Patagonia Houdini Air Jacket ($169)
The model that created the category of ultralight, packable jackets has been updated with a more dynamic shell that incorporates Pertex recycled nylon fabric for strong wind and weather resistance, along with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish.
The jacket incorporates a soft, textured interior surface and the double-weave, breathable material provides good ventilation during long runs or high intensity workouts. The cuffs keep an overall low profile, with a drop tail in back for increased coverage, and an adjustable hood that’s secured with a bungee cord. Our head stayed warm in temps into the low 30s using just the hood as coverage. A slim fit and thin fabric make the Houdini Air easy to layer under a larger jacket, but it has nice mobility as a standalone layer.
When not in use, the Houdini Air zips into its own chest pocket and compresses to about the size of an avocado, and its minimalist weight of 116g is barely noticeable in your pack.
The Patagonia Houdini Air Jacket can be found at Patagonia.com.
Rabbit Treeline Jacket ($185)
In climates where rain, wind and precipitation are common elements, a jacket that offers solid protection is ideal. Rabbit’s new Treeline jacket was designed and inspired to be worn on the world’s toughest trails, and as a windproof and waterproof shell, this ultralight model provides a protective barrier that’s resistant in driving rain and snow, and keeps the body protected from windy conditions.
Made from 66% nylon and 34% polyurethane, the fabric is light but somewhat stiff due to the waterproof protection lining, and seams are securely sealed to prevent wind and moisture from seeping through. The hood includes slightly elastic sides with a bungee drawstring in the back for adjustment.
We tested the Treeline in sub-freezing temps as well as in rainy weather, and the jacket kept us consistently dry. Layers are needed underneath when running in colder weather, however, the shell does prevent a windchill from hitting the body and lowering your core temperature. We found any precipitation beads-up on the exterior and quickly dries post-run. The front pocket on the chest fits most phones and can also be used to pack up the jacket into a pouch and stow in a hydration vest when the sun comes out. Make sure to bring gloves if the temperature drops, as the sleeves are cinched around the wrist. However, the tailored fit of this jacket makes this a perfect piece when traversing the trails and battling the elements on longer runs.
The Rabbit Treeline Jacket can be found at runinrabbit.com.
CEP Reflective Windbreaker ($140)
For added protection during night runs, CEP’s Reflective Windbreaker offers a smooth, soft outer layer that is printed with a reflective lightning pattern across the surface of the jacket, as well as reflective strips across the back panel. When exposed to headlights, headlamps or other bright lights, the reflective lighting strike pattern shines bright, allowing for maximum visibility in the dark.
Tested during snowy winter conditions, this jacket not only offered protection during night runs, but we also found the smooth comfort of the 95% recycled polyester and 5% spandex to allow light, fluid movement without any restriction.
One of the features we appreciated about this model was the ability to tuck our phone under the sleeves during colder weather. The cuffs on the sleeves are a stretchy fabric that not only allow ample room to tuck hands and most phones under the sleeves, but also to wipe away (and absorb) sweat. Water-repellent and windproof fabric kept us dry and warm with a long-sleeve layer underneath. Stretchable mesh and breathable side panels give runners the flexibility and protection needed when venturing out on night runs during the winter. Storage includes two zippered side pockets with the capacity for a phone or wallet. However, make sure to bring a hat along, as this model has a high collar that will zip up to protect your neck, but no hood is included.
The CEP Reflective Windbreaker can be found at CEPCompression.com
Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket ($210)
Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket was the model in this group that performed best in the coldest winter conditions during our testing. Made with a ripstop, waterproof nylon exterior as well as an active stretch insulation, at just 9 ounces, this jacket allowed us to feel warm and protected without overheating on snowy days in sub-freezing temperatures.
When stepping out for a cold weather run, this insulated model added a thin, but breathable layer of padding between the elements and the body. Luckily, the padding is stretchy and didn’t bunch or clump while running or when exposed to sweat, staying evenly distributed. Thin, breathable panels under the arms allowed body heat to escape in a small area that didn’t also absorb exterior cold temperatures.
Padding is also included in the hood, which proved to be a great feature when our hat didn’t do the trick. Thumb holes on each cuff allowed us to pull the sleeves down so as not to ride up and expose bare skin to the cold. Storage options in the jacket include two side zippered pockets that have the capacity to hold smaller phones.
The Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket can be found at outdoorvitals.com.