The Definitive Guide to Men’s Windbreakers

Men's Windbreakers: Young hiker wearing The North Face windbreaker

In this post, we'll take a look at:

For active men who love the outdoors, a good men’s windbreaker is your ideal companion. In this post, we’ll uncover why windbreakers are essential for your wardrobe.

If you’re ready to learn about key factors when shopping for one, finding the perfect fit, and enhancing your outdoor experiences with convenient features, read on.

Windbreakers Explained

A windbreaker is a specialized jacket designed to shield against cold winds using tightly woven fabrics. It’s a lightweight and portable garment typically worn when the temperature is above 50°F (10°C).

Windbreakers, usually made from synthetic materials like nylon or polyester, are treated for enhanced waterproof capabilities. While they have a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating, they’re not fully waterproof, best for dry conditions. For heavier rain, an extra rain protection layer is recommended.

Aside from being wind-resistant, windbreakers come with handy features like collapsible hoods, zip or snap fastenings, and useful pockets. Don’t worry; we’ll delve into these details below.

Why do hikers and backpackers love windbreakers? Well, as mentioned, they stop the wind from stealing your body heat. The catch? They don’t keep you warm by trapping heat; they just block the wind. Depending on what you wear underneath, windbreakers work in various temperatures. Plus, they’re super light and won’t weigh you down in your backpack.

How to Choose the Right Men’s Windbreaker

Men's Windbreakers: Patagonia Houdini

Important Factors to Consider

A. Choosing the Right Material

When you’re picking out a men’s windbreaker, the type of material is really important. It affects how waterproof, breathable, durable, and lightweight the jacket is. Here’s what to look for and what to stay away from:

What to Look For:

  • Ripstop Nylon or Synthetic Fabrics: These materials are great because they’re light, waterproof, and let your body breathe, which is perfect for windbreakers.
  • Tightly Woven Fabrics: These fabrics make a solid barrier against the wind while still letting moisture escape, keeping you comfy.

Tip: If you desire a windbreaker with lab-tested windproofing, check if the fabric used has undergone ASTM D737 or ISO 9237 testing.

What to Avoid:

  • Fabrics That Don’t Breathe: Stay away from windbreakers that don’t let air through (vinyl or rubber-coated fabrics); instead, choose ones that let moisture out to prevent getting too hot.
  • No Seams with Tape: Make sure the windbreaker has sealed seams to stop water from getting in if it suddenly rains.

B. Finding the Perfect Fit

Getting the right size for your windbreaker is super important for feeling comfy and being able to move around easily. Here’s what to look for and what to steer clear of:

What to Look For:

  • Adjustable Features: Look for windbreakers with cuffs you can adjust, drawstrings at the waist, and zippers. These features let you customize the fit.
  • Extra Features: Think about jackets with reflective parts, hoods, and pockets for more protection and convenience.

What to Avoid:

  • Windbreakers That Don’t Fit Right: Don’t get one that’s too tight or too baggy. You want it to fit snugly without limiting your movement.

Features for Added Convenience

Beyond the basics, windbreakers provide added features for a better outdoor experience. Here’s what to consider:

Hoods, Pockets, and Zippers

  1. Benefits of a Hood: A hood is crucial in windy or rainy conditions, providing head protection and warmth. Seek windbreakers with detachable or stowable hoods for changing weather.
  2. Multiple Pockets: Outdoor adventures are easier with accessible pockets for essentials like keys, phones, and small items. Pick windbreakers with well-placed secure pockets for added convenience.
  3. Two-Way Zippers: Windbreakers with dual zippers offer better mobility and ventilation. They unzip from both top and bottom, ideal for longer styles, allowing you to adjust the fit and control temperature during activities.
  4. Customizable Fit with Drawstrings: Windbreakers featuring waist drawstrings allow you to adjust the jacket’s fit according to your preferences. Cinch the waist for a personalized style and function, ensuring that your windbreaker adapts to your body shape.

Making the Purchase Decision

Windbreakers: A hiker ascending a windy hill while wearing a windbreaker

In the end, picking the right men’s windbreaker involves thinking about your specific needs, style preferences, and budget. Here’s how to do it:

  1. What outdoor activities do I do? Various activities require different levels of wind protection and airflow. Windbreakers come in different options, from simple multisport choices to feature-packed ones designed specifically for hiking. Keep this in mind when making your selection.
  2. What’s the usual weather like where I hike? Consider the typical weather where you’ll wear the windbreaker. If it’s consistently around 50°F (10°C), go for a thicker option for added protection, especially if you prefer not to wear a thicker baselayer. On warmer trails, choose the lightest available option.
  3. Do I care more about how it looks, how it works, or a mix of both? Windbreakers vary between stylish and practical designs. The best ones seamlessly blend both style and features. Consider what matters most to you, and you’ll end up with a durable piece of gear that fits your preferences for years to come.

If you’re simply searching for an ultralight option, check out our TOP 5 guide.

Final Thoughts

With this knowledge, you’re ready to pick the perfect men’s windbreaker. Factor in your specific needs, style preferences, and budget. Don’t forget the value of reading reviews.

As an example, our windbreakers have proven reliable over the last five years, establishing themselves as the most useful pieces of hiking clothing in our possession.

Looking for an ultra-lightweight men’s windbreaker? Dive into our TOP 5 guide featuring the lightest choices to ensure your backpack stays incredibly light.


Can windbreaker jackets provide warmth?

Windbreakers typically lack specific temperature ratings, relying instead on their ability to block wind to provide warmth. In moderately cool conditions, ranging from 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 18 degrees Celsius), they can offer ample warmth. However, in colder weather below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), layering with insulating garments beneath the windbreaker is advisable for comfort.

Can windbreakers protect against rain?

Windbreakers are great for blocking wind and providing some protection from light rain or drizzle, typically up to 2.5 mm/hr. However, they aren’t meant for heavy or prolonged downpours, which can exceed 7.6 mm/hr. In substantial rain, it’s wise to layer your windbreaker with a waterproof rain shell for better protection. So, windbreakers work in light rain, but for heavy rain, extra waterproofing is recommended.

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