Speed through summer with a running jacket that will fend off the wind and keep out the showers…
Just as you think you know everything you need to about running jackets, the manufacturers move boundaries. Breathability, wind resistance and waterproofing have been mainstays of the summer market, but this year a performance fit has also come into play. Jackets are tighter fitting and move as you’d want them to. There’s no flapping and no longer any crinkly noise. It’s a real step forward in the world of athletic clothing. Along with this, breathability is probably the most important other element to make a note of when selecting your summer run jacket. Yes, style will play a role, but jackets need to allow you to get on with the job in hand without cooking you in the process. All of the jackets on test score incredibly well in that department. But don’t expect 100% waterproofing, that’s not what it’s about; this is about performance, pace and comfort. Tick these boxes and you’ll have this summer’s ideal jacket.
1. SAUCONY SPEED OF LITE JACKET (above) £75
Even the flappiest jacket in the test provides a performance fit. It’s super-light and soft to the touch and it does fit well, but there’s a little bit of room, meaning you could even wear a sweatshirt underneath and turn it into a year-round jacket. Storage is minimal – you can get an energy bar in the rear pocket and that’s about it. Neat touches are the thumb loops in the cuffs whilst DWR-coated (Durable Water Repellent) front panels and sleeves give it water resistance, while laser perforation and a Ventlite mesh back panel and underarms provide the ventilation.
Verdict: Very wearable – a good addition to your wardrobe for year-round performance.
2. VAUDE MEN’S AIR JACKET II £50
A no-nonsense, lightweight jacket that gets on with it in a minimalistic way. It offers a looser athletic fit, so there’s a bit of room inside (but not much) and it’s ready for windy, summer days. Storage is on the light side – there’s a reasonable back pouch for food but this is a jacket that’s all about cutting down on extras. However, for something so light, the fit is actually very comfortable and though of course we never recommend such activity (!), you could stroll down to the pub in it, as long as it’s not tipping down – it’s windproof, not monsoon resistant! The usual reflective touches and environmentally friendly construction are all neat touches that make this a very popular and competitive offering.
Verdict: Great for light summer rain, windy days and general day-to-day use.
3. DHB ZELOS WINDPROOF JACKET £39.99
For a jacket that offers such a range of technology – performance fit, media storage, breathability and good windproofing, the price is simply outstanding. OK, there’s no hood, but for runners that’s very much an extra that’s not required when you’re moving. If you’re out running in this jacket, you’ll love it. Listen to your music, carry an energy bar and be confident that it’ll cope with all but weather extremes. Don’t however, tour around town in it. It’s not a shopping jacket; it won’t fit with a jumper underneath and won’t cope with heavy rain. This is about getting out and running in-simple.
Verdict: Difficult to fault as a performance piece of kit at a fabulous price, with competitively good technologies at work.
4. MAMMUT MTR 201 RAINSPEED JACKET £95
Inevitably there will be days this summer when it’s going to be lashing down, so the question is whether you’ll use that as an excuse and stay indoors, or whether you’ll run whatever the weather. If it’s the latter (which of course it will be), you’ll find this jacket to be breathable and superbly waterproofed, and so robust it will cope with autumn and early winter too. You can carry your MP3 in the chest pocket, where you can also stow the jacket when it’s not is use. There’s a close-fitting hood, the elbows have a bend in them, and you can retain or spill heat via the drawcord hem. The MTR 201 weighs in at 180g and offers a slightly looser-style fit.
Verdict: A heavy rain type of jacket – better suited to runs on wet and windy days.
5. GORE MYTHOS 2.0 WINDSTOPPER SOFT SHELL ZIP-OFF LIGHT £149.99
Runners have a lot to thank cyclists for, not least when it comes to performance apparel. This jacket, which doubles as a short-sleeved shirt and vest, is all about moving with the runner; there’s no flapping, no loose bits waving in the wind. Light, windproof and warm, this is going to be able to cope with anything and everything a year on the run will throw at you in terms of weather. Storage is great, thanks to zippered and back panel pockets. There’s a media-friendly, cable pocket and you can even throw the arms in the pockets should it become balmy enough mid run. Visibility detailing is superb.
Verdict: A high-performance jacket, packed with every detail you’ll need for all but the nastiest weather.
6. ODLO ABBISO RUNNING JACKET £80
Performance wear from Odlo is soft to the touch and this jacket is no different – it’s almost sweatshirt soft and very comfortable. It’s also windproof and it’s very much a motion-friendly piece of kit too. But there’s no skimping on the technology to get this feel – there’s a water repellent finish and all the extras you’d expect. Storage is in the form of two pockets and there’s an adjustable hood as well as the reflective strips you’d want to see on a running jacket. It does offer an athletic fit, but you could use it for everyday activities as well because it will stretch over a layer or two.
Verdict: For everyday summer running, there’s not too much that can beat this jacket.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
A very tight weave – the tighter the weave the better in terms of waterproofing and breathability.
Most running jackets have some ventilation to help the wicking process.
Don’t go for something that promises complete waterproofing as this is less likely to allow your body to breathe easily at pace.
To keep the mud splattering up, and to regulate temperature.
Summer jackets should fit like a second skin; you’ll want to wear a wicking baselayer underneath but nothing else. Closer fits means less energy wasted.
WORDS: Paul Larkin
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