The best vests for running are a great piece of apparel to have in your collection. For winter running, they provide a valuable extra layer of protection over your core, while still being very breathable.
If you aren’t a fan of running with a jacket, a vest could be the answer to staying protected while out on the road. And as part of a layering system, they provide great warmth, increased flexibility, and light weight.
Our number one choice is the Under Armour ColdGear Reactor Vest. If you’re a winter runner, you won’t feel the cold with this one, with UA’s intelligent insulation. It still allows for airflow so you don’t have to worry about overheating, either. Storm technology also makes it water-resistant, for an extra layer of protection.
These are our top picks.
Top 4 Best and Favorites
Under Armour ColdGear Reactor Vest
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Arc’teryx Covert Vest
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Brooks Cascadia Vest
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Gore R7 Partial Gore-Tex Infinium Vest
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1. Under Armour ColdGear Reactor Vest
Under Armour makes some really decent gear, and their ColdGear Reactor vest wins our top overall spot.
Both the men’s and women’s cuts come in a variety of sizes, so runners of all sizes should find one for them. They’re also available in many colors, although there’s less choice for women than for men (flawed logic!).
UA’s technology makes for a comfortable running experience with this vest. Their ColdGear Reactor tech is designed to adapt to whatever activity you’re doing, regulating your temperature and keeping you comfortable.
We also like the Storm technology, which offers good water-repellent properties while retaining great breathability. You can cool down from the inside out.
The men’s vests have side pockets for hands as well as a chest pocket which is great for carrying a phone. The women’s have side pockets but no chest pockets, which some may see as a big downside.
- Intelligent insulation
- Storm technology for weather-resistance
- Allows for effective airflow
- Available in a variety of sizes
- Some buyers have complained that the fit is uncomfortable and too long and thin
- Women’s come in fewer colors and with no chest pocket
2. Craft SubZ Body Warmer Vest
Our runner-up is the Craft SubZ Body Warmer. It has a bit of a less bulky look than the Under Armour, which makes it quite sleek and stylish.
Both the men’s and women’s feature a concealed, zippered pocket on the front for easy storage of small items. The men’s is on the left chest, and the women’s is on the lower right.
The design aims to keep you warm in cool weather using heat-bonded quilting on the front. Nobody wants to sweat excessively, though, even in the cold, so this vest features a perforated upper back to facilitate airflow.
There’s also a nice little reflective logo on the back that will increase your visibility while out on the road.
It’s a little thinner than our top option, but it may be a more comfortable option for some. The only potential downside is that the hem may be a bit uncomfortably short for certain runners.
- Sleek, stylish design
- Concealed zip pocket
- Heat-bonded quilting for warmth retention
- Perforated back for airflow
- Buying your size may result in the back of the vest being too short
Best Multi-Functional Vest
3. Arc’teryx Covert Vest
This stylish vest looks good enough to wear on the road or out to lunch. Available in five sizes (both the men’s and women’s), and a couple of neutral colors, you can wear this vest just about anywhere and look like it’s meant for exactly that purpose.
But we’re runners! In terms of on the road, the heathered fleece this vest is crafted from will keep your core temperature nice and toasty.
At the same time, the fabric is breathable and allows for great ventilation without making you cold. It’s quick-drying, so if you happen to get splashed or find yourself out in a light rain, you won’t get soaked through.
The high neck is great for keeping out sneaky breezes and stray raindrops, but some runners may find it to be restrictive or uncomfortable.
- Stylish designs available
- Breathable and quick-drying
- Made from heathered fleece
- Some runners may find the high neck uncomfortable
Top Thermal Vest
4. Brooks Cascadia Vest
If you live in a cold enough spot to need thermal gear, then this could be the right vest for you to add over your base layers.
Created entirely from polyester, it’s stretchable for ease of motion, wind- and water-resistant, and lightweight.
Filled with 80gm-polyfill insulation, it’ll keep you warm even on the coldest of days. The collar is high so you can be safe from breezes on your neck, although some runners might feel that it’s too high and gets in their way.
Another big thumbs-up is that it offers UPF 50+ sun protection. Don’t think that just because the weather is freezing there’s no risk for sun exposure! This is a thoughtful addition to a thermal jacket that we like.
- UPF 50+
- Stretch construction
- Wind and water-resistant
- 80gm-polyfill insulation
- Neck may be too long for some
- Some users report the pockets being too far back to be comfortable
Best Gore-Tex Waterproof Vest
5. Gore R7 Partial Gore-Tex Infinium Vest
There’s a difference between water-resistant and waterproof, and if you’d prefer a vest that’s properly waterproof, this is the one!
It’s effective for everything from running to skiing, so you should be able to run in a blizzard and still stay perfectly dry.
Wearing this vest will keep your core from being affected by both water and wind, so you can be assured of a constant warm core temperature.
You won’t overheat, though. The mesh panel at the back offers extreme breathability and an extra layer of cool comfort.
There are no side pockets, but a zipped one in the middle of the lower back.
- Water and windproof
- Mesh back for breathability
- Back pocket
- High collar
- It’s made to fit snugly, which may be uncomfortable for some
Top Hi-Viz Vest
6. Gore C3 Windstopper
If you like to be seen on the road and don’t want a whole extra layer for reflective gear, this vest would be perfect. Both the men’s and women’s come in bright, eye-catching colors that motorists can’t miss.
The women’s colors are slightly less startling during the day, but still sport reflective details for great visibility at night. Another difference between the men’s and women’s is that the men’s features a handy chest pocket, which the women’s doesn’t have.
Both are made to be form-fitting and let no cold in anywhere. Gore Tex technology makes them windproof and waterproof, which means you can be out and about in any weather, at any time of day or night, and this vest will serve you well.
- Windproof and waterproof
- Bright reflective visibility
- Longer back hem for full coverage
- Extra reflective detail for night runs
- Runs a little small, although it’s meant to be form-fitting
Best Reflective Vest
7. Proviz Reflect360 Running Vest
This unique vest is one of the most unusual pieces of reflective apparel around. At first glance, it looks just like a rather non-reflecting gray vest. But one darkness falls and vehicle headlights hit it, prepare to be dazzled by how it lights up!
The extreme reflectivity is thanks to a design utilizing millions of tiny glass beads. Once a torch beam, headlamp, or car light hits them, they light up like a runner’s Christmas tree.
It’s impossible to miss a runner in this vest! The only danger is possibly dazzling a driver while they’re not expecting it.
The back is made entirely of mesh, which makes it super breathable. The front is pretty solid, and depending on the type of exercise you’re doing and how much you’re sweating, it could get pretty warm in there.
Another really nice thing about this vest is how light it is. It weighs just 3.5 ounces, so you’ll hardly notice it on you while you’re running.
- Unique reflective design
- Moisture-wicking mesh lining
- Lightweight, at around 3.5 ounces
- Although the back is breathable, the front can get quite hot
Top Windbreaker Vest
8. Salomon Agile Wind Vest
Made specifically to beat the cold winds and prevent them hampering your performance, this hardcore vest from Salomon will keep you toasty and unaware of how cold the wind really is.
With a hood, high neck zip, and lower back hem, this vest will give you full coverage against breezes from every direction.
Despite not letting the wind in, mesh panels placed on the back and sides of the vest will allow heat to escape, preventing you from getting too warm inside the vest.
These vests come in men’s and women’s designs, and both are available in six different sizes. They seem to run a little small, so if you aren’t keen on a very fitted vest, you may want to go for a larger size than usual.
This vest also scores points for being easy to clean. Simply throw it in the washing machine and it will be good to go next time.
- Advanced Skin Shield windproof technology
- Strategically placed mesh vents
- Both available in six sizes
- Machine washable
- Runs small
Best Merino Vest
9. Smartwool Smartloft X-60 Vest
Merino wool is the holy grail of cold-beating fabrics. It has superb temperature-regulating properties, keeping you warm in freezing weather and cooling you down from the inside out so you don’t overheat.
This vest is created using a panelled design that allows for easy movement, whether you’re running, stretching, or simply want the freedom to move comfortably.
Despite the panels for easy movement, the slim fit may not be comfortable for all. If this is you, the X-60 is available in a large range of sizes, so you may benefit from going a size up from your usual.
You can take this vest out in rain, snow, wind, or just cold and be perfectly safe and warm.
The men’s and women’s vests are slightly different. The women’s features a hoodie, which is super for windy days (no more crazy hair!). The men’s has no hoodie, but does have a chest pocket for storage of small items.
Both of them have zipped side pockets to keep hands warm when you’re not in the middle of a run.
- Outer nylon shell, inner 88% wool insulation
- Machine washable in warm water
- Variety of colors available
- Paneled design for ease of movement
- No hood on men’s
- Slim fit may not suit everyone
Not sure if adding a new vest to your running gear would be worthwhile? Here are some of the common questions we see about running vests to help you make your decision.
Why Is A Vest A Great Running Accessory?
Don’t think a vest is just a little piece of material! They’re versatile enough to wear in all weather.
If you like running in the cold, a vest provides an extra layer over a thermal shirt to keep you warm. You may want to look for a vest that’s made from Merino wool or some other kind of temperature-regulating fabric.
In the heat, they’re a great alternative to a regular tee. Vests provide superior airflow and great ventilation, keeping you protected without the risk of overheating. Warm weather vests should have great ventilation and be thin rather than chunky.
What Body Parts Are Most Important to Keep Warm?
Staying protected while on the road is essential, and I’m not just talking about being visible to motorists.
Your core needs to be kept warm, as all your vital organs live there! Most of your body’s energy goes towards keeping your core warm, because even slight changes in core temperature can have negative effects.
Wearing a running vest helps to keep your core temperature where it needs to be. It may be just a little item of clothing, but it can be a huge help with thermoregulation.
What Features Should a Vest Have?
The best vests for running are more than just a simple piece of fabric, though. A great running vest should have the following features:
- Pockets, for storage of small items.
- Reflective elements, for added safety.
- Some weather-resistant properties.
- A comfortable, flattering design.
- A choice of colors!