TOP GEAR PICKS

Best Windbreakers: Ideal for Every Type of Outdoor Activity

Henry Silva
Written by Henry Silva

Don’t you just hate when a great sunny day turns into an instant storm with wind and rain? You can forget about staying dry, right? Well, not necessarily. With the right type of jacket, you can stay warm, protected from the wind, yet still feel as breathable as when wearing a regular T-shirt. The solution to suck problems are the best windbreakers you can find on the market.

Windbreakers are a type of extremely lightweight, wind-resistant jackets that can either be used as part of a layering system, or worn alone. Extremely versatile, these jackets effectively cut the wind, which makes a huge difference for outdoor activities ranging from hiking to mountain climbing.

The Houdini is very thin and lightweight and provides great protection from the wind as long as it is not too cold

Although they are not designed to be worn in the rain or snow, most windbreakers do offer some degree of water resistance. In this article, we go over the features to look for when shopping for windbreakers, and it also offers a list of the best windbreakers available on the market.

Product NameWeightColorsMaterialPrice
Patagonia Houdini3.6 ozBlack, navy, peppergrass green, forge gray, electron blue100% nylon ripstop with DWRCheck price on Amazon
Rab QWS-29-MY5.82 ozBlack, blue, red, greyPertex Microlight ‘Super DWR’ fabric, 100% nylonCheck price on Amazon
Marmot Ether DriClime8.8 ozArctic navy, black, citronelle, and dark rust100% nylon, double mini RipstopCheck price on Amazon
Arcteryx Squamish5.5 ozBasalt, silver lining, magma, bourbon, and twinleaf)100% nylon Tyon 30 denier shell with DWRCheck price on Amazon
Marmot Vapor13.8 ozCobalt blue, bright navyWP Softshell 79% polyester, 21% PU stretch, 86% polyester, 14% elastin plain weave stretchCheck price on Amazon
Fjallraven High Coast9 ozUN blue, navy, and seashell orange54% polyamide, 46% cottonCheck price on Amazon
4ucycling 4738WW10.2 ozBlack, redStretchy fabric knitCheck price on Amazon
Rains 123015.8 ozBlack, green, blue, sand/wax/wan, sky blue, sand, taupe, soil100% polyurethane (outer), 100% polyester (inner)Check price on Amazon

Most Important Features to Consider

Below are some of the factors you might want to consider when it comes to buying the best windbreaker in the market.

Wind resistance and breathability

The most important feature of any windbreaker is its ability to cut the wind. Different models can also be more or less breathable, which is another important feature to consider. Unfortunately, these two aspects tend to work against each other, as wind resistance implies a lack of breathability.

A man wearing a windbreaker jacket

Some jackets do manage to successfully combine both, and you may want to consider their relative importance given the activities you primarily engage in.

Water resistance

On their own, windbreakers are not generally waterproof; however, they often have some sort of DWR (durable water repellent) coating that resists water. Always look out for this coating before you purchase a windbreaker, to ensure you remain dry and warm in rainy weather.

The Rab Windveil jacket, the second option on our list, has a naturally DWR fabric, so it does not run the risk of having its coating rub off.  Notice that not all jackets have this fabric, so it comes down to what you want most for your jacket, is it wind or water resistance or both?

Versatility

Windbreakers are somewhat rare in their applicability – they can be useful for an essentially limitless number of different applications and activities.

Two adults wearing windbreaker jackets sitting outside in the wind

They are invaluable for running (in the city or out on the trail), casual outdoor activities, cycling, climbing (look for jackets with clips), and backcountry skiing in light conditions, or simply walking by the ocean in cooler weather.

Top product reviews

Below, we review eight different windbreaker jackets from several manufacturers. Most are sized for men, but one, the Breaker jacket by Danish maker RAINS, features unisex sizing. With a range of different price points and features, you’ll be sure to find the perfect windbreaker in the list below.

Patagonia Houdini JacketPatagonia Houdini

Price: $140 – $200

Weight: 3.6 ounces

Sizes: Extra-small, small, medium, large, and extra-large

Color: Black, navy, peppergrass green, forge gray, and electron blue

Material: 100% nylon rip stop with DWR finish

Specific features: Full-length zipper, drawcord hem, machine washable, adjustable hood, zippered chest pocket/stuff sack with carabiner, half-elastic cuffs

Best use: Climbing, mountaineering, hiking

Description: The Patagonia Houdini Jacket is a high-performing, hip-length water-resistant men’s windbreaker jacket. Because it is so light, and has a water-repelling DWR (durable water repellent) coating on the 100% nylon rip stop shell and front zipper, it is ideal for trail running in all sorts of outdoor conditions, even in light rain or snow.

The chest pocket doubles as a handy stuff sack, which can easily be clipped to your pack using the included reinforced carabiner. Other features on this lightweight wind-blocking jacket include a reflective detail, an adjustable hood, and lightweight cuffs and draw cord.

The Houdini Jacket is slim-fitting and can fit over a light midlayer, or base layers.

The latest models of the Houdini feature a very slim lined jacket that has no extra layers. This enhances its ultra-light feature. Despite it being so light, you can trust this jacket to keep the winds off, especially when you are climbing, and to give you that extra warmth whenever you are in cold areas. Moreover, it’s very breathable which makes it so comfortable when worn, and can also act as a light rain jacket when you are in moderate rain conditions to keep you dry.

One of the flaws that might get to most people is the lack of side pockets. There is a chest pocket that may be a bit high for your liking and it’s also very small to store any extra items. Some users have also complained about the price of the jacket.

PROS:

  • Slim lined for a good fit; no room for any layers
  • Highly durable; can last for years
  • Ultra-light
  • Packs small

CONS:

  • No side pockets and a small chest pocket that is very high
  • Might absorb water in the rain
  • No extra layers for maximum warmth when you are in very cold weather conditions

Related: You may want to pair up your fantastic Houdini jacket with this Baleaf UR34K Thermal Skull Cap that acts as a helmet liner and goes for about $11. It’s made of a stretchy and breathable fabric that will keep your skull dry and has reflective elements to give you visibility in low light.

Check the price on Amazon

Rab QWS-29-MY Windveil Jacket Rab QWS-29-MY

Price: Approx. $210

Weight: 5.82 ounces

Sizes: Large

Color: Black, blue, red, gray

Material: Pertex microlight ‘super DWR’ fabric, 100% nylon

Specific features: Internal storm flap, chin guard, hood, reflective trim, inside pocket/stuff sack, ykk front zipper, two ykk zipped a-line pockets

Best use: Climbing, hiking, running

Description: The Rab QWS-29-MY Windveil Jacket is a highly breathable (1.0 cc breathability rating) and ultra-lightweight (weighing just 165 grams for size large) windbreaker jacket.

Made of DWR Pertex Microlight fabric, this slim-fitting hip-length jacket has an advanced degree of wind and water resistance, without depending on an exterior coating that runs the risk of rubbing or washing off.

In addition, it has been engineered for optimal breathability. Some of the elements designed to maximize breathability include mesh-lined pockets, an internal storm flap, and a venting control popper.

Other features include a hood, soft Lycra bound cuffs, a half-hem drawcord, a reflective trim for safety, and a chin guard. Because of its high-performance details, the Windveil jacket by Rab is very versatile and ideal for active activities ranging from running to climbing and mountain biking.

Most users love the fact that it keeps them warm even in very harsh weather conditions. Some have pointed out that it’s a bit pricey and the lack of other sizes is disappointing. It’s a fantastic jacket with abrasion resistance, and you will be surprised at just how strong it is despite being so light. It’s what makes it so perfect in shielding you from the winds. Want to carry your jacket? You won’t have to worry about finding extra storage space anymore because this jacket comes with its own internal pouch for compact storage.

PROS:

  • Ultra-light
  • Packs small; has its own internal pouch
  • Wind-resistant
  • Water-resistant

CONS:

  • Might not give you maximum warmth when you are in extremely cold conditions

Related: This Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack is what you need for transporting all that you will need for your outdoor adventures. This unisex bag costs from $126 -$200 approx. and has sleeping pad straps that you can use to carry external gear. It also comes with an additional bag that you can use to carry your Rab Windveil jacket in.

Check the price on Amazon

Marmot Ether Driclime Jacket
Marmot Ether Driclime Jacket

Price: $90 – $125

Weight: 8.8 ounces

Sizes: Small, medium, large, and extra-large

Color: Arctic navy, black, citronelle, and dark rust

Material: 100% nylon, double mini ripstop (1.0 oz. /yd.)

Specific features: Zippered hand pockets, zippered chest pocket/stuff sack, elastic cuffs and draw cord hem, mesh underarm vents, wicking liner, 360° reflectivity

Best use: Backpacking, biking, running

Description: The Marmot Ether Driclime Jacket is a hip-length men’s windbreaker jacket ideal for outdoor sports in cooler weather. The athletic fit, which has tailored shoulders and a fitted hem, helps ensure that the garment moves seamlessly with the body.

Unlike other windbreakers on this list, the Ether DriClime has an additional DriClime bicomponent lining that helps with moisture wicking. While this liner increases warmth, breathability, and wind resistance, it also adds bulk and makes it somewhat less packable than other options.

Other features on this water-repellant jacket include 360° reflectivity for visibility, elastic cuffs, mesh underarm vents, and zippered pockets (both hand and chest).

Made of superior quality, your jacket will still look year’s down the down the line. Moreover, its breathability function is enhanced by the fleece lining that will keep you warm even in very cold temperatures, without necessarily overheating.

However, there has been a concern with the latest models; most users feel that the lining clings, making it hard to put the jacket over a shirt since it requires so much tugging. All in all, this is an ultra-light jacket that is comfortable and also very affordable when compared to similar items in the market.

PROS:

  • Affordable price
  • Wind resistant
  • High breathability
  • Very durable; still looks new over the years
  • Slim fit for maximum comfort

CONS:

  • May feel too tight on the body, making it hard to move
  • Clingy lining
  • Lacks side pockets

Related: To complete your outdoors look, you might consider pairing up your jacket with the Outdoor Research Wind Pro Ear Band. It’s designed with a hard face finish and has a soft fleece interior for maximum comfort. Going at only about $22, you will love its contoured shape, and a stretchy design complete with total wind protection.

Check the price on Amazon

Arcteryx Squamish Hoody
Arcteryx Squamish

Price: $100 – $160

Weight: 5.5 ounces

Sizes: Extra-small, small, medium, large, extra-large, and XXL

Color: Basalt, silver lining, magma, bourbon, and twinleaf)

Material: 100% nylon Tyono 30 denier shell with DWR treatment

Specific features: Reflective logo, articulated elbows, gusseted underarms, front zip, helmet-compatible StormHood, DWR coating, durable die-cut Velcro cuff adjusters, drop back hem, adjustable hem drawcord, chest pocket/stuff sack, machine washable

Best use: Hiking, running, skiing

Description: The Arcteryx Squamish Hoody is a durable, super-lightweight hooded men’s windbreaker offering protection for high-powered outdoor activities. The hoody’s StormHood™ is helmet-compatible and has a soft brim and adjustable drawcords that can be used one-handed.

While it is on the expensive side, this is a versatile, highly-packable performance jacket that can be used for everything from trekking to backcountry skiing. In addition, it has an attractive, athletic stretch fit with gusseted underarms, and it does not sacrifice style for performance.

Offering great breathability and freedom of movement, the Squamish jacket has been awarded Editor’s Choice awards from both Outdoor Gear Lab and Climbing Magazine.

If you are looking for a jacket specifically to keep you warm, this might not be the one for you. It’s mainly designed to shield you from strong winds. Moreover, it will keep you dry when caught up in moderate rains, though it’s absorbent in heavy rains. Do not dismiss the thin layers of the jacket because it still gives you maximum moisture protection that keeps you warm when in cool conditions.

The jacket comes in a slim fit and vibrant colors, but users were disappointed in the change of fabric. You can use the Arcteryx all year, since it has the ability to hold moisture when cold and is highly breathable when it’s hot. The best part? It’s a highly durable and compact jacket that packs right into its own chest pocket, without looking all wrinkled up when it’s taken out.

PROS:

  • Highly durable; holds up great for years
  • Packs small into its chest pocket, for easy transportation
  • Lightweight
  • Provides good wind resistance

CONS:

  • Absorbent during heavy rains; will not keep you dry
  • Quite pricey when compared with similar products

Related: To give you that extra warmth, purchase this Arc’teryx Archaeopteryx SS T-Shirt from the same manufacturers of the jacket. It will cost you from about $23- $47 which gives you a very breathable and lightweight T-shirt, made of 100% pure cotton. It also has an athletic feel without being overly slim.

Check the price on Amazon

Marmot Vapor Trail Hoody
Marmot Vapor

Price: Approx. $130

Weight: 13.8 ounces

Sizes: Medium

Color: Cobalt blue, bright navy

Material: WP softshell 79% polyester, 21% pu stretch with driclime technology 3.4 oz. /yd., 86% polyester, 14% elastin plain weave stretch 4.5 oz. / yd.

Specific features: Marmot M2 Softshell, adjustable hood, zippered sleeve pocket, interior zip pocket with iPod-compatible headphone port, asymmetric cuffs, an elastic drawcord hem, breathable side panels and jacket back, pack pockets, Angel-Wing Movement

Best use: Backpacking, running, biking, skiing, climbing

Description: The Marmot Vapor Trail Hoody is a highly breathable, water repellent windbreaker for intense activity outdoor such as skiing, backwoods trail running, or climbing.

Other features of the Vapor Trail Hoody include several zip pockets, including an interior one that has an iPod-compatible headphone port; an adjustable hood; and an easy-to-adjust elastic drawcord hem.

Breathability features include a breathable, wicking jacket back, as well as venting side panels. Several users have noted that Vapor Trail Hoody’s athletic fit tends to run on the slim side, so you may want to consider ordering up a size for optimal movability.

You can be assured that this jacket will retain moisture when you are in cool temperatures to keep you warm, with the breathability function keeping your body cool when in hot areas. The fabric will also keep clamminess at bay in case of sweat. The pack pockets give you extra storage for other items like your phone when you are on the trail.

PROS:

  • Highly breathable fabric
  • Wind and water resistant
  • Comfortable fit

CONS:

  • May not keep you dry in heavy rains
  • Not designed specifically to provide warmth

Related: Since the jacket is not designed to give maximum warmth, you might consider getting this men’s Marmot Tullus 73840 Vest, still by Marmot, that goes for about $150. Wearing the vest on your jacket traps the extra moisture in your body, keeping you warm all day long. The vest has zippered hand warmed pockets and is filled with 600 fill down insulation fiber for maximum warmth.

Check the price on Amazon

Fjallraven High Coast Wind Anorak Jacket Fjallraven High Coast

Price: $105 – $150

Weight: 9 ounces

Sizes: Extra-small, small, medium, large, extra-large, and XXL

Color: UN blue, navy, and seashell orange

Material: 54% polyamide, 46% cotton

Specific features: Kangaroo pocket/stuff sack, thumb-holes, drawstring hem, close-fitting adjustable hood, half-length front zipper

Best use: Backpacking, running, biking

Description: The Fjallraven High Coast Wind Anorak Jacket is a stylish men’s anorak windbreaker jacket made by Swedish outdoor goods company Fjällräven. This hip-length, versatile regular fit jacket, is ideal for hiking and other casual outdoor activities.

Featuring an elegant pullover style with a half-length front zipper, it is constructed using a ventilated and fast-drying combination of waxed polyamide and organic cotton; it is also very wind and water-resistant.

Light and packable, the kangaroo pocket can be used as a stuff sack for easy storage and packing. Additional features of this light, functional jacket include sleeve thumb holes, an adjustable hood, and a drawcord hem.

Users were disappointed by the fact that the jacket has no pockets or pit zips, that could come in handy for extra storage or when there is a need to release extra moisture if in hot temperature areas. However, they love that the fabric dries off quickly after every wash. The price is also quite affordable if compared with other jackets in the market.

PROS:

  • Ultra-light
  • Packs small for easy transportation
  • Wind and water resistant
  • Fast drying fabric

CONS:

  • Lacks side pockets
  • Not fully water resistant; you might get wet in heavy rains
  • Does not provide maximum warmth

Related: This Fjallraven Vidda Pro Pant by the same manufactures complement the jacket so well. They are highly durable, water repellant, wind resistant and are made of waxable fabric. The pants are designed with a double fabric on the back and knees to keep your legs safe when accidents occur. They also have adjustable planket ankles and pockets to hold your knee pads.

Check the price on Amazon

4ucycling 4738WW Windproof Jacket
4ucycling 4738WW

Price: Approx. $40

Weight: 10.2 ounces

Sizes: Small, medium, large, extra-large, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL

Material: Stretchy fabric knit

Color: Black, red

Specific features: Three-layer construction, fleece interior, sturdy full-length front zipper with left-hand orientation for safety

Best use: Riding, running, hiking, skiing, biking, jogging

Description: The 4ucycling 4738WW Windproof Jacket is a stretchy, three-layer wind-blocking winter jacket with numerous features that are especially useful for cyclists. The first (internal) layer has a soft, warm fleece interior with a thermal lining.

The second (middle) layer is made of a breathable fabric that is also very effective for blocking the wind. Other design elements include a longer back (for when you are bending over to ride a bike) and a left-hand zipper to help promote safety and stability when riding.

With a stretch and a slim athletic fit, this jacket ensures excellent range of motion and warmth. It is particularly well suited for cyclists, but can also be used for other outdoor activities, such as jogging or skiing. The manufacturer offers a product satisfaction guarantee.

Its excellent heat remaining capabilities ensure that you do not wear many clothes when you are outdoors since the jacket will provide adequate warmth. Moreover, its outer layer is designed with well knitted fabric that gives you proper elasticity, close fitting and maximum comfort.

Unlike most brands, this jacket will fit you perfectly, without a baggy or loose fit. The versatility you get with this product allows you to use in the outdoors as well as indoors even under extreme cold temperatures. The full zipper open design allows for maximum durability. The best part? You will get a 100% refund if you are not satisfied with your purchase.

PROS:

  • Good fit for maximum comfort
  • Excellent heat retention capabilities for extra warmth
  • Versatile in use
  • Affordable; great price with good functionality

CONS:

  • A bit tight around the bottom; may be uncomfortable for some people
  • Fabric not as breathable
  • Runs large

Related: To keep your hands warm in cold weather, purchase the Zookki MYZGNY Cycling Gloves that will cost you around $11. The gloves are designed with microfiber leather to give an overall great fit and comfort to your hands. They are also highly elastic, breathable and are made of a hard-wearing fabric to absorb shock.

Check the price on Amazon

Rains 1230 Breaker Jacket
Rains 1230 

Price: $72 – $195

Weight: 15.8 ounces

Sizes: Extra small/small, small, small/medium, medium/large, large/extra-large, extra large

Color: Black, green, blue, sand/wax/wan, sky blue, sand, taupe, soil

Material: 100% polyurethane (outer), 100% polyester (inner), stainless steel fittings

Specific features: Full-length waterproof front zipper, two waterproof front pockets, hood, machine washable

Best use: Hiking, running, biking

Description: The Rains 1230 Breaker Jacket is a casual, regular-fit jacket by Danish manufacturer RAINS offering both wind and water-blocking capabilities.

Unlike most of the other options on this list, it features unisex sizing and is available in eight different sizes (and seven attractive colors, from basic black or blue to more colorful options such as a bright sky blue).

The zippers on the full-length front closure, as well as the two front pockets, are waterproof. This elegant jacket also has an adjustable hood and adjustable drawstring waist. Other features for breathability and ventilation include eyelets under the armpits and back air circulation holes.

The zip up function lets you close up the jacket when it’s cold to retain moisture and zip down when in hot temperatures to release extra moisture and prevent sweating. It’s a fantastic jacket, with a good price, with the exception of the fish odor that customers have complained about. You may want to have an actual rain jacket with you because this particular jacket might not come in handy in heavy rain; the fabric might absorb the water, leaving you wet.

PROS:

  • Water resistant
  • Windproof
  • Vibrant colors

CONS:

  • Runs large; you may need to buy a smaller size
  • Fabric absorbent in heavy rains
  • May have a fishy odor on arrival after the purchase

Related: You might want to pair your jacket with a Rains 12200104 Backpack that will only cost you about $100. It comes in a variety of colors, ranging from black to khaki and blue. The material is also water resistant, which enables you to carry your items even in the rainy weather. The bag has a linear interior with a laptop compartment, a zip pocket and a spring lock to fasten the top flap.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrapping It Up

Windbreaker jackets are an essential piece of clothing for blocking out one of the most powerful of the elements – the wind. Heavy wind can impact and slow you down when you’re outdoors, whether you are out on the slopes, cycling, or trail running.

A guy sitting on a rock wearing a windbreaker-jacket

Without an adequate windbreaker, you will feel the chill much more quickly, which could negatively impact your performance. In this article, we went over some of the main features to look for when shopping for a windbreaker.

We also provided a list of eight high-performance options, which offer different features, weights, and price points. Because of its versatility, very light weight, and impact on performance, a great windbreaker is a worthwhile investment for any outdoor enthusiast.

Think we missed some of the great windbreakers that are out there? If so, please leave us a comment to let us know!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Henry Silva
Henry Silva

Henry was hiking since he was 4. He was lucky enough to be born in Boulder, Colorado and enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park hikes growing up. His favourite is Longs Peak, which rises to 14,259 feet (4,346 m) above sea level. It is the highest point of the park. Henry likes to explore new hikes and spend his spare time in the wilderness.

  • Harold Jones

    How breathable is the Arcteryx jacket would I get too sweaty underneath it if I was hiking? Should I plan to put a sweat-wicking shirt under it or it is good on its one? Secondly, is it waterproof? I like being prepared for all eventualities in case I plan for one type of weather and Mother Nature decides to surprise me.

  • Henry Silva

    This jacket has garnered quite a few awards because of its many excellent features. These are waterproof jackets and offers complete protection for foul weather. It has DWR treatment, so that means it is water repellent and the hood is also helmet-compatible to keep you warmer still! 🙂

  • Mackenzie Hill

    Do I always need to move with a windbreaker when backpacking in windy places or is my regular jacket fine? I have some pretty sturdy jackets that I have used for a couple of years and they have held up really well under the wind. However, I have been warned that the next hiking trail is going to be really windy so I wonder if I should get one of these.

  • Henry Silva

    I would go for the windbreaker which effectively protects you from the wind and are rip- proof, too. They are lightweight so you can easily move about, not so with bulky jackets.

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