How to Pick the Best Nike Running Jacket (or Vest) for Cold Weather

Buying Guide

Find insulative warmth and precipitation protection with these cold-weather running jackets by Nike.

Last updated: December 7, 2023
5 min read
How to Pick the Best Nike Running Jacket for Cold Weather

Winter running can be enjoyable when you have cold-weather gear to withstand the conditions. The right running jacket should provide much-needed warmth, while maintaining breathability and protection from the elements.

Pair your jacket with waterproof running shoes and winter gear, like running gloves and a headband, and you’ll be prepared to hit the streets or trail — no matter the weather.

Here is a roundup of the best cold-weather running jackets and vests by Nike, plus a few important considerations when looking to invest in a new winter running jacket.

(Related: What to Wear for Outdoor Winter Workouts)

The Best Nike Running Jackets for Cold Weather

1. Puffer and Insulated Jackets

Puffer jackets are the most heavily insulated outer layers, since they are filled with down or synthetic material. Even with the extra insulation, these running jackets remain lightweight.

Nike puffer jackets for winter running are made with Therma-FIT technology to enhance breathability while maximizing warmth — without adding bulk. Jackets in this collection also feature reflective details and packable hoods, as well as zipper vents. Some offer stretchy thumb holes for extended coverage and a fleece collar for a cozy feel.

Go a step further with jackets that feature Nike Therma-FIT ADV, which includes body-mapped technology that insulates areas of your body where you need it most (like your core), while keeping other areas — like your underarms — breathable.

(Related: 4 Expert-Backed Tips for Running in Cold Weather)

2. Windbreakers

Nike windbreakers are lightweight, non-insulated layers. This kind of outer layer increases warmth by preventing wind from reaching your body and features a relaxed fit to easily add underneath a base layer or midlayer on cold days.

Many include a water-resistant finish, which will keep you dry in a light drizzle. Reflective details help keep you visible on a dark, winter run. And, in case you get too warm and want to shed a layer, some wind jackets are packable, meaning you can fit them in the pocket of a running belt or vest.

3. Rain Jackets

For protection during rain or snow storms, choose a Nike rain jacket — which often has thicker fabric than a windbreaker and a fully waterproof exterior. Look for one with Nike Storm-FIT technology or GORE-TEX for maximum waterproofing.

A drawstring adjustable hood will enable a customized fit that can be cinched tight in wet conditions. Strategically placed reflective tape will help keep you visible in low-light conditions, and zip pockets create safe storage for essentials.

(Related: How To Pick the Best Nike Rain Jacket for Running)

4. Running Vests

Vests provide insulation for your core while keeping your arms free, which can be a balanced option if you tend to overheat on runs, even in cold weather. These vests for winter running are packed with synthetic or down fill with an advanced heat-regulating design.

They are also versatile: Depending on the temperature, you can wear one with a lightweight jacket when it gets below 30 degrees Fahrenheit or pair it with a base layer for 40- or 50-degree temperatures.

What to Look for in a Cold-weather Running Jacket

1. Insulation

Insulation is one of the primary considerations for running jackets in the winter. The amount of insulation you choose will depend on your exertion level and the weather conditions. If you’re facing sub-freezing temperatures, you may want to choose a jacket with more insulation. If you run in mild temperatures, you may forgo insulation for a wind-resistant layer.

Puffer jackets provide the most warmth and are a solid option for frigid winter runs or runners who are often cold. You could also opt for an insulated vest to balance core warmth and breathability.

(Related: The Best Winter Running Gear by Nike to Shop Now)

2. Breathability

As you run and your heart rate climbs, you may work up a sweat. If that sweat doesn’t evaporate and the moisture stays on your skin, any exposure to cold air or wind will cause you to feel chilled.

Look for running jackets that feature breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics — like those infused with Nike Dri-FIT technology — which wicks away moisture for faster evaporation. Features like zippered vents and mesh panels also allow extra body heat to escape more effectively.

Water-resistant jackets will be more breathable than their waterproof counterparts, but they will provide less protection from wet weather.

3. Waterproofing and Wind Resistance

Running jackets offer different levels of weather protection: Most will be water-resistant, meaning they will keep you dry in a drizzle but won’t withstand a rain storm. Others are fully waterproof.

If you frequently run in the rain or snow, you might choose a fully waterproof running jacket. Some Nike running jackets feature a GORE-TEX coating to shed water from the surface, while others integrate Nike Storm-FIT technology to create a fully windproof and waterproof fabric.

These outer shells will offer protection from the elements, but they don’t have insulative properties. If you’re prone to overheating, you may want to stick with one of these non-insulated, water or windproof layers. These lightweight running jackets are versatile, too, because you can layer warm clothes beneath if the temperature drops.

(Related: How to Layer Clothes for Every Season)

Frequently Asked Questions

Do running jackets keep you warm?

The warmth of a winter running jacket is determined by the amount of insulation it provides. A running-specific puffer jacket will be warmer than an outer shell, such as a rain jacket or windbreaker. It’s important to balance warmth with breathability to ensure you don’t overheat, even in cold conditions. Some runners prefer a thermal base layer and warm midlayer, with a shell jacket overtop.

Which jacket is good for extreme cold?

For extremely cold weather, opt for an insulated running jacket. Make sure to add warm gloves and a fleece headband or beanie to protect your head and hands from the cold. You can add an unlined waterproof jacket over your puffer if you plan to encounter sleet or snow. A wind-blocking shell will be a good addition on a clear, blustery day.

At what temperature should you wear a running jacket?

Depending on your tolerance for cold weather, you can consider adding an insulated running jacket at 30 degrees Fahrenheit or below. If the temperature is warmer, thermal base layers and an outer shell such as a waterproof or wind-repellent jacket may be all you need.

Words by Hannah Singleton

Originally published: March 30, 2023

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