Choosing a trail running jacket involves much more than merely picking a nice colour, although agreed, that is important! You need to take into account terrain, likely weather conditions, time of year and wind – there's a model for every eventuality. Of course, for most of the time, something that's breathable, lightweight, cut for performance and – given it's now dark outside – reflective should give you everything you need.
Obvious though it may sound, a jacket that keeps the rain (or snow!) at bay will keep you more comfortable for longer.
Feeling cold not only robs you of enjoyment but also of concentration. Protect your core temperature with a warm layer.
The cut of a jacket needs to allow good freedom of movement, as well as warmth, breathability and weatherproofing.
Ensuring you're visible to other runners and road users is vital at this time of the year.
If you can get everything you need for your run into your jacket's pockets, that's even better. Look for waterproof pockets, too.
CimAlp Elbrouz 4H
Rich in mountain heritage, CimAlp knows how to make a breathable, warm jacket that allows you to move with ease. This, light and very stretchy number features CimAlp's CIMAFLEX Power fabric on the outside, bonded with fleeceu202fto stay warm and comfy. Compact, it also works really well in the depths of winter with another jacket as a second layer. But, thanks to the Kevlar reinforcements on the shoulders and the elbows, to the hood and to the thumb passes, it also offers excellent protectionu202ffor use on its own.u202fIndeed, it would have to be pretty bad weather for you to consider it as simply a layer. So thatu2019s the tech jargon, but whatu2019s it all about? At 480g, itu2019s a comfortable layer-type piece of clothing thatu2019s at home in some pretty nasty conditions. If youu2019re competing in a monsoon, well no this wonu2019t do it, but for every other trail running weather day, welcome to your new partner! It has decent wind protection (up to 20km/h) and it has great sun protection (50 UPF), but where it really comes into play is at pace, on the move. Weu2019d wear this in the late summer, or racing all winter. Weight: 480g (menu2019s size M) Verdict: Pretty close to the holy grail of trail running jackets u2013 one protective garment that will suit most runs no matter what the weather throws at you. 10/10
Dynafit Alpine GTX Jacket
Designed for all-weather trail running, the Alpine GTX Jacket features Dynafitu2019s unique ZipOver Backpack system to keep everything dry. When it starts to throw it down, just unzip the back for more volume; hidden under a long zip, the gusset expands the jacket to fit over your running vest. The jacket uses Gore-Tex Paclite fabric for lightweight breathable performance; just 225g (size L). Underarm ventilation adds extra air circulation. The Alpine GTX Jacket packs down small into its own hood. Menu2019s and womenu2019s versions are available. u202f Weight: 225g (men's size L) Verdict: Versatile outer layer that's not only warm and waterproof but also surprisingly packable. 9/10
Salomon Lightning Windproof Jacket
This event-specific jacket has been designed to fit the requirements for ultra races, and the minimalist shell is free of any extraneous bulk. However, it does have a hood and taped seams for full protection. Fear not, the word u2018minimalistu2019 doesnu2019t mean it scrimps on protection and the AdvancedSkin Dry fabric it has protects against all elements (wind, rain, and snow) whilst keeping you comfortable and dry. The lightweight jacket easily packs down so it's small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Weight: 204g (women's size M) Verdict: No-nonsense jacket designed for races and ultra events in the depths of winter. 8/10
Dare2B Resilient Lightweight Zip Through Windshell
This is the kind of jacket youu2019ll mostly be searching for. Itu2019s perfect for our cool, damp winters. Yes, given itu2019s an ultra-lightweight, minimalist training jacket you wonu2019t venture up Everest in it, but you will favour it for a pacey 10km along the canal bank in early December when itu2019s sort of cold but not really. Made from Ilus Windshell tech-fabric that sheds water (itu2019s resistant, not repellent) and breathes, it has all the expected detailing such as elasticated cuffs and a hem to seal out the elements. It features reflective details for early starts and late finishes and tucks into pockets and rucksacks, weighing just 139g. Weight: 139g (women's size M) Verdict: Your weather-resistant ally for going the distance in the colder, darker months ahead. 9/10
Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell
They donu2019t do bulky at Black Diamond. This super-technical jacket weighs in at just 98g in the menu2019s version. Itu2019s as youu2019d expect, providing weather resistance and breathability with an ultralight design. Launching in partnership with Green Theme International, the Distance Wind Shell features GTIu2019s revolutionary Breathable Water Protection Technology, an environmentally friendly PFC-free water-repellant finish that is superior in performance compared to any other C-6, C-8, or C-0 DWR. Very hard wearing, the GTI technology is permanently fused to the individual fabric fibres, and there is no need to ever refresh the jacket with a spray or wash-in finish. And, of course, itu2019s ultra-packable. Weight: 98g (men's size M) Verdict: Very well appointed and packable jacket with superior weatherproofing qualities. 9/10