I am no stranger to the cold. I grew up in a small upstate NY town, spent my college years trucking to class in the freezing rain, and have made it a mission this year to travel to some really chilly places (Colorado in January, Iceland in February, and Alaska scheduled for the fall). But no matter how much you layer up and anticipate the cold, there is one weather feature I am never quite prepared for…wind! Wind can make a balmy day freezing, and a cold day downright miserable. Just a few weeks ago in Iceland, I ditched my coat for a picture, and the wind cut straight through my sweater and left me with chattering teeth and a strained smile.
Fortunately, there are jackets designed for this very situation. The humble windbreaker promises to block out the sharpest gusts, providing a barrier between your skin and fast-moving air. Windbreakers no longer look like they did in the 90s. Outdoor and performance brands have forgone the poofy neon designs for sleeker, more professional and athletic looking gear. So if you are planning a trip to anywhere that promises to be gusty, make sure you have on of these tucked into your carry on. Trust me, you will be warmer, happier, and wind up with better photos than I did!
This jacket is made of 100% nylon mechanical stretch, which means it will protect you from the wind and the rain. It is lightweight and breathable and even packs down small into its own rear pocket. It also features an adjustable fitted hood, an elastic draw-cord waist, and elastic wrist cuffs with a thumb slot that tucks easily away if you aren’t using it.
One reviewer heavily praised the fact that the jacket packs into a back pocket and not a front pocket, because when he gets hot on a run he can tuck the jacket away and conveniently wear it around his waist. There is no doubt that this jacket was designed thoughtfully, with the travelers and the adventurers among us in mind.
Patagonia is an outdoor apparel powerhouse, and this humble windbreaker is no exception to their catalog of well-designed, high-quality products. It is made of super lightweight nylon and has a water-repellent finish. The adjustable hood promises to not block your peripheral vision, and the half-elastic cuffs will keep out wind and rain without cutting off circulation to your hands.
The drawcord hem is adjustable for comfort. A reflective logo on the front and back makes it a safe option for running outdoors. It collapses down into its front chest pocket. This jacket features a reinforced carabineer clip-in loop, which means you can safely clip it to the outside of your backpack or bag. It comes in nine different color options.
You can wear a base layer or a lightweight mid-layer underneath if you are looking to maximize warmth while blocking the wind. One reviewer really highlights its versatility, saying that “I use this jacket all year round. It could be 70° windy with cool drizzle, or -10° wind kicks up near the summit, all I have to do is throw it on and it’s like you can completely turn off the wind and cold. For me, this jacket is like having an extra puffy jacket that weighs less than a cliff bar.”
The North Face, another reputable outdoor brand, actually has an entire section of 20 wind resistant jackets. The tagline on their webpage reads “Don’t get blown away, weather the storm with our windproof and wind-resistant jackets.” The jacket featured on this list is completely waterproof and windproof.
It has a soft-shell made of elastane, making it a great choice for cooler weather. It’s a relaxed fit and has a chest pocket and zip pockets for your hands. There is also a hem cinch-cord to insulate you better. Northface products have free returns and a lifetime guarantee on material and workmanship.
This jacket is slightly more reminiscent of the 90s windbreakers we all know and love. It features more poof and some iconic color blocking. But even with the retro design, this jacket is as high tech as ever. It is lightweight, anti-ultraviolet, windproof, and quick-drying. The full zip, drawstring hood, and elastic cuff waist and sleeves are designed to keep your body heat in, and the wind out.
This jacket is a fantastic option for anyone who values storage. It is 100% polyester and completely seam-sealed. This jacket also features 3 outside and 2 inside pockets – more than most windbreakers on the market. It has a detachable hood, and is both wind resistant and breathable.
Whether you’re summiting a tricky peak, running errands around town, or doing anything in between, keep the wind out and the warmth in with one of these fantastic jackets. They are lightweight and easy to carry, you’ll be happy you have it.