Running in good weather is easy. All you need is shorts and a t-shirt and off you go. Rain and cold are a bit tougher since you need to balance comfort with layers. Brooks, whose motto is “Run Happy”, wants you to be comfortable in all weather, and they asked us to test their Seattle Shell jacket for that reason!
I tested the Women’s version of the Seattle Shell in size large. For reference, I am 5’7″, and typically wear medium to large in running shirts. You want a running jacket to be well fitted, since excess fabric is likely to bunch and irritate, plus it’s not very aerodynamic to have your jacket billowing out behind you like a parachute. Brooks has a calculator on their site where you plug in your favorite clothing brand, what size you usually wear, your bra size, and then they translate that to the size you need in the Seattle Shell. You do want to figure out the right size because this is a fitted jacket and you don’t want to end up with it too tight or too loose. Large has been fine for me with one normal layer underneath it, and I can actually wear it with two thin layers (a t-shirt and a fitted long-sleeved shirt over it). It’s not going to fit you well if you have a sweatshirt on underneath, but most spring clothing, especially workout clothing, should be fine.
The shell has a number of features to make it comfortable for running. There are vents under the arms so you don’t get too hot, one of the pockets has a hole to weave headphone cords (don’t listen too loudly while running outside!), there are various reflective bits on the front and back, and the pockets zip up so your valuables don’t fall out on the move. There are three pockets, one on each lower side and one up near the chest. Within the right lower pocket there’s a small subdivided area that’s perfect for holding a car key in place. All the pockets are lined with a BRIGHT yellow/green material, which makes it easy to see inside, but otherwise seems more aesthetic than for safety reasons. Unless you routinely run down the street holding your pockets open, in which case this is an added safety feature. Also, you probably have really weird biomechanics. The material is waterproof and windproof, and from my testing, it works quite well. I didn’t get caught in any major rainstorms with it, but I did wear the jacket on a few windy days and found that it did a great job of keeping the wind from chilling me. It helps that the wrists are fitted and so there’s no way for wind or rain to sneak in through the sleeves, and there are adjustable pulls at the waist to tighten the fit there as well.
Here’s what I really, really liked about the Seattle Shell — it’s nice enough that you don’t have to pigeonhole it as a “running jacket”. It’s great for running (or biking, or hiking, or any other outdoor activity), but it’s just a nice jacket. I’ve paired it with casual clothes, and it doesn’t scream “athletic wear”, it’s just an attractive, fitted jacket. At $260 MSRP (currently $169), it’s not cheap, but since you can use it casually as well as while working out, it offers versatility that justifies the cost. I’ve been dying for spring, just so I have an excuse to use this jacket while running errands — it’s just that comfortable!
If you need a solid, weatherproof jacket as an outer layer on cold days or just a solid spring jacket for hikes and walks around town, the Brooks Seattle Shell is a fabulous choice!
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample
What I Liked: Wind-proofing works well; hood can be folded up if not in use; abundant pockets and zippers; attractive design
What Needs Improvement: Fitted design means it may not work well for all body types.