How to Choose a Waterproof Running Jacket

How to Choose a Waterproof Running Jacket

By Michael / November 29, 2014

If you are one of those who do not fear a little rain or cold weather, you already know that it’s not all the same what kind of jacket you wear during your outdoor activities. In order to get complete protection you’ll need more than just a simple water resistant jacket. Learn what to look for in a waterproof running jacket and how to protect yourself in cold weather.

You can find a waterproof running jacket everywhere, but you can bet your bottom dollar they’re not created the same way. You’ll find a lot of new running rain jackets with fancy features, but it’s best if you just keep things simple as they’re the most practical.

Rain Jacket Features to Look for

Waterproof running jackets are just that, jackets that keep you from getting soaked by the rain. So the jacket needs to have durable waterproof fabric, has a hood and is taped fully at the seams. These are the most basic features and strictly speaking it’s all you really need as everything else will be a bonus.

Some of these rain jackets have extra pockets and other accessories, but unless they’re necessary it’s best you avoid those because it will just add weight. Wearing a heavy jacket isn’t very comfortable and even more so if it’s raining. Even more so if you plan running in the rain.

If you are after extra features though there are rain jackets with underarm zippers (armpit zippers) for ventilation, reflectors, and of course pockets for hand warmers, goggles, mp3 players or other things you want to carry around. Bottom line is if you don’t need any extra bells and whistles just do away with them, but if you need extra pockets or features, they’re available.

As far as fit goes it’s matter of personal preference, but slim to regular should suit most people who are active. Most of the time, you’ll be donning this jacket with a backpack so you don’t want unnecessary fabric coming out of the sides. As far as fabric ratings are concerned it needs to be high to be any good. However you’ll also want some breathability when you’re running in a downpour.

No matter what you decide to buy, it’s important that you do some research so you get the best available jacket for your money. It will also help to read reviews to determine how the fabric really holds up.

Ski / Snowboard Jackets

If you’re after the best running jacket for cold weather you ought to consider ski or snowboard jackets. Anything that has a powder skirt can be classified a snowboard jacket and that’s the main thing you should look for to keep snow from getting inside your jacket.

Your winter jacket also needs to have a hood, and while it’s commonplace, not all do since many skiers wear helmets. Hooded jackets also come in different styles, with some equipped with a removable hood and others have it fixed in place. Some even have hoods that are compatible with helmets so you may want to consider those as well.

As far as insulation is concerned, it ranges from none to as much as you can handle. Jackets that are not insulated are more versatile as you can remove and add layers to match the temperature. The advantage of having a fully insulated jacket however, is you can just put it on and start running.

Nike Element Shield Max Waterproof Running Jacket

When it comes to the best rain jacket for running the name Nike usually comes up as they’ve produced some pretty good stuff, and the Element is one of the best. It isn’t too bulky and fits your body very well. The jacket is both water and wind resistant, and comes with a face gaiter to shield your face from rain and cold.

The jacket also comes with a hood and a well-designed mesh that’s very breathable, so overall it’s a good choice if you need a jacket to stay dry.

For better weathers I often use Element Half Zip Running Top but for rain, Nike Element rocks.

Salomon GTX Active Shell Jacket

salomon gtx jacketThis is the kind of jacket you’ll want for running in extreme weather. With its Gore-Tex Active membrane, the GTX is designed for winter, wet and cold running, and the membrane is comfortable enough to ensure you don’t get hot. The jacket also gets rid of precipitation quickly.

The construction is very light and it comes with flexible cuffs, Salomon’s Skin Fit hood, zippers and welded seams, pretty much everything you’d need to deal with cold weather. This jacket isn’t just for the occasional rain however, as it can even protect you from snow and blizzards.

Merrell Torrent Shell

The Merrell jacket is perfect if you intend to run in the rain for extended periods, and what makes this great for the aspiring marathoner is its light weight and design. The 20-denier ripstop is water resistant and wind proof, and the mesh provides plenty of ventilation, which you may need for running.

The best thing about this jacket is it fits in your chest pocket, so if the rain suddenly pours down you can reach for this in your pocket and unfold it.

Nike Vapor Jacket

This is another quality jacket from Nike, and the Vapor is for the urbanite that has to deal with the rain as well as other obstacles that one usually finds in and around the city. The jacket comes with well situated mesh vents and Dri-Fit microfiber polyester to keep water out.

The Vapor includes a removable and adjustable hood so you can adjust the Vapor to the prevailing conditions. Some parts of the jacket are also reflective so you’ll still be visible even in the dark.

Brooks LSD Lite III Jacket

Brooks-mens-lsd-liteNo discussion of the best running jacket for winter is complete without mentioning the Brooks LSD. This is a budget rain jacket, but don’t let that fool you as the LSD is a decent all-weather gear. The LSD includes all the features you’d expect from a rain jacket, such as light construction, reflective hits, venting, and wind and water resistance.

The jacket also has a zipper and storm guard so you remain comfortable even in extreme weather, so if you’re after a jacket that’s light and keeps you dry, the LSD will do fine.


And hey, you can fold it in a pocket size bag!


What this guide shows is you have a lot of options when it comes to buying a waterproof running jacket, so there’s no reason to ever get wet again. The truth is, you really can’t go wrong with any of the jackets above.

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