Moving on from summer and its super lightweight offerings, our autumn is always a bit about mixing slightly cooler days with the still warm weather. Weight and breathability are key here, but you’ll also be thinking about reflectivity, waterproofing and how far the jacket will take you into winter.
The best autumn trial running jackets will cover all of those factors and with layering probably would even take you right through to the spring.
What to look for in an autumn jacket
Breathability: The breathability refers to how much water vapour can pass out through the fabric. Breathable jackets don’t necessarily stop you sweating but should move moisture away from the body to keep you mostly dry and comfortable. However, performance depends greatly on other external factors like temperature and humidity.
Fit: They tend to be cut shorter and trimmer, which saves weight. We tend to wear fewer layers with these, so a more tailored fit can work well. But make sure the jacket doesn’t feel tight across your shoulders or chest, and that sleeves cover your wrists fully.
Hood: They tend to have simpler hoods than full-on mountain shells. Some are elastic-bound, while others have a single drawcord to offer some adjustment. Either way, make sure the hood still offers decent protection without obstructing your visibility.
Pockets: They tend to have fewer and smaller pockets, though a zipped chest pocket is still a useful feature.
Ventilation: Some jackets feature pit zips or mesh-lined pockets, which can be opened to increase airflow. Wide cuffs that can be pushed up the forearm can also aid cooling.
Waterproofing: The membrane or laminate provides waterproofing. 2 or 2.5-layer jackets use a face fabric bonded to a membrane or laminate, with a thin film coating or sometimes a raised pattern (a ‘half layer’) to protect it. More advanced jackets use a 3-layer construction, which sandwiches the membrane between a durable face fabric and a soft tricot backer.
Weight and packed size: Since an autumn jacket will often sit in your pack for most of the day look for a light and packable shell.
Zips: Most brands use laminated and/ or reverse coil zips (with the teeth on the inside) to improve water resistance, as well as internal or external stormflaps. Zips often have a ‘zipper garage’ at the top to guard against leakage. A chinguard at the top of the main zip will protect your face from irritation.
The best autumn jackets for trail running
Trail best in test
Pros: Great breathability; superb soft feel
Cons: You’ll probably need a heavier model
Designed with the top of the mountain in mind, Montane jackets always deliver. Made from a 20 Denier Pertex Shield 2.5-layer fabric, it's lightweight but also offers full waterproof protection – perfect for when exploring in harsh weather.
Essentially, it’s a superbly ventilated barrier to anything the weather throws at you. It stuffs into its own hand pocket so is really easy to store on the move and as you’d expect offers great reflectivity. It tops the scales at around 200g.
Pros: Definitely light and definitely made with performance in mind
Cons: Quite a pricey
Pertex Shield 2.5 20k/20k technology provides extreme weather protection on the outside, while on the inside you feel dry and breathable thanks to the air flow. This lightweight jacket easily packs down so its small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. There’s a full zip for complete temperature control via vents on your back. The fit is pretty good, but don’t think of it as a waterproof jacket. This is all about wind and keeping it at bay!
Pros: Weight and waterproofing is really good
Cons: Too light for really bad weather
One of only two jackets in this test to come in under 100g, the Ultrashell is also brilliantly packable. The 2.5-layer fabric has taped seams, and is waterproof and breathable, while the central zip opens at both ends, so you can port cooling air in if you need it. Its see-through construction allows your race number to remain visible.
This jacket is all about meeting pre-race requirements where you must carry certain items. That said, it’s made to a very high spec and folds up to nothing despite offering you a reasonable amount of storage when you do have it on.
Pros: Price, technology, fit
Cons: You will need a heavier model for deep winter
It’s difficult to argue with the price on this one, which given the tech and fit is very impressive. Don’t venture out in a storm, but for the autumn this will be the piece of kit you’ll favour.
Reasonably light at just 210g, it’s all about wind and shower protection when running at pace. It packs down into nothing, so is also great for your kitbag.
Pros: Lightweight, breathable, waterproof
Cons: Very expensive
This light jacket is packed with technical features including Gore-Tex which means, despite its competitive weight, it's happy to handle nasty weather. Highly breathable, the fit allows for freedom of movement at pace, while the fitted hood provides additional coverage. There's ample storage for runners moving at speed. Weight: 190g Verdict: For grim, wet weather mountain races.
Pros: Unbelievably light
Cons: You'll need something heavier for winter
It's difficult to ignore this jacket, in that it appears to weigh nothing and be constructed of not much more than the flimsiest piece of see-through film! It features an exclusive Japanese 5 Denier fabric and is an amazingly light piece of kit you can put in your pack for emergencies as it stows into stuff pocket in the collar.