Guess what? It’s still raining in Northern California. And maybe we’re not as cold as some parts of the country, but the wet — often foggy — conditions along with the cool morning and evening temps require a certain type of gear to take the edge off. Emerging as favorites these days are a whole crop of hybrid jackets that insulate where you need it and avoid it where you don’t. We included four products in this test: the Brooks LSD Vest, the Champion C9 Premium Running Jacket, Eddie Bauer’s IgniteLite Hybrid Jacket, and the Animagi from The North Face.
Here’s the results.
Brooks LSD VestNever thought I’d enjoy running in a vest. Not sure why. But this late add to our test quickly emerged as a favorite. It’s lightweight and fitted. The insulation is just enough to keep you warm on those morning and evening runs. No sleeves means you’ll need a half-zip or something else underneath, and we found the combination of those two elements were perfect on most days.
The Brooks LSD Vest hues very close to the body and might be just a little too constricting for some. We found that especially true through the chest area. If you prefer a looser fit, don’t be afraid to go up one size. We stuck with mens medium and were quite happy throughout the test. It’s also a versatile piece that can we worn under a jacket for layering while skiing, for instance.
Around $100. Find them at Amazon.
Champion C9 Premium Running JacketAnother favorite that was quickly favorited early in our test was the Champion C9 Premium Running Jacket. It’s available exclusively from Target. Over the years, C9 impressed us with the quality and durability of their gear. For the price, we found it hard to beat. And the C9 Premium Running jacket further reinforced our views on their offerings.
The C9 Premium Running Jacket includes a range of nicely thought-through details. The insulation is light and covers only the upper chest. C9 makes the sleeves from a durable fleece-lined material on top and a lighter, perforated fabric underneath for ventilation. Thumb holes are provided for added warmth on those colder days. There are two interior pockets and two exterior zipped pockets for more-than-adequate storage.
Now there are some penalties when going with this bargain brand. The synthetic insulation tends to poke through the black fabric, a minor quality control issue. The jacket also runs small. We chose to size up to men’s large for our test vs. the normal medium. MSRP is $44.99. Available at Target.
Eddie Bauer IgniteLite Hybrid JacketEddie Bauer keeps coming on strong with a range of performance activewear. The IgniteLite Hybrid Jacket provides a perfect example of their renewed focus on the outdoors. It employs a high-tech Primaloft Silver synthetic insulation and a Stormrepel durable water repellent finish on the front. The sleeves and back are a combination polyester/spandex stretch fabric.
Eddie Bauer nicely detailed the IgniteLite Hybrid Jacket. It includes a storm hood that conceals in the jacket collar. Three pockets line the exterior including two handwarmers and a napoleon pocket with a headphone port. Two color combinations are available, bright blue and gray/black/yellow.
The IgniteLite Hybrid Jacket kept us warm down into the 30s. And we liked the fit and finish. The athletic cut of the jacket never felt too tight thanks to the use of stretch fabrics, and we were able to stick to our normal sizing. Available at Eddie Bauer.
The North Face Animagi JacketThe Animagi from The North Face pretty much set the standard for hybrid jackets when it was introduced a few year ago. I remember thinking “why did it take so long for someone to come up with this concept” when I first started seeing the Animagi on the market. It still includes high-quality insulation across the front and back of the jacket. In fact, the Animagi is the only jacket in our test to cover both the front and back with lightweight insulation. If you need a bit more insulation, the Animagi should be your pick.
Other detailing is what you should expect from The North Face. Sleeves are stretch knit. Thumb holes are provided to keep those hands warm on colder days. There are two handwarmer pockets, one with a headphone port. And the fit is athletic. We tested the women’s version of the jacket and found the cut very trim and flattering. The jacket kept us out of the wind and cold as temps dropped close to freezing on a number of occasions. Available atREI.