updated on November 4, 2022. We texted six new jackets, and, in the process, discovered a new award winner.

Top 12 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 12
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Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $109 List
$109.00 at REI
$104.00 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$130 List
$87.73 at REI
$130 List
$139.00 at REI
$100 List
$100.00 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
80
80
76
73
72
Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, super portable, comfortable, decently weather-resistant, affordableBreathable, comfortable, great featuresExcellent breathability, UPF 30, portable, great updates, stashable hoodSuper comfortable, breathableVery wind-resistant, breathable, comfortable and stretchy, great hood, affordable
Cons Lacks some features, nylon is thin, not very warmNot the warmestNot very weather resistant, less flattering fitLess weather protection, no pocketsLess rain resistant, lacks portability
Bottom Line An easy-to-transport and lightweight running jacket that offers just enough protection from inclement weatherA comfortable, breathable jacket that is well-equipped with great features for any runnerA packable and semi-affordable jacket that offers sun protection and great breathability so you can focus on your run and not your clothingThis is a wildly comfortable and breathable jacket that's simple and effectiveA wind-resistant and breathable running jacket with a great hood that is almost as good as our top scorers
Rating Categories Patagonia Houdini Smartwool Merino Sp... Brooks Canopy - Wom... Patagonia Airshed P... Salomon Bonatti Cro...
Breathability (30%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
7.0
Comfort and Mobility (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
Portability (15%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Features (15%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
4.0
7.0
Specs Patagonia Houdini Smartwool Merino Sp... Brooks Canopy - Wom... Patagonia Airshed P... Salomon Bonatti Cro...
Measured Weight (size Small) 3.10 oz 5.10 oz 4.10 oz 4.10 oz 4.06 oz
Number of Pockets 1 2 3 0 1
Main Material 100% recycled Nylon ripstop Main Body: 100% Recycled Nylon. Trim/Lining: 54% Merino Wool, 46% Polyester Polyester Capilene Cool Polyester in sleeves and hood, Nylon Stretch Taffeta shell Body: 100% Polyester
Insert: 88% Polyester, 12% Elastane
Unique Features Chest pocket converts to stuffsack with a reinforced carabiner clip-in loop Merino wool panels, reflective material, media port Media port, hood packs away, UPF 30 Two-way zipper Press button keeps jacket in place while vents are open
Vent Type None Back and underarms None Under arms Front snap
Reflective Material? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Hood? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes


Best Overall Women's Running Jacket


Smartwool Merino Sport Ultra Light Hoody - Women's


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Breathability 9.0
  • Weather Resistance 7.0
  • Comfort and Mobility 8.0
  • Portability 8.0
  • Features 7.0
Weight: 5.1 oz | Number of pockets: 2
REASONS TO BUY
Super breathable
Extremely comfortable
Excellent features
REASONS TO AVOID
Less weather-proof

One of our favorite all-time running products is, hands-down, the Smartwool Merino Sport Ultra Light Hoody. We're amazed by its functional and thoughtful breathability features. The merino wool panels along the underarms and back keep air flowing without compromising weather protection. We love this jacket's soft, smooth feel and found it to have an incredible amount of features. Excellent reflectivity, smart pockets, and the ability to stow it into its pocket make this an easy choice for our top slot.

On the other hand, the Merino Sport isn't the lightest jacket we tested. At 5.1 ounces for a women's size small, a few jackets in this review are noticeably lighter — even one that's half the weight of this one. This might not be the best choice for you if you're looking to carry a feather-light jacket and only whip it out in an emergency. But if you're heading out for a big mission and the weather is chilly, this is our first choice as the best all-around jacket.

Read more: Smartwool Merino Sport Ultra Light Hoody - Women's review

running jacket womens - best overall women's running jacket
This is definitely one of our favorite jackets.
Credit: Ally Meller

Best Bang for Your Buck


Patagonia Houdini Jacket - Women's


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Breathability 8.0
  • Weather Resistance 8.0
  • Comfort and Mobility 8.0
  • Portability 9.0
  • Features 7.0
Weight: 3.1 oz | Number of pockets: 1
REASONS TO BUY
Mindblowingly lightweight
Light rain-ready
Very portable
REASONS TO AVOID
Less well-featured

The Patagonia Houdini is the lightest-weight running jacket that we tested, so it quickly became our first choice to stashing in our packs when heading out the door for long trail runs. It offers just enough wind and rain resistance to keep you comfortable without weighing you down. With a comfortable and surprisingly functional hood, this ultra-packable jacket is an outdoor enthusiast's dream. Available for slightly less money than some of our other high scorers, this is the running jacket that we recommend to runners who may get caught facing unexpected weather.

The Patagonia Houdini doesn't offer much in the way of warmth. If you are looking for a cozy layer to keep you comfortable as you traipse through a snowfield, this isn't going to be the jacket for you. If you live in a climate where it rains constantly, the Houdini might not provide quite enough protection. But if you want a layer that can live in the bottom of your pack and be utilized atop chilly and damp mountain peaks for extra protection, we bet you'll love this breathable and comfortable shell.

Read more: Patagonia Houdini - Women's review

running jacket womens - best bang for your buck
When summer starts to turn to fall in the mountains, we love having the Houdini in our packs in case of thunderstorms or high winds.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Most Versatile


Brooks Canopy - Women's


76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Breathability 9.0
  • Weather Resistance 6.0
  • Comfort and Mobility 7.0
  • Portability 8.0
  • Features 7.0
Weight: 4.1 oz | Number of pockets: 2
REASONS TO BUY
Breathable
Lightweight
UPF 30
Great updates
REASONS TO AVOID
Less rain protection
Shorter in length

The Brooks Canopy is a redesigned version of a long-standing running jacket. This version hit the market with updated breathability and comfort features, which secured its standing as one of our favorite running jackets for women. We love how breathable the ripstop body of the jacket is. When choosing a jacket that will remain comfortable throughout the entirety of our runs, the Canopy is our top pick because of its ability to release heat and keep us comfortable. We reached for the Canopy for road and trail runs simply because it is a jacket we never tire of wearing. On sunny days, the UPF 30 kept us from worrying about additional skin protection; on chilly days, the Canopy added just enough to keep us cozy.

The Canopy provides slightly less than its competitors in terms of rain protection. It does a decent job of repelling the initial drops, but the fabric of the jacket soaks through more quickly than we prefer. Because of this, we hesitate to recommend the Canopy as a jacket for damp climates. Despite its updates, the Canopy is shorter than most jackets we reviewed. If you have a long torso or want a slouchier fit, you'll have better luck in a jacket that offers a bit more fabric. But if you want a running jacket that will keep you comfy in windy conditions, on lengthy road runs, and on trail adventures, you'll love the features, comfort, and UPF rating of the Brooks Canopy.

Read more: Brooks Canopy review

running jacket womens - most versatile
Comfortable, breathable, and weather-resistant enough, we love running in the Brooks Canopy.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Best for Lightweight Comfort


Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover - Women's


73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Breathability 9.0
  • Weather Resistance 5.0
  • Comfort and Mobility 9.0
  • Portability 8.0
  • Features 4.0
Weight: 4.1 oz | Number of pockets: 0
REASONS TO BUY
Comfortable dual-material design
Great breathability
REASONS TO AVOID
Less weather protection
Not many features

As it's a newly released version of one of our old favorites, we were excited to check out this year's Patagonia Airshed Pro. We found a fantastic mix of old and new in this product, and its comfortable design quickly helped it stand out from the pack. We love how the sleeves and hood are made of a super-soft, stretchy material while the torso keeps you protected from the elements. We also love how the two-way zip allows for extra ventilation. Its thoughtful design makes this jacket one of our favorites for comfort.

This jacket doesn't hold up very well in the rain since it is comprised of soft, stretchy fabrics. The Patagonia Airshed doesn't have any pockets or added features. Despite being somewhat basic in design, it doesn't lack comfort. We truly never want to take it off. This might not be the first choice for runners in the Pacific Northwest, but if you're looking for a cozy layer for chilly days or a light layer for warmer days, the Airshed Pro will be a great choice.

Read more: Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover - Women's review

running jacket womens - best for lightweight comfort
When worn unzipped, the airflow is exceptional.
Credit: Ally Meller

Best for Long-Distance Racing in the Rain


Patagonia Storm Racer - Women's


57
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Breathability 4.0
  • Weather Resistance 9.0
  • Comfort and Mobility 5.0
  • Portability 5.0
  • Features 6.0
Weight: 6.3 oz | Number of pockets: 0
REASONS TO BUY
Bombproof weather protection
Fits over hydration pack or vest
REASONS TO AVOID
Less breathable
Limited uses
Expensive

The super unique Patagonia Storm Racer jacket seemingly solves a problem that we've struggled with for ages. This waterproof layer is meant to fit over your running pack and is complete with two front zippers to help you access your gear. While we don't imagine needing this every day, we recognize that if the rain is really coming down on race day, you need something to get you through. Despite not being what the average runner might need, this jacket is innovative and we appreciated the design for those who need it the most.

Though not exceptionally breathable, this jacket's dual front zippers do allow for some ventilation. And while it's good at what it was designed for, it is not very versatile beyond that. It's definitely a niche piece — and an expensive one at that. That being said, if you're an ultra junkie awaiting a stormy day, this was made for you.

Read more: Patagonia Storm Racer - Women's review

running jacket womens - the storm racer snaps open at the bottom for increased mobility and...
The Storm Racer snaps open at the bottom for increased mobility and ease of putting on/ taking off.
Credit: Lauren DeLaunay

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
80
Patagonia Houdini Jacket - Women's
patagonia houdini jacket for women running jacket
$109
Best Buy Award
80
Smartwool Merino Sport Ultra Light Hoody - Women's
smartwool merino sport ultra light hoody for women running jacket review
$130
Editors' Choice Award
76
Brooks Canopy - Women's
brooks canopy for women running jacket review
$130
Top Pick Award
73
Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover - Women's
patagonia airshed pro pullover for women running jacket review
$130
Top Pick Award
72
Salomon Bonatti Cross Wind - Women's
salomon bonatti cross wind for women running jacket
$100
70
Salomon Agile Full-Zip Hoodie - Women's
salomon agile full-zip hoodie for women running jacket review
$100
Best Buy Award
66
Lululemon Mist Over Windbreaker
lululemon mist over windbreaker running jacket womens
$138
63
Vuori Outdoor Trainer Shell Jacket - Women's
vuori outdoor trainer shell jacket for women running jacket
$118
63
Lululemon Fast and Free Windbreaker - Women's
lululemon fast and free windbreaker for women running jacket review
$198
57
Patagonia Storm Racer - Women's
patagonia storm racer for women running jacket review
$269
Top Pick Award
54
C9 Champion Women's Full Zip Cardio Jacket
c9 champion women's full zip cardio jacket running jacket
$31
53
Nike Essential Jacket - Women's
nike essential jacket for women running jacket review
$90

running jacket womens - foggy days call for a light shell to help make running as...
Foggy days call for a light shell to help make running as comfortable as it can be.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Why You Should Trust Us


Testing running jackets might be our dream job. It requires strict attention to detail and the bravery to lace up our kicks regardless of the unappealing wind, rain, or snow. We've taken the time to truly analyze the architecture of each product and look at each metric with fresh, unforgiving eyes. We get outside and run through it all when the weather turns from bluebird days to stormy and seductive. Our testing plan always includes multiple runs in a range of climates, from steep, uphill runs in the sweltering heat of San Luis Obispo, CA, to winter track days in West Seattle, WA. After months of hands-on testing, we've identified our favorite jackets and are excited to help you find the perfect shell for your journeys.

Our running jacket testing is divided into five rating metrics:
  • Breathability (30% of overall score weighting)
  • Weather Resistance (20% weighting)
  • Comfort and Mobility (20% weighting)
  • Portability (15% weighting)
  • Features (15% weighting)

running jacket womens - we went searching for wet weather in which to test our jackets...
We went searching for wet weather in which to test our jackets. Here, the Vuori Outdoor Trainer Shell is putting put through its paces.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

This review is brought to you by lead testers Ally Arcuri and Lauren DeLaunay. Ally is an expert in running jackets and is no stranger to running in the cold, having grown up in South Lake Tahoe, CA. In fact, she says that some of her best mountainous runs have been on days that offer a bit of a refreshing drizzle. Ally lives on the Central Coast of California so much of her current testing takes place on foggy coastal bluffs. In addition to her excessive trail and road running habits, Ally earned her Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology from Cal State Fullerton. Combined with her 200-hour Yoga Teaching certificate, this degree comes in handy when surveying the biomechanical prowess of different running gear.

Lauren is also an expert when it comes to running jackets. Primarily living out of a tent cabin in Yosemite Valley's Camp 4, she spends a lot of time on the trails. Bouncing between the high Rockies, the canyons of Utah, and California's granite walls, she gets to test gear in a wide range of conditions.

The upper of the Vuori running jacket felt a bit heavier and bouncy...
The upper of the Vuori running jacket felt a bit heavier and bouncy as we tackled flowing downhill sections.
The light elastic finish of the Houdini&#039;s cuffs allow for extra...
The light elastic finish of the Houdini's cuffs allow for extra comfort and security.
We love the half zip feature on the Airshed on days when we can&#039;t...
We love the half zip feature on the Airshed on days when we can't figure out if it's hot or cold.

Analysis and Test Results


It only takes one big rainstorm or an accidental run in the stifling heat to realize the importance of the correct layers for every occasion. If you're like us, having the right piece of gear for various climates is crucial. We take our workouts very seriously and refuse to let some inclement weather derail our predetermined plans. We know that comfort is essential to running performance and overall well-being, so we need our jackets to be not only bombproof but also cozy, breathable, and chock-full of features to make our lives easier. To find the best running jacket out there, we identified five features to use as scoring metrics: breathability, weather resistance, comfort and mobility, portability, and features. We painstakingly tested each metric to determine which jackets deserve a place in our closets and hearts for the long term.

running jacket womens - one of our favorites when it comes to versatility, the brooks canopy...
One of our favorites when it comes to versatility, the Brooks Canopy performs well on road and trail runs alike.
Credit: Ally Arcuri


Value


In the early stages of our product testing, we do our best to ignore the price tag and focus on each product's performance. We want to know which jackets are genuinely the best, regardless of how much they might break the bank. We know that price is important to nearly every buyer, so we also want to discuss value. We analyze how well this gear holds up after a bout of abuse (the simulation of general wear and tear) and how often they will be useful. We don't mind spending more on gear that can be used in various scenarios.

We bestowed our top honor for value on the very deserving Patagonia Houdini this time around. This wallet-friendly shell is lightweight, incredibly packable, and ready for adventures and the abuse that comes with them. The Houdini is the shell that we recommend to all of our friends looking for a technical piece of gear to tote for additional protection.

running jacket womens - behold the high-scoring, and affordable patagonia houdini. this...
Behold the high-scoring, and affordable Patagonia Houdini. This jacket would be one of our favorites even if it cost more.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Sometimes, a particular product trait is essential for you. For instance, the more expensive Patagonia Storm Racer might be worth it if you're gearing up for a huge ultramarathon in a place known for rain. The Vuori Outdoor Trainer Shell Jacket is a less lightweight and packable option that offers great rain resistance with a side of fashion if those are your priorities.

running jacket womens - we were impressed by the weather resistance and style of the...
We were impressed by the weather resistance and style of the heavier-than-average Vuori Outdoor Trainer Shell.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Breathability


Whether you're just getting into the game or are a seasoned ultramarathon runner, running is going to make you work up a sweat, which is why your choice of layers is so incredibly important. In fact, breathability makes up 30% of each jacket's overall score.


Breathability describes a garment's ability to allow air to flow freely through it. When you're in motion, your body sweats to stay cool. For the sweat to begin to evaporate, you need air. If you've ever seen anyone exercise in a trash bag, you know that the less air is allowed to your skin, the more you'll sweat. We don't want to run in a trash bag nor a plastic-y outer layer that doesn't allow our sweat to flow freely. We want our skin to stay as cool and dry as possible, which requires unique and skillfully engineered materials.

running jacket womens - the fabric of the canopy felt breezy before it even occurred to us...
The fabric of the Canopy felt breezy before it even occurred to us to unzip it and utilize its snap closures.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

We found jackets with a wide array of breathability scores during our testing. The most breathable jackets were often ones with thoughtfully-placed panels, like the Smartwool Merino Sport Ultra-Light and the Patagonia Airshed Pro, both of which have panels of different material along the back and under the arms to help air move through the places where you heat up the most. We often find that breathability comes at the cost of weather protection, which we considered while assigning scores in this metric.

running jacket womens - the breathable pack panel on the smartwool merino sport is a major...
The breathable pack panel on the Smartwool Merino Sport is a major asset when it comes to regulating body temperatures.
Credit: Ally Meller

Throughout our testing, we found a range of breathability scores. Lightweight products made of inherently breathable materials, like the Smartwool Merino Sport Ultra Light and the Patagonia Airshed Pro, land at the top of the list. These options do their best to protect from wet weather, but they seem to prioritize unparalleled breathability.

running jacket womens - the patagonia airshed pro might be the most breathable jacket we&#039;ve...
The Patagonia Airshed Pro might be the most breathable jacket we've ever tested.
Credit: Ally Meller

Another way to allow for ventilation in a running jacket is to punch well-placed holes and place grommets in them. This acts in just the way you'd expect — the air can travel in and out, but if the holes are under the arms, for example, wet weather has a tough time infiltrating. This venting style tends to be our second favorite in terms of breathability but shines when the weather turns downright arctic. We find that breathable materials are the best way to help regulate body temperature while on the move. We love the half-zip option of the Patagonia Airshed. You can always increase airflow by wearing your zipper slightly undone, which we found comfortable while running in the Lululemon Fast and Free jacket.

running jacket womens - the form-fitting design of the lululemon fast and free can be easily...
The form-fitting design of the Lululemon Fast and Free can be easily vented by unzipping the main zipper.
Credit: Ally Meller

We love how the Brooks Canopy and Salomon Bonatti Cross Wind both utilize snap closures beneath their zippers. This allows runners to unzip their jackets for airflow, but still keep them "closed." In our opinion, this is an under-utilized design feature that we have grown to love in our running jackets.

running jacket womens - the snaps allow you to unzip the jacket for airflow without having...
The snaps allow you to unzip the jacket for airflow without having the fabric flap behind you as you run.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Weather Resistance


If we had it our way, we'd only ever have to run under clear skies on the beach in 65-degree temperatures. But everyone has to put up with less than ideal conditions occasionally (or frequently, depending on your locality). Whether that's wind, rain, snow, or cold temps, jackets are meant to protect us from these elements. We took one for the team here, over and over again, and ran through it all to determine which running jackets offer protection and which are more style-minded.


As you might imagine, a fabric that can block wind and rain is typically not as good at letting air out, which means that we're often compromising between weather resistance and breathability. A few of our most weather-resistant layers do indeed struggle to find this balance.

running jacket womens - though hoods are not always our favorite feature to utilize during...
Though hoods are not always our favorite feature to utilize during our runs, we love having them as an option for wet weather.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The Patagonia Storm Racer is one of our most weather-resistant jackets, but it's so burly it suffers in breathability. The Smartwool Merino Sport Ultra Light and Patagonia Airshed Pro are significantly better in terms of breathability, but neither can withstand hours of consistent, heavy rain. This is the camp that the Brooks Canopy falls into as well. Besides just wind and rain resistance, we also assess each jacket in cold temperatures, although the vast majority of the jackets we tested provide little to no insulation.

running jacket womens - we love this small and useful pocket on the inside of the...
We love this small and useful pocket on the inside of the uninsulated Vuori Shell.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Comfort and Mobility


We have chosen to give comfort and mobility a prominent place in our review. During countless months of testing jackets, we've come to learn a few things about comfort. First and foremost, ill-fitting or poorly designed clothing can cause chafing and sore spots that are guaranteed to ruin your workout and slow you down on race day. Second, we realize how much comfort increases our enthusiasm for running, thereby helping us get out the door and get our runs in.


Mobility is also crucial in having a good time while you're out laying down the miles. If your layer doesn't move and stretch with you, you'll pay more attention to your clothes than the rocks underfoot, the beautiful scenery, or the rhythm of your breath.

running jacket womens - though not the highest scoring jacket over all, the structure and...
Though not the highest scoring jacket over all, the structure and build of the C9 Champion Cardio Jacket is super comfortable and allows for great freedom of movement.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The first thing we started evaluating for each jacket was the materials. Most of the jackets we tested are either nylon or polyester, even though they have a wide range of textures. Our favorite jackets for comfort are the Smartwool Merino Sport and Patagonia Airshed Pro, both of which have super luxurious interiors. Both of these lightweight layers offer a bit of stretch, allowing them to be the perfect partners for adventurous days in moderate climates.

running jacket womens - this smartwool merino sport fits like a comfortable, water-resistant...
This Smartwool Merino Sport fits like a comfortable, water-resistant glove.
Credit: Ally Meller

With some jackets, we found that their slightly baggy style of fit provided excellent comfort and mobility. With other jackets, we determined that their 4-way stretch and silky-smooth textiles created the comfort. Even though the C9 Champion Cardio Jacket didn't score super highly amongst its competitors, its form-fitting and soft material made it a great choice for finding comfort in. We love the 4-way stretch fabric of the Lululemon Mist Over and the Salomon Bonatti Cross Wind, to name two of our favorites.

running jacket womens - the extra stretch of the bonatti cross wind adds supreme comfort...
The extra stretch of the Bonatti Cross Wind adds supreme comfort that some of our other top contenders lack.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Portability


At GearLab, we're known for getting a little weight crazy. We put everything we test on the scale and debate every single ounce. But let's be real: each ounce doesn't always matter that much. Out for a day hike? Pick the comfort of a pack over its weight. Looking for a warm winter coat? Insulation is typically more important than ounces. After months of testing this collection of running jackets, however, we came to a different, runner-oriented conclusion — ounces matter. However, so does packability. You might be willing to carry a few extra ounces, but if your layer is annoying to stow when you need it off, you're likely to be annoyed. For this metric, we paid attention to both of these aspects.


No matter who you are, running requires a bit of work, especially compared to other activities. Because of this, you'll find yourself noticing the weight of your garments more during a run than you would during an evening stroll or even a cross-country mountain bike ride. We scrutinized each jacket's weight for this review because we know that you might be using these pieces in races and during events where time really matters. The range in this review is surprising. Our lightest jackets came in under three ounces, while our heaviest ones weighed nearly nine ounces. The unsurprising element here, though — the warmer jackets typically weighed in higher than those that offer less insulation.


We often face various temperatures and weather patterns during any given run, especially in mountainous environments. We might start in a jacket and then warm up and take it off, only to have the wind pick up and for us to need the jacket once again. With all of the possible variations in conditions, you want a jacket that can stow away easily when no longer needed. For years, we have crumpled our jackets up on runs and lumpily stuffed them into our packs. We have left jackets on trail signs and under rocks. We have tied our jackets around our waists only to come home covered in ticks because the fabric dragged across tall grass for hours. Quite a few of the jackets we tested fold into their own pockets for easy storage, a feature that we wildly appreciate. Even the ones that do not specifically state that they can be folded into their own pockets can be stored that way, for the most part.

running jacket womens - a quick glance at how some of our high scorers look when stuffed...
A quick glance at how some of our high scorers look when stuffed into their own pockets.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

We were impressed with the Brooks Canopy in this department. This lightweight model has a hidden mesh pocket that you can stuff the jacket into, which transforms into its own backpack. This is a unique solution that lets us forget about tying our jackets around our waists. This creative feature is excellent for shorter runs but was less practical for trail runs with our hydration vests. We love the creative handheld style of the Lululemon Mist Over jacket when it is bundled up. Not only does it have a stretchy band that effortlessly hugs your hand for storage, but the outer shell of its stuff sack has a pocket for you to stuff easy-to-access goodies.

We might not use the hand band in practice, but we do enjoy it as a...
We might not use the hand band in practice, but we do enjoy it as a creative alternative.
We also enjoy the outer pocket on the Mist Over when its all bundled...
We also enjoy the outer pocket on the Mist Over when its all bundled up.

The Patagonia Airshed Pro is another portable favorite. It comes with its own stuff sacks that take up a fist's amount of space in your pack and weighs in on the lower end of the spectrum, making it that much more packable. The Patagonia Houdini is another jacket that weighs next to nothing and can be packed down to an impressively small bundle. If portability is an attribute that speaks to you, we recommend one of the jackets with its own stuff sack.

running jacket womens - the impressively packable houdini weighs around 3 ounces and packs...
The impressively packable Houdini weighs around 3 ounces and packs up to be only slightly larger than a pair of sunglasses.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Features


Months ago, when we were making our picks for which jackets we'd test hands-on, we found many products that claimed to be made for running. We learned that true running jackets feature a few critical features designed specifically for running. We used this scoring category to rate each jacket on how well-designed the small details are.


One of the more important safety features in a running jacket is visibility. For night running through town, reflective stripes or logos are crucial to keeping you safe. They allow drivers to see you, something that's especially important when you can't see them first. Therefore, we gave higher scores to jackets with ample reflectivity, especially on the back. The most visible jackets we tested are the Smartwool Merino Sport and Lululemon Fast and Free. The Salomon Bonatti Cross Wind is another jacket that utilizes reflectivity in attractive yet safety-forward ways.

running jacket womens - salomon incorporated reflective logos for added safety.
Salomon incorporated reflective logos for added safety.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Another detail we look for in these products is unique storage solutions, though we rated these details more heavily in the portability metric. Running may seem like a carefree sport, but when you're taking it seriously, the items needed to come along for the ride add up. We prefer zip-closure chest pockets to side pockets to minimize bounce. Our favorite pockets on the jackets that we have tested recently are the low back pockets on the Lululemon jackets, namely the Lululemon Mist Over.

running jacket womens - the back pocket of the mist over by lululemon is great for storing...
The back pocket of the Mist Over by Lululemon is great for storing additional items that you might want, but won't need to grab super quickly.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Because of its sleek cut and svelte fit, the Lululemon Fast and Free jacket's pockets are some of our favorites. Since the gear is held close to your body, it cuts down on bounce and subsequent annoyance. This jacket has a back panel split into three segments for stashing nutrition on the go. We love this thoughtful feature that allows this jacket to cross over from running to cycling and beyond.

running jacket womens - the covert back pockets on the fast and free by lululemon.
The covert back pockets on the Fast and Free by Lululemon.
Credit: Ally Meller

Thumb loops are a great feature to find in a running jacket. We love the cozy, snuggly sensation of keeping our wrists and palms warm. Before testing this collection of popular jackets, we would have said that thumb holes were non-negotiable — we needed them…

running jacket womens - the soft and comfortable thumb holes of the c9 champion jacket are...
The soft and comfortable thumb holes of the C9 Champion jacket are extra cozy.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Upon testing so many high-quality jackets, though, we learned that it isn't always the thumb holes that set the sleeves apart from their competition. We love the length and fit of the Salomon Bonatti Cross Wind and the Patagonia Airshed Pro. Both jackets offer a gentle elastic at the cuff, which keeps sleeves in place without thumb holes. These designs might not be as cozy, but no one is really running in drizzly weather to be cozy anyway.

running jacket womens - we love how the elastic on the sleeves of the houdini helps keep the...
We love how the elastic on the sleeves of the Houdini helps keep the sleeves in place wherever you want them.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

You may be ambivalent about having a hood, but if bad weather comes to play, you'll probably be glad to have one. On the other hand, many of our reviewers feel that a hood is impractical, both for comfort and heat management. Because of this, we like how easily the hood on the Brooks Canopy folds away when head protection is unnecessary. We like the stretch and comfort of the hoods on the Patagonia Airshed Pro, though it's not great for rain. We also love the comfortable hood on the Salomon Bonatti. The hood of the Bonatti has a liner that secures the hood to your forehead. We still didn't love running in it, but this small detail certainly aided in the functionality of this hood.

running jacket womens - when the weather turns nasty, we love knowing we have these portable...
When the weather turns nasty, we love knowing we have these portable and comfortable jackets are in our packs.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Conclusion


Running can get complicated, despite its superficial simplicity. That's why we did this deep dive into the world of lightweight running jackets — so you don't have to. The top-notch running layers are here to make the tough days easier, the cold days more bearable, and the windy days more comfortable. We spent months testing these pieces, running in the galeforce wind in Patagonia, the unrelenting sunshine in California, and the pounding rain in Washington. We evaluated each jacket's ability to breathe without compromising weather protection and judged their comfort in a wide range of circumstances. We wanted to know how many features they included for runners while maintaining a low weight and easy packability. No matter what sort of piece you're looking for, from insulated winter layers to lightweight alpine shells, we've got you covered. We hope that our research helps you find your perfect running mate.

Ally Arcuri & Lauren DeLaunay


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