Windbreaker jackets help keep you warm and comfortable whether you’re caught out in a light rainstorm or in gusty conditions in the alpine. However, there are so many great models to choose from that deciding on the right option for your needs can be difficult.
To make it easier for you to find the wind jacket that’s best for your upcoming trip into the mountains, we’ve reviewed 5 of the top models on the market today.
Up next, we’ll discuss the finer points of the top windbreaker jackets available. That way, you can spend less time researching your gear and more time enjoying the great outdoors.
The Patagonia Alpine Houdini is an absolute classic of a wind jacket. It’s designed specifically with light and fast climbers and hikers in mind, as it weighs just 7.1oz (201.3g).
This jacket stuffs quickly into its own chest pocket and can then clip onto a harness for easy transport if you’re climbing. For hikers, it’s small enough to simply pack into the brain of your backpack or even into your pocket.
As far as weather-resistance goes, this windbreaker is made with ultralight 2.5 layer H2NO Performance Standard waterproof fabric. It also has a watertight front zipper, which makes it one of the few truly waterproof windbreakers out there.
I’ve personally used the Alpine Houdini for extended backcountry trips and have always been impressed by how well it holds up, despite its small size. I also like how handy it is for quickly layering up in windy conditions above tree-line.
- Fully waterproof design
- Stuffs into its own pocket
- Ultralight design
- Made with environmentally-friendly bluesign approved fabrics
- Not as breathable as other models
Black Diamond’s Alpine Start Hoody made waves when it first arrived on the market because of its super soft fabric. This award-winning wind jacket is made from bluesign-approved Schoeller stretch-woven softshell. Schoeller fabric is great because it provides next-to-skin comfort, even after long days on the mountain.
For storage, this jacket can be quickly stowed into its chest pocket and packed into your backpack or clipped onto a harness.
It also features a fully adjustable hood that’s helmet compatible for use during climbing trips. To add even more comfort, Black Diamond built this jacket with underarm gussets, which provide extra range of motion.
I used the Alpine Start for years and loved how comfortable it was to wear. It is lightweight and super packable. This makes it perfect for anything from an afternoon bike ride to a week-long climbing trip.
- Super soft fabric provides next-to-skin comfort
- Fully adjustable hood that’s helmet-compatible
- Stuffs into its own pocket for storage
- Underarm gussets for added range of motion
- Very expensive
The Cotopaxi Teca is a fun, affordable option for budget-conscious campers. This windbreaker features bright colors and unique designs which look good in town and on the trail. Each jacket is even crafted from leftover fabric to help reduce our impact on the environment.
These jackets are made with Teca, a lightweight, highly weather-resistant fabric. It also has large panels of repurposed polyester taffeta that’s DWR (durable water repellent) treated to help keep you dry.
For gear storage, the Teca jacket has a large front kangaroo pocket as well as an internal phone pocket. Plus, the entire windbreaker can stuff inside the internal phone pocket, which doubles as a stuff sack when you’re on the go.
- Environmentally friendly design is made from repurposed fabric
- Water-resistant and durable
- Multiple pockets for gear storage
- Stuffs into its own internal phone pocket
- Pull-over design isn’t a good fit for everyone
The Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody is a super lightweight windbreaker jacket for alpine pursuits. It has a minimalist construction that eliminates all excess bells and whistles so it weighs in at a miniscule 5.5oz (155.9g).
This jacket features a highly breathable stretch fabric that’s treated with a DWR coating to increase its water- and wind-resistance. Additionally, this fabric is durable enough to withstand the rigors of regular adventures, thanks to its ripstop design.
The Squamish Hoody also has a helmet-compatible StormHood that can be fully adjusted with one hand. Since no good ultralight windbreaker would be complete without a storage system, this jacket also packs into its own chest pocket when not in use.
- Helmet-compatible hood is adjustable with one hand
- Ultralight design
- Packs into its own chest pocket
- Highly breathable, yet durable fabric
- Very expensive
- Doesn’t have hand pockets
For hikers that also want to look good in town and stay protected from the wind on the trail, The North Face Fanorak is a solid choice. This stylish windbreaker is a versatile jacket that’s built with ripstop polyester for weather-resistance and durability.
It’s treated with a DWR coat to help shed rain and uses WindWall technology to help keep you comfortable on windy days. Additionally, this jacket has a fully-adjustable hood to shield your head from foul weather.
As far as pockets go, this windbreaker has a large kangaroo-style pocket with a zipper to store your gear. The entire jacket also converts into a fanny pack (a.k.a. bum bag) with a belt strap that can be clipped around your waist for super-easy transport on trail runs and short day hikes.
- Converts into a fanny pack for transport
- DWR treated for water-resistance
- Fully adjustable hood
- Large kangaroo pocket for gear storage
- Fairly heavy and bulky
Windbreakers are an often overlooked piece of gear, but they are a must-have for any avid outdoor enthusiast. With the right windbreaker, you can stay warm and dry without adding much weight to your pack, even when the weather doesn’t want to cooperate.
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