Salomon Bonatti WP Jacket image

How to pick the best waterproof running jacket

Let’s face it. Most people’s training takes a hit in the winter. You have to be a certain kind of crazy to want to leave your warm cosy home to brave the cold, dark and blistery winter runs. Luckily for us there are many different waterproof running jackets to help us maintain our training and take advantage of those beautiful winter days.

Technical properties of a waterproof running jacket

Waterproof rating

When it comes to running jackets, one of the main considerations is its waterproofness. Not all jackets have the same waterproof level. This level is called a waterproof rating which is measured in hydrostatic heads. A hydrostatic head is the measurement of how much water and pressure a material can withstand before water seeps through the garment. This is measured by a material being stretched over the bottom of a cylindrical tube and secured, water is then poured through the top of the tube. If a jacket reads that it has a rating of 30,000 hydrostatic heads then it can hold 30,000mm of water before the liquid can seep through. 

The hydrostatic head of running jackets will normally vary from 10,000mm to 30,000mm. To help you decide if you need a higher rating, you’ll need to consider the following: 

  • How long will you be running when it’s pouring rain? When out running for several hours, where weather can be bad, a running jacket with a high waterproof rating would be best (30 000 HH or more). 
  • Are you planning to wear a backpack with your jacket? If yes, it is best to get a jacket with a higher HH as the pressure from the straps could lead to water going through a garment with a lower HH rating.  
Photo by GORE® Wear

Breathability

As well as waterproof rating another important thing to note when looking for a new running jacket is its breathability. As you are running and exercising your body will be producing water vapour (sweat) which needs to be wicked away from your skin in order to keep you dry and warm. Breathability is calculated through a measurement called moisture vapor transmission rate. This is the rate at which water vapour (sweat) will transfer through the membrane. As with waterproofness, the level of breathability is not the same in all waterproof jackets. In both cases, the higher the number the better the membrane.

What’s the best waterproof fabric?

For waterproof running jackets, two membranes stand out the most. These are GORE-TEX and Pertex. Both of these membranes stand out for running jackets due to their performance when it comes to breathability. They can also be washed a lot. Jackets in which they are used tend to have minimal features. Such as reduced number of pockets and reflective markings, to make them as lightweight and breathable as possible.

GORE-TEX

Developed by GORE® Wear, GORE-TEX is a durable waterproof and breathable performance membrane. It is long lasting. GORE® Wear have been refining their membranes since 1976, leading to more than 40 years’ experience developing membranes for a given use.

The GORE-TEX membrane contains billions of pores per square inch, each of which is 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet. But that’s not all, those pores are also 700 times larger than water vapour (sweat) molecules. This allows sweat to pass out but does not let rain in.

Learn more about the brand, GORE® Wear – The pursuit of continuous innovation.

Pertex 

Pertex is a Japanese membrane which is lightweight, breathable and can often be packed down to a much smaller size than a GORE-TEX jacket. This can be a great option for longer races with mandatory kit. Or for a run when you don’t expect to be wearing the jacket for the whole time. 

Pertex is 2.5 and 3 layer construction which combines waterproof, windproof and breathable membranes. 

Pertex engineered two different types of membranes: the Pertex Shield and the Pertex Shield Pro. Waterproof jackets that feature the Shield Pro membrane will offer increased protection in extreme weather conditions.

Caring for your running jacket

For waterproof jackets the more you care for them the more they will care for you. Contrary to popular belief you should wash your waterproof garments on a regular basis. This is due to the salt (from your sweat), muck and bacteria not being able to transfer through the membrane and therefore it builds up on the garment. This reduces the performance of the jackets as it cuts down on the breathability of the membrane. 

Gore shake dry jacket - lifestyle
Photo by Ronhill

In order to maintain the performance and comfort of the garment it is best to wash regularly on a cold, delicate wash with non-bio (pure liquid) soap with no fabric conditioners as this clogs the membrane. However, you should always check the label on the garment first.

Wash, Dry, Re-apply

Follow the GORE® Wear care instructions to protect and prolong the life of your waterproof running jacket.

Our best waterproof running jackets

Best jackets for downpours

GORE® Wear R7 GTX Shakedry Trail Hooded Jacket 

Photo by GORE® Wear

Made for trail runners who need wet weather protection. This running jacket is lightweight, durably waterproof, extremely breathable and totally windproof. The GORE-TEX membrane uniquely serves as the outer layer, which means light rain simply beads up and runs off the surface of your jacket. With the outer layer eliminated, this is a lightweight and packable running jacket. Reproofing is not needed – simply wash SHAKEDRY regularly.

Ronhill Tech Fortify Jacket

Photo by Ronhill

Made for the runner who isn’t afraid of a little rain – or a lot of rain. This jacket grants full waterproof and windproof protection thanks to the high spec Japanese Polyamide face which, combined with a high performance hydrophilic laminate, also ensures excellent breathability. 

Best for drizzly days

GORE® Wear R3 Partial GTX Infinium Jacket

Take a look at Keiran’s review where he explains why this jacket is a reliable choice for a wide variety of weather conditions, and different types of sessions, from long miles to tempo runs.

Engineered for running, this is the jacket to wear in unpredictable, changing conditions: totally windproof, extremely breathable and durably water resistant, lightweight protection.

Ronhill Core Jacket

Photo by Ronhill

Designed to offer great value for money, the Ronhill Core Jacket is a simple and easy to wear layer suitable for light to moderate weather conditions.

Best for performance 

Ronhill X Mountain Equipment Tech Gore-Tex Jacket

Photo by Ronhill

Lightweight, breathable, durably waterproof and windproof, this running jacket features a SHAKEDRY Gore-Tex outer layer for ultimate weather protection. Learn more in our previous article, Introduction to the Tech Gore-Tex Jacket.

Salomon Bonatti Pro & Lightning WP Jackets 

Photo by Salomon

The Bonatti Pro waterproof jacket is the minimalist protective layer that ticks all the boxes for technical trails. Stay dry, stay fresh, run light. The 2.5L Pertex Shield combines durable wind and water protection with excellent breathability to reduce condensation build-up within the jacket. The Lightning Waterproof Jacket offers the same 2.5L Pertex Shield wind and water protection for women.

Take a look at the full range of running jackets available at Run4It.