9 Best Cold-Weather Jackets for Walking or Running
If you want to exercise outside and still stay warm and dry, here are some cold-weather jackets that make walking and running workouts a pleasure.
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Exercising in cold weather
It makes a lot of sense to avoid gyms and exercise outside during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, that’s a lot easier when the weather is warm—it’s simple to head outside for a run, hike, or bike ride, or take an online class in your driveway or at the park. If you live in an area that gets cold in the winter, outdoor exercise requires a little more thought and a bit more clothing.
The thing is, there’s no reason you can’t go for a run or walk outside when it’s cold. You just need to be prepared.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear!” says Lindsey Clayton, certified run coach, senior instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp, and co-founder of Brave Body Project. “Wearing the right outfit can make or break your run. Finding the right gear is essential to braving the outdoor running game so you’re not left freezing, soaking wet, or even overheating.”
Yes, you read that right: overheating. Bundling up in the warmest clothing possible may seem like the right idea when it’s chilly, but it’s important not to overdress. If you sweat too much under your clothes, the moisture can get trapped, turn cold against your skin, and end up making you feel cold the second you slow down.
“You never want to put yourself at risk for a cold-related illness like hypothermia,” says Ava Fagin, certified trainer and instructor at Body Space Fitness in New York City. “It’s important to be prepared for the weather by wearing layers to take off for when your body heats up upon exercise, and in turn put back on when you stop and your body cools down.”
What to look for in cold weather gear
Experts suggest two important things to look for in cold weather gear: breathable materials and items that are easy to layer.
Your base layer—or whatever fabric is against your skin—should be made with material that wicks the sweat away, says Tammy Whyte, certified trainer, certified run coach, and owner of TW Training and Wellness. Polyester and merino wool (which is naturally sweat-wicking) are the materials Whyte usually looks for. Other synthetics, like nylon, are also made to be sweat-wicking. The biggest thing is to avoid cotton—it absorbs moisture, which can be problematic if it gets really cold—and to choose a technical fabric that’s made for cold weather, Whyte adds.
When it comes to outerwear in particular, Whyte suggests looking for items that are wind- and/or water-resistant, “especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow or has brutal winds.” You also want any jacket to be warm, of course, but the key is that it’s appropriately warm for the weather and that you can wear layers underneath in case you need to peel off the outermost.
Reflective details also can be really important, depending on the time of day you run or walk. “If you’re out before dawn or after sunset, reflective gear is a must,” says Clayton. She also suggests wearing bright colors so that cars, bikes, and even pedestrians, can see you coming from a distance.
Keeping all of these characteristics in mind—appropriately warm, breathable, easy to layer, wind- and water-resistant, reflective—we rounded up some of the best cold-weather jackets for all your outdoor exercise needs. Whether you’re running or walking or something in between, check out these great options to stay warm and safe as you break a sweat this winter.
Champion C9 Women’s Training Herringbone Fleece Full Zip Track Jacket
This Champion C9 track jacket is made from 100 percent polyester and gives off a sleek look with its pattern and pleated back. For the fashion-conscious, this jacket can easily be paired with any workout clothes or even your go-to clothes for running errands. It comes in dark blue, dark gray, and purple and is available from XS-XL. (Wear it with these neck gaiters for coronavirus protection.)
ARSUXEO Winter Warm UP Thermal Softshell Cycling Jacket Windproof Waterproof 15-k
If you’re an avid cycler in the colder months, this affordable ARSUXEO jacket is a good option. Listed as Amazon’s No. 1 best seller with about 2,500 4.5 star reviews, this jacket is made of 85 percent polyester and 15 percent spandex to keep you both warm and and dry. The jacket consists of a top layer with a windbreaker surface intended to bead up moisture, a second layer of waterproof breathable material, and the third layer of warm fleece material. It’s the ultimate trifecta for staying warm, dry, and preventing overheating during cycling. (Prefer to cycle inside? Here’s what you need to know about indoor cycling knee pain.)
Nike Shield Running Jacket
As its name suggests, this Nike jacket makes a great shield from the elements. With a knit balaclava built into the hood and mittens built into the sleeves, this jacket will keep you prepared for any temperature drops that happen mid-run. Reflective elements, zippered pockets, and an adjustable hood make this jacket even more useful on cold days. (While you’re out, avoid making these common running mistakes.)
Brooks Carbonite Jacket
This lightweight Brooks running jacket is made of breathable fabric that’s both water- and wind-resistant. It’s made to let excess heat out, but keep rain from coming in. Strategically placed reflective material makes this a great item to throw on when you head out for an early-morning or evening run or walk. It’s also available in men’s sizing. (Consider pairing it with one of these cold weather face masks.)
Under Armour Women’s UA Run Insulate Hybrid Jacket
Insulated in the front and ventilated in the back, this Under Armour jacket will keep you warm and dry without overheating. The fit isn’t too tight, so you can still move your arms freely and have room for a layer underneath without it being uncomfortable. Stretchy, knit cuffs at the wrists and collar help keep warmth in for maximum cold-weather comfort. (No matter when you exercise, beware of the fitness myths that can damage your health.)
Athleta Inlet Jacket
Filled with 800-fill FeatherDry down insulation, this Athleta jacket is ideal for your coldest runs and walks. The down makes the torso a bit bulky, but the arms are still slim, so the jacket will keep you toasty without inhibiting comfortable movement. The fabric is breathable and water-repellant, the hood is easily removable, and it comes in tall and petite versions so you can find the optimal length to keep your whole torso covered. (To stay safe when you’re out, these are the best face masks for exercise.)
Lululemon Cross Chill Jacket
This Lululemon jacket is like a shell, making it the perfect wind- and water-resistant top layer to wear over your favorite long-sleeve T-shirt and fleece or other insulating item. It is lined with a thin layer of fleece, to add extra warmth, but the biggest draw is the weather-resistant and stretchy, fitted-yet-flattering material. The zipper watch hole is also a really fun feature—it makes it so easy to check your fitness tracker without stopping.
Asics Lite-Show Winter Jacket
This Asics insulated jacket will keep you really warm and has a slimmer profile than the Athleta down jacket, if that’s something you prefer. The weather-resistant fabric is made of 100 percent polyester, so sweat won’t get trapped and make you uncomfortable. Reflective materials help make you visible while secure pockets keep your electronics safe and dry, even if it’s snowing outside. There’s also a men’s version. (Ready to get moving? Here’s the best time to work out.)
Sweaty Betty Fast Track Running Jacket
This Sweaty Betty jacket checks all the boxes—lightweight, breathable, sweat-wicking, and water-resistant—but arguably, the best thing about it is how many color options you have. The bright colors are great for increasing visibility, and also just a nice touch if you’re someone who has mostly all black winter running gear. It’s not insulated, so it’s a great shell to layer on top of warmer items.
Next, here are the best black leggings with pockets.