Famed fell-walker Arthur Wainwright once said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
Any runner should pay heed to these words, especially those willing to take on the elements this winter.
But it's not just a case of chucking jumpers on top of t-shirts and hoping for the best - the winter's low light conditions means you also have be seen.
As it covers the most surface area, a conspicuous jacket should be your first choice to ensure you’re obvious to motorists, cyclists, or even other runners.
There are two main types of high-visibility jackets to be aware of – the traditional ‘high-viz’ that usually comes in fluorescent yellow or green, and reflective jackets featuring special materials or panels that will shine brightly in car headlights.
Whether you should go high-viz, reflective, or both depends on the type of running you plan to do. If you’re mostly pounding the pavement on roads, then reflective materials will blaze in the headlights of oncoming traffic. If you’re more likely to be off-piste on country trails, then fluorescence will ensure you stay visible even without a direct source of light on your jacket.
For those whose routes take them into a mixture of urban and rural, there is also a wide selection that combine both solutions.
But that is not your decision making complete; the clothing you wear on a winter run will also need to withstand icy air, rain, sleet, and snow.
To complicate matters, it will also need to be breathable so you don’t overheat, become clammy, and ultimately be so uncomfortable that you have to cut your run short.
That’s a lot of requirements for a simple jacket, but there are many modern materials and designs that achieve all the above.
Much like modern cycling jackets, those for running use advanced microporous fabrics such as Gore-Tex that allow moisture vapour (from sweat) to escape but prevent bigger drops (from rain) getting in.
Where running jackets differ is in their cut and profile, fitting more loosely to allow for more arm movement with aerodynamics less of a consideration.
Today’s running jackets also come with a range of features, such as waterproof zipped pockets, compartments for smartphones and audio devices, removable hoods, face gussets, storm flaps, water-repellent finishes, and more.
The current high-visibility options
Here’s a selection of latest high-visibility and reflective clothing to help you make your decision and keep training throughout the winter.
In this section, we take a look at some of the latest reflective jackets on the market. Designed to brightly reflect direct light sources, this style of high-visibility clothing is ideal for city and urban running.
This entry-level Reflective Run Jacket by dhb is made from lightweight nylon and features a light polyurethane coating to aid water resistance. A pack away side pocket allows for easy storage, while rear vents will help you moderate your heat as the intensity of your run changes. Intended for lower intensity runs in colder conditions, it also comes with a hood, and fully adjustable hem.
The OMM Kamleika Race III Laufjacke is a serious jacket for serious runners and comes packed with features accordingly.
A stretch waterproof fabric delivers freedom of movement, allowing the material to be cut closer around joints. This removes constant 'swooshing' rubbing sound that would otherwise accompany every step of your run, and cuts down on wear.
A casual cut means it’s still functional as a jacket for everyday use, while two extra-large pockets make sure it’s a practical choice too.
The full-length water-resistant zip, adjustable peaked hood, Velcro tabbed cuffs, and reflective detail on the sleeve and back, mean this full-equipped jacket will keep you warm, dry, and visible on your evening jog.
The is packed with futuristic materials and features making this an excellent choice for those looking for a performance edge from their jacket.
Its Pertex Shield+ fabric provides exceptional breathability helped by micro-taped seams throughout.
Articulated arms allow for reach high movement, tailored specifically to reduce hem lift. The fully adjustable hood is also helmet compatible – for those also looking to cycle in the grim weather - with a three-point adjustment and wired peak.
Inside, there is a D-ring chest pocket for secure key storage along with a storm flap and rain drain, while the jacket’s outside is equipped a full length YKK AquaGuard® front zip.
Those who often find themselves wrestling with their gloves or mitts will be glad to see the specially-adjustable cuffs that make adjustment easy.
The Alpenglow colour, meanwhile, provides ‘dusk till dawn’ reflectivity, so you’ll be seen in low light no matter the time of day of night.
High-visibility (high-viz) jackets are more suited to low light where there are fewer sources of direct light, such as country trails. They are however, perfectly at home in the city too, with many adorned in reflective panelling.
Light, waterproof, and extremely breathable, the Gore Women's Essential GTX Jacket is serious stride forward in jacket technology. It comes replete with air vents to prevent you from overheating, while the Gore-Tex fabric does the amazing job of letting out sweat while keeping out rain. It’s huge range of features include twin zip tags for easy opening, fully adjustable hood and cuff, reflective panels on front, back, and sleeves, and a drawstring hem.
Meanwhile, its performance fit will minimise unnecessary flapping, noise, and movement, meaning you can concentrate on the most important thing – your run.
The Stride Windspeed Jacket has underwent a water-resistant treatment to help it shrug off showers and light rain. Its Activelite fabric is lightweight, breathable and wind resistant, while reflective tape detail will ensure you’re visible in low light. It’s lock down front zip comes with a chin guard to stop nasty winds from penetrating the neck area, while a micro-elasticated cuff and hem does the same job for your wrists and waist. The jacket comes with a chest pocket and a sleek modern silhouette.
The Gore Essential GTX AS Jacket features the impressive Gore-Tex technology for a warm yet breathable jacket that is light and waterproof. For those who listen to music on their runs, cable outlets are featured on the front pocket, while a zip-underflap and front semi-lock zip keeps the jacket secure from the elements.
Reflective piping and logos on the front back and sleeves doubles your visibility in low light and on the road, making this a solid all-rounder this winter.