insulated running vest
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Insulated running vest

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Unlike a puffy winter jacket, a running vest will keep your core warm but give your arms freedom to move. Find the perfect running vest from major brands, like New Balance, Nike, Brooks and more. Shop all women's running vests and men's running vests. A running vest uses insulation to warm your core, which in turn keeps the rest of your body warm. Popular running vest insulation comes in a few different forms: down, synthetic and a mix of the two.

But all insulations work by creating loft to trap warm air next to your body. Duck or goose down is a natural running vest fill that insulates well, weighs next to nothing and packs down small. Synthetic fill creates loft like down but is engineered from manmade materials, like polyester; synthetic insulation is better at keeping you warm even if it gets wet, which is something natural down struggles to do.

Fleece is a type of synthetic insulation for running vests that also traps air between fibers, which helps keep you warm. Fleece running vests are great for crisp early morning runs in the fall. Since you would typically wear a running vest in colder weather when daylight hours are short, many popular vests for running include reflective details and neon colors.

The reflective details pop when light hits them, so drivers, cyclists and other runners can see you better in low-light situations. Many lightweight running vests also include pockets to stash your essential gear, full front zippers for easy on and off, and collar to seal out chilly air. Not sure about buying new gear? An adjustable hem, back rushing, and a longer tail hem are details that make this ultra-flattering.

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. 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. The Aeroloft body map insulated design creates a cool look to this high-shine vest. Minimal collar and seaming keep distractions to pretty views and cute dogs along your path. 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. This has all the features you want in a vest: 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.

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.

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.

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We heard an excessive number of Back to the Future quotes during testing. It also ran true to size, without extra bulk or bunching in the back or chest. Outdoor Research uses Responsible Down Standard—certified goose down. It was the only vest with a soft, tricot-lined collar and pockets. Testers were excited to find that when they turned their heads, their chins rubbed against soft fabric instead of the rougher material typically used for shells or inner linings.

The tricot-lined hand-warmer pockets on the Transcendent are straight out of Mary Poppins —after zipping in our keys, phone, camera, sunglasses, checkbook wallet, and two Probars, we still had room. No other vest had as much pocket space: In addition to the spacious hand-warmer pockets, it also had a generous Napoleon chest pocket and two even bigger, zip-less internal pockets. Aside from the one on the Napoleon pocket, the zippers and their sliders were big enough to be easy to handle, even when our hands were cold or mittened.

The Outdoor Research Transcendent has one of the best stowaway systems of the vests we tried, too. That is not a problem with the Transcendent since the left stowaway pocket has dual zippers. It comfortably doubled as our camp pillow on a backpacking trip in Sequoia National Park.

Our biggest concern about the Transcendent is its durability. After six iterations of our shake test, several down barbs and half a feather popped out of a seam, which tells us that this vest might lose warmth over time. Among the down vests we tried, only the budget Uniqlo , REI Co-op , and Orvis vests lost more plumes and parts of plumes. The Transcendent also ranked among the heaviest vests we tried, but we think features such as the zip pockets and tricot lining make it worth the trade-off.

Our testers were impressed with the quality of materials and tightly sewn baffling, which stopped it from shedding. It kept us warm even on blustery days of hiking, car camping, and skiing. None of the vests we tested had poor stitching, but on the Down Sweater Vest, the stitches were tighter and straighter.

This vest also scored among the best in our durability tests, with only the tip of a feather sticking out from a seam. After we compressed the vest, the puffiness bounced back quicker than on most of the other down vests. Patagonia uses a responsible down-sourcing program, certified to the Global Traceable Down standard.

And the recycled-polyester shell performed well in our tests of wind and water resistance. Down-vest manufacturers often cut corners by constructing fewer baffles this is not as important on synthetics. But because Patagonia has added so many baffles to its Down Sweater Vest, this model manages to minimize cold spots and keeps a uniform warmth. All those baffles help with mobility, too. The pockets on this vest are among the best of any vest we tried. We liked the generous internal Napoleon chest-pocket zips, too.

Maneuvering the big but not too big YKK zippers in mittened or numb hands was easy. Some testers found the sizing and fit of the Down Sweater Vest to be too short. The torso was shorter than most vests we tried, and we noticed it would ride up and expose the small of the back to the cold when we wore a backpack.

It features a still-warm-when-wet synthetic insulation and a thin shell fabric that repels raindrops. The Thermawrap is less puffy than our down picks, and we found it equally comfy to wear as a top layer or tucked underneath a jacket, for extra warmth. Even after some rough handling, this vest showed no signs of wear. The Thermawrap was one of the lightest and most compact vests in our lineup. On mountain backpacking trips and on cool beach walks, the Thermawrap did the best job of helping us balance between overheating on the uphills and overcooling on the downhills.

Our tests confirmed this: During a windy, rainy hike on Mount Baker in Washington, without our rain gear, water was slow to penetrate. When it did, the Thermawrap was still warm when wet, compared with the soggy and deflated-looking Montbell down vest we tried at the same time. When water did penetrate the Thermawrap, such as when we soaked it in the wash, the vest dried quicker than most others it was almost dry after two spin cycles and totally dry after another 20 minutes in the dryer on extra-low heat.

But even in that situation, we found that the Thermawrap dried faster than the down competitors and most of the synthetic-insulation models we tested. Our testers also found that the Thermawrap fit true to size. And most testers liked the long length of the torso which measured 28 inches for a medium, the longest among the vests we tested. We also appreciated the two generous hand-warmer pockets, with YKK zippers big enough to work even with numb or mittened hands. Each hand-warmer pocket fit an iPhone 6s, a camera, sunglasses, a checkbook-sized wallet, keys, and two Probars.

Only the Outdoor Research Transcendent vest had bigger pockets. To confirm that the pockets were angled well enough to keep their contents safe, we played a point game of cornhole with our pockets full and unzipped. At the end of the game, the winner still had a phone in her Thermawrap pocket.

Both designs had fewer seams than the other vests, reducing the number of needle holes where insulation could exit or water could seep in. But with the Thermawrap, this bunching is more pronounced than on our down pick. Each time you compress and compact your synthetic layer, the microfibers lose their resilience. Still, if you find something wrong with your vest, Montbell has a lifetime warranty program for the original owner that covers manufacturing defects, and a repair program that covers other fixes for a reasonable rate.

It also fits a range of body types. But we were pleasantly surprised by the fit, warmth, and extra features in this basic vest. The Vest 2. There are two simple-but-big outer zip pockets, and two inner pockets. There are some obvious cost savings in this vest: After our camping trip, the down from the jacket started leaking out along the seams, with a feather here and a feather there every 10 minutes or so.

Unlike synthetic insulation, which continues to warm even when wet, a down vest worn on a snowy day may become clumpy down, which will quickly become non-insulating. This is due to the non-insulated stretch paneling which adds mobility along the sides of the vest. But for slower adventures, those panels absorb water and dry slower than the rest of the vest, which may make for a colder day out on the trails. But despite that downside, we still think the most active will find this vest to be a good fit.

The Superior Down Vest is a good option if you value compactness or a good warmth-to-weight ratio, but it requires more care and maintenance than any of the other vests we tried. The company offers no information about the down count, and the construction is simple—no liners around the armholes, and wide baffling with feathers already emerging—but the basics are there.

Owner reviews online complain about the inconsistent sizing, and our testers found that this vest bunched unflatteringly. But the Transcendent Down Vest has more features we like at a better price. This L. Bean vest has the best stowaway system of any of the vests we tried, fitting into its own fleecy labeled stowaway pocket, which can then convert into a pillow.

For the price, you have better options. The zippers were sticky, and the slightly odd fit translated to a lot of bunching and pinching. Like reviewers online, our testers found this vest to be too warm for outdoor exercise. But in practice, the fit was off, with bunching and pinching in strange places, and an overall boxy construction.

We do like that this one comes in extended sizing. With the proper care, a down vest can last decades. Whether you opt for down or synthetic, washing your vest can help restore its loft and performance. Brandon Lampley, rock climber, mountaineer, bike tourer, and former senior editor at OutdoorGearLab, phone interview, October 15, Manasseh Franklin, backcountry skier and mountain biker and a former certified technical rock-climbing guide, phone interview, October 16, Jayme Moye, recreational curler and award-winning travel and outdoor writer , phone interview, November 13, Two nature-school teachers share how to gear up and coax your kids and yourself into embracing the elements.

Dressing for winter runs takes preparation, but the right strategy and gear can help you stay warm, comfortable, and safe when temperatures plunge. Our pick. Also great. Budget pick. Everything we recommend. Why you should trust us When should you wear a vest instead of a jacket?

Brandon Lampley , a rock climber, mountaineer, and former senior editor at OutdoorGearLab who has biked across the country to raise awareness for several nonprofits doing development work in Nepal. Manasseh Franklin , a Laramie, Wyoming—based backcountry skier and mountain biker, and a former certified technical rock-climbing guide. Her writing has appeared in the magazines Alpinist and Rock and Ice. Jayme Moye, a Nelson, British Columbia—based recreational curler and award-winning travel and outdoor writer.

When should you wear a vest instead of a jacket? How to layer with a vest. How we picked. Some of our vests tend to retail for more but are on sale with enough regularity that we decided to include them. Light to midweight models: Our experts steered us away from heavyweight vests.

For down vests, to fill power: By eliminating vests with a lower fill power a measure of how much volume in cubic inches 1 ounce of down will fill , we found vests with better warmth-to-weight ratios. Hand-warmer pockets: These two pockets are positioned on either side of the body where the arms fall, allowing you to stuff your cold hands into them. Extra features: We looked for a full zipper and a waist cinch to reduce draft which all of the vests except the Uniqlo had.

Positive online customer reviews: We looked for models with more than four out of five stars, where available. Global Traceable Down Standard Global TDS is another down certification program that both guarantees the safety of the birds and also audits the farms distributing feathers. How and where we tested.

Hiking and sightseeing in Iceland, including a visit to Gullfoss Falls. Dog walking and commuting in Chicago, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon. Eclipse watching and sightseeing in Corvallis, Oregon. Camping on the Olympic Peninsula, at Kalaloch Beach.

Cycling and commuting in San Francisco. Playing cornhole and hanging out in Keystone, Colorado. Hiking and eclipse watching on Mt. Shasta in California. Photo: Brooks Sizemore. We used the following criteria to decide which vests were the best:. Flaws but not dealbreakers. Also great: Montbell Thermawrap Vest. During our water-repellency tests, water beaded up and rolled off the Montbell Thermawrap fabric. Photo: Rozette Rago. Notable contenders. Like performance vests, hydration options typically include both a reservoir sleeve and front bottle pockets.

When deciding which running vest is right for you, capacity should be one of the first considerations. Vests generally range from 1. A number of factors come into play here, including weather, whether your run is supported or unsupported, and both its length and difficulty. Finally, make sure to choose a pack that will have more storage than you need, as wearing an overstuffed pack can be quite uncomfortable, especially over longer distances.

The majority of runners will opt for a vest in the 1. Consider a higher-capacity pack 7 to 14 liters for all-day runs requiring more food and water, and perhaps some of the 10 essentials. We find these packs to be the most versatile—load them up when you need the space or use the external compression bungees to snug down a less-than-full load.

Every vest here has a listed capacity in liters, and many manufacturers provide more of a range than an exact number like the 11 to 20L capacity of the Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set. Running vests are lightweight and often streamlined but pack a big punch when it comes to organization. Below we break down organization by the three main storage options: shoulder pockets, side pockets, and the rear compartment.

Side Pockets If you opt for a vest that wraps around your body rather than a backpack-style design , chances are it will come with pockets under the arms on each side. In general, we love the additional storage these offer, although we usually only use them when our front pockets are full.

Most side pockets are stretchy dump pockets, and many of these pockets also reach through to the rear compartment, allowing you to grab a layer without taking off your vest. In the end, whether or not a vest has side pockets will not make or break our decision, but the added organization and weight distribution certainly come in handy. Rear Compartment In terms of rear storage, not all vests have this option, including some streamlined race designs.

Moreover, many runners prefer to have their gear and food items along the front and sides for weight distribution, comfort, and accessibility although this is partially a matter of personal preference. That said, for those who want to carry more than a liter of water and a few snacks, the ability to store gear along your back is essential. Rear compartments can include a stretchy dump pocket like we see on the Salomon ADV Skin series, or a cavernous compartment with top cinch, like that on the Black Diamond Distance And as we mentioned above, most designs allow you to access their rear compartment from the sides, making it easier to stuff a jacket or trekking poles away or retrieve your water filter without removing the vest essential for moving quickly.

Finally, the majority of backpack compartments have a built-in reservoir sleeve, and some are even insulated to keep your water cold and separated from your back. Quick and easy access to water is one of the biggest incentives for wearing a vest, so it goes without saying that hydration compatibility should be a key consideration. However, keep in mind that not every vest comes with an included bladder or bottles including UltrAspire's Mountain Race Vest above.

Water Bottles Bottles range in size from about to milliliters and are a popular form of hydration for supported races, short runs, and routes near lakes, rivers, or other bodies of water where you can replenish your supply throughout the day. Finally, most runners carry two bottles one on each shoulder strap , which allows them to drink two different liquids—often water and an electrolyte fluid—and balance the weight.

Bottles are typically stored on the shoulder straps and stay in place via stretchy dump pockets, which often include built-in bungees that wrap around the nozzle to keep it within reach. Most bottles are compatible with straws as well the Nathan Pinnacle 4L even includes these , which bring the water close to your mouth like a reservoir hose.

Finally, some vests, like the UltrAspire Momentum 2. The majority of water bottles are soft flasks, which are lightweight, shrink in size as you drink, and allow you to drink without removing the bottle from the vest. Hydration Reservoir Bladder Some runners will use a hydration reservoir also referred to as a bladder for longer runs with less potential for resupplying, as they can accommodate more liquid than bottles.

However, reservoirs make it difficult to monitor how much water you have left, are time-consuming to refill, and can be challenging to stuff into a full pack. They also focus weight along your back rather than your front, which can be a downside for some. And a note on using reservoirs in sub-freezing temperatures: To combat ice clogs in your hose, you can purchase an insulating neoprene sleeve, or—our method of choice—just blow the remaining water back into the bladder after each sip.

While some of the more streamlined performance vests are not compatible with hydration reservoirs, most models are built with a dedicated sleeve and hose attachment points. Reservoirs range in size from around 1. Those with a slider across the top are easier to fill without removing from the pack, and we find that they also provide the most secure closure. Additionally, for securing the hose to the front, a hands-free magnetic attachment—used in the Osprey Duro 1.

Finally, when it comes time to clean, bladders with wide openings provide the easiest access. Not every runner will want to store gear on the outside of their vest, and particularly those traveling fast and light. Most race-specific vests do not feature much in the way of external storage, but we see more carrying features on larger-capacity models in the performance and fastpacking categories.

These include trekking pole attachments, ice tool holders, and compression straps and bungees. There are a range of solutions for trekking pole storage, including along the shoulder straps, diagonally in front or across the back, or on either side of the vest. Some vests even have built-in sleeves along the lumbar or vertically on each side as we see in the Black Diamond Distance Often, vests allow you to customize the straps to configure trekking poles to suit your preference.

Ice Tool Attachments Ice tool attachments are seldom found in recreational or performance vests for good reason , but most models in our fastpacking category have one or two. In the end, very few runners need this feature, but it will prove absolutely essential for those who do. If you do plan to use them, make sure that the attachment is compatible with your tools before making a purchase. Some designs feature loops that can accommodate any ice axe with a standard pick head, while others—like that on the BD Distance—feature metal dogbones that only work with tools that have a hole in the head.

Compression Straps and Bungees Some larger-capacity vests feature bungees or compression straps for cinching down a partially full load. The Ultimate Direction FastPack 20, for example, has a crisscrossing compression strap on each side, while the Salomon ADV Skin 12 uses bungees in a similar configuration. In addition to being used for compression, some bungees function to secure a jacket or other light wind layer at the rear of the vest.

This does make us a bit nervous—gear is much more secure inside a stuff pocket or compartment—but bungee systems are typically quite reliable. While these can be useful on multi-sport packs like the Nathan TrailMix 7L , we recommend runners keep their load as streamlined as possible to minimize bouncing and unwanted movement. A vest that fits well will distribute weight evenly, allow you to move freely, and be able to adapt to a changing load as you drink water, eat food, and don layers.

Ill-fitting vests, on the other hand, can feel heavy, bouncy, and cause a sore back or shoulders. Over extended periods, they can even result in chafing, blistering, and nerve damage. Sizes and Shapes Most vests are available in a range of sizes and allow you to tailor fit significantly.

Further, look for the size that offers a sweet spot in the adjustment straps, making sure not to max them out in either direction. Finally, some vests and packs are one-size-fits-all like the CamelBak Circuit , in which case we highly advise trying it on before making a purchase to ensure you can make the necessary adjustments. The majority of vests come in at least two sizes, with some available in up to five for both men and women.

But as is common in outdoor gear, it can be difficult to find options beyond the small-to-large spectrum. The Nathan VaporAir 2. We hope that this is a sign of things to come, and look forward to seeing more manufacturers expand their size ranges. Vest shape is also worth mentioning here, as it varies widely between models and can play a significant role in overall comfort on the trail.

Some race-oriented vests in the performance category, like the UltrAspire Momentum 2. There are two primary adjustment points: across the front of the body and at each side. Starting at the front, most vests have two straps or a zigzagging strap or two , and we generally prefer one strap above the chest and one below. These should be snug enough to keep the vest in place but not overly tight—a good rule of thumb is about 3 to 6 inches between the shoulder straps.

Next, move to the side adjustments, which bring the load closer to your body. Give these each a good, equal tug, aiming to get the vest as close as possible without compromising comfort. All in all, the goal is to get the pack evenly snug to minimize movement as you run. In general, male and female torsos are significantly different in both shape and size.

The Salmon ADV Skin 8 Set , for instance, is designed so that the water bottles ride below—rather than on top of—the chest. In fact, one of our gear testers resisted wearing a vest for so long that she ran her first ultra a mile race with handheld bottles and gels stuffed down her shirt.

In our opinion, the most comfortable vests are those that look more like a piece of clothing than a backpack. Rather than the adjustable straps typical in a pack, these use stretchy materials that sit close to your body and hug your torso.

Finally, as we mentioned above, fit and sizing are crucial to consider here, as an ill-fitting vest can lead to uncomfortable rubbing and unwanted movement on the trail. Keep in mind that no running vest is going to do away with it completely, but some will make your outing more comfortable than others. The vast majority of running vests are built with air-permeable materials like mesh or other thin, well-ventilated fabrics along the backpanel, shoulder straps, and underarm panels.

Additionally, true running vests often fall short in ventilation compared to pack-like vests, as they sit very close to the skin and allow less airflow between your body and the bag. And it almost goes without saying that a vest that covers more of your torso will offer less breathability than a smaller-capacity, more minimalist design. Finally, it does help to consider color: Black materials will run hotter than light colorways.

Running packs are designed to provide maximum function at minimal weight, but some models achieve this balance better than others. The packs above range from 5 ounces to If weight is a top priority, look for mesh materials, thin straps and buckles, limited feature sets, smaller capacities, and removable features including straps and reservoir sleeves. Depending on your hydration style and capacity, empty bottles or a reservoir will add roughly 2 to 6 ounces to your load.

In general, high-performance options use more expensive materials and often pack in impressive feature sets at a low weight. That said, not everyone needs a premium design. That said, for those who already have a set of flasks or a reservoir, the savings of the UltrAspire or similar vest are undoubtedly enticing and make a lot of sense.

We love running vests for longer missions and carrying a liter of water or more, but for shorter pursuits or well-supported races, you may be able to get away with a running belt or handheld water bottle instead. In terms of running belts, there are a variety of great options, some of which are spin-off designs of vests above including the Nathan TrailMix Belt and the Salomon Agile Set Belt. Like vests, running belts come in an array of styles, including streamlined models that can carry a bar and a few valuables and more featured designs with holsters for water bottles and a few generous pockets.

In our opinion, sleek and minimalist belts are super functional for carrying small items, but larger loads on the waist can get unwieldy and awkward. Handhelds, on the other hand, are water bottles designed for easy portability and often feature ergonomic designs and sleeves to secure them to your hand Nathan's QuickSqueeze Lite is a great example.

This sleeve usually has a compartment for a few small essentials a bar and your keys, for example and wraps around your hand so that you can hold it without needing to grip. In the end, we prefer to have our hands free if the terrain gets even slightly technical and find that the added weight in our hands can be rather fatiguing over even moderate distances.

From affordable designs to feature-rich models for day-long adventures, we pick the year's top running hydration vests. Photo Credit. Osprey Duro 1. Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5. UltrAspire Momentum 2. See the Nathan TrailMix 7L Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 5. See the Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance See the Salomon Sense Pro 5 Nathan VaporAir 2. See the Black Diamond Distance 4 UltrAspire Momentum Race 2. UD Adventure Vest 5. Running vests and packs both offer great on-the-go access to your supplies That said, packs and vests do have their differences: running vests sit flush against the torso and extend under the arms like a standard vest , while a pack has more defined shoulder straps and a dedicated back compartment.

Running in the Nathan VaporHowe 12L Performance Vests in our performance category are designed for more serious runners who are willing to spend up for an increase in comfort, quality, and weight-savings. Fastpacking designs have expanded capacities for overnight loads Storage Capacities When deciding which running vest is right for you, capacity should be one of the first considerations.

The 7L Nathan VaporAiress can accommodate a down jacket Every vest here has a listed capacity in liters, and many manufacturers provide more of a range than an exact number like the 11 to 20L capacity of the Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set. Pockets and Organization Running vests are lightweight and often streamlined but pack a big punch when it comes to organization.

The Osprey Dyna 1. We love the added security of zippered pockets Rear Compartment In terms of rear storage, not all vests have this option, including some streamlined race designs. A rear compartment is great for storing bulky items Hydration Compatibility Quick and easy access to water is one of the biggest incentives for wearing a vest, so it goes without saying that hydration compatibility should be a key consideration.

Bottles are accessible and easy to refill Bottles are typically stored on the shoulder straps and stay in place via stretchy dump pockets, which often include built-in bungees that wrap around the nozzle to keep it within reach. Hydration bladders are great when you need to carry a lot of water While some of the more streamlined performance vests are not compatible with hydration reservoirs, most models are built with a dedicated sleeve and hose attachment points.

The Nathan Vapor Airness' magnetic hose attachment External Organization Not every runner will want to store gear on the outside of their vest, and particularly those traveling fast and light. If you run with trekking poles, you'll want a way to store them Ice Tool Attachments Ice tool attachments are seldom found in recreational or performance vests for good reason , but most models in our fastpacking category have one or two.

You'll want to take the time to find the right size pack The majority of vests come in at least two sizes, with some available in up to five for both men and women. Most running vests and packs feature mesh-heavy designs Weight Running packs are designed to provide maximum function at minimal weight, but some models achieve this balance better than others. The Switchback Travel team on a run near Telluride, CO Running Belts and Handhelds We love running vests for longer missions and carrying a liter of water or more, but for shorter pursuits or well-supported races, you may be able to get away with a running belt or handheld water bottle instead.

Powered by Drupal. Read More From Switchback Travel. Running on varied and challenging trails is a welcome break from the monotony of pounding pavement or even worse, the belt of a treadmill. Better yet, trail running is an immensely easy sport to get into. Below are our top trail runners of , from The La Sportiva Bushido has been at the top of our trail running shoe rankings for years thanks to its excellent traction, stability, and all-around performance on technical terrain.

In our opinion, a good windbreaker is the most versatile outdoor jacket money can buy. These small but mighty outerlayers pack a punch We repeat this mantra Despite their diminutive size, sports watches can really pack a punch. These modern timepieces put the power of a GPS device onto your wrist, allowing you to track your movements, follow a preloaded route, or even navigate complex terrain—hands-free We took the Houdini Air to Southern Chile, where the jacket faced As lightweight gear gains popularity among outdoor enthusiasts, above-the-ankle hiking boots are quickly becoming obsolete.

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And the recycled-polyester shell performed well in our tests of wind and water resistance. Down-vest manufacturers often cut corners by constructing fewer baffles this is not as important on synthetics. But because Patagonia has added so many baffles to its Down Sweater Vest, this model manages to minimize cold spots and keeps a uniform warmth. All those baffles help with mobility, too. The pockets on this vest are among the best of any vest we tried.

We liked the generous internal Napoleon chest-pocket zips, too. Maneuvering the big but not too big YKK zippers in mittened or numb hands was easy. Some testers found the sizing and fit of the Down Sweater Vest to be too short. The torso was shorter than most vests we tried, and we noticed it would ride up and expose the small of the back to the cold when we wore a backpack. It features a still-warm-when-wet synthetic insulation and a thin shell fabric that repels raindrops.

The Thermawrap is less puffy than our down picks, and we found it equally comfy to wear as a top layer or tucked underneath a jacket, for extra warmth. Even after some rough handling, this vest showed no signs of wear. The Thermawrap was one of the lightest and most compact vests in our lineup. On mountain backpacking trips and on cool beach walks, the Thermawrap did the best job of helping us balance between overheating on the uphills and overcooling on the downhills.

Our tests confirmed this: During a windy, rainy hike on Mount Baker in Washington, without our rain gear, water was slow to penetrate. When it did, the Thermawrap was still warm when wet, compared with the soggy and deflated-looking Montbell down vest we tried at the same time. When water did penetrate the Thermawrap, such as when we soaked it in the wash, the vest dried quicker than most others it was almost dry after two spin cycles and totally dry after another 20 minutes in the dryer on extra-low heat.

But even in that situation, we found that the Thermawrap dried faster than the down competitors and most of the synthetic-insulation models we tested. Our testers also found that the Thermawrap fit true to size. And most testers liked the long length of the torso which measured 28 inches for a medium, the longest among the vests we tested. We also appreciated the two generous hand-warmer pockets, with YKK zippers big enough to work even with numb or mittened hands.

Each hand-warmer pocket fit an iPhone 6s, a camera, sunglasses, a checkbook-sized wallet, keys, and two Probars. Only the Outdoor Research Transcendent vest had bigger pockets. To confirm that the pockets were angled well enough to keep their contents safe, we played a point game of cornhole with our pockets full and unzipped.

At the end of the game, the winner still had a phone in her Thermawrap pocket. Both designs had fewer seams than the other vests, reducing the number of needle holes where insulation could exit or water could seep in. But with the Thermawrap, this bunching is more pronounced than on our down pick.

Each time you compress and compact your synthetic layer, the microfibers lose their resilience. Still, if you find something wrong with your vest, Montbell has a lifetime warranty program for the original owner that covers manufacturing defects, and a repair program that covers other fixes for a reasonable rate. It also fits a range of body types. But we were pleasantly surprised by the fit, warmth, and extra features in this basic vest.

The Vest 2. There are two simple-but-big outer zip pockets, and two inner pockets. There are some obvious cost savings in this vest: After our camping trip, the down from the jacket started leaking out along the seams, with a feather here and a feather there every 10 minutes or so. Unlike synthetic insulation, which continues to warm even when wet, a down vest worn on a snowy day may become clumpy down, which will quickly become non-insulating.

This is due to the non-insulated stretch paneling which adds mobility along the sides of the vest. But for slower adventures, those panels absorb water and dry slower than the rest of the vest, which may make for a colder day out on the trails. But despite that downside, we still think the most active will find this vest to be a good fit.

The Superior Down Vest is a good option if you value compactness or a good warmth-to-weight ratio, but it requires more care and maintenance than any of the other vests we tried. The company offers no information about the down count, and the construction is simple—no liners around the armholes, and wide baffling with feathers already emerging—but the basics are there.

Owner reviews online complain about the inconsistent sizing, and our testers found that this vest bunched unflatteringly. But the Transcendent Down Vest has more features we like at a better price. This L. Bean vest has the best stowaway system of any of the vests we tried, fitting into its own fleecy labeled stowaway pocket, which can then convert into a pillow. For the price, you have better options.

The zippers were sticky, and the slightly odd fit translated to a lot of bunching and pinching. Like reviewers online, our testers found this vest to be too warm for outdoor exercise. But in practice, the fit was off, with bunching and pinching in strange places, and an overall boxy construction. We do like that this one comes in extended sizing. With the proper care, a down vest can last decades. Whether you opt for down or synthetic, washing your vest can help restore its loft and performance.

Brandon Lampley, rock climber, mountaineer, bike tourer, and former senior editor at OutdoorGearLab, phone interview, October 15, Manasseh Franklin, backcountry skier and mountain biker and a former certified technical rock-climbing guide, phone interview, October 16, Jayme Moye, recreational curler and award-winning travel and outdoor writer , phone interview, November 13, Two nature-school teachers share how to gear up and coax your kids and yourself into embracing the elements.

Dressing for winter runs takes preparation, but the right strategy and gear can help you stay warm, comfortable, and safe when temperatures plunge. Our pick. Also great. Budget pick. Everything we recommend. Why you should trust us When should you wear a vest instead of a jacket? Brandon Lampley , a rock climber, mountaineer, and former senior editor at OutdoorGearLab who has biked across the country to raise awareness for several nonprofits doing development work in Nepal.

Manasseh Franklin , a Laramie, Wyoming—based backcountry skier and mountain biker, and a former certified technical rock-climbing guide. Her writing has appeared in the magazines Alpinist and Rock and Ice. Jayme Moye, a Nelson, British Columbia—based recreational curler and award-winning travel and outdoor writer.

When should you wear a vest instead of a jacket? How to layer with a vest. How we picked. Some of our vests tend to retail for more but are on sale with enough regularity that we decided to include them. Light to midweight models: Our experts steered us away from heavyweight vests. For down vests, to fill power: By eliminating vests with a lower fill power a measure of how much volume in cubic inches 1 ounce of down will fill , we found vests with better warmth-to-weight ratios.

Hand-warmer pockets: These two pockets are positioned on either side of the body where the arms fall, allowing you to stuff your cold hands into them. Extra features: We looked for a full zipper and a waist cinch to reduce draft which all of the vests except the Uniqlo had. Positive online customer reviews: We looked for models with more than four out of five stars, where available.

Global Traceable Down Standard Global TDS is another down certification program that both guarantees the safety of the birds and also audits the farms distributing feathers. How and where we tested. Hiking and sightseeing in Iceland, including a visit to Gullfoss Falls. Dog walking and commuting in Chicago, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon. Eclipse watching and sightseeing in Corvallis, Oregon. Camping on the Olympic Peninsula, at Kalaloch Beach. Cycling and commuting in San Francisco.

Playing cornhole and hanging out in Keystone, Colorado. Hiking and eclipse watching on Mt. Shasta in California. Photo: Brooks Sizemore. We used the following criteria to decide which vests were the best:. Flaws but not dealbreakers. Also great: Montbell Thermawrap Vest. During our water-repellency tests, water beaded up and rolled off the Montbell Thermawrap fabric. Photo: Rozette Rago. Notable contenders. The competition. Care and maintenance. The steps for washing a down or synthetic vest are similar, with a few exceptions:.

Use a front-loading washing machine. Top-loaders have an agitator system that can catch or rip lightweight performance fabrics. Check the pockets for forgotten lip balm or chocolate. Forgettable items are a minor annoyance when left in a pair of jeans, but they can damage performance materials. Set your machine to cold and delicate. Use a detergent made for the insulation in your vest.

These detergents are designed not to leave a residue, which can reduce the breathability or loft of your insulation. These detergents will not strip the down of the naturally occurring oils that help it keep its loft. Imagine if you were trying to pull a nylon fabric from under a rock: If the rock weighed too much, the fabric could rip. Set the dryer to no heat or low heat.

If you must use heat, check to confirm that no area is overheating. Some manufacturers advise adding clean tennis balls to a dryer to break down clumps. Stuff the balls in a sock unless you want bright yellow-green dots on your vest. Otherwise, massage the down clumps with your hand. Do not store your vest in its stuff sack or stowaway pocket. Restore the durable water repellent DWR. You should expect to do this every three to five washes.

There are two home DWR maintenance and restoration methods: wash-in and spray-on. It's four way stretch — which you won't get with some other options — won't constrict any of your movements and quite breathable, so forget about overheating.

Users who rated it five-stars on Amazon of whom there are many love the non-bulky insulation. Buy it: Patagonia. Could this vest be any lighter? Lightweight materials and weather-resistant properties make this perfect for running while traveling, where the weather can be unpredictable. The quick-drying insulation will keep you toasty from your first mile to your last. Buy it: Arcteryx. 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. Keeps me dry and warm without me getting over-heated. The hood protects against the wind. It's also great to wear on a chilly day with a pair of jeans! Buy it: Smartwool. This option features Primaloft Silver insulation in the water-repellant front and back panels and four-way stretch on the sides and back.

The fabric also has Polygiene odor control built-in, so you can wear it a lot, wash it less and not worry about it being stinky. Buy it: EddieBauer. Throw on this cozy vest before an outdoor run. It's made out of recycled nylon and it's water-repellant, 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. 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. Throw on this number, and you'll be cocooned by 80 grams of synthetic down that'll keep you warm on some of the chilliest of runs. The outer layer has a rain- and wind-resistant coating, too.

Plus, the front and back have reflective details, and there are two zippered pockets. With an average of 4. Buy it: BrooksRunning. Fitness Training Running. A running vest helps keep your core warm and your limbs free.

Video of the Day. What to Look for in Running Vests. This running vest gives you easy access to your running watch. Image Credit: Under Armour. The wind doesn't stand a chance against this running vest. Image Credit: The North Face. Stash your phone in a hidden pocket in this running vest. Image Credit: lululemon. This running vest is incredibly light yet durable. Image Credit: Nike.