Running Jackets: 5 Different Types And When To Wear Them

When it’s cold outside and multiple layers of clothing just aren’t enough, jackets are the best way to add a protective layer and keep us warm. There are different types of jackets you can use for running and they have different purposes.

In general, It’s best to wear a windbreaker jacket above 20°F, a puffy jacket below 20°F, and a rain jacket when it’s raining. A thin, lightweight jacket with a hoodie is preferable. You should dress like it’s 10 to 20°F warmer to account for your body’s rise in temperature during exercise.

Ahead, we will look at each type of jacket and see when is the best time to wear them. In the end, I will also give you some tips on using your jackets for running. Let’s get to it!

Windbreaker Jackets

The most used type of jacket on this list is a windbreaker jacket. Windbreakers are a versatile type of jacket. It’s thin, it’s light and it’s effective in providing adequate warmth. It’s usually more breathable than the other types of jacket making it great for an additional layer.

When to wear them: It’s best to wear this when it’s cold and windy, but not freezing. Typically 20-40°F. Now, I know that’s a little cold for just a windbreaker. But instead of wearing one thick jacket, you should wear multiple layers of clothing (2-3) under the windbreaker.

Here are some windbreakers that are good for running:

Puffer Jacket

When it gets really cold and windy and multiple layers aren’t enough to keep you warm, a puffer jacket may come in handy. However, I suggest shortening your loop because it gets really warm inside so you might want to get rid of it and leave it in your car or house once your body’s core temperature increases.

When to wear them: Puffer jackets are great protective clothing on top of multiple layers. You should wear this only when it’s freezing and windbreakers just aren’t enough. For most, that’s below 20°F.

Here are some puffer jackets that are good for running:

Rainproof Jackets

Though technically you can use windbreakers for light rain, it doesn’t stop heavy rain from getting you soaking wet.

When rain is your main concern, a rainproof jacket should be the jacket of choice. Rainproof jackets are made with special fabrics that will keep you dry and warm inside. They’re waterproof and light.

The good ones that are made for vigorous activities remain air-permeable despite being waterproof. And they usually have air vents—zippers around the jacket—to release heat when it gets too warm inside.

When to wear them: Wear them when it’s raining heavily on a cold day. Some runners, including me, prefer to run in regular clothes even when it’s raining. But if you’re not someone who likes to get soaked in rain, or when it’s too cold to run on regular clothes, rainproof jackets are a great option.

Here are some rainproof jackets that are good for running:

Puffer Vest

Puffer vests are great for keeping your core warm while still keeping the rest of your body cool. It’s great when you don’t want to get soaked in your own sweat inside a jacket.

When to wear them: Vests are usually worn on top of a long sleeve base layer around 20-45°F.

Here are some puffer vests that are good for running:

Fleece Jacket

If staying warm is your priority, a lightweight fleece jacket should be your jacket of choice. Fleece jackets are great insulators. It traps heat inside keeping you warm in cold temperatures.

The only problem with a fleece jacket is that it traps so much heat and there’s no way to let them out that when you run for longer miles or do harder runs it messes with your body’s thermoregulation and it gets very hot quickly. That is why I included it in my 12 things that you shouldn’t wear while running. But really, it’s a matter of personal preference.

When to wear them: I recommend that you wear a fleece jacket only when you’re warming up or during the start of your run. For those of you who’d prefer the warmth, you can wear them but only for easy runs.

Shorten the loop of your runs so you could leave your fleece jacket in the car or in your house in case you’d want to remove it.

Here are some good fleece jackets for running:

Tips on Wearing A Jacket When Running

Dress Like It’s 10-20 °F Warmer

Dressing up for a winter run isn’t the same as dressing up for a regular winter day. That’s because when you run, your body’s temperature rises. Wear so much layer and you’ll be trapped in your own heat.

As a general rule, you should dress like it’s 10-20°F to account for your body’s rise in temperature. That way, your body’s core temperature remains at a decent level during your long runs.

Thin Jackets Are Better

Instead of wearing one thick jacket, wear multiple layers of clothing then a thin jacket. That way, when it gets too hot and you feel like you need to remove your jacket, it’s easy to stow it away. It also gives you better control over the temperature than having to remove a thick jacket that provides you with most of your warmth.

Find Your Own Jacket Preference

Everyone has different preferences over temperature. Taking one piece of advice as the universal truth may not be right for you. For example, I personally don’t like wearing a fleece jacket. However, I know people who do and prefer them over windbreakers.

Different places have different conditions too. Some places might be cold and windy and they might need thicker jackets, while others may be just cold and they’d be fine with just layers. So try on different types of jackets and experiment with layers. See for yourself what works for you.

Lastly, you could apply these 13 ways to stay warm when running in cold weather, I provided tips beyond just the jacket that may help your cold runs a little more bearable. Be sure to check that out.

Nicho Mauricio

Running wasn't always my favorite sport. I was a CrossFit athlete and I loved every bit of it. But since the pandemic began, I was forced to stay away from the gym and train at home instead. Things got boring. That's when I decided to trail run with my friends. I instantly got hooked. So I started training and researching all things running. As a beginner, I want to buy only the best running gear and do only the best practices. This blog is where I share what I've learned in my journey and my experiences as a runner.

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