A windbreaker is the most versatile and useful piece of outerwear. We reach for it whenever we want to head outdoors to enjoy our favorite pastimes, train, work, run errands or walk the dog and the wind is blowing or it is drizzling. Given how simple, thin and lightweight the best windbreakers are, it is amazing how well they are able to protect us from the wind and light rain helping us stay dry and comfortable in windy and wet conditions.
We think a windbreaker is a valuable addition to any closet and a must-have for avid outdoor adventurers and those who live in windy places. Below, we have reviewed our top 10 favorite windbreakers that excel in wind resistance, water resistance, comfort, convenience, lightweight and packability, quality and durability and value for money. They are among the best windbreaker jackets available today and they look good too. We also point out the factors to consider when choosing a wind jacket so you can get one that will protect you from the elements well.
Ready to get started? Let’s go.
How To Choose A Windbreaker Jacket – Buying Guide
All windbreakers are made to block the wind but that is as far as their similarity goes. Manufacturers utilize different materials, technologies and equip their windbreakers with a variety of features to offer varying levels of protection from the elements and cater to different activities.
A number of factors determine how a wind jacket performs in protecting us from the wind and light showers. It is important to consider these factors when purchasing a windbreaker so you can choose one that performs well. First, consider what activities you will be engaging in and the weather conditions you will be wearing it in.
With the intended purpose in mind, you will be able to determine the best windbreaker jacket that will fit your needs and suit your activities. Pay attention to the following features when evaluating windbreakers so you can choose wisely and pick a windbreaker that has the features you are looking for, protects you from the elements, looks good and offers you the best value for your money:
Being an active jacket, it is always wise to get a lightweight windbreaker. It will be comfortable to wear, it won’t slow you down, and it won’t be a burden to bring along so you’re prepared just in case the weather turns windy and rainy. The good thing is that windbreaker jackets are lightweight – most weigh less than one pound. The lightest windbreakers are as light as feathers. They are designed to be easy to carry and to protect from wind chill without weighing the wearer down.
Things that determine a windproof jacket’s weight include the materials, pockets, zips, toggles, and hood. Usually, more features and heavy-duty protection means more weight. You will need to find a jacket that has your most important features and a convenient weight for you. If you want a windbreaker for frigid conditions, you will need one made of a heavy material and equipped with an insulating lining and it will be on the heavy side.
How important weight is as a consideration will also depend on the activities you will be engaging in and the level of protection you need. When you’re moving fast and utilizing a lot of energy, go for light windbreakers. For simple and slow activities like jogging, running errands or walking the dog, you can wear a heavier one. Heavier jackets offer more protection from the elements.
Water resistance is a nice feature to have in a windbreaker. Such a jacket will serve as both a wind and light rain jacket. They can protect you from light and shortlived rain, the occasional drizzle, mist, and exposure to short durations.
A windbreaker is a light jacket meant to block the wind. It is made using a tightly woven fabric that prevents wind from passing through. This tight weave that doesn’t allow moving air to pass through also blocks water from getting through. Thus, windbreaker jackets naturally have some water resistance abilities. They can protect you from light and shortlived rain, the occasional drizzle, mist, and exposure to short durations.
Most windbreakers also have durable water repellant (DWR) treatment that causes water to bead up and roll off instead of seeping through the fabric. However, this treatment wears out over time reducing the water repelling capability of the fabric. A reapplication is all that it needed to restore a fabric’s water repelling performance.
However, windbreakers are not fully waterproof. With prolonged exposure or exposure to a torrential downpour, they let in water and get soaked. If what you want is a waterproof jacket, what you need is a heavy duty rain jacket or a hard shell jacket constructed using multiple layers and equipped with superior waterproofing to offer protection from extreme weather conditions.
Related Post: How To Waterproof A Jacket
Breathability and ventilation are very important features in windbreaker jackets. Designed to be worn when active in warm conditions, it is inevitable that one will get hot and sweat when wearing a windbreaker. Breathability allows the excess heat built up and sweat moisture to escape to the outside keeping the wearer comfortable.
A jacket that offers excellent wind and water protection but doesn’t allow heat and moisture to escape from the skin to the outside would be like a personal sauna. If you get hot and sweaty while wearing such a jacket, heat and condensation will be trapped inside the jacket with no way to escape. The result is that you will either overheat or feel chilled and cold.
The best windbreaker jacket blocks the wind effectively but still allows some air and moisture to pass through. Wind resistance and breathability don’t go hand in hand. Great wind resistance means not-so-great breathability. It is hard to balance these two.
A good windbreaker material has a tight weave that is excellent at resisting wind but poor at letting heat and sweat escape to the outside. A breathable material that allows excess body heat and perspiration to pass to the outside won’t be good at blocking wind and moisture.
To offer breathability without reducing wind resistance, many manufacturers utilize strategically positioned ventilation outlets such as mesh panels, underarm zip vents, mesh pockets, and moisture-wicking liners as a way out for heat and moisture. The DWR coating that repels water also aids breathability by keeping the fabric dry and therefore permeable.
Your head and neck also need protection from the wind. For this, you need a jacket with a hood that fits properly and offers optimal coverage. The problem with some hoods is that they tend to be so large that they flop over the face and blocks your field of view becoming a nuisance rather than a convenience.
Look for a hood that is adjustable so you can adjust the fit for comfort, optimum protection and so that it isn’t blown off by a strong wind. The hood should adjust easily. Check hood dimensions and read user reviews to determine what kind of hood the jacket comes with, how it fits and adjusts, and the kind of protection it offers.
When you don’t need the hood, it should be removable or stowable in the collar so it is out of the way. For cycling or climbing, look for a hood designed to fit comfortably under or over helmets.
To be effective at its job, a windbreaker jacket should fit close to your body without being too tight and restrictive. It should move with you so have the flexibility you need when active. A slim fitting jacket also looks stylish and it never hurts to look good. One that is baggy and hands around your body won’t be effective at blocking the wind and will be in the way of your activities.
You want a jacket that will fit snugly and leave an allowance for layering. You also want sufficient length, sleeves that are long enough and close fitting, a hood that fits well, and a way to adjust the hem, cuffs, and hood. When battling strong winds, features such as elastic sleeve cuffs, velcro fasteners, and drawcords allow you to adjust the fit to suit the conditions.
Have your body measurements in hand and compare them with each item’s size guide to determine which size to order for the perfect fit. Also, check out customer comments to get an idea of how the jacket actually fits. Some jackets will fit true to size, some will run small and others will run large.
The color might not seem like an important factor to consider when choosing a wind jacket but you will find that most jackets come in different colors and you will have to choose the color you like or one that suits your activities or settings best.
If you are a runner or cyclist, highly visible colors are essential for safety. Colors like neon yellow make it easy for motorists to spot you when running or cycling in low light conditions.
For adventures in the wilderness, you may prefer neutral and dark colors such as jungle green to blend into the environment. For streetwear, you will want a fashionable color that suits urban wear. In most cases, the color choice comes down to personal style and preference.
Value is always an important consideration with any purchase and a windbreaker is no different. You want to get the best windbreaker for your money. Top notch quality jackets that offer the best protection usually cost more but this is not always the case.
There are reasonably priced windbreakers that are high-quality and durable, equipped with great features and offer excellent protection from the wind and rain. They offer the best value for money. All the items in our windbreaker reviews offer excellent value for money.
A jacket that is more expensive but suits a wide range of activities offers better value than multiple cheap jackets for each activity. A jacket that serves as both a rain jacket and windbreaker is also a great value.
Since a windbreaker’s main job is to offer wind protection and this is the purpose you want it for, you will want to check the wind resistance ability the jacket you’re considering offers. This ability depends on the type of weave the fabric has and the type of sealing utilized. Typical windbreaker materials are nylon and polyester. The tighter the fabric is woven, the less space there is for air to pass through and the higher the ability to block wind.
A windbreaker should also be fully sealed at the seams. Openings like zippers, hoods, hems, and wrists should have a drawstring or velcro fastener for tightening the fit or have an overlapping fabric that blocks the wind. Venting features should be placed where they aren’t likely to allow wind in such as under the arms and inside zippered pockets.
Some brands indicate the CFM rating of their windbreakers. This is a measure of the amount of air that can pass through a material per minute. It is expressed in cubic feet per minute. A zero CFM rating is 100% windproof and a fabric with such a rating would be perfectly wind resistant. However, windbreakers are usually not fully windproof as they also need to be breathable in order to comfortably serve their purpose and be useful.
If you’re going to be wearing your windbreaker in cold conditions, you will need it to have some ability to keep you warm and insulation will be an important consideration for you.
A windbreaker is a light jacket meant to offer wind protection in warm/moderate weather conditions or for layering when it is cold. It is usually made of a single layer of a thin material. As such, it is usually not insulated but it is able to offer light to moderate insulation by blocking wind and moisture, which prevents loss of body heat to the outside.
For frigid weather conditions and climates, you will need an insulated windbreaker. Look for a windbreaker jacket made using a heavy material. Polyester is slightly heavy and suitable for mildly cold conditions. Another insulating feature to look for is a fleece liner, which acts as an extra layer to block the chill and keep you warm.
Related Review: Fleece Jacket
In addition to being water resistant, a windbreaker should also be made of a quick drying material. If it is drizzling, it should be able to dry fast so you’re not stuck with a soaked jacket that makes you uncomfortable or puts you at risk of freezing if it is cold.
In warm conditions or when engaging in high-intensity activities, it shouldn’t absorb the sweat, get soaked and stay wet. This feature also means that washing and drying is a quick process.
When heading into the wilderness to adventure or when the weather is unpredictable, it is always good to expect the unexpected and prepare accordingly. A windbreaker jacket should be convenient to bring along wherever you go just in case the weather gets windy or drizzly. It is important to find out how the windbreaker you want packs and whether the packed size suits your storage and transport needs.
The best windbreakers stuff into one of their pockets or hood and pack into an ultra-compact package that easily fits in a purse, biking hydration pack or backpack pocket and is suitable for hanging on a climbing harness. Some pack into a package as small as a tennis ball. This makes them very easy to transport, convenient to carry, and easy to stow away when the weather calms down and you don’t need to have your windbreaker on.
It is important to think about what kind of pockets you need and choose a jacket that offers them. Most windbreaker jackets have two zippered hand warming pockets on the sides. Some also have interior pockets for secure storage and protection of valuables such as electronics from wind and rain.
The number and placement of pockets on a windbreaker may or may not be important to you. However, a zippered or velcro fastened interior pocket to hold your cell phone and keys securely come in handy. Two pockets on the sides for warming your hands are also great to have.
When heading out to enjoy your favorite outdoor pastime, it is advisable to bring along your windbreaker jacket as the weather in the wilderness is usually windy and unpredictable. Consider where you will be keeping the jacket when you don’t need it and choose one that suits your needs.
For example, if you will be rock climbing you will need a lightweight jacket that packs down very small so you can hang it on your harness without it weighing you down. If you will be cycling, you will need one that you can fit in your hydration sleeve. Backpacking calls for a windbreaker that will fit in a backpack pocket when packed.
Most wind breaking jackets are designed to fold up into one of their pockets. The pocket will have a double sided zipper so you can zip up the package into an ultracompact and easy to store size. Such jackets are easy to store out of the way when traveling, hiking, backpacking or rock climbing, convenient to carry wherever you go, and easy to store at home or in the car.
Q: Why Do I Need A Windbreaker Jacket?
You need a windbreaker jacket for protection from the wind when you’re outdoors and it is windy and drizzly. It is a light jacket that offers protection from the wind and light to moderate rain. When you have a windbreaker, windy or rainy conditions won’t confine you to the inside or interrupt your plans.
Some also have an insulated lining that will protect you from the cold in chilly conditions. You can also incorporate it into your layering system as the outer shell that blocks wind and moisture and prevents loss of warmth from your body thus improving the efficiency of the warming layers underneath.
You will find a windbreaker to be a very useful and versatile piece of outerwear. If you need to head out outdoors when it is windy and drizzly, a windbreaker will come in handy no matter the current season. You will find yourself reaching for it when you need to train, run errands, walk the dog, or commute to work and the weather calls for it.
You will also find yourself packing it to accompany you on your outdoor adventures whether you love skiing, fishing, peak bagging, sailing, canoeing, paragliding, SUPing, running, walking, cycling, hiking, climbing, kayaking, camping, or backpacking.
It is a good thing that windbreakers are designed to be ultralightweight and packable. Having one with you for whenever and wherever you may need it is easy. You won’t even remember you have it with you until the need for it arises.
If you need protection from heavy rains or extreme cold, a windbreaker won’t be sufficient. It isn’t fully insulated, waterproof or windproof. It won’t keep you warm in frigid conditions or block strong winds and torrential downpours fully.Related Reviews: Mtb Jacket & Patagonia Jacket
Q: What Is A Single Layer Nylon Jacket?
As the name suggests, a single layer nylon jacket is composed of just one layer of nylon fabric. It has neither a membrane bonded to the fabric nor an inner lining. It is thin, ultralight and quick drying. It is designed to fit closer to the body and move with the wearer. It easily packs into an ultracompact package. All these qualities make a single layer jacket the best for hot and warm conditions and high-intensity activities such as running, biking, climbing, and hiking.
Q: Do Windbreakers Come With Insulation?
No, most windbreakers don’t come with insulation. This is because they are designed to be worn in warm weather conditions in the summer, spring, and fall or as the outer shell of a layering strategy when it is cold. They are made of a single layer of thin fabric whose job is to block the wind and provide some protection from moisture.
A few windbreakers meant to be worn in cold conditions are equipped with a fleece lining that provides some decent insulation. These are great for frigid conditions, running on cold mornings, and cool fall weather.
If you need sufficient insulation in the winter or in extremely frigid conditions, you will have to add base layers and other insulating layers underneath your windbreaker. The good thing is that most windbreakers have a relaxed fit that offers room for layering.Related Review: Columbia Winter Jacket
Q: Can I Find A Fully Waterproof Windbreaker?
No, windbreakers are not designed to be waterproof. Even if you were to find a fully waterproof windbreaker, you wouldn’t like it at all. For you to be comfortable wearing a windbreaker, it needs to be breathable. This means that it needs to have some level of permeability to allow air and vapor to pass through. A fully waterproof wind jacket would make you so hot and sweaty that it would feel like a personal sauna but without the benefits of sauna therapy.
Windbreakers are usually water resistant, water repellant, wind resistant and breathable and don’t hold up in more than a light or shortlived downpour. They will not keep all the water out in a torrential downpour or during prolonged exposure to rain. In such situations, they get saturated and soaked through. Keeping this mind, they are made using fabrics that dry fast. If you’re looking for a very waterproof jacket, what you need is a heavy duty rain jacket composed of three layers.
Q: Will It Keep Me Warm?
Not necessarily. A windbreaker is a thin and light jacket made of a single layer of material. It is made to block the wind and light rain in warm conditions. It is not equipped with insulation to keep you warm. However, it does play a part in ensuring you stay toasty when it is frigid. String wind can blow your body heat away from you. By blocking wind, it ensures you’re not losing your body heat to the outside. As part of a layering strategy, a windbreaker also contributes to keeping you warm. It acts as the first defense against elements like chilly wind and moisture.
However, it is possible to find a lightly insulated windbreaker jacket that will keep you warm to some extent. If you will be wearing your wind jacket in cold conditions or at high elevation such as when mountaineering, look for a jacket with a fleece lining or one made using a heavy and warmer windbreaker material such as polyester.
Q: How Much Does It Weigh?
The weight varies from windbreaker to windbreaker but these garments are designed to be very light in weight. Most of them weigh less than one pound. The lightest weigh between two to five ounces. A few heavier ones made using heavy windbreaker material and composed of an insulating lining weigh a little over one pound.
Globo Surf Overview
A windbreaker is a fantastic addition to any wardrobe and a necessity for all outdoor adventurers. One of the most versatile and useful outer garments, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy its benefits. It is useful all year round: worn by itself as a lightweight wind jacket in the fall, spring, and summer and as a protective top layer in the winter.
Being lightweight and ultra-compact when packed, you can take it everywhere. You will be happy to have it protect you from wind chill and moisture when skiing, fishing with fishing kayak, climbing, kayaking, camping, backpacking, peak bagging, sailing, canoeing, paragliding, SUPing, cycling, or trail running. It also comes in handy when traveling, training, and as casual urban streetwear when running errands or walking the dog.
Given how useful and protective a windbreaker is, it is important to invest in a high-quality one that will serve its purpose well. A smart strategy to find the perfect windbreaker is to evaluate the best windbreakers in the market and pick one that offers the features you need and want, suits your outdoor activities and weather conditions and matches your style. We hope our windbreaker reviews and buying guide have made it easy to find the best windbreaker jacket for you.
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Which of the windbreaker jackets on our list is your top choice? We would love to read your thoughts or experience with the windbreakers we’ve reviewed! Feel free to share in the comment box below!