Whether you are enjoying the hot summer months or trying to keep yourself warm and comfy in the cold winter season, there will always be those strong gushes of wind that you always want to avoid.
And the best way to secure protection from such things like a freezing morning breeze is a windbreaker!
From running and hiking to mountain climbing and kayaking, a dependable windbreaker is all you need to keep you going.
If you take a good look at the entire windbreaker market, it can be pretty easy to get lost in the maze. There are windbreakers that are built for warm weather, others for the cold winter season, and even some others for both.
In this article, you’ll be provided with all the basic info that you need in order to help you find the most ideal windbreaker for all your outdoor escapades.
My Top Picks!
Can’t wait to put on a windbreaker?
Checkout my top picks!
Wanna learn more? Keep on reading.
What is a Windbreaker?
Windbreakers are a special type of jackets that are designed to provide protection from the environment’s harsh elements like the wind, dust, and rain.
Compared to traditional jackets, windbreakers are significantly thinner and lightweight. They don’t require much space in your backpack and don’t feel heavy or bulky when worn.
Mountain climbers and campers alike prefer wearing a windbreaker to keep them warm and comfortable even when under nature’s wrath.
Basically, a windbreaker is composed of an inner layer made of insulating materials such as cotton and an outer layer that is either polyester, nylon, or tricot. The windbreaker’s functionality has simply made it as one of the most preferred outerwear for athletes and sports enthusiasts.
Watch this video to learn how to best fold a windbreaker jacket:
Did you know...?
Windbreaker and rain jackets are two entirely different types of outerwear. Although windbreakers are designed to be waterproof, they are not designed to withstand or protect the wearer from heavy rain. As mentioned earlier, windbreakers are built to be fairly thin and lightweight which makes them conveniently easier to use and store away in camping bags. Inner layout of the said outerwear is designed to encourage great airflow.
On the other hand, the rain jacket is comparably bulkier and heavier. Its construction is much more complex compared to a wind jacket wherein a waterproof membrane is included. It is designed to withstand heavy rain but is dramatically less breathable. Rain jackets are also much more expensive than windbreakers because of the number of layers involved and types of materials used for its construction.
The Hardshell Jacket
Have you ever heard of a hardshell jacket?
Technically considered as the heavyweight of outerwear clothing, the hardshell jacket is composed of three unique layers, each with its own unique role in providing the wearer high end protection against extreme weather conditions.
The outermost layer of a hardshell jacket is the most rigid of the three. It sits atop a special membrane that is designed to be waterproof and breathable at the same time. On the other hand, the innermost layer is made of the most comfortable material that is functional at the same time. It is skin friendly but also capable of protecting the middle section of the jacket from the natural oils of the body in order to maintain its overall integrity.
A lot of online buyers make a critical mistake while purchasing windbreakers. They tend to focus on the outerwear’s breathability feature more rather than consider what it’s truly meant for. Although comfort and functionality are two critical factors that must be considered when you’re planning to buy a particular clothing product, the case is a little complicated with windbreakers.
Basically, windbreakers are designed to resist wind. Breathability factor on the other hand, refers to the clothing’s ability to encourage comfortable airflow all throughout. As far as windbreakers are concerned, wind resistance and breathability don’t work together.
A jacket with great wind resistance equates to minimal breathability. On the other hand, a breathable jacket simply means that air is able to flow through fabric making it incapable of resisting wind.
There are newer versions of windbreakers that are designed with special sections that can be opened (to encourage airflow) and sealed back (to reestablish wind resistance) conveniently by the wearer.
What To Look For in Windbreakers
Apart from wind resistance, there are other essential features to look for in a windbreaker in order to enjoy the full benefits these special jackets have to offer. However, not all of these factors need to be present in a single windbreaker because some are intended for use in warmer climates while others are built for a weather that will make you shiver.
- Insulation. If you’re living in a place with cold climate, it would be wise to invest more on your windbreaker for that insulation feature. If not, your windbreaker is better off without an insulation factor so that you can still count on it in a warm but windy weather.
- Wind seal. The most common closure system among jackets is the zipper. And in order to make sure that even the slightest gush of wind and cold will not be able to penetrate into the jacket, all the zippers should be covered with a flap-like extension.
- Hood. The hood is an optional feature among windbreakers and can directly affect the overall price of the outerwear. Unless you are really planning on using a hood, it is best to cut a cost on your planned purchase and settle for other convenient types of head cover.
- Vents. If you are living under warmer climates, you should look for a windbreaker that is geared with special sections that allow comfortable airflow. These vents should be placed in strategic spots in order to maximize its breathability feature.
Prices of windbreakers vary greatly from a little below $20 to well over $50. Technically, prices of windbreakers directly depend on the type of materials used, complexity of design and construction, and the type and number of features that go along with it.
As mentioned above, there are some features on windbreakers that are optional and should be considered according to the wearer’s preferences and circumstances. If you are willing to invest more money on the jacket, it is best to consider all features that are appropriate on your planned frequency and place of use.
Shopping for a windbreaker should be done wisely and responsibly. There can be thousands of different jackets in the market today and one should only be spending on functionalities and features he truly needs.
Now that I've covered some of the basics, let's get into some of my favorite windbreakers.
Enjoy the great outdoors in style with this classic windbreaker by Charles River Apparel. This pullover comes in 12 different cool colors and a hood for added protection. It is designed to be both wind and water resistant. Its closure system is a half zip placket and fitting can be easily adjusted with its pull on drawstring along the hem.
Made by a trusted clothing brand, this windbreaker by Dickies projects a simple yet crisp style. Its snap-front closure system makes it conveniently easy to wear the jacket on and off. You can count on keeping your arms dry and warm with its elasticized cuffs.
This jacket definitely does everything you expect from a windbreaker. It is easy to put on with its front zip up closure system paired with an adjustable Velcro on the cuffs. It is both water and wind resistant. It also comes with two zippered side pockets for extra storage.
For those who are fond of wearing cool bright colors, then this windbreaker could be the best shell jacket for your outdoor activities. It has a full front zipper closure matched with a draw cord adjustable hem and elasticized hem for greater wind resistance. Simply tuck your hands in the side pockets to keep them warm in the absence of gloves.
A must have for sports-minded individuals, this hooded windbreaker by Baleaf I designed to help you enjoy running and other sporty outdoor activities while effectively keeping your body warm and comfortable. It is specially designed to be wind resistant but breathable at the same time.
The windbreaker is perhaps one of the hardest type of clothing to shop for online considering all the features that need to be appropriately acquired for varying circumstances. Of the top five, I’d highly recommend Baleaf Men’s Woven Hooded Windproof Running Jacket. Unlike any typical windbreaker, this jacket encourages better airflow even when it is designed to be wind proof. It provides head protection through its adjustable hood and its hem can be tightly sealed for better cover. It is heavier than any standard windbreaker but such weight is manageable.
Written by Robert Ordway
Raised in the small mill town of Lake Station, Indiana, Robert’s blue collar upbringing exposed him to little if any of the clothing industry. Robert has been following the menswear industry for over a decade and has been significantly influenced by the book, Dressing the Man by Alan Flusser. From 2009-2012, he worked in retail sales at both Brooks Brothers and JCrew. In 2015, Robert received the Custom Clothier certification from the Custom Tailor and Designers Association (CTDA), the oldest continuously operating trade organization in the United States. He is the former owner of Rusted Oak, a men’s retail clothing store in Valparaiso, Indiana.
Today, Robert's mission is to teach men of all shapes and sizes about grooming care, general life style tips, and of course male fashion stemming from his deep career in the fashion industry.