6 Things to Consider when Buying a Running Jacket

A running jacket will become apart of any runners wardrobe.

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post about running jackets that meet UTA requirements.

A lot of the products featured in that post are no longer available.

Rather than create an updated list I thought I would create a checklist of this to consider when buying a running jacket.


Photo Credit James Chou

1. Use

You need to select a jacket that suits your needs and running styles.

Where and when you plan to run, will also play a factor in choosing a jacket.

Live in a climate that goes through cold winters? Then you may want a jacket that offers warmth and some degree of weather protection.

An Ultra/trail runner, for example, will want a jacket, that offers some degree of weather protection, is breathable, but also to easy to transport.

While an urban/city runner may want a jacket that is spray-proof and is reflective for early morning or late night runs.

With this in mind think about the activities you’ll use it for and the climates you may encounter.

2. Water Resistance / Waterproof Rating

All jackets will have a waterproof rating.  The higher the rating, the more water resistance the jacket will be.

This table will give you a guide on the waterproof rating (aka Schmerber mm rating), and what activity it’s suited to.

Rating Resistance Weather Use
 0 – 1,500mm Water resistant / Snowproof Very light  rain Walking or Hiking
 1,500mm – 5,000mm Waterproof Light to average rain Walking or Hiking
 5,000mm – 10,000mm Very Waterproof Moderate to heavy rain Hiking or Running in bad conditions
 10,000mm- 20,000mm Highly Waterproof Heavy rain Hiking or Running in Extreme conditions

A true water resistance jacket will have the following;

  • Fully taped seams (inside of jacket)
  • Waterproof coating (exterior of jacket)
  • Waterproof membrane (lining of jacket)
  • A hood

3. Venting & Breathability

Venting & Breathability will come hand in hand with water resistance / waterproof rating.

The running jacket you choose should provide some weather protection but without causing you to overheat.

Like with water resistance, the higher the number the more breathability the jacket has.

Choose a jacket that allows the following:

  • A fabric that allows moisture to evaporate and wick sweat away.
  • Mesh panels in key sweat area’s
    • arms, back, chest area.
  • Two-way zippers for added ventilation

Why is this factor so important? Because no matter how a jacket protects you from the elements, running at a high aerobic state will cause you to sweat.  That moisture needs to get released.

4. Comfort & Mobility

Most running jackets are cut differently for men and women.

Women’s jackets have a more tailored fit. However many women choose the men’s cut for a more relaxed fit.

Choose a jacket that you feel comfortable in, and that allows you to move freely in the activity you are participating in. Also, take into account the layers you may have on underneath the jacket.

5. Portability

This one is vital for those that participate in Ultrarunning events or hikers that are short on space.

Many jackets now have the ability to fold into its own pocket, making it easy to carry in a pack or vest.

6. Cost

While this may not be a factor for some people, it is for others.

Take into consideration the other 5 factors stated here, you should be able to find the product that suits your needs.

I will state this; think of this waterproof jacket as an investment.  A jacket can be lifesaving.

Bonus – Visibility

If you’re a runner that runs primarily in the pre-dawn hours, or late at night, then choosing a jacket that makes you visible to traffic is also vital for your safety.

Most jackets have some sort of reflective logo on them, while others are made out of reflective material.


What running jacket do you own?