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Unlike bears, runners tend not to hibernate inside come winter. Those who prefer the outdoors versus a treadmill stick to the fresh air even when winter arrives. What they do change is what they wear: Layers, insulated pieces, and seasonal accessories get dug out of drawers and put on to help ensure your speed doesn’t change with the temperature. A vest is a must-have piece that can be a lifesaver when doing any activity, from running to walking to hiking in the cold.
A good running vest prevents having to pile on layers, which can be restricting and bulky. It also keeps the full range of your arms free. When searching for a vest, there are things to consider. While color and print are always crucial when picking any article of clothing, when it comes to the best running vests for women, technical aspects are key.
First, consider the climate you run in. A chilly winter run in Alaska is different than a chilly winter run in California. Also to be considered: what layer you’d like your vest to be. If you want to wear it as a top layer over a thin moisture-wicking long sleeve top, you should consider a warm option. A thin vest that will lie flat under a jacket would work best as a mid-layer.
Anna Frost, an ultra runner and trail runner from New Zealand, is an expert on the subject of what to wear while running in the cold. She states the surprising benefit of a vest, besides keeping your core warm and arms free, is storage. “You can stuff your extra layers in when you get warm, and it can carry snacks and drinks for the day,” she says. Frost also shares that the right vest to look for should be lightweight and have a comfortable fit. The easier you can move, the longer you can run.
10 of the Best Women’s Running Vests for Winter
Reach for these when the weather gets chilly, whether it’s a quick three-miler or long training day.
Icebreaker Cool-Lite Merino Rush Vest | $170
The beauty of a vest made with merino wool is that it is naturally anti-stink—keeping you smelling fresh—and body temp regulating, keeping you from overheating. But what fans love about the Rush is how light it is. They also note that it works well with packs since the shoulder seams are designed to prevent pilling. An adjustable hem, back rushing, and a longer tail hem are details that make this ultra-flattering.
Cotopaxi Fuego Down Vest | $150
While you might choose this vest for its retro look, it’s a great season-to-season versatile vest. Stuffed with responsibly sourced goose down, this is light enough for early spring days and warm enough to layer for winter. Two interior pockets to stash your keys, phone, or gloves when you get warm.
Stio Azura Insulated Vest | $169
Achieve warmth minus the bulk with this quilted vest filled with Prima Loft Gold Eco, the highest performing synthetic insulation available. A feminine fit with princess seaming compliments your shape rather than add to it. An elastic cord makes the hem fully adjustable and locks to let or keep air from coming in.
Nike Aeroloft Vest | $180
The Aeroloft body map insulated design creates a cool look to this high-shine vest. It’s lightweight yet warm and breathable with targeted ventilation to keep your comfort at its best. Minimal collar and seaming keep distractions to pretty views and cute dogs along your path.
Lululemon Another Mile Vest | $148
For an excellent top layer option, snag this Lululemon style to wear over your sports bra and made-for-cold-weather long sleeve tee. The removable hood provides extra warmth and coverage when you want it. Leave worries about dropping your phone in the dust with a hidden sleeve within the zippered pocket. With this vest, all that is left to figure out is a killer playlist.
Brooks Shield Hybrid Running Vest | $109.99
This has all the features you want in a vest: warm, breathable, wind-resistant, and waterproof. What sets this apart is its sustainability factor, as this is made from recycled polyester that reduces carbon emissions by 40%. This outer layer’s sleek fit plus lightweight insulation delivers high warmth.
Oiselle Reflective Vigor Vest | $108
When it comes to women’s running vests, this one checks all the boxes. It’s lightweight, warm, breathable, wind-resistant, and waterproof. Zippered side pockets, large enough to fit your phone, also make this an attractive option. While black is always chic, be daring, and pick the bright orange color to help make sure you get noticed on the road or anywhere you wear it.
Under Armour ColdGear Reactor Run Vest | $120
Did you know insulation can be intelligent? Well, it can. And this is one smart vest. The thin, quilted parts adapt to the activity you are doing, making this a versatile vest for those who love all winter sports. Cropped to prevent any irritation and keep your look and stride streamlined. Secure your keys, ID, or small snacks in the back pocket.
Athleta Inlet Vest | $138
Created especially for medium- or high-impact workouts, this vest is made with recycled nylon with stretch to ensure you can move freely while this is on top of your long sleeve, moisture-wicking tee. The lack of a collar makes this an ideal mid-layer piece since it will lie flat and won’t chafe your chin. With a sleek look, we predict you end up wearing this beyond your morning jog, like with jeans, a sweater, and boots.
Eddie Bauer MicroTherm 2.0 Down Vest | $74.50
The new and improved version of this warm vest is slightly longer for warmth and made with a softer fabric for added comfort. What remains the same is the thin, insulating layer of the MicroTherm, which isn’t as thick as down, keeping bulk to a minimum.