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Lightweight Running Jackets – Comparison Review

Nightlife Feature Image

Nightlife Feature Image

As the weather started to cool in Northern California, I began my search for a lightweight running jacket. There are no shortage of options from companies like Adidas, Brooks, Sugoi and others. Below are a couple of the standouts. You can find these and other options at REI and Road Runner Sports.

Brooks Essential Jacket

The Brooks Essential Jacket has all the things you’d want in a lightweight running jacket. The thin nylon fabric provides just the right amount on waterproofness and wind resistance. There are three pockets, two outside hand warmers and another inside to hold your iPod Nano (too small to fit an iPod Touch or iPhone). Although the jacket typically found in darker colors, Brooks placed reflective logos and other accents on the jacket’s exterior. Drawstring waist and high collar round out this nicely-put-together package. I liked just about everything about the Essential except the cut. It’s slim through the shoulders and can be somewhat restrictive. Other than that, the Essentials is a winner for your Fall-Spring runs.


Sugoi Zap Jacket

Sugoi also delivers a nice package in its Zap jacket. This manufacturer based in Canada uses very lightweight nylon fabric to protect against the elements. It doesn’t claim to be waterproof and I did not have the occasion to test that capability. The Zap comes in a brighter set of color options than the Essential and is decked out with more reflective elements making it a better choice for early morning and evening runs. Sugoi bills the Zap’s cut as “relaxed,” and it’s definitely more so than the Essential, although still a little tight for my build. One last note on this jacket, the zipper is located on the left not right side. I don’t understand why Sugoi made this design decision, and I don’t like it. If you can get over this one little quirk though, the Zap will serve you well.


Brooks Nightlife Jacket

The Brooks Nightlife jacket looks to be built one the same platform as the Essential. As the name implies, however, it’s designed specifically for early morning and evening dashes. It uses Brooks’ Aireplex fabric which the company bills as extremely water resistant, thanks to the applied durable water repellent, and wind proof (same as the Essential). The jacket is available in colors that are near-neon yellow or green (I believe you can also find it in black). The application of reflective accents – in this case 3M™ Scotchlite™ 500 candle-power retroreflectivity – abounds. And although Brooks says the cut is the same as the Essential (they refer to it as “semi fitted”) I found it much more relaxed and comfortable than it’s counterpart. The rest of the features are almost identical to the Essential with the addition of a zippered Napoleon pocket on the chest.


Thanks for reading another outdoor gear review from GearGuide. Written by Matt K.

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