The Best Waterproof Running Jackets – Our Guide
We Compare Our Best Waterproof Running Jackets
Before we start, please get a jacket designed for running and not casual use–there’s prices for everyone. Some jackets are more waterproof than others, some are warmer and some are more durable. You also have different features and the fit and amount of stretch when worn. The best running jacket is therefore different from person to person. It will depend on factors like what your weather is most likely going to be like and how long you are going to be out. The protection level needed when running around the local parks, your favourite off road route or on the roads in the chilly wind and rain is obviously different to those looking to run high up in the hills, or even mountains, on a stormy day in the winter.
What is ‘Waterproof’?
To be counted as waterproof, a material needs to keep out a column of water 1000mm high without leaking. This measurement is called the Hydrostatic Head. The greater the number the more waterproof the jacket. The other thing that a running jacket needs to be classed as waterproof is taped seams, another system to avoid leaks.
When running and warming up, another essential piece of information is the breathability of the running jacket. Before waterproof fabrics were breathable, running in a jacket that kept the rain out meant that you got as wet on the inside of the jacket as you did on the outside! Lots of runners didn’t bother with waterproof jackets except in the most extreme of conditions. Times have changed and although the breathability of jackets varies, the most breathable ones don’t make you sweat too much unless it is particularly warm or you are running particularly hard.
The breathability of a material is measured by working out how much water vapour passes through a square metre of fabric in 24 hours. The higher the figure the more breathable the jacket. However, there’s no stopping some moisture building up when you’re running hard. This is because for the water vapour to pass through the jacket, a certain amount of air pressure is needed. Essentially you need to sweat a bit to build up the air pressure to get rid of it! It’s best to wear a thin, snug fitting base layer that wicks the sweat away from your body and stays warm when damp. This combination will keep you warm and comfortable.
Best Waterproof Jackets for Extreme Weather
Ronhill Fortify: The hydrostatic head of this jacket is 30,000 and the breathability is 35,000 so despite offering a very high degree of waterproofing, the Ronhill Infinity Fortify Jacket is still breathable enough to run hard in. In addition to that, the jacket is highly reflective. Ideal for training through the dark winter nights.
Inov-8 Protec Shell is Inov-8’s toughest, most waterproof running jacket and one of the most extreme on the market. It is designed for long days out, multi day races and winter training in the worst the mountains have to offer. The hydrostatic head is 20,000 and the breathability is 20,000 too. Because of the harsh environment this jacket is designed to be used in it is far more abrasion resistant than other waterproof jackets.
The above jackets are pretty light in weight but are for genuinely extreme weather. With the UK weather being as changeable as it is, you’ll probably be more suited to some of the following jackets.
Best Waterproof Running Jackets for All Year Round
The La Sportiva Odyssey running jacket has a Hydrostatic Head of 28,000 and a breathability of 35,000. It’s made from Goretex’s Active Shell fabric and weigh’s 212 grams. The stats are good enough to put it into the categotty above but, it is a very packable jacket with a nice soft feel to it. Which makes it versatile enough for all year round use.
Inov-8’s Stormshell still has a Hydrostatic Head of 20,000 and a breathability of 20,000 but, weights only 170 grams. It’s a full zip jacket made of a nice soft material and packs down small enough to go into a race vest, bumbag or back pack easily.
A Raidlight ‘Hyperlight’ is exactly that. It’s weight in at 115 grams has a Hydrostatic Head of 20,000 and a breathability of 25,000. A full zip jacket designed to be packed down and brought out when the weather turns nasty. The material has a bit of stretch to it which makes the jacket very comfortable and snug to wear. Reduces the feel that you have turned into a kite when it’s a windy day.
Best Waterproof Running Jackets for Comfort
These are what I would call ‘training jackets’ and add that bit more comfort. The materials are often a bit softer and there is a bit more stretch, which a lot of people love. They are perfect to throw on in a cold morning and still keep the rain out just fine. They often aren’t as packable but may still be suitable for some race rules.
Raidlight Ultra MP is a bit more durable around the shoulders than the Hyperlight. The main body of the jacket is a similar material with a similar stretch to it. The added durability makes the jacket a better option for everyday use. The Hydrostatic Head is 15,000 and the breathability 20,000 it weights in at 170 grams and folds into it’s own back pocket.
The Ronhill Nightfall running jacket is designed as a winter training jacket. It’s highly reflective but, not made in a neon yellow so you won’t be scaring the sheep as you set off over the fields on your Sunday morning run. The Hydrostatic Head is 10,000 and the breathability is 10,000 too. The fit is more relaxed than other jackets to give a more roomy comfortable fit.
Inov-8 Raceshell is made of a material with a very soft feel. It is also very stretchy so the jacket doesn’t feel like a plastic waterproof. The jacket also has handwarmer style pockets which make it useful for other things other than out and out running. The figures are 10,000/10,000 waterproof/breathability. It fits perfectly into this section as it is a very comfortable versatile jacket. Suitable for all your running needs.
Best Waterproof Running Jackets for Racing
Race ready jackets take light weight to the extreme. They are the lightest jackets that will abide by race regulations (often Fell Runners Association rules) which state that you must carry full waterproof body cover. The jacket must have a hood and taped seams. Suitable for most trail, ultra or multi day races. Always check the rules.
The Raidlight Hyperlight has been mentioned in the ‘year-round’ waterproof section. As it is so light at 115 grams it also fits into this section too. The Raidlight Hyperlight Jacket has a Hydrostatic Head of 20,000 and a breathability of 25,000. A full zip jacket designed to be packed down and brought out when the weather turns nasty. The material has a bit of stretch to it which makes the jacket very comfortable and snug to wear.
Scott RC Waterproof running jacket is lighter than the black colourway would suggest. The figures are 10,000/20,000 for waterproof and breathability. It’s a very slick lightweight full zip jacket that is race ready.
The Inov-8 Race Ultrashell has been designed for race day. The material is see-through so you can still see race numbers through it. The garment is a smock (over the head) rather than full length zip jacket. This is easier to put on while still running and there is no fiddling trying to get the zip fastened. The figures are 10,000/10,000 for waterproof and breathability.
Staying Dry from Head to Toe
If you are entering a fell race, trail race, ultra race or multi day race then it’s usual to have to carry full waterproof body cover. This includes waterproof over trousers. As with the jackets, there are the super light race day ones and the more durable materials. It’s worth bearing in mind that although most people think they will never use waterproof pants, once you have a pair it’s surprising how often they come in useful.
They are ideal warm up pants for cross country races as they are easy to get off over spikes/studded shoes and the mud can just be wiped off. They are an ideal extra layer on cold days as well as wet days. If your running in the hills then it’s often warm enough for shorts in the valleys but, once you get on the summits and ridges the wind can be cold. Waterproof pants are very light to carry and are ideal to slip on for that added bit of warmth. Here is a link to our selection:
Some of our running tights are extreme too.