Ever head out for a winter adventure assuming you will warm up after a mile of effort, but never do? Or you layer up according to the forecast but halfway through your adventure the weather turns and you find yourself racing home for warmth and shelter?
Simply put, being cold sucks. Not only is it completely uncomfortable, but it can also be painful and sometimes even dangerous. The body’s vital organs (besides your brain) are located in your chest, which means there’s a lot of exciting and important action happening in this area. Therefore, you want to protect your upper body from the elements, as it will help your performance, your comfort, and overall well-being. A warm runner is a happy runner.
With the official arrival of winter, we thought it would be timely to share our thoughts on four various cold-weather running jackets. We focused on construction, fit, feel, warmth and functionality, arm length, and of course, special features.
The North Face
The Women’s Winter Warm Jacket was created for those looking for something light weight, protective, and insulated. Functionality to its fullest, this jacket includes a water-repellent finish for those snowflakes or light spritzes, FlashDry technology for moisture management, and Heatseeker Eco insulation to keep you toasty while trotting along the trails.
Construction: The collar, front of the jacket, and top portion of the sleeves (full-length, contains the Heatseeker Eco insulation. The back of the jacket and under the sleeves (full-length) is composed of the FlashDry material, providing breathability where heat may be released instead of being trapped inside the jacket turning into wet moisture. This is a full-length zipper jacket.
Fit, Feel, Functionality: We would categorize this as a slim-fit jacket. Enough room to fit a light base layer. The back hem drops to about mid-booty, providing extra coverage and warmth. Sleeve length was on point and folks with long arms will be able to enjoy this jacket too. The Heatseeker Eco insulation did not disappoint, as our reviewer was able to feel comfortable in 20 degree temps.
Special Features: This jacket has two standard pockets located above the waist on the both the left and right sides. You are able to use either pocket as a stuff sack for the jacket! These pockets do not have any kind of secure closure. The wrist cuffs contain a thin, gentle elastic band, helping to keep the heat in and the elements out.
What We Loved: We loved the performance this jacket provided especially being as light weight as it is. The insulation worked great, and the protective material was a bonus especially during windy days.
What We Would Change: Zippers on the pockets would make this jacket feel complete! The pockets feel a bit useless to hold anything since there is no closure, but they are still great for sheltering your hands.
The women’s Off-Roads Hybrid Jacket was made to battle harsh weather and relentless elements. This versatile jacket is comprised of a nylon and wool blend that is both water and dirt repellent, while keeping you warm and moisture-free, thanks to the wicking wool loop backface construction. Stay comfortable and confident while clicking off those winter miles in the Off-Roads Hybrid Jacket.
Construction: Soft to touch wool on the inside, with a smooth and resilient outer structure. The collar has a comfortable micro-fleece-like feel, keeping your neck nice and toasty. This jacket has a full-length zipper, and includes a full-length “flap” behind the zipper to protect and prevent any windy gusts from sneaking through.
Fit, Feel, Functionality: The fit on this jacket is our favorite. It has a relaxed feminine cut, and provides enough room to wear a mid and base layer (if needing both). The material has stretch, allowing for full flexibility when pumping those arms. And speaking of arms, the sleeve length reaches past the wrist, easily accommodating folks with long arms. Staying warm and comfortable in 20 degree temperatures (and below) was easy for the reviewer, as wool is always a sure bet when it comes to insulation.
Special Features: This jacket includes two standard zipper pockets, one on each side above the waist. Thumb-holes are another bonus to the Off-Roads Hybrid Jacket, providing an extra benefit in sheltering your hands from the cold.
What We Loved: Everything. The fit was excellent, and the extra stretch in the material made this jacket more comfortable than the others tested.
What We Would Change: Can’t think of anything, but as a suggestion, how about offering a hooded version?
The Thermal Airshed Jacket was designed with movement in mind. This jacket is ultralight, and includes high-exertion insulation which is a construction using woven PlumaFill strands made from 100% recycled polyester. It is very breathable allowing excess heat to escape, all while holding warmth so that your body can perform at high levels while staying comfortable. This jacket is Fair Trade Certified sewn.
Construction: The front panels, collar, shoulders and top of sleeves, all contain the PlumaFill insulation. The back panel is uninsulated, allowing for excess heat release. Whisperlight breathable fabric is used throughout, and a PFC-free DWR finish is added to protect you from those wet elements.
Fit, Feel, Functionality: Fits like a charm! Body length reaches below hips and covers mid-booty. Patagonia assigns the Thermal Airshed Jacket as a slim fit, therefore enough room for a base layer but not much more. Closer to skin is ideal, as this jacket performs best with movement in mind. Sleeve length is great, and those with longer arms will approve. The PlumaFill kept our reviewer toasty warm while cruising around the Colorado mountains at 11,000 ft on snowy trails on a blustery day. Thus, you can trust in this insulation and functionality!
Special Features: This jacket has two interior pockets. On the inside right there is a zipper pocket to secure your keys, smartphone, or gloves, etc. On the inside left there is a large drop pocket for any items you may want to stow or stuff. This jacket can also be stuffed into the inside right zipper pocket, convenient for packing and space efficiency!
What We Love: This jacket is super lightweight and packs a punch when it comes to warmth. The use of recycled materials and Fair Trade Certified sewn is something we appreciate and hope to see from more brands.
What We Would Change: There isn’t anything that we’d change.
The Fusion Hybrid Jacket was created to keep you outside enjoying your adventure in adverse cold conditions. This jacket offers both wind and water resistance to combat blustery days that bring snowflakes or light rain. As you work up a sweat, you can be assured to dump any excess heat and moisture, as this jacket has many breathability features! This is a great option for cool days with strong gusts and light precipitation.
Construction: The Fusion Hybrid Jacket is made from polyester, spandex and elastane. The inside is soft to the touch, and the outside has a smooth shell-like feel thanks to the wind and water repellent finish. When it comes to breathability the lower back panel has a button secured opening, and there is a vent located beneath each underarm. The collar is double-walled, providing extra warmth and comfort to your neck. This jacket has a full-length zipper and includes a full-length “flap” to protect against wind trying to sneak though. Though this may be more of a special feature, the flap contains two bonus buttons allowing you to secure the jacket while it’s fully or partially unzipped (another great option for breathability).
Fit, Feel, Functionality: Brooks categorizes the Fusion Hybrid Jacket as semi-fitted, which we would agree with. This jacket doesn’t contain any insulating materials and so that extra room is important for layering (base and mid layer). This jacket has a unique feminine cut, as the front is stylized to be a bit shorter than the back. The sleeves are a dream, especially for those with long arms. The material has lots of stretch and allows for full mobility.
Special Features: The Fusion Hybrid Jacket contains three pockets. Two of these pockets are a standard zip pocket located above the waist. Inside of the right zip pocket is an additional stretchy pocket, great for securing your smartphone or other items from bouncing around. Thumb-holes are another bonus feature to this jacket, as who doesn’t like to shelter their hands from cold weather. This jacket also packs down into a small sack (with drawcords), and is accessed via the vent located on the back.
What We Love: The thoughtfulness that went into all the special features! The multiple breathability options, especially the buttons on the flap was a great addition.
What We Would Change: We would add an insulation component. This jacket would hold up in burlier conditions if there was just a little some extra helping to retain heat.