Nike Shield Flash Max Jacket Review

by | Mar 27, 2020

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Now, with all this amazingness going on, there has to be something wrong with the Nike Shield Flash Max jacket, right? Well, yes. The price tag of this jacket started out at…wait for it…$500. Now, I should mention that currently on Nike’s website it is listed at $399 and we’ve found it even lower in our links below. Nevertheless, this is a hard price point to take and I have to look it like this; if you run in the dark a lot and in places where the weather can bombard you with precipitation – and if you’ve got the cash – this is definitely something you want to get. Otherwise, it’s really a matter of cost for most of us and whether or not we can justify (by all those other factors) spending this much on a jacket that could be perfect.

From time to time a piece of gear arrives at Gearist HQ that is so spot-on for its intended purpose that I feel the need to make a caveat before getting into the meat of the review. Such is the case with the piece we’re going to be looking at today – the Nike Shield Flash Max running jacket. Rather than trying to explain what I mean by this here, let’s jump right into it, shall we?

Materials and Construction

To start out this review, let’s talk about what the Shield Flash Max jacket is made of. Nike’s Storm-FIT 5 fabric, which makes up the entirety of the shell of this jacket, is a combination of a super breathable laminate and microfiber polyester. This material is at once very breathable for when you start to sweat but also completely wind and water proof all while including a comfortable, four-way stretch. Backing the Storm-FIT 5 fabric from the inside is a layer of Dri-FIT mesh that keeps a layer of air between your body and the shell, thus preventing sticking and clogging the function of the Storm-FIT.

Probably the biggest standout feature of this jacket – which is incredibly obvious – is its reflective exterior. Each of the small dots on the shell of the Shield Flash Max jacket is reflective and they cover every single inch of this piece. When subjected to the headlights of a car, camera flash and the like, these dots light up as though they have a power source. I’ll get into this more in the performance section below but let me just say that the picture of me you see here is completely untouched (except to remove the background) and was taken with an iPhone 6.

While it’s tough to move on from the crazy reflectivity of this jacket, move on we must into how this piece is actually put together. First, let’s talk about how the Shield Flash Max jacket is zipped and sealed – because what good is an amazing waterproof shell with gaping holes in its armor/armour? This jacket has two hand pockets, the righthand pocket having a reinforced, internal headphone cable port (which is also reflective – in case you’re messing with your headphone cable in the dark). The zippers of each of these pockets is fully taped and waterproof with the zipper pulls extending under a piece of Storm-FIT fabric that forms a zipper garage. The full-length front zipper of the jacket is not taped but rather, has an external ~3/4 inch storm flap the covers the zipper and then some. To round out the seals on the jacket, each of the seams is fully bonded to keep wind and water away.

The hood of the Shield Flash Max jacket is perfect for fitting either just your head or your head with a hat without a problem. It is also adjustable on the crown of the head as well as around the face for a custom fit and feel. The raglan sleeves fall perfectly on my wrists – which is saying something as the breadth of my shoulders has a tendency to mess with sleeve lengths. Around the hem of the jacket are internal cordlocks to tighten and further seal up the jacket around you if you need it. Finally, just below the shoulder blades on the back of the jacket there is an overlapping flap which is open to the Dri-FIT fabric that allows the warm, damp air on the inside of the jacket an escape.

Fit and Wear

It occurred to me when planning this review that, at this point, you’ve just read only about what the Nike Shield Flash Max jacket is made of and how. And, to be honest, there is some cool stuff in there but it’s not until you get it on your body that the piece really begins to connect.

First, let me say that the jacket I tested was a men’s large, which is typical for me. As I touched on above, my shoulders are often so wide as to throw off the fit of tops or jackets, but in this jacket, there was no such thing happening. I do think that some of this can be attributed to the raglan sleeves but also to the length of the sleeve which falls perfectly (for a running jacket) about halfway down my hand. Across the shoulders there is no pulling and, as I’ll touch on again in a second, the jacket rests so gently in that place that it’s hard to remember that you have it on.

The hood, a feature of jackets with which I often have a love/hate relationship, feels just as gentle on my head and is easily adjustable to right where I want it. Now for the overall fit, for me, this fits just how a running jacket should. It’s not a super billowy windbreaker, nor is it a piece so small that it winds up feeling more like compression than a real piece of practical gear (i.e. “Euro-fit”). If I’m being honest, there isn’t one part of the fit of this jacket that falls short of perfect for me and that is a first. The internal Dri-FIT liner feels just as soft on a long-sleeve shirt as it does on bare skin and even though the weight of this jacket comes in at 16.2 ounces – which is light, but not the lightest thing ever – this jacket moves so well with you that I’ll say again, you hardly notice it on you at all.

Performance

So, how did the Nike Shield Flash Max jacket perform? Let’s break it down into categories:

Rain:  I went and stood in the rain with this jacket on for a solid 10 minutes (and looked like a total dork). I had in each of the pockets tissues to indicate whether or not rain had found its way in. First I’ll say that this was a very cold 10 minutes and I wasn’t running because I didn’t want to have rain coming in through the hood opening and thus skewing my perception of water getting through the fabric (in hindsight, it would’ve been a much warmer experiment to just stand in the shower!). Verdict: apart from my exposed hands (and pants) getting drenched – nothin’, nada, zip. Totally dry.

Snow: Running in snow is always something I love to do as I find it incredibly exhilarating and beautiful. The Shield Flash Max jacket has enough room for fitted (and not-so-fitted) base layers for insulation and as such makes for an excellent snow run jacket. I again stayed dry and even managed to limit the only moisture on my head to sweat.

Sunny (but chilly): I’ll often set out on runs here in Colorado which start off cold but the warmth of the sun keeps things very comfortable. As those runs progress though, more often than not I find myself in the shadow of a mountain or heading up hundreds of feet of elevation in forests all of which make things colder. The ventilation on this jacket is solid and the full zipper came in handy on more than on occasion to keep me where I needed to be in terms of comfort.

Dark: You saw that picture above, right? All these other pictures? They’re totally accurate and maybe even a little more dim than what I’ve experienced. Amazing. Look, I know that I’ve not really had anything negative to say about this jacket (keep reading for that) but I’m truly being honest with you when I say that, to me, this jacket is the ideal.

This thing does everything I want it to and nothing I don’t and from a safety perspective, even a flashlight in hand isn’t as effective as the reflectivity of this beast.

Overall

Now, with all this amazingness going on, there has to be something wrong with the Nike Shield Flash Max jacket, right? Well, yes. The price tag of this jacket started out at…wait for it…$500. Now, I should mention that currently on Nike’s website it is listed at $399 and we’ve found it even lower in our links below. Nevertheless, this is a hard price point to take and I have to look it like this; if you run in the dark a lot and in places where the weather can bombard you with precipitation – and if you’ve got the cash – this is definitely something you want to get. Otherwise, it’s really a matter of cost for most of us and whether or not we can justify (by all those other factors) spending this much on a jacket that could be perfect.

I have loved every step I’ve run in or taken casually in, this jacket. Nike has made an incredibly versatile and beautiful piece of gear that sets the bar quite high. Is it worth it to you to buy this? Maybe or maybe not, but surely we can all appreciate the innovation and excellence that went into building this – even if it’s a bit out of our price range.

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