Vests are a goldilocks piece of workout clothing. They don't get too hot and they don't get too cold — they keep your body temperature just right. And during a cool-weather run, they're a must-have.
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A running vest won't restrict your movement, while adding warmth in the place you need it most: your core. Browse our top running vests and layer up this fall.
The Best Running Vests
- Best Added Features: Under Armour UA Storm ColdGear Reactor Run Vest ($120, Under Armour)
- Best for Wind: The North Face Apex Bionic Vest ($109, The North Face)
- Best for Frigid Temperatures: Lululemon Women’s Down For It All Vest ($148, Lululemon)
- Best for Rain: Nike Therma-Fit ADV ($190, Nike)
- Best Eco-Friendly: Patagonia Nano-Air Vest ($199, Patagonia)
- Best Hoodie: Smartwool Women’s Smartloft 60 Hoodie Vest ($160, Smartwool)
- Best for Breathability: Athleta Inlet Vest ($149, Athleta)
- Best for Storing Valuables: Brooks Running Shield Hybrid Vest ($115, Brooks)
How We Chose
Using the guidance of a certified run coaches and personal trainers, we narrowed down the top styles based on their criteria, including:
We make deliberate choices about the language we use when it comes to gender. While more brands now carry gender-neutral workout clothes, you’ll still typically see clothing brands, like Lululemon, market their products to men or women.
The main difference between most women's and men's leggings is the fit: Men's versions tend to be longer in length and roomier in the front due to physical differences. However, fabrics, quality and comfort should be the same between gender-labeled pairs. We encourage everyone to purchase the products that feel right for them.
1. Best Added Features: Under Armour UA Storm ColdGear Reactor Run Vest
At the very minimum, a good running vest should keep you warm and wick sweat. But the best running vests also have some bonus details, according to Luke Lombardo, Road Runners Club of America–certified run coach and triathlete.
"Things like reflective details and zippered pockets are great features, too, in terms of safety, and being able to take along some personals for the run," he says.
This Under Armour vest has both: The logo and back stripe are reflective with light and you can even find a zipper pocket on the back for your keys and credit cards.
2. Best for Wind: The North Face Apex Bionic Vest
Windy runs are hard enough as is — you don't want your clothes holding you back, too. Luckily, this North Face piece is here to help. This vest is made with a wind-resistant and water-repellent fabric to help keep you warm and dry.
Plus, this one has an extra layer of insulation inside for when the weather gets particularly chilly.
3. Best for Frigid Temperatures: Lululemon Women’s Down For It All Vest
This vest is perfect for running during dimly lit mornings or evenings thanks to the reflective details, which make you easily visible to cars and traffic. Plus, you can stash your phone in the hidden sleeve inside the zippered pocket.
Bonus: The Primaloft insulation stays warm, even when wet! "The material keeps me warm in all weather, including rain and snow," says Emily Fayette, CPT, ACE-certified personal trainer, run coach and group fitness instructor in New York City. "It's easy to wash, too — especially after a nice, sweaty run!"
4. Best for Rain: Nike Therma-Fit ADV
This vest has light insulation and water-repellant fabric for ultimate warmth during drizzly runs. And it even has inner mesh panels for extra breathability.
5. Best Eco-Friendly: Patagonia Nano-Air Vest
Do something good for yourself and the planet with this layer, made from 87 percent recycled polyester and 40 percent recycled insulation. Its four way stretch — which you won't get with some other options — won't constrict any of your movements, and it's quite breathable, so forget about overheating.
6. Best Hoodie: Smartwool Women’s Smartloft 60 Hoodie Vest
A merino wool lining on this vest keeps your temperature regulated, keeping the heat in and the cold out. Merino also helps to control sweat and odor, which you'll appreciate after long runs. It's insulated with 50 percent recycled wool and a water-repellent finish.
7. Best for Breathability: Athleta Inlet Vest
Throw on this cozy vest before an outdoor run. It's made out of recycled nylon and is water repellent, so you can confidently brave the elements. It's lightweight, so while it provides warmth, it also allows airflow to help evaporate sweat, so you won't feel weighed down. And simply throw it in the laundry when you think it needs it.
"I look for clothes that will stretch and move with me and my clients," says Barry. "The stretchy, down fabric is breathable enough to let sweat move to the surface so it doesn't pile up and weight you down, especially on longer runs. And the anti-abrasion outer has come in handy in New York City, as it has withstood cuts and turns into unforeseen objects and things on the city streets."
Buy it: Athelta.Gap.com, Price: $149
8. Best for Storing Valuables: Brooks Running Shield Hybrid Vest
Throw on this number, and you'll be cocooned in synthetic down that'll keep you warm on some of the chilliest of runs. The outer layer has a wind-resistant coating, too. Plus, this piece has several pockets, including two on the sides and two pouches for gloves and hats.
3 Factors to Consider Before You Buy
First and foremost, you want a vest that won't stay wet with sweat or rain, according to Lombardo. So, before you buy, look for a sweat-wicking and quick-drying fabric. DWR is a common fabric you'll find and stands for Durable Water Repellent.
Another must-have? An extra-warm layer. An insulating fabric (like synthetic down) helps keep your core warm, while the sleeveless design prevents overheating. So, look for a vest that's labeled as having added insulation.
2. Safety Details
As the weather grows colder, the days get shorter and the nights are a lot darker. Translation: You need to prioritize traffic safety while you run. Abide traffic laws closely and keep an eye out at all times.
Another helpful addition? Reflective details on your running clothes, including your vest, says Lombardo. These little stickers on the fabric shine bright when they're flashed with a headlight, helping drivers see you more easily (and avoid potential accidents).
Pockets are pretty common, but it's best to find a vest that has at least one or two pockets with a zipper. For Lombardo, this is a non-negotiable, and considering most people need to take a phone or key on the road, it's a nice bonus.