There’s nothing worse than coming back from an outdoor adventure and feel like you’ve been chilled to the core. Whether it’s on your early morning run, a climbing session with your buds or a blast on the bike trail, you need the right outer protection when the weather decides to whip up a bit of a windy storm.
Windbreaker jackets can make keeping warm on cold, windy days a total breeze. They are not only tough enough to repel the coldest of winds but also look cool. So, now’s the time to beat the wind chill when you’re out and about with one of the best windbreaker jackets out there. Let our Gear Hungry guide help you choose.
The Best Windbreaker Jacket
With the Watertight II, you get the best of both worlds – solid wind-blocking capabilities with a waterproof promise…and breathable too, making it our Best Choice. For an all-round, men’s windbreaker jacket with hood, this is a good place to start and can be used for most outdoor sports. It’s not a slimline fit – the sizing can be on the larger side – but it means you can layer up for extra warmth. And while it’s limited in technical spec, it does the job.
This Columbia jacket is a great wind jacket to pack into your rucksack for when the weather changes and its adjustable features means its flexible enough for out on the bike. Affordable and in good range of colors, the Watertight has all the basics you need to keep the wind and rain at bay.
Omni-Tech seam construction for rain protection
Adjustable storm hood and drawstring hem
Abrasion resistant chin guard and drop tail
Micro pore fabric allows excess heat to escape
Packs down for easy stowing
- Weight13.5 ounces
One of this review’s lightest windbreaker jackets, the makers claim it can pack down to the ‘size of a granola bar’, making it a good jacket to have as a back-up, come wind, rain or shine!
There’s no denying Outdoor Research is a simple lightweight windbreaker, but that’s its strength…no fuss, and easy to wear. But does it stand up to the rigors of the weather? Overall, yes. It can take some heavy downpours although the lack of adjustable wrists can lead to damp arms. The Helium is also impressively windproof, although its super-thin fabric won’t keep you warm. Layer up on colder days and this wind jacket should see you through. Be sure to also check out our list of the best winter jackets for more great items like this.
Pertex Shield+ 2.5L 30D ripstop nylon
Fully taped seams for extra protection
Reflective trim on hood
Zippered chest pocket
Packs away into outside pocket
- BrandOutdoor Research
- Weight7.2 ounces
Great for hiking, the Venture 2 is one of our review’s high-performers in terms of wind and rain but at 1.76 pounds it’s the heaviest. Made from 100% windproof fabric, the Venture 2 also has a waterproof shell for excellent breathability.
Despite its tech-spec, this men’s windbreaker jacket is a laid-back dude, with a relaxed fit to let you layer up in the winter months. Unlined, it comes with well-made adjustable features, including wrist straps, hem cinch cord and hood to keep you snug. Surprisingly, for its size, the Venture 2 can also pack down into its own pocket, for stowing when the sun comes out. Our handy guide to the best field jackets features more great products like this.
100% windproof DryVent shell
Pit-zip venting for extra breathability
Velcro storm flap on front zip
Waterproof PU coating
Adjustable cuff tabs and hood
- BrandNorth Face
- Weight12 ounces
On and off the water, Helly Hanson’s Seven J certainly has its sea legs when it comes to the triple – waterproofing, windproofing and breathability.
More of a robust shell jacket that some other windbreakers in this review, this hooded windbreaker coat is made from 2 Ply fabric to keep water out and allow sweat to effectively evaporate. This is a full weather/all season windbreaker at a price that won’t break the bank and, for all its tech spec, its acceptably lightweight too. There’s plenty of adjustment features to keep you toasty and dry whatever the activity. Love this jacket? Check out our review of the best ski jackets for our top picks.
Waterproof and windproof 2 Ply fabric
Treated with Durable Water Repellency
Quick dry lining wicks sweat away
Adjustable cuffs and hem cinch cord
Fixed hood with one hand adjustments
- BrandHelly Hansen
- Weight1 pounds
The Precip from outdoor gear specialists Marmot is our Premium Choice thanks to the materials and design that make this slick looking windbreaker a top performer at a quality price.
Lightweight, windproof and waterproof, it’s the perfect allrounder and makes a stylish men’s windbreaker jacket for when you’re on the go. And, at just under a pound, it won’t eat into your luggage weight allowance. But how does it perform? Pretty damn well, we’d say. Its clever design means it is a fast-paced jacket, with its ‘Angel Wing’ movement design giving you a full range arm movement without riding up. Fantastic for cold weather biking or running as well as on the walking trail. And the Precip’s breathability is impressive, keeping you cool however hard you are working. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best running jackets.
NanoPro™100% Nylon Ripstop
Precip Dry Touch for max waterproofing
Angel Wing Movement to keep it in place
Roll up hood, adjustable hem and cuffs
Packs down to a small size
- Weight12.8 ounces
Coming in at a remarkably light 3.6 ounces, the Houdini is a featherweight windbreaker jacket that can pack a punch when it comes to beating the weather. But for its weight, this nice-looking Patagonia jacket looks substantial and hardwearing.
Perfect for the runner, rider or climber, the Houdini comes with a reinforced carabiner clip-in loop and an adjustable hood, designed so that it doesn’t block your peripheral vision. Its lightweight nature means it can only claim to be water repellent, but this lightweight windbreaker knows its job and can effectively block wind and withstand abrasion on the most exposed cliff faces.
15-denier nylon ripstop with water repellent finish
Zippered chest pocket converts to stuff sack
One-pull adjustable ‘clear vision’ hood
Durable half-elastic cuffs and draw cord hem
Comes with a reinforced carabiner clip-in loop
- Weight3.6 ounces
Nike’s classic Windrunner is a handsome wind jacket that’ll give your daily run some extra oomph. Super comfortable and lightweight, its ripstop fabric is durable and blocks cold wind while the built-in hood and draw cord keeps you snug and warm. The fit is a runner’s dream and provides great stretch where you need it at the cuffs and hem for freedom of movement and comfort. Plus, there’s a neat vent on the back yoke for maintaining airflow.
It is a slim fit, so you may need to go up a size, but this is a super-comfortable windbreaker hoodie that was born to run. Make sure you also check our guide to the best denim jackets.
Lightweight ripstop material for maximum durability
Scuba-style hood with elastic cord and toggle
Opening on the back enhances breathability
Zip-up side pockets for secure storage
Stretch cuffs and hem for an enhanced fit
- Weight1.5 pounds
Freedom of movement and flexibility is behind this lightweight windbreaker from Canadian outdoor specialists, Arc’teryx. The curiously named Squamish Hoody is an outdoor sports fan’s windbreaker dream, with a host of features for a wide range of activities.
Made from water resistant nylon, the premium wind blocking fabric used in this light wind jacket is extremely durable. Ok, the Squamish may be at the higher end of the budget, but you get a lot of windbreaker for your money. From its clear vision stormhood to its gusseted underarms, the Squamish is ergonomically designed to take you from cliff face to mountain bike trail. In short, this is a versatile men’s windbreaker jacket that will keep you protected, season after season. If you need a warm jacket for winter, check out our guide to the best down jackets.
Water resistant 30 denier shell
Helmet compatible, adjustable storm hood
Breathable material for improved comfort
Laminated die-cut Velcro cuff adjusters
Gusseted underarms for mobility
- Weight5.6 ounces
The classic Charles River Apparel Windbreaker earns our Best Value trophy for its lightweight styling at a great price.
A good-looking windbreaker hoodie that’s stylish enough for everyday wear, the Windbreaker also offers decent wind and water-resistant protection for when the weather takes a turn for the worst. Made from River Tech nylon, with a cotton flannel lining for added comfort, this is a great go-to when traveling, out on the golf course or for a casual hike on the trail. Its pull-on design with built in hood and solid extended zipper keeps you protected against the elements, while the elastic cuffs and drawstring hem will keep you extra snug. Make sure you also check our selection of the best rain jackets for more great options like this.
100% machine washable Nylon
Wind and water-resistant
adjustable drawstring hem
Cotton flannel lining
Packs into front pouch pocket
- BrandCharles River Apparel
- Weight1 pounds
This running jacket will keep you flying like the wind, even when the weather gets a little choppy. For the price, the adidas Essentials wind jacket is well-made and designed to keep you moving on those chilly runs.
Made from 100% durable and wind resistant nylon, this windbreaker also comes with a breathable mesh lining to keep you fresh. For when the wind chill rises, the hood is welcome addition, with an adjustable draw cord to help you keep snug as you run. The overall design is a slim fit and can run small so try on a larger size, which will give you space to layer if winter running is your thing.
100% nylon outer with mesh lining
Full zip with draw cord-adjustable hood
Applied 3-Stripes on sleeves
Elastic cuffs and hem
Available in a range of colorways
- Weight1 pounds
Windbreaker Jacket Buying Guide & FAQs
From a brisk walk in the park to an endurance trail run, you need to be sure that your new lightweight windbreaker can perform as well as you do. We used the following to determine which of our best windbreaker jackets made the final cut:
Brand – yes, it’s about being brand cool, but we’ve also selected names that are renowned for their performance, style and quality.
User reviews – you can’t beat first-hand experience, so we use the insider intel from consumers so you know our final list are totally tried and tested.
Price – when it comes to value, you need to be sure you’re getting the right quality and performance for both your money and the job at hand.
Features To Look For In Windbreaker Jackets
Depending on what you will be using it for, you’ll want to consider the following before buying your new windbreaker:
Windproofness – designed to resist wind chill, most windbreaker jackets use fabrics that block cold air getting through to your skin, and, with the appropriate base layers, are a great lightweight protection all year round. The thicker the fabric, the greater the level of protection but the lighter weight coats also offer a high level of resistance as well as a greater level of flexibility and movement.
Breathability – the thin denier of most lightweight windbreaker jackets is also more breathable, without compromising on wind blocking capabilities. The lighter weave of the fabric allows air to circulate, as well as being much more flexible. The downside of a thinner denier is that the jacket’s waterproofing is reduced so you need to decide when buying your new windbreaker what it is you need it for.
Weight – Windbreaker jackets come in a range of weights, but most err towards the lighter end of the scale, for a comfortable, high-performing wear while active. A good rule of thumb when considering the weight of a windbreaker is the faster you are going and the more energy you use in your outdoor activity, the more lightweight and breathable the jacket you need.
Materials – most windbreaker jackets are made from synthetic materials such as nylon that provide protection in windy weather. The synthetic fibers work by preventing air passing through the fabric and onto your skin. Nylon, polyester, micro polyester and the more heavyweight tricot are the typical fabrics used.
Waterproofness – not all windbreaker jackets come with a total waterproof guarantee, many are water-resistant and so not best suited to heavier downpours. The lighter the material, the less waterproof it’s likely to be, but it’s a trade off as with lighter fabrics you get greater freedom of movement, while still blocking out that wind chill – perfect for running or cycling out on the trail.
Durability – the lightweight nature of most windbreaker jackets shouldn’t mean you have to compromise on durability and the product should be built for active and repeated wear.
Hood – Many windbreaker jackets have a detachable or stowable hood that gives you the choice. For running, a stowable hood is a good option as it can be tucked away without affecting movement or adding any air resistance. For cycling look for a windbreaker jacket that has an adjustable hood that is big enough to wear over your helmet.
Windbreaker Jacket FAQs
Q: What Is A Windbreaker Jacket?
A: Also known as a windcheater, a windbreaker jacket is a light fabric coat designed to protect against wind chill, as well as light to heavy rain, depending on the material used. They are designed to be used for outdoor activities when you need freedom of movement while being protected against the wind. Their slim, lightweight design make them a street cool addition to your day-to-day wardrobe too.
The synthetic fibers of a windbreaker insulate against the wind and prevent cold air passing through to reach the skin, but ideally there should also be some level of breathability for comfort. Their design depends on what you use it for – running and cycling windbreakers tend to be cut for a sleek fit, while hiking and general use jackets are looser.
Q: Will A Windbreaker Jacket Keep Me Warm?
A: To a point. By protecting your body against cold wind, a windcheater prevents the associated wind chill, but their thinner, nature means windbreakers offer limited insulation against colder weather. As a lightweight jacket, a windbreaker does not contribute to heat generation if you need to warm up, so they’re best worn as part of a base layering system.
Q: Can I Find A Fully Waterproof Windbreaker?
A: The more lightweight windbreakers are water-resistant up to a point due to the nature of fabric used. The lighter windbreaker jackets are best suited to activities where you are moving at speed, such as cycling or running, or you get caught in an unexpected shower.
If you’re hiking and moving slower or you are planning to be outside despite a rainy forecast, then you can go for a more heavyweight style of windbreaker coat, which offers a greater level of waterproofing and rain protection.
Q: What Is The Difference Between Windbreaker And A Rain Jacket?
A: The clue really is in the name! Both types are barrier coats designed to be flexible and hardwearing while protecting you against the weather. A windbreaker jacket is exactly that – an outer layer that breaks the wind’s flow and prevents it getting through to your skin, but it doesn’t necessarily provide full waterproofing. A rain jacket comes with superior waterproofing to prevent rain getting through, but many are also breathable so don’t totally block the wind.
Q: Why Is Weight A Factor When Buying A Windbreaker?
A: Designed to be a lightweight layer, the weight of the windbreaker jacket you are considering is a key factor to your final choice. Your decision should be a based on the activity you need your new windbreaker for. The lighter the jacket, the less insulation and protection against cold and wet weather. The more insulation and waterproofing you need, the heavier the jacket you need.
Q: Can I Put A Windbreak Jacket Into The Washing Machine?
A: Most windbreaker jackets can be hand washed easily, using a liquid detergent and dried naturally (not in a dryer). Check the label on your jacket for whether it can be machine-washed and follow the instructions carefully. Nylon, the synthetic fabric used for many windbreakers is not actually stain resistant and your hardwearing jacket may need a bit more cleaning help now and again. If it is machine-washable, target liquid detergent on the offending stain then pop it in a mesh laundry bag and run through a gentle wash cycle.