Keeping the “just right” running temperature when running in frigid weather is a fine balance of protection, insulation, breathability, moisture management, mobility and adjusting on the fly. If you’re shivering through the snowy miles this winter, zip up a quality jacket as your top layer to stay warm. These eight high-tech options should help runners easily ward off winter chills.
Sitka Vapor SD Jacket | $300
Sitka deigned this whole jacket meticulously, especially the hood, where they must have put in a lot of thought, knowing that when runners pull a hood over their head it is out of urgent need — when the use of the single-pull scrunch to secure it for a close fit and the ability to see peripherally is crucial. Even though it is super light and fits easily into a hydration vest or other convenient pocket, the jacket features zippered side pockets, a rare find in ShakeDry jackets. The attention to details is outstanding. It’s also worth noting the substantial front zip with chin protection. The fit is standard but the arms come in on the short side.
Craft Lumen Sub Z Running Jacket | $180
Craft, with its hard-earned expertise in Nordic skiing, really knows how to keep crucial body parts warm while simultaneously managing moisture for optimal temperature regulation during strenuous physical exertion. The Lumen Sub Z, with an insulated torso, does a fine job focusing on core warmth and preventing overheating by venting heat and wicking moisture with strategically-placed soft, breathable fabric in the arms and back. The generous arm length and functional thumb loops, zippered pockets, and form fit are also welcome on frigid runs.
Ortovox 2.5L Civetta Jacket | $315
Ortovox has tested the Civetta under some extreme conditions with equally extreme athletes and pared it down to just what you want and need. Given its minimalist qualities, this jacket is top notch when it comes to delivering packable protection from the elements without skimping on key features, such as a waterproof zipper front with chin protection and the best hood in the line-up — one that includes a wool and elastic inner cuff and visor. If you run cold, you’ll want to wear a hefty base layer or add in some mid-layer insulation because the Civetta is there merely as a lightweight shell that will keep you dry from the outside with laudable breathability so you can stay sweat-free from the inside out.
Arc’teryx Norvan SL Insulated Hoody | $500
Arc’teryx’s insulated, lightweight, hooded, waterproof, and packable jacket will get you through the gnarliest of frigid, wet and windy winter conditions. Made with the lightest of technical materials, the Norvan SL combines lofty insulation and breathable waterproof qualities. The jacket has a trim cut and a bulk-defying design that engenders cozy, parka-like characteristics. The hood can be snapped down when temps warm, but the jacket, lacking any venting, could be overkill in any but the most inclement, bone-chilling runs where it shines as a dependable, insulated shield.
Cotopaxi Monte Hybrid Jacket | $180
This jacket kind of taps into the Millennial market in a number of ways: It is versatile, fashionable, eco-friendly, well-priced and young-looking. It uses zoned construction with a quilted, insulated torso and stretch fleece in the sleeves and side panels. And yet it isn’t so sporty or edgy-looking that it won’t also pass for casual — especially with its plastic zipper and zip side and inner chest pockets. The collar is, unfortunately, quite modest and leaves you reaching for a Buff or neck warmer — plus the cut is generally short at both the sleeves and hem, which helps it as a mid-layer but not so much as a shell. Size up if you want to use it as an outer layer.
Goldwin Light Warmer Jacket | $330
Goldwin’s light, breathable jacket provides insulation as either a midlayer or outer jacket that will accelerate your warm-up and moderate your core temperature without cooking you because of its airy, thermo-regulating qualities. This jacket is durable and manages to be both wind-resistant and breathable — preventing overheating while maintaining a comfortable degree of warmth, plus the mesh lining helps to retain heat when you need it, without any bulkiness. Runners can use this as a technical jacket when it is dry outside, but the lack of hood and water- or snow-resistant qualities limits the number of days you’d want to wear it on a run without covering it with a more burly shell to protect against precipitation.
Tracksmith NDO Jacket | $300
This stretch-woven, merino-lined bulwark of a coat bestows “I’ve got this” confidence in the face of biting, blustery, bone-chilling weather. Thus the name, NDO for “no days off.” The combination of technical fabric materials blend for a wind- and moisture-blocking shield that is rugged and burly. Other than the loose, boxer-robe-like hood, the fit is athletic and trim, and the wooly inner fabric is soft and features all the desired qualities of wicking, odor minimization, and temperature regulation. And then there is Tracksmith’s fine attention to detailing — especially the bold, reflective, white back sash to alert those approaching from the rear.
Decathlon Kalenji Run Warm+ Jacket | $40
How can this be priced so low? If you want an attractive, functional, performance running sweatshirt with all the bells and whistles for what you’d pay for a tech t-shirt, the Warm+ is an unbelievable deal. It lacks weather proofing so you’d only use it on non-inclement days or as a mid-layer, but it is both warm and highly breathable, thanks to its wicking fabric and hood. Other features include thumb loops, zippered pockets, mesh in high-output zones, reflectivity, and a functional front zip with a weather-resistant guard. The form fit is svelte enough to easily accommodate a shell on rainy or snowy runs.
Active Pass Members can find more detailed reviews of each of these jackets on Triathlete’s Gear Section.