Running Jacket recommendations


AuthorDateMessage
Ronan McCarthyJan 3, 12:47pmHi all,
Have trawled through the web for a week now looking at jacket reviews and wondering should i go lightweight/packable/rain proof/wind proof etc. etc....So then I thought, who better to ask than the people who run in them!!!!
Looking for recommendations for jackets you guys wear/have packed for IMRA Events. Obviously can't go too cheap as i want a decent one but not looking to break the bank either. Primarily want the jacket to be packable too so i can start runs without wearing it but quickly get it on when i need too.
All help/advice greatly appreciated!!
Gordon PlaceJan 3, 2:32pmI think most races call for a mandatory rain jacket so I'd go with that.
OMM Kamleika or inov8 stormshell are the only ones I've tried and both seem good. You'll be sweating in anything anyway but they'll keep the wind out and the inov8 has done me all year for even the worst days.
The Columbia out dry jacket is great for the long slow wet days. Totally waterproof but a bit heavy I think for the shorter faster ones.
The Kamleika was on sale on sportspursuit.com last week I think.
Hopefully you'll get a bargain somewhere! I'm sure you'll get plenty of other suggestions.
I got a pair of trousers and have never had to wear at all.
Ronan McCarthyJan 3, 3:24pmThanks Gordon, the more suggestions the merrier. Nice shout on the sportpursuit.com website. Some great deals on there!!
Paul SmythJan 3, 3:36pmYou are probably going to get lots of answers at variance with one another. Here's my take...

If you only want a jacket to satisfy the IMRA jacket requirements then the main consideration is portability and cost. you will rarely end up wearing it so you want something non-bulky that you can carry easily.Unless I'm actually wearing the jacket during the race (rare but does happen) I carry a very lightweight jacket in a special belt around my waist. This makes the jacket quick to get out but is a bit of a pain to put away (rarely needed during a race). I sometimes see people carrying a small rolled-up jacket in their hand. I don't like to carry anything in my hands while hill-running so I don't favour that approach. Some jackets fold up into a pocket or pouch which has a small belt or clip for attaching. The one's with a belt are probably best since in a lot of races I imagine finding somewhere to clip something to securely might be a problem. I've never used these and I wonder about the pouch bouncing again my back/side when running. I think I'd find that very distracting but it may well be fine if the jacket is light enough. Instead of the kind of belt I use you could use a small bum-bag to carry the jacket which will be a bit more bulky. I've also just rolled the jacket up and tied it around my waist. This isn't ideal as the jacket can loosen and require re-rolling/re-tying during the race.

Bear in mind that whatever approach you take will apply to every IMRA race you run.

If your main requirement is just to meet the IMRA requirement and it will be mainly trail or LL races then any cheap and nasty jacket will probably do. For longer, tougher races in pretty bad weather you should consider going for something breathable. Lighter is better up to a point but some very lightweight jackets which may be technically waterproof are problematic in bad weather as the jackets are usually so thing that although they keep the rain out they don't provide any real thermal insulation. You can address this by wearing extra layers but I prefer to go for something a little bit heavier which provides more insulation. For short summer LL races you can generally go ultra-light without worry. If you can manage it a couple of jackets will give you the flexibility to go as light as the likely conditions warrant.

If you plan to do adventure races, mountain marathons and the like you should be aware that such races often specify extra requirements that jackets have to meet such as having a hood and taped seams. IMRA rules don't include such specifications.

Things to consider:

Breathability - cheap non-breathable jackets may result in you drowning in your own sweat. OK for short races of for a jacket you will rarely wear for any length of time.

Weight - lighter is better up to a point.

Portability - ideally you shouldn't notice the presence of the jacket during the race (both when worn and carried).

Fit - it should be easy to don/take off, should allow free movement when running. If cut too close it may restrict movement and if too loose it will flop around and be a distraction and may catch on things. Some jackets have a drop tail which you can cinch around your bum. These mean that even if the jacket rides up a bit you won't get water, muck etc. on your lower back. Not generally a huge consideration I find but a drop tail may be most useful if you will also use the jacket when cycling. The fit should not be so close that you can't fit sufficient layers underneath.

Underarm vents - a stupid idea which you will almost certainly not use.

Zip-in fleeces - another marketing gimmick which I don't find useful.

Thumb-loops - more marketing nonsense. The only time I have ever found these useful is on the under-suits worn under a drysuit.

Hood - I generally go for jackets with hoods simply because it gives the most flexibility and the increase in bulk/weight is generally minimal. In practice though I practically never use the hoods and prefer to use a hat/cap. Hoods will obstruct your field of view considerably whereas a hat won't and unless the conditions are really, really bad I find a hat sufficient. In atrocious conditions I find a balaclava ideal. Remember that for many non-IMRA races a hood is mandatory.

Zip/Smock - A smock has a short zip designed to be donned by pulling it over you head. They are slightly more awkward to put on/take off than full-zip jackets. The increase in weight/bulk of a full-zip is generally negligible. Some people worry about the zip allowing water/cold to get in but in reality the impact is usually very low especially with modern fully sealed zips. Avoid zips with baffles or flaps - they provide negligible benefits and are a PITH when opening and closing the zip.

Pockets - Some manufacturers don't seem to understand how their pockets operate in real-world open mountain conditions (Patagonia - I'm looking at you!) so you need to look at them critically. Pockets should have vertical or near vertical zips that can be easily reached and operated with gloved hands while wearing a pack and running over rough ground. The pocket should reasonably roomy and should be fully sewn in so that it doesn't move around when full and you are running. Avoid packets with flaps. Should ideally keep the contents dry but don't assume it will and bag anything that can't tolerate getting wet.

Hard/Soft Shell - Soft shells are often sold as being waterproof and windproof. This is only true up to a point and half-way round a 25 km open mountain race in appalling conditions isn't the time to find out! Hard shell jackets are heavier and bulkier but with modern materials you can get very light, truly breathable, waterproof jackets with reasonable thermal properties. Expect to pay the guts of €200 - 300 though.

Reflective patches - Common on most modern jackets and may be useful if you wear the jacket while training roads. You should probably use a proper reflective tabard anyway for safety.

Talk to lots of people and look at their jackets - everyone is different so you'll get a broader viewpoint. If possible borrow some to try out on walks or training runs, especially in bad weather. You'll quickly suss out what works for you. Having a couple of different jackets will give you the most options for dealing with the terrain and weather requirements but is obviously more expensive and often not practical at the outset especially if you aren't sure of your needs. To start with go for a good all-round jacket and specialise later if necessary.

I use/have used:

Montbell Shell (76g) - suitable only for short races and relatively fine conditions.

Mountain Hardware Rain Jacket (420g) - breathable and waterproof. Hard wearing jacket.

Outdoor Reseach (176g) - not breathable but is waterproof.

Ron Hill Infinity Torrent Jacket - breathable and waterproof (208g)

OMM Event Jacket - (220g) - breathable and waterproof.

For races through forest (uncommon in IMRA races outside of the NAVs and Ballinatoe) you might want to wear a cheap jacket as modern lightweight jackets are vulnerable to being torn/punctured by sharp branches.
Maike JurgensJan 3, 4:37pmphew Paul, that is a very informative essay on rain jackets ...
just my 2 cents:

I have used the inov8 stormshell (races and training) and a Patagonia outlet ~100 euro old rain jacket (Mourne mountain marathon and longer, colder imra races and long training runs)

I have to say I do like the underarm vents if I can't be bothered to take the jacket off but feel too warm. faster and easier to open/close than taking the jacket on/off.
I also like the thumb loop things but I get cold hands quickly and those provide a little bit of extra insulation. but each to their liking.

on the jackets:
the imra stormshell waterproof jacket with taped seems is great but very thin so I don't like using it when it is too cold. it was waterproof for a while but despite caring for it (see below) I don't think it lasted too long with respect to being ultra waterproof (maybe I didn't mind it enough?) however, I still frequently use it and is doing me a great service.
the Patagonia jacket (I never really thought about the pockets not being great but know that men's/women's pockets differ for most if not all outdoor jackets so listen to Paul if in doubt) is better in terms of being waterproof. I have had it for about 4 years or so now and with care, it still works. the inner lining is detaching from the actual jacket. it can be fixed in store or (as per Patagonia store advice) a bit of duct tape does the job (I have tried and it works for now- i.e. about 2 years). I wear this on colder days or in a mountain marathon setting because it has an extra bit of durability.

both jackets were around 100 euro when I looked around for a while.

what some people don't know:
good and proper care can massively prolong the life of your jacket. talk to the people in the shop when you buy it or check online.
dirt will decrease the level of waterproofness of your jacket, too so regular washes are required.
I use the Nikiwax brand special detergent and spray on reproofer, I found those work well. I didn't like the wash in reproofer, I felt it took the breathability away.
also, I do only handwash my waterproofs, I don't trust that the washing machine will ever be detergent free.
hope this helps and happy running.
Ronan McCarthyJan 3, 5:02pmMany thanks guys, some great detail and a few questions I was wondering answered. I am primarily looking at one for IMRA events and the like alright.
I currently have a Puma Nightcat and Asics Jacket that i use in heavy rain but both are too heavy/not packable for the IMRA runs. I have 2 packable jackets (Everlast & a dodgy Aldi job) that although weight & annoyance while running wise they are fine when it comes to practicality they are completely useless so guess i'm looking for something in between.....
Practical when/if needed but also portable/packable/light to bring on runs.
So the more information i can gather before hitting the shops the better. Really appreciate all yer feedback.
Kevin O'RiordanJan 3, 5:08pmColumbia Outdry extreme is my new favorite. Doesn't require annoying DWR treatment so actually stays waterproof. And because there's no non-waterproof outer layer to "wet out", it retains breathability in the rain.

North Face/Acetryx also do much lighter weight jacket based on a similar concept from Goretex: Goretex ShakeDry. Has a "permanent beading layer" instead of DWR so should stay waterproof for much longer. I have one but haven't used it as much as the Outdry jacket as the material seems a lot more delicate. But the times I have used it in heavy rain, the rain just bounced right off whereas any standard Gore-tex jacket I've owned has ended up soaked through in less than an hour despite claiming to be waterproof.
Kevin O'RiordanJan 3, 5:11pmThe North Face/Arc'teryx jackets are the Hyperair and Norvan SL Hoody btw: https://www.thenorthface.ie/shop/mens-gore-training-jacket-nf0a2w6q, https://arcteryx.com/fr/en/shop/mens/Norvan-SL-Hoody . (I own the North Face one, the Arc'teryx is meant to be even lighter/more compact).
Richard NunanJan 3, 6:26pmThere is a new Light Pac Columbia Outdry extreme - coming out in spring - i have had this as a test for a few months - super jacket and packs into a pouch - not as small as the innov8 Tissue :-) but a super Jacket
Conor MurphyJan 4, 2:22pmIf you're buying and you are ever thinking of running in any event in the UK or NI, they often have kit checks and rules there require taped seams. No point spending too much and still falling short of the mark if you plan any races there.

I picked up a jacket with taped seams in TK Maxx a couple of years ago for €20, it all compresses down into its own pocket and comes with it's own elastic belt so very handy. Granted, I'm not sure I'd like to go running in it for 3 or 4 hours, but fine for IMRA up and down outings
Conor MurphyJan 4, 2:22pmIf you're buying and you are ever thinking of running in any event in the UK or NI, they often have kit checks and rules there require taped seams. No point spending too much and still falling short of the mark if you plan any races there.

I picked up a jacket with taped seams in TK Maxx a couple of years ago for €20, it all compresses down into its own pocket and comes with it's own elastic belt so very handy. Granted, I'm not sure I'd like to go running in it for 3 or 4 hours, but fine for IMRA up and down outings
Conor MurphyJan 4, 2:22pmIf you're buying and you are ever thinking of running in any event in the UK or NI, they often have kit checks and rules there require taped seams. No point spending too much and still falling short of the mark if you plan any races there.

I picked up a jacket with taped seams in TK Maxx a couple of years ago for €20, it all compresses down into its own pocket and comes with it's own elastic belt so very handy. Granted, I'm not sure I'd like to go running in it for 3 or 4 hours, but fine for IMRA up and down outings
Conor MurphyJan 4, 2:22pmIf you're buying and you are ever thinking of running in any event in the UK or NI, they often have kit checks and rules there require taped seams. No point spending too much and still falling short of the mark if you plan any races there.

I picked up a jacket with taped seams in TK Maxx a couple of years ago for €20, it all compresses down into its own pocket and comes with it's own elastic belt so very handy. Granted, I'm not sure I'd like to go running in it for 3 or 4 hours, but fine for IMRA up and down outings
Conor MurphyJan 4, 2:22pmIf you're buying and you are ever thinking of running in any event in the UK or NI, they often have kit checks and rules there require taped seams. No point spending too much and still falling short of the mark if you plan any races there.

I picked up a jacket with taped seams in TK Maxx a couple of years ago for €20, it all compresses down into its own pocket and comes with it's own elastic belt so very handy. Granted, I'm not sure I'd like to go running in it for 3 or 4 hours, but fine for IMRA up and down outings
Conor MurphyJan 4, 2:23pmIf you're buying and you are ever thinking of running in any event in the UK or NI, they often have kit checks and rules there require taped seams. No point spending too much and still falling short of the mark if you plan any races there.

I picked up a jacket with taped seams in TK Maxx a couple of years ago for €20, it all compresses down into its own pocket and comes with it's own elastic belt so very handy. Granted, I'm not sure I'd like to go running in it for 3 or 4 hours, but fine for IMRA up and down outings
Conor MurphyJan 4, 2:23pmIf you're buying and you are ever thinking of running in any event in the UK or NI, they often have kit checks and rules there require taped seams. No point spending too much and still falling short of the mark if you plan any races there.

I picked up a jacket with taped seams in TK Maxx a couple of years ago for €20, it all compresses down into its own pocket and comes with it's own elastic belt so very handy. Granted, I'm not sure I'd like to go running in it for 3 or 4 hours, but fine for IMRA up and down outings
Conor MurphyJan 4, 2:23pmIf you're buying and you are ever thinking of running in any event in the UK or NI, they often have kit checks and rules there require taped seams. No point spending too much and still falling short of the mark if you plan any races there.

I picked up a jacket with taped seams in TK Maxx a couple of years ago for €20, it all compresses down into its own pocket and comes with it's own elastic belt so very handy. Granted, I'm not sure I'd like to go running in it for 3 or 4 hours, but fine for IMRA up and down outings
micheal O’RourkeJan 4, 3:35pmYou can say that again
Donnacha CallananJan 4, 11:41pmI hear that TK Maxx do a handy jacket for €20, with taped seams.
Ronan McCarthyJan 5, 11:44amThanks a million folks. Have narrowed my search down to 3 from above. That was about 20 a week ago so alot happier & wiser now!!
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