Best windbreaker jacket


Windbreakers can be used for sports or prevent windy conditions from spoiling outdoor activities. They can also be used in everyday situations, such as walking the dog on a windy day.

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Which windbreaker jackets are best?

The term windbreaker acquired its name from a trademarked brand, and now it’s the widely used term. Windbreakers are jackets specifically designed to keep out wind chills on blustery days. They’re great lightweight jackets for hikers and can be worn with layered clothing for cold weather trekking. Most windbreakers are water-resistant, too, meaning they’re perfect jackets to be worn in inclement conditions.

The Black Diamond Men’s Alpine Start Hooded Jacket can be worn for a large number of activities and folds down into its own pocket when not in use.

What to know before you buy a windbreaker jacket


It may be more comfortable to use a lightweight, breathable windbreaker when you do sports or trek in the mountains. Just make sure there aren’t any big thunderstorms on the horizon. Gentle hiking through forests on a dry but windy fall day is good weather for a windbreaker. However, on a day when you expect heavy downpours, a quality waterproof coat should be worn. Consider the conditions you’ll use your jacket in before purchasing.

Water resistance

Windbreakers have a sufficient water resistance level, but they are not waterproof. Water-resistant jackets are effective in short periods of rain. Waterproof jackets are usually heavier and bulkier but more effective in heavy downpours. This also makes most waterproof jackets less breathable than windbreakers. 

Keeping dry in heavy rain is a primary concern, but you may also wish to keep out the wind chill. Any good-quality waterproof jacket, rather than a windbreaker, will keep you satisfied on both counts.

What to look for in a quality windbreaker jacket

Wind resistance

A heavier windbreaker offers more resistance than a light one. Still, you need to consider that a quality lightweight windbreaker already provides a good resistance level and better mobility. Think about what you’ll be using the jacket for before purchase. Doing sports and strenuous trekking means heavy jackets and coats are probably out of the question. However, a light windbreaker offers less protection in stormy weather.

Ease of packing

A more lightweight windbreaker is much easier to fold into a pocket-sized package to be stored away. This is convenient for anybody who prioritizes efficient packing. Sportsmen or hikers using the jacket in warm conditions who need to peel off layers as the climate dictates will also find this convenient. 


Windbreakers preferably should have a detachable or stowable hood. Hoods should not interfere when playing sports and should be easy to remove. However, a hood serves a purpose when rain starts or cold creeps in. Windbreaker hoods should be loose enough so that you can wear a hat or another hood underneath in colder conditions. The jacket should also have a drawstring to adjust or loosen its tightness when necessary.

How much you can expect to spend on a windbreaker jacket

Depending on what quality of windbreaker you want, you can spend as much or as little as you like. Expect to pay $60-$100 for a good-quality one, or as much as $200 or more for a high-performance one.

Windbreaker jacket FAQ

Can I machine-wash my windbreaker jacket?

A. Always check the label to see if it’s machine-washable. However, all windbreakers are easily washed by hand with a bit of liquid detergent. Do not dry your windbreaker in a dryer. A synthetic material windbreaker will dry in no time on a washline.

How can I stay warm wearing a lightweight windbreaker in cold weather?

A. To get the most out of the jacket, you should wear the correct layers. Your windbreaker should ideally be made from synthetic material such as nylon. A quality fleece or wool sweater makes a good mid-layer and a thin base layer made of quality fabric such as merino wool will work best. In icy conditions, another insulating layer under your windbreaker can be added.

What’s the best windbreaker jacket to buy?

Top windbreaker jacket

Black Diamond Alpine Start Hooded Jacket

Black Diamond Alpine Start Hooded Jacket

What you need to know: This is a quality softshell windbreaker jacket for hiking, running or even winter sports.

What you’ll love: This jacket is easily folded and packed away in its own pocket, making it great for any outdoor activity. The fabric offers excellent breathability and is very flexible. The hood is compatible with cyclists’ helmets, and according to reviewers, the fits run true to size.

What you should consider: It’s a little on the pricier side of the scale.

Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry

Top windbreaker jacket for the money

The North Face Men’s Cyclone Windbreaker Jacket

The North Face Men’s Cyclone Windbreaker Jacket

What you need to know: This is a good jacket for everyday use and light activities such as forest walking.

What you’ll love: This stylish windbreaker comes in a variety of unique designs and eye-catching colors, making it an excellent fashion-conscious choice. Its economical price will suit anyone who doesn’t need a jacket suitable for high-end adventure travel or sports.

What you should consider: The polyester material isn’t as breathable as nylon.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Backcountry Women’s Mad Creek Shell

Backcountry Women’s Mad Creek Shell

What you need to know: A great jacket for those who need freedom of movement and comfort when taking part in outdoor activities.

What you’ll love: The 100% nylon makes for excellent breathability and comfort. With underarm vents helping to control your body temperature, you’ll feel comfortable when doing your activities. The hood can be snapped down, preventing it from moving all over the place and giving you clear sight at all times.

What you should consider: The underarm vents may actually interfere slightly with the wind resistance, meaning this jacket may not be suitable for extreme conditions.

Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry


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Barry Peacock writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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