Many a winter run has been postponed because of plunging temperatures. While it’s perfectly okay to take a day or two off when the cold is really biting, you don’t want to slack off too much on your winter training – you still have to be ready for your spring races. Therefore, a good cold weather running jacket is a must-have for runners.
Cold weather running jackets are different from other running jackets. They are made with thicker fabric, often with extra insulation around your core.
For something less heavy and more versatile, check out our article on the best lightweight running jackets.
We’ve reviewed over 20+ cold weather running jackets to find the best available now. Read on to learn about what to look for in a winter running jacket and to see our top picks.
Cold Weather Running Jacket Buyer’s Guide
We all know that it is important to stay warm while running in cold weather. At the same time, we don’t want to be too hot and sweaty. That’s why it’s important to find a cold weather running jacket that provides the comfort that you need against the cold, but also gives you the flexibility to run easily.
Soft Shell vs Hard Shell
A hardshell jacket is waterproof and windproof, and normally has a hood. It can also be insulated. The idea is to provide protection against the rain and snow in a lightweight, waterproof, yet durable package. It’s known as a “hard shell” because the fabric does not stretch very much. Often, it has a distinct “crinkly” sound—a hard shell jacket makes much more noise than a soft shell jacket, and it is durable.
By contrast, a soft shell jacket is a water-resistant jacket that provides some protection from light snow and rain. It is important to note the difference between waterproof and water-resistant. Some jackets can occasionally feature waterproof breathable technology, but in general, water-resistant is the way to go if you also want breathability.
Soft shells are great for running, as they are breathable and flexible, and they can be great as an insulating midlayer under a waterproof hard shell on especially cold days. Soft shells do offer water resistance, so if it’s a light rain or snow, you’ll be just fine. However, for a serious downpour, you’d likely want a hard shell.
Thin vs Thick Jacket
Obviously, as the word “thick” implies, a thick jacket is going to be warmer, but at the same time, it is going to be more cumbersome, giving you less freedom to move. If the weather doesn’t get extremely cold where you live, a thinner jacket is likely going to be the better option, as it will be more breathable and flexible.
However, there may be instances where the weather requires a thicker jacket. Knowing the winter climate you usually run in will assist you in selecting the best jacket for you.
You might want to consider what the temperature is normally like in the colder months, and how often it tends to rain or snow in your area. North Carolina in the winter likely will not require a thick winter jacket, whereas Wisconsin definitely will!
Finally, don’t forget about pockets. It’s important to know how many pockets you need for your gear. Most jackets come with pockets, but some do not.
If you need to store items in jacket pockets, you need to know how many pockets there are as well as if they are zippered. You don’t want your phone falling out during your run or getting wet just because the pocket wasn’t zippered.
Common Questions about Cold Weather Running Jackets
What kind of running jacket do I need for winter?
A lot of this depends on the temperature and conditions, but generally speaking for a brisk 30 degree day, you want a medium thickness jacket made of moisture-wicking material. It’s important that it wicks moisture because you’ll still sweat a little even in the cold.
Make sure it has a full or half zipper. This will you let control your body temperature better by zipping the jacket up or down. You’ll probably want it zipped up when running downhill but unzipped a little when running up a hill.
If the weather is rainy or snowy, use a hard shell jacket that is either waterproof or water-resistant. This will help keep you dry. A hood is useful here as well.
Do running jackets keep you warm?
Yes! Although you might not think so when you try one on in a store. Winter running jackets are thinner than most other jackets on purpose. Because once you start running, you’ll quickly warm up and overheat in a thicker coat.
You should also pair your running jacket with a good long-sleeve baselayer made from wicking material. Layers will keep you warmer and better regulate your body temperature.
Can you run in a winter coat?
This is not a good idea if you are thinking of throwing on your regular winter coat when you go out for a run. Your standard winter coat is too thick and heavy to be useful for running.
You’ll quickly overheat. And a heavy, loose-fitting jacket will feel uncomfortable as you run.
How We Chose These Jackets
When picking out these jackets to review, we looked for quality products made by reputable brands and put them to the test. Winter running jackets are one of the more expensive items you need to buy to go running, so we wanted to make sure these were durable and would last for several seasons (at a minimum!).
There are a few types of winter jackets that are made differently depending on when and where you run. We found a mix of jackets for different temperatures as well as for wet and dry conditions.
Finally, all the jackets we reviewed have zippers to regulate your body temperature and at least a few pockets so you can store essentials like your phone or gloves.
1. Salomon Agile Softshell Jacket
If you are looking for a versatile jacket for both running, cross country skiing, and casual wear, the Salomon Agile Softshell is a good choice.
This super-lightweight jacket has wind protection in the front to keep you warm. But a breathable, mesh back prevents overheating. While this jacket markets itself as a cross-country skiing jacket – its versatility makes it perfect for cold weather running.
It comes with many features for water resistance and moisture-wicking. Reflective details help you be seen at night or during early morning runs.
- Soft feel but still weather resistant
- Warm and lightweight
- Freedom of movement especially around arms and shoulders
- No hood
- Salomon clothing tends to run small
Best Men’s Winter Running Jacket
2. Arc’teryx Argus Jacket
This lightweight jacket features a nylon outer shell, which is water- and wind-resistant.
A Durable Water Repellent finish and Burly Double Weave fabric increase the durability and protectiveness of this layer.
The soft inner layer keeps you comfortable as you run. An underarm gusset keeps the jacket in place as you move, preventing it from riding up and letting cold in.
Other wind- and water-repellent features include a Storm Hood that’s compatible with helmets for winter triathlon training or cross-training, and a wind flap to keep the breeze out.
Three zippered pockets—two on the sides and one internally—offer more than enough storage space for nutrition items and other valuables you need to carry with you.
A slim athletic fit allows for freedom of movement while keeping you protected from the elements. If you would like to layer this jacket over other items, you may need to order a size larger.
- Durable, water and wind-resistant fabric
- 3 zippered pockets
- Adjustable hood
- Allows for freedom of movement
- The slim fit may feel tight if you want to layer this jacket over other items
Best Women’s Winter Running Jacket
3. New Balance Heatloft Athletic Jacket
This women’s jacket is pretty but also effective against the cold on those winter runs. It’s athletic enough to wear comfortably while exercising, but also casual enough to wear out to meet friends.
The material is plush and soft, with an athletic, slim fit that’s flattering and comfortable. The back hem is curved and lowered to provide more coverage and protection. It has a quilted pattern to it and comes in a range of colorways.
New Balance technology helps to retain your body heat, so you stay warm in any type of weather. A hood, thumbholes, and banded cuffs help to keep the wind out. You’ll also find zippered hand pockets for extra warmth.
It runs slightly small and you should order a size up if you want a spacious fit or to layer clothes underneath it. It’s also not water-resistant, so it won’t keep you dry in rainy weather.
- Flattering athletic fit
- Warm, quilted stretch fabric
- Banded cuffs and thumbholes
- Zipped hand pockets
- This jacket may not hold up in rain
Best Lightweight Cold Weather Jacket
4. ASICS Winter Accelerate Jacket
The ASICS Winter Accelerate jacket will keep you dry in cold and wet rainstorms. The outer shell has a water-repellent finish and every seam is sealed to protect against the cold and rain. For enhanced safety at night, the jacket has 360-degree reflective detailing on the front and back for full visibility.
While the ASICS Accelerate is lightweight and breathable, it still provides plenty of warmth in cold weather. The removable hood provides extra protection and flexibility in unpredictable weather conditions.
The front zipper is water-resistant, and the cuffs are tapered to keep out cold weather. The side zipper pockets provide rain-protected storage for your belongings.
The Accelerate jacket should keep you warm on cooler days, it works well as an outerlayer on the coldest days when paired with a thick mid-layer.
- 360-degree reflective print
- Hood for keeping out the rain
- Not warm enough to wear alone on extremely cold runs
Best Merino Wool Winter Jacket
5. SmartWool Smartloft 60 and 120 Jackets
These jackets by Smartwool combine warm merino wool with an insulated wind blocker for warmth and versatility. It’s ideal for running on the coldest days.
The women’s is the Smartloft 60 while the men’s is the Smartloft 120. Both jackets are very similar, the main difference being the amount of insulation in the front panel. The men’s has more, meaning a warmer jacket. But both are well-suited for running the cold weather.
These jackets have a merino lining that keeps you warm while allowing you to move freely. Insulated panels on the front add extra warmth and a layer of wind and water resistance to the jacket.
The jacket has multiple pockets to stash gear. The men’s has two zippered hand pockets plus a zippered chest pocket with an outlet for a headphone cord. There are also two interior pockets without zippers. The women’s has two zippered hand pockets plus an internal pocket.
The best part of merino wool is that it resists odor. You can wear it year after year and it won’t develop any stinky “runner” smells. Merino wool is also super-soft but keeps you warm even when wet.
For the coldest days, you can even use these jackets as a mid-layer underneath another shell. So you can get merino wool warmth with core protection, and a shell on top to keep out wind and snow.
- Wind-proof and insulated around the core
- Merino wool resists odor
- Stretchy fit for good freedom of movement
- Soft, plush, warm
- May provide too much insulation in milder temperatures
Best Reflective Winter Running Jacket
6. ASICS Lite-Show Winter Jacket
This jacket combines the warmth of a winter running jacket with reflective details that make it perfect for early morning or evening runs.
The Lite-Show jacket is made with a soft outer layer that’s thick enough to keep out the cold. But it still allows for good movement. It will wick moisture quickly while you sweat. Thumbholes in the sleeves add extra warmth.
This jacket has reflective elements on both the front and back, as well as on both sleeves. You’ll be seen easily when running in the dark.
The Lite-Show jacket as two front pockets to store items, and a smaller internal pocket to store a phone or other more valuable items.
- Thick, warm outer layer
- Lots of reflective detail
- Reasonably priced
- Not as wind- and rain-resistant as other jackets
Top SUGOi Cold Weather Jacket
7. SUGOi Firewall 180 Jacket
The SUGOi Firewall jacket features wind-resistance fabric and an adjustable hood for maximum protection from the wind. It is a comfortable piece of apparel that makes use of a warm and wind/rain-proof design.
You’ll stay warm on the run without feeling weighed down. The jacket’s outer shell is lightweight and fused with S-Tek Lite insert for extra moisture-wicking power.
This jacket also has two hand pockets and a smaller, internal pocket. A tall collar offers increased protection from the elements.
- Lightweight design combines outer shell with a moisture-wicking lining
- Wind-proof, water-resistant
Top Nike Winter Running Jacket for Men
8. Nike Therma-FIT Repel
Men who enjoy Nike products will like the Therma-FIT Repel jacket for winter running. The fabric is water-repellent, so it would be suitable for running in light rain as well as cold.
The material uses Nike’s Therma-FIT technology to use your own bodyweight for insulation, keeping you cozy in cold weather. To make it even warmer, synthetic insulation has been added throughout the jacket and elasticated cuffs keep the wind out.
Small perforations allow for moisture to escape, so you won’t overheat when wearing this jacket. There’s also an adjustable hood, zippered hand pockets, and reflective detailing for increased visibility.
- Water-repellent fabric
- Adjustable hood
- Elasticated cuffs
- The jacket may be less breathable than some others
Top Nike Winter Running Jacket for Women
9. Nike Therma-FIT Run Division
The women’s Nike Therma-FIT Run division Jacket is warm enough to be an outer layer but light enough to be a midlayer if you need more warmth.
Nike’s Therma-FIT technology uses your own body heat to keep you insulated. The mesh vent at the back of the jacket allows for maximum breathability even in the cold, to prevent you from sweating inside the jacket.
For better coverage against the cold, the back hem is slightly lengthened. This also creates a flattering cut. Reflective elements on the jacket help you to be more visible in low-light weather conditions.
There are two drop-in side pockets that allow you to carry some nutritional items with you. They are not zippered, so you may not be able to carry valuables.
- Mesh-lined venting at the back
- 2 drop-in pockets
- The pockets are not zippered
Best Windproof Winter Running Jacket
10. Arc’teryx Trino Jacket
The Arc’teryx Trino jacket features GORE Windstopper technology for a windproof design that will keep you warm in windy, damp weather.
The GORE Windstopper fabric is on the chest and arms where you need the most protection. Arc’teryx’s Atreus fabric is used in the rest of the jacket. This material keeps you warm while maintaining plenty of breathability and moisture-wicking qualities with a flexible design.
While the jacket lacks side pockets, it does have an out-of-the-way back pocket to store some gear. An internal media pocket is a safe place to store your phone. It has a headphone wire hole if you want to listen to music while you run.
For a custom fit, the Trino Jacket is adjustable above the waist to secure the jacket and keep out the wind.
- Windproof and water-resistant
- GORE Windstopper fabric for max wind protection
- Hoodless design
Why Trust Us
Ben has been running for over 15 years in all types of weather from hot and humid to below freezing with wind and rain. He has tested a range of gear, including the jackets, to figure out what works best in what conditions. Besides testing winter jackets himself, Ben has a large network of running friends and professionals who lend their hand in all his running gear reviews. He also owned a running store for over 5 years in the cold and snowy northeast United States and saw which jackets worked for his customers in the winter.