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As the colder months approach, gone are the days of throwing on a T-shirt for your run around the park. Runners now need high performance outer layers to help protect from the elements, keeping them warm when cold, cool when hot, and dry at all times.
We’re taking a look at the best running jackets and outer layers available for female runners.
We tested the following running outerwear on a series of runs between 5-10k, in wind, rain and in sub-10℃ conditions. We judged them on their temperature control, flexibility when the weather changes, how much movement they allowed, and how they looked.
So, whether you are undergoing a couch to 5k or trying to smash your half marathon PB, take a look at the outer layers which impressed us the most.
Best outer layers for women at a glance
- Best for regulated warmth while running: Adidas- TRAVEER COLD.RDY JACKET
- Best for wind-proof running: Gore- R5 Women Gore-tex Infinium Jacket
- Best for packing down for ease of use: New Balance- Printed Impact Run Light Pack Jacket
- Best for a long-sleeve top: Lululemon- Swiftly Tech LS 2.0
- Best for insulation: Asics Winter Accelerate Jacket
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As its name suggests, this stylish jacket from Adidas is a winner for those training in cold, wintry conditions.
The cotton-based material and the smart insulation panelling meant we were warm even on the most bitter of mornings.
The balance between the COLD.RDY technology used in the material fibres as well as the mesh ventilation panel alongside the side meant our body temperature was steadily controlled. The multiple texture panels which run diagonally mean it cuts an incredibly flattering line, so you definitely look the part.
The nifty hood zips into itself so you are always prepared and the zip front pockets are extremely useful for keeping your keys and phone secure yet easily accessible. We loved the elasticated band at the bottom, which kept all our under-layers firmly in place, resulting in a streamlined feel.
If you want to take your running to the next level, the Gore R5 Infinium Jacket is a must. This jacket was the highest performing of all we tested.
We could barely feel it on as we ran, it is so lightweight as well as noiseless, which means you can really get in the zone.
While the jacket does not have a hood, we loved its high collar which kept us warm throughout. Made from Gore-Tex’s Infinium material, created with runners in mind, we were completely shielded from wind and rain. It also felt the most breathable and easy to move in, enhancing our run performance.
It was the brightest of all we tested (we opted for neon yellow) with reflective detailing across the seams, so we felt confident running on those darker afternoons. With a secluded inner pocket, our essentials were kept safe without bulking out our silhouette.
If you like your running jackets lightweight, this Printed Impact Run Light Pack Jacket from New Balance is the best in the business.
While feeling weightless, it still protects against chilly winds, so you are kept comfortable throughout your run. The fabric is interwoven with New Balance’s Water Defy technology, which means rain runs off your jacket like water off a duck’s back, keeping you dry and ensuring you don’t get weighed down.
We loved the two-toned design and the chevron pattern which is neutral enough to team with any of your running leggings. We also liked the flattering length; it skims over hips and bum but isn’t too long to feel bulky.
While the back pocket is great for holding your essentials, if things heat up, it also transforms into a waist pack which the jacket folds into, meaning you never have to interrupt a run.
If less is more when it comes to your running kit, we reckon you’ll want to add this long-sleeved outer layer from Lululemon to your wardrobe.
The material contains high levels of Spandex which means it fits like a glove, minimising gaps for chilly winds to touch skin as well as minimising the risk of bagginess after a long run.
The slightly meshed panel across the chest and along the spine ensured targeted ventilation in high sweat zones, keeping us cool and comfortable.
We loved the thumbholes, which were the most subtle of many of the jackets we tested; they kept us secure during our run but weren’t distracting at a post-run coffee with friends.
This top is beautifully cut so you can feel confident transitioning from a work-out to social situation, and Lululemon’s Silverescent technology which prohibits the growth of bacteria within the fabric, means you don’t have to worry about unwanted smells when doing so.
This Winter Accelerate Jacket from Asics was the warmest we tested; the added padding on the chest and back kept us fully insulated even on the coldest days.
The lightweight, breathable fabric ensured that while we stayed warm, we were well ventilated to minimise sweat. Both windproof and waterproof, this jacket is a great ally against the elements.
We loved the in-built hood headband which added extra warmth and protection when the weather turned. The material is also wrinkle-free which meant even if thrown in the back of a car or tied round the waist, it still looked chic and smart.
The dropped hem at the back covers your bum for extra protection, however one thing to note is that this jacket does run slightly small, so we’d recommend going for a size up to ensure full movement.