Gear Review: Nike Element Shield Full Zip Jacket

Gear ReviewAfter last week’s cold long run, I resolved to buy myself some warmer running gloves. My hands just get ridiculously, unusably cold with my Reynaud’s once the temps drop. I went to Marathon Sports with a birthday gift card I’d received in search of gloves. Unfortunately, the only ones that seemed warm and windproof enough for my needs were also sold out in my size. Never one to be deterred from shopping, I browsed the rest of the store for other cold weather gear and came upon the Nike Element Shield Full Zip Jacket.

I’m not dissatisfied with my normal running jacket, the Brooks Nightlife Essential Jacket. It fits, it’s comfortable, and I especially love that it is neon for high visibility. But, it’s made of normal windbreaker material, and once it gets sweaty or wet on a long run, it doesn’t do as much as I’d like to stop the cold.

I tried on the Nike jacket and once I ascertained I could fit my stuff in the pockets, I was sold. Or rather, it was sold. To me.

The Fit

Me in my new jacket.
Me in my new jacket.

The jacket fits true-to-size. I think it’s cut well for my curvier shape; that is, it doesn’t ride up on my hips like some garments do.

 

I was initially concerned about the pockets. Where my Brooks jacket has two zippered pockets in the usual location at the front, this jacket has two pouch-like pockets at the front of the hip and a single zippered pocket at the rear of the right hip. The zippered pocket is just big enough to fit my phone (meaning I’ll have to be mindful not to upgrade to something much bigger if I want to put my phone in this jacket’s pockets). The pouch pockets actually turned out to hold my smaller stuff (keys, Fitbit, and iPod) well, without bouncing, so my concerns were for naught.

These mittens will not work on my dangling arms!
These mittens will not work on my dangling arms!

The sleeves are nice and long, partly because there’s a soft fabric insert at the cuffs that includes thumbholes and can be worn like mittens. That is, if your arms are a normal length and not a mysterious couple inches too long.

I have really long arms. It makes buying long-sleeved garments and especially coats a pain. Long live the three-quarter sleeve.

The jacket comes in black, aqua, purple, or red according to the Nike website. Marathon Sports only had the red so that’s what I got. I think it’s what I would have picked anyway.

The Performance

Nubby fleecy lining
Nubby fleecy lining

The jacket looks like a windbreaker from the outside, but is actually coated in this soft, nubby kind of fabric inside. The double layers automatically make the jacket warmer than my Brooks one, and the fact that one layer is fleecy doesn’t hurt either.

I took it out on a 5 mile run on a 20-ish degree, windy day. I had a single Smartwool long-sleeved thin base layer underneath. I was noticeably warmer than when I wear my Brooks jacket. Now, this is not to say I was warm, but my torso was tolerably protected from the elements during the run. I particularly noticed that my arms were warmer than usual.

Pockets on the right side
Pockets on the right side

I mentioned that the pockets held my stuff without bouncing. Another thing I noticed was that my stuff was less noticeable than it is in the pocket of my Brooks jacket. My phone was far enough back on my hip that my arms never brushed it while I ran, and the other items made less noise than I’m used to (my keys jangle sometimes). This was an unanticipated bonus.

The Verdict

I’m really pleased with my purchase for the truly cold weather runs I’ll be doing this winter. I think the Nike jacket will be perfect for when the temperatures get below freezing or there’s a brisk wind. If it’s not that cold, I’ve still got my trusty Brooks jacket. I’m also not totally confident in what the Nike jacket will look like at night, so I may also opt for the Brooks with heavy base layers for dark runs.

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