Famed fell-walker Arthur Wainwright once said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
Any runner should pay heed to these words, especially those willing to take on the elements this winter.
But it's not just a case of chucking jumpers on top of t-shirts and hoping for the best - the winter's low light conditions means you also have be seen.
As it covers the most surface area, a conspicuous jacket should be your first choice to ensure you’re obvious to motorists, cyclists, or even other runners.
There are two main types of high-visibility jackets to be aware of – the traditional ‘high-viz’ that usually comes in fluorescent yellow or green, and reflective jackets featuring special materials or panels that will shine brightly in car headlights.
Whether you should go high-viz, reflective, or both depends on the type of running you plan to do. If you’re mostly pounding the pavement on roads, then reflective materials will blaze in the headlights of oncoming traffic. If you’re more likely to be off-piste on country trails, then fluorescence will ensure you stay visible even without a direct source of light on your jacket.
For those whose routes take them into a mixture of urban and rural, there is also a wide selection that combines both solutions.
But that is not your decision making complete; the clothing you wear on a winter run will also need to withstand icy air, rain, sleet, and snow.
To complicate matters, it will also need to be breathable so you don’t overheat, become clammy, and ultimately be so uncomfortable that you have to cut your run short.
That’s a lot of requirements for a simple jacket, but there are many modern materials and designs that achieve all the above.
Much like modern cycling jackets, those for running use advanced microporous fabrics such as Gore-Tex that allow moisture vapour (from sweat) to escape but prevent bigger drops (from rain) getting in.
Where running jackets differ is in their cut and profile, fitting more loosely to allow for more arm movement with aerodynamics less of a consideration.
Today’s running jackets also come with a range of features, such as waterproof zipped pockets, compartments for smartphones and audio devices, removable hoods, face gussets, storm flaps, water-repellent finishes, and more.
The current high-visibility options
Here’s a selection of latest high-visibility and reflective clothing to help you make your decision and keep training throughout the winter.
In this section, we take a look at some of the latest reflective jackets on the market. Designed to brightly reflect direct light sources, this style of high-visibility clothing is ideal for city and urban running.
The OMM Kamleika Race Jacket is a serious jacket for serious runners and comes packed with features accordingly.
A stretch waterproof fabric delivers freedom of movement, allowing the material to be cut closer around joints. This removes constant 'swooshing' rubbing sound that would otherwise accompany every step of your run, and cuts down on wear.
A casual cut means it’s still functional as a jacket for everyday use, while two extra-large pockets make sure it’s a practical choice too.
The full-length water-resistant zip, adjustable peaked hood, Velcro tabbed cuffs, and reflective detail on the sleeve and back, mean this full-equipped jacket will keep you warm, dry, and visible on your evening jog.
The adidas Supernova jacket is packed with futuristic materials and features making this an excellent choice for those looking for a performance edge from their jacket.
Climacool provides exceptional breathability and it is water-repellant.
Articulated arms allow for reach high movement, tailored specifically for the running motion.
Inside, the 'sweat guard' pockets allow you to ensure valuables stay dry.
Reflective details have been strategically placed in areas that will not only get you noticed but also mark you out as human, as you pass under streetlights and headlights.
The Ronhill Infinity Nightfall jacket leaves you with no more room for excuses. The Aqualite fabric is both waterproof and windproof so you can keep on training through the worst of the winter weather.
The design features venting tabs which allow you to circulate cooling air around the body if you need to. A secure pocket and internal key loop mean you won't need to worry about your valuables.
The 'grown on' hood gives you additional protection thanks to the snug fit and a peak to keep the rain out of the eyes.
A stylish reflective print glows in an iridescent rainbow that can be seen from all angles which makes it perfect for city running when you need to be visible to traffic.
High-visibility (high-viz) jackets are more suited to low light where there are fewer sources of direct light, such as country trails. They are, however, perfectly at home in the city too, with many adorned in reflective panelling.
Light, water-repellant, and extremely breathable, the Lite-Show 2 is serious stride forward in jacket technology. The perfect choice when you just don't know how the weather will turn out but you're heading out anyway.
Its huge range of features includes a stay-on hood and 360-reflective prints on the front, back, and sleeves.
Meanwhile, its performance fit will minimise unnecessary flapping, noise, and movement, meaning you can concentrate on the most important thing – your run.
The Everyday Jacket has undergone a water-resistant treatment to help it shrug off showers and light rain. Its Activelite fabric is lightweight, breathable and wind-resistant, while the reflective trim will ensure you’re visible in low light.
Its lock-down front zip comes with a chin guard to stop nasty winds from penetrating the neck area, while a micro-elasticated cuff and hem does the same job for your wrists and waist.
The jacket comes with a zipped chest pocket and a sleek modern silhouette.
This feature-packed hi-vis jacket from Gore is lightweight and packable so it's perfect to keep on hand, just in case.
WINDSTOPPER® fabric keeps the chill at bay and under-arm ventilation prevents overheating. The elasticated cuffs, draw-cord hem and fleece-trimmed collar mean this is a great jacket for cooler days.
It's available in hi-vis yellow as well as more subtle blue or black and all options include a reflective logo and piping so that you'll be seen in low-light conditions.