As spring races are starting soon, it’s important to find good gear. Spring on the east coast could mean perfect weather, but it could also mean torrential downpours and 30 degrees. Remember Boston last year?
In 2016 and 2017, I raced 10+ races in pouring rain. The weather varied from 30 degrees with wind chills of 20 to 50 degrees and rain. Truthfully, 50 degrees with misty rain is ideal.
One thing that stayed constant was the need for proper gear. Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you can’t run fast. In fact, I set my 10 mile PR in the pouring rain and 30 degrees. Why? Because I was wearing the right clothing.
A good rain jacket is expensive, but it can also turn a cold and rainy race into a fast one. Make no mistake that there are plenty of different jackets, but a completely waterproof jacket is going to be expensive. You will also see, waterproof and water resistant are not the same.
Let’s break it down:
Waterproof jackets come in plenty of options and weights such as the thinnest lightweight shells to heavy-duty waterproof jackets.
A shell provides a thin, water-resistant layer between you and the rain. Water will seep in, and it’s best used for temperatures above 45 degrees.
A fully waterproof jacket uses material that makes it resistant to water but it’s also breathable. I’ve run over five half marathons in torrential downpours, unzipped my waterproof jacket and been dry underneath.
What is the difference between “waterproof” and “water resistant”?
This terminology might not seem like a big difference, but it is. It causes jackets to differ in price by more than $100.
Water-resistant means the jacket resists the penetration of water to some degree but not entirely and not for very long.
Waterproof means the jacket is impervious to water. It also usually means the jacket has protection against elements like wind.
How do I know which one is best for me?
It depends on where you are racing. If you are running and training in weather that barely drops under 40 or 50 degrees, you’re probably fine with a water-resistant jacket.
If you’re training where the weather can be 30 degrees, pouring rain, and windy, investing in a waterproof jacket might make all of the difference. Here are a few great running jackets below.
Waterproof jackets are more expensive but are going to keep you drier for a longer period. Many are also windproof and stop the wind from piercing through.
At $300, this is not a cheap investment, but Gore products are lifetime guaranteed. If it stops working you can send it in to get it fixed. My Gore jacket is the best thing I’ve bought myself for outdoor running.
I’ve run several runs and races in torrential downpours and been dry. The GORE-TEX jacket is completely waterproof. Plus, it’s breathable so when you sweat you don’t get moisture locked into your jacket.
At $350, the Nike Aeroshield is at the top. It shields against rain and wind to keep you dry and comfortable. It’s a great jacket if you anticipate running in the pouring rain and 30 degrees.
Running an East Coast wet marathon? This is another heavy duty jacket. Plus the ventilated design allows excess sweat and body heat to escape.
This is Columbia’s first fully waterproof and breathable jacket. Plus at $200, it’s 1/3 less than other jackets of the same caliber. It stands up against wind, rain, and weather and has ventilation to allow breathability when you sweat. With the amount of ventilation it’s also a good option if you sweat more than average or you’re running in a bit warmer weather.
At $160, the North Face Ambition Jacket is significantly cheaper than other jackets of its caliber. It’s much lighter, but you might find yourself needing more layers for a colder run. If you’re looking for a light jacket for 35-40 degree rainy run, it’s great.
Lighter rain jackets
These jackets are going to protect against rain, but they aren’t fully waterproof — which means after a certain amount of time, you’ll find yourself drenched. They are still better than running with no jacket, plus you’re much less likely to overheat when it’s warmer.
At $140, the Saucony Vigor jacket is a good option for a warmer rainy run, or a day lacking wind. The seams are sealed on the inside which means it will protect from the rain for a while. On days that it’s 40+ degrees with no rain, this jacket would be ideal.
At $120, this is the same jacket; Des Linden wore when she won the Boston Marathon. Keep in mind; it’s not fully waterproof so you will still find yourself drenched by the end of a long run or race. That being said, it’s got to be good if Des wore it to win Boston. The jacket is a weather-resistant jacket as well as minimal and easily packable.
At $95, the New Balance Lite Packjacket offers protection in the lightest material. If you don’t want to be weighed down and are okay with getting soaked after an hour, than this is the right jacket for you. The material allows it to be packed into a small spots for travel and storage.
There are plenty of jackets out there for training. It’s important to figure out your own training needs and what works best for you.