Light Running Shell Comparison

My go-to cold morning running outfit is a wool shirt and a shell with a light pair of gloves. The wool keeps me warm, the shell protects me from any wind, a little rain, and helps take the bite out of the air.  Here I compare shells with similar prices and features from some of the major manufacturers.

photovisi-fullsize

 

Note on sizes: I wore a large for each jacket. I’m 6’2″ and 170lbs with an exceptionally long torso and longer than average arms. I’ve done my best to show how the jackets fit for length, arm length, and how they hang while standing and while running.

Sam’s opinion: Sam’s my wife, and she has opinions. I’ve included her thoughts about each jacket.

And finally, please forgive the “model.” I tried to take real life pics that showed what a normal runner looks like and how each jacket fits.  Turns out I’m a bit more comfortable behind the mic and lens.

IMG_2486

 


Salomon Fast Wing Jacket

P1120035

My Thoughts:

It’s bright and slick and fits on the smaller side. The “Advanced Skin Shield” material (feels like soft plastic, pretty cool) does an excellent job of blocking wind and a pretty good job at keeping me dry in sprinkling rain. Has a unique button closure on chest that allowed me to unzip the jacket, but keep it “on” my shoulders. Very cool feature.

Sam’s Opinion:

“Whoa, that’s really bright.”

P1120040
Pit vents!

Stats:

$90

4 5/8 oz

One chest/stash pocket

Pit vents

Longer cut in rear

Media port

More info here

 


Stio Second Light Jacket

P1120090

My Thoughts:

I really like the feel and fit of this: light and unobtrusive. Small, sticky patches on bottom hem that prevents jacket from flying around. Even though it’s the smallest/shortest, it doesn’t feel strange. I wasn’t familiar with the company, but I think I’ll look at their catalog now.

Sam’s Opinion:

“I like the matte coral color a lot. It’s cute and it fits you well.”

Sticky hems, oh yeah!
Sticky hems, oh yeah!

Stats:

No hood

4.5oz

Nylon blend

Longer cut in rear

One stash pocket on right hip, plus one chest pocket.

Thumb holes

$95

More info here (affiliate link)

 


 

TheNorthFace Apex Light Jacket

P1120113

My Thoughts:

I love that it’s got zippered pockets and two large internal pockets (great for gloves, hat, etc.) This jacket performs better than most at keeping me warm and dry.  Large rear vents are a big bonus. The guy on the “fit” video online is wearing a medium, and though we’re both the same size/height, a large fits me better. This is the only non “stuffable” jacket in the list.

Sam’s Opinion:

“I like the back a lot.”

P1120128

Stats:

No hood

Two zippered hand pockets on outside, plus large drop pockets on inside

$130

7.2 oz

Made with FlashDry material. Not sure what it is technically, but it keeps me warm and it dries out quickly.

Back vents help in preventing overheating

More info here.

 


 

Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid

P1120019

My Thoughts:

Hood has great “visor” in it that is tight and doesn’t billow up with wind.  Doesn’t get too steamy in cold weather. I wore this jacket every day in Texas during the cold snap (mid 20s) and was never cold.  Very well made.

Sam’s Opinion:

“It looks like a nice running jacket.” (emphasis hers.)

Great hood.
Great hood.

Stats:

Water-resistant panels on front top, shoulders, and hood.

Hood has moldable visor as well as drawstring on back of head

One chest stash pocket

5.5oz

$125

More info here (and it looks like it’s on sale for $87)

 


 

Brooks LSD Lite Jacket IV $90

P1120052

My Thoughts:

Feels like it fits very large on me. I like how the hood tucks away completely in a zippered pouch. The material feels very thin and light and slick.

Sam’s Opinion:

“It doesn’t look big on you, and I like the style a lot.”

Hood zips out of the way
Hood zips out of the way

Stats:

One small zippered  stash pocket on rear hip.

100% Nylon

$90

Small rear vents.

3.75 oz (lightest of the group)

Ripcord string at waist

More info here

 


 

UVU Air Jacket

P1110994

My Thoughts:

This is a bespoke team model, but I like the stuff so much I included it.  Rather than a simple finger hole in the sleeve, this jacket has an integrated mitten that tucks away under the cuff. Absolutely awesome.  Good job with wind and light sprinkle protection, but I wish I could secure the hood when not in use.

Sam’s Opinion:

“I like the color and the mitten thing is rad.”

The magic mitten
The magic mitten

Stats:

One chest stash pocket

Hood fits nice and tight and comes up to chin

Vented pits (light and meshy material, not open)

Integrated mittens

4.5 oz

Price and availability TBD

Company info here

 


Important to me: Overall Length and Arm Length:

 

jacket length

 

 


All of these jackets performed great for what I expected.  They kept me safe from cold wind, kept me warm and they gave me the opportunity to shed a layer once my body was acclimated to the weather.  Each one has something I really liked (ORs hood visor, UVU’s mittens, TNF’s back vents, etc), but hopefully from this comprehensive comparison, you have enough knowledge to identify what’s important to you and make the best purchase.

###

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *