Women’s Windbreakers 101: A Buyer’s Guide

Women's Windbreakers: Female hiker on a hilly trail wearing a light-colored women's windbreaker

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

For active women who enjoy the outdoors, a reliable women’s windbreaker is your perfect companion. In this post, we’ll explore why windbreakers are a must-have for your wardrobe.

If you’re eager to find out about important factors when shopping, getting the right fit, and enhancing your outdoor experiences with practical features, keep reading.

Windbreakers Explained

A windbreaker is a special jacket designed to protect 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).

Usually crafted from synthetic materials like nylon or polyester, windbreakers are treated for enhanced waterproof capabilities. While they have a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating, they’re not fully waterproof, making them best for dry conditions. For heavy rain, an additional rain protection layer is recommended.

Aside from being wind-resistant, windbreakers come with useful features like collapsible hoods, zip or snap fastenings, and handy pockets. 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 Women’s Windbreaker

Women's Windbreakers: Patagonia Houdini

Important Factors to Consider

A. Choosing the Right Material

When picking out a women’s windbreaker, the type of material is crucial. It affects how waterproof, breathable, durable, and lightweight the jacket is. Here’s what to look for and what to avoid:

What to Look For:

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

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. Look for women’s 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. Choose 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

Women's Windbreakers: A female hiker looking at a scenic valley view during sunset wearing a windbreaker

In the end, choosing the right women’s windbreaker involves considering your specific needs, style preferences, and budget. Here’s how to do it:

  1. What outdoor activities do I do? Different activities require varying 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), opt 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 looking for an ultralight option, check out our TOP 5 guide.

Final Thoughts

Armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to choose the perfect women’s windbreaker. Consider your specific needs, style preferences, and budget. Don’t forget the value of reading reviews.

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

Searching for an ultralight women’s windbreaker? Explore our TOP 5 guide for the planet’s lightest options to keep your backpack featherlight.


Do windbreaker jackets keep you warm?

Windbreaker jackets are designed primarily to block the wind and provide protection against wind chill, making them excellent for keeping you warm in windy conditions. However, windbreakers are typically lightweight and are not heavily insulated. To stay warm in colder temperatures, layering with thermal or insulating garments underneath your windbreaker is recommended. So, windbreakers offer wind protection, but their warmth depends on how you layer them for the weather conditions you’re facing.

Do windbreakers work in rain?

Windbreaker jackets are effective at blocking wind and providing protection from light rain or drizzle due to their water-repellent properties. While they can withstand occasional rain, they are not designed for heavy or prolonged downpours. If you expect heavier rain, it’s advisable to layer your windbreaker with a waterproof rain shell for better protection. So, windbreakers work in light rain, but for heavy rain, additional waterproofing measures are recommended.

Spread the word →

Search Insights

Have any questions?

Follow us

More Insights

Suscribe to Our Newsletter

Follow us

hikinglite logo white
©2023 HikingLite - All rights reserved

Start your ultralight journey!

Subscribe now to stay ahead of the pack with the most up-to-date ultralight gear content.