Reviews You Can Rely On

Best Windbreaker of 2022

We tested the best men's windbreaker jackets from Patagonia, The North Face, Smartwool, and others to find the best options
Best Windbreaker of 2022
Catching wind above 12,000 feet in New Mexico. A windbreaker offers a lightweight, breathable alternative for all your active pursuits, and is suitable to pack as a backup layer for all but the worst weather.
Credit: Jill Rice
Wednesday December 22, 2021
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Over the past 8 years, our experts have reviewed over 30 of the best windbreakers on the market. For this update, we purchased 13 of the best jackets available for side-by-side testing. Our in-depth analysis combines objective, laboratory-style testing with real-world experience to break down each of these jackets based on key criteria: which are the lightest, which are the most wind- and weather-resistant, and which present the best overall value. From the chill of autumn to springtime gales, a windbreaker is a lightweight option to keep the elements at bay — there's really no excuse not to carry one of these essential, packable layers in your kit. Our comprehensive review helps you find the best option to fit your needs and budget.

See our in-depth testing by female reviewers in our women's specific windbreaker review.

Related: Best Windbreaker for Women

Top 13 Product Ratings

Displaying 11 - 13 of 13
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Awards Top Pick Award   
Price $170 List
$169.00 at Backcountry
$100 List
$59.95 at Amazon
$40 List
Overall Score
Star Rating
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Pros Ultimate breathability, next-to-skin softnessBreathable, surprising water repellency, stylish and comfortableAffordable, large hand pockets and hood
Cons Cold in a strong wind, expensiveWind cuts through elastane mesh, no storage pocket, specific fitBillows in anything more than a breeze, lack of features
Bottom Line An ultralight, breathable, versatile layer for those who live by the mantra of fast-and-lightThis running-focused shell isn’t the most wind resistant, but features an appealing balance of breathability and water resistanceHolding it down for the classic windbreaker, in style and function
Rating Categories Patagonia Houdini Air Salomon Agile Full-... Columbia Flashback
Wind Resistance (30%) Sort Icon
Breathability and Venting (30%)
Weight and Packability (20%)
Fit and Functionality (10%)
Water Resistance (10%)
Specs Patagonia Houdini Air Salomon Agile Full-... Columbia Flashback
Measured Weight (size M) 4.0 oz 5.6 oz 5.7 oz
Material 90% nylon (51% recycled) / 10% polyester double weave, DWR finish 100% polyester upper, 88% polyester / 12% elastane lower Water-repellent polyester
Pockets 1 zip (chest) 2 zippered hand 2 hand
Safety Reflective Material? No (company states reflective logo on left chest, too small to really be visible) Yes, reflective inserts No
Stowable Pocket? Yes: chest pocket No No
Cuff Style Half Elastic Half Elastic Elastic
Hood Fits Over Helmet? Yes No Yes

Best Overall Windbreaker

Patagonia Houdini

  • Wind Resistance 8.0
  • Breathability and Venting 8.0
  • Weight and Packability 8.0
  • Fit and Functionality 7.0
  • Water Resistance 8.0
Weight: 3.9 oz (size Large) | Pockets: 1 zip (chest)
Balances wind resistance and breathability
Simple, lightweight, and packable
Good DWR coating
No feature to secure hood
Lack of ventilation
Awkward chest pocket

The Patagonia Houdini is an iconic windbreaker jacket, and as a repeat winner at the top of our podium, continues to set the standard for all other jackets in this category. It performs exactly as a windbreaker should, packing down and stowing away until you need to break it out to protect you from wind or light rain. The entire jacket stuffs into its chest pocket — the resulting package is only about the size of a small banana. The lightweight package easily clips to a belt, climbing harness, or stashes into the smallest corner of your pack — it even squeezes comfortably into the tiniest seat bags, making it a great companion for long bike rides. Though it will never compare directly to a rain jacket, the ultralight DWR coating is at the top of its class and does a solid job of balancing wind resistance with breathability.

With its most recent makeover, the historically too-small chest pocket of the Houdini has been updated to accommodate the ever-growing size of newer smartphones (though it is still a bit of an awkward fit.) If you are biking, running, skiing downhill, or outside in any aggressive wind, the hood tends to catch air like a sail, uncomfortably stretching the collar against your neck. Without any features to improve ventilation, you can only push up the sleeves to cool off — without full-elastic wrist cuffs, this can cut off circulation for those with muscular forearms. These small design criticisms aside, the Houdini is still our favorite windbreaker. It is a multifunctional jacket, well-suited to all-day alpine adventures, long trail runs, exposed free climbs, and evening mountain bike laps.

Read review: Patagonia Houdini

Best Bang for your Buck

The North Face Flyweight Hoodie

  • Wind Resistance 7.0
  • Breathability and Venting 9.0
  • Weight and Packability 4.0
  • Fit and Functionality 7.0
  • Water Resistance 3.0
Weight: 7.6 oz (size Medium) | Pockets: 2 zip (hand)
Large zipped hand pockets
Not water resistant
Relatively heavy
Oversized stuff sack

When it comes down to the core value of a windbreaker, it may be obvious that wind resistance is the focus feature. While wind resistance is often at odds with breathability — the two are clearly opposing ideas — The North Face Flyweight Hoodie skillfully balances these characteristics as a versatile lightweight jacket. A 100% recycled polyester face fabric is much more comfortable when worn next-to-skin, and is mesh-backed in key spots for enhanced breathability and an extra touch of warmth. All of this, at nearly half the price of other jackets, makes the Flyweight Hoodie an incredible value.

Of course, this level of savings does have some externalized costs associated with it. Even though the Flyweight lives up to its name relative to most jackets, when compared directly to some of the best ultralight shells in this review, the jacket could even be considered heavyweight and bulky. While it offers a top-notch blend of wind resistance and breathability, it is by no means weatherproof — even a few minutes in a light rain will soak through the shoulders. But for fair-weather activity, the performance and price point of the Flyweight Hoodie will appeal to casual recreationists and dirtbag athletes alike.

Read review: The North Face Flyweight Hoodie

Best for Functionality

Rab Vital Windshell

  • Wind Resistance 8.0
  • Breathability and Venting 7.0
  • Weight and Packability 7.0
  • Fit and Functionality 9.0
  • Water Resistance 6.0
Weight: 4.7 oz (size Medium) | Pockets: 3 zip (2 hand & 1 internal)
Three large, zippered pockets
Stiffened brim on fully elastic hood
Great fit adjustability
Lack of DWR
Not that breathable
Brim looks goofy

The Rab Vital Windshell is packed with pockets, loaded with features, and still costs less than many jackets in this review, earning recognition for its excellent value. While other jackets may weigh fractions of an ounce less, the Vital has an advantage when it comes to additional features. There are two big hand pockets and a large internal pocket at the waist level. A neck snap lets you completely unzip the jacket but still keep it in place, which helps quickly dump heat or adjust midlayers. We're split on the hood brim — it does provide extra rain deflection, but it looks goofy and makes it harder to fit under a bike helmet.

The material — although lightweight, ripstop nylon — does not breathe well. In side-by-side bike climbs with other top-ranking windbreakers, we were much more swampy inside this jacket. Without a DWR finish, this jacket will help in a fog, but don't expect it to keep you dry very long, even in light rain. But, if you value features and pockets over breathability and water-repellency, then the Vital is one of the best options in this review.

Read review: Rab Vital Windshell

Best for Aerobic Performance

Patagonia Houdini Air

  • Wind Resistance 6.0
  • Breathability and Venting 10.0
  • Weight and Packability 8.0
  • Fit and Functionality 7.0
  • Water Resistance 6.0
Weight: 4.0 oz (size Medium) | Pockets: 1 zip (chest)
Super breathable as an outer or mid-layer
Next-to-skin comfort of recycled nylon
Quick to dry
Lacking wind resistance
Smaller chest pocket
Material quickly soaks

In the few ways we have to criticize the award-winning Houdini, the Patagonia Houdini Air makes up for when it comes to fast-and-light performance. Truly incredible in terms of breathability, this super lightweight shell works as a running jacket and doubles equally well as a mid-layer for ski touring. This windbreaker is built with a texturized nylon — 51% of which is post-consumer recycled material — that is soft to the touch and airy to wear. We also find that the fit is more athletically cut than the original, both more flattering to wear out on the town and more comfortable to layer underneath a harness.

With all of the benefits of the Houdini Air, there have to be a few sacrifices. Otherwise, this windbreaker would have easily taken the top spot in our review. As a trade-off for leaping improvements in breathability, a stiff wind easily cuts through the thin, single-layer nylon. Even though there are thoughtful additions to improve water resistance, like fully taped seams on the chest pocket, the DWR finish is not enough to stop anything more than a quick passing storm. An ideal choice for uphill athletes, but maybe not those climbers looking at a questionable forecast, considering the Houdini Air all comes down to what you are looking for in a windbreaker jacket.

Read review: Patagonia Houdini Air

Compare Products

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Score Product Price Our Take
Editors' Choice Award
Our Editor’s Choice for its simplicity, price, and solid performance in a lightweight package
Top Pick Award
A breathable shell that works equally well as a mid-layer for fast-and-light missions
Made for the mountains, this ultralight jacket will help you push your limits
Perfect for adventure runners looking for packable weather protection
Top Pick Award
If you love pockets and still want solid wind protection, this jacket is hard to beat
Unique Diamond Fuse fabric adds extra durability and longevity to this clean, technical shell
The benefits you love from you Merino baselayer, re-designed as an alpine outerlayer
A fine offering from Arc'teryx, but more expensive than some higher performing models
More weather than wind resistant, this runner’s shell can breathe and shed light rainstorms
A clean, technical piece that splits the difference between windbreaker and softshell
A slim, European-fit jacket designed with features not included on other lightweight options
Best Buy Award
A price-point jacket whose core performance is comparable to the those at the top of the list
A classic windbreaker that’s a steal-of-a-deal

wind breaker jacket - testing side-by-side with the kuhl parajax, the patagonia houdini is...
Testing side-by-side with the KUHL Parajax, the Patagonia Houdini is less expensive and performs better in every category - earning our top award.
Credit: Jill Rice

Why You Should Trust Us

Our windbreaker jacket expert is Aaron Rice. Growing up on the Atlantic coastline, learning to ski in Vermont and Maine, and living up and down the Rocky Mountains for the past decade, he knows about all different types of wind and weather. Just ask him, and he will happily tell you that "weather is his jam" — he even holds a bachelor's degree in atmospheric and climate science. Now living in Santa Fe, NM, Aaron wears many different professional hats, dividing his work seasonally between farming and writing in the summers and ski patrol and avalanche education in the winters. He spends much of his time outside and draws on past experience as a retail buyer to dissect and discuss the nuances of technical gear. Aaron often finds himself in some questionably windy situations, whether in the high mountains or out in the desert. If you don't quite know what we're talking about, go and visit New Mexico in the spring, and you'll understand.

A jacket definitely not meant for the harsh cold of the alpine, but...
A jacket definitely not meant for the harsh cold of the alpine, but we went there anyway!
Better running downhill than up, the Vital Windshell kept us warm on...
Better running downhill than up, the Vital Windshell kept us warm on this chilly run but turned into a sweat-suit on extended uphills.
This jacket was particularly suited for leg-powered activities, like...
This jacket was particularly suited for leg-powered activities, like mountain biking. Here, we're cruising a long descent in the foothills over Santa Fe.

To effectively test these products, we identified key metrics that help define a truly great windbreaker jacket: wind resistance, breathability and venting; weight and packability; fit and functionality; and water resistance. Through research and our own personal experience, we developed a series of comprehensive and mutually exclusive tests. To test key criteria like wind resistance, we sought out windy mountaintops and coastlines to evaluate these jackets in the field. But for other metrics, like water resistance, we conducted laboratory-style tests that could be easily recreated.

Related: How We Tested Wind Jackets

wind breaker jacket - our head tester firmly believes windbreakers are the ideal layer for...
Our head tester firmly believes windbreakers are the ideal layer for ski touring and mountaineering. Here, he is wearing the highly breathable Patagonia Houdini Air as a mid-layer under the more substantial Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody, which is essentially an ultralight softshell.
Credit: Jill Rice

Analysis and Test Results

The high desert of the American Southwest provides a perfect testing ground for our field research — in one day, we can easily travel from chilly alpine ridges down to sun-soaked desert landscapes. We tested these jackets through a variety of activities — mountain biking, trail running, uphill and downhill skiing, backpacking, camping, and climbing — as well as simple, everyday activities like walks in the park or trips to the store. All along the way, we continually made notes on special features and nuanced differences in fit, evaluating and re-assessing each jacket's relative strengths and weaknesses.

Related: Buying Advice for Wind Jackets

We acknowledge that some criteria are more important than others when considering windbreaker jackets. For example, we give greater weight to critical metrics like wind resistance and packability. It is also important to recognize that all of the jackets we chose to include in this review are among some of the best products available today. Since our scoring is based on direct, side-by-side comparisons, a low score doesn't mean that a jacket isn't worth your while. It simply means that it didn't perform as well relative to the competition. We also recognize that your specific needs may differ from how heavily we scored each metric. We offer various windbreakers in this review to accommodate all situations — but be sure to carefully consider your own preferences before settling on a particular jacket.

wind breaker jacket - windbreakers are a nearly perfect companion for bike commuting...
Windbreakers are a nearly perfect companion for bike commuting, especially during the fall or spring shoulder seasons.
Credit: Jill Rice


An essential aspect of any purchase is the value it offers. While it is often true that items that cost more often correspond with higher performance, this is not always the case. We have found time and again that some more affordable items perform nearly as well as the most expensive options and therefore present a much better value overall.

The Patagonia Houdini represents an exceptional value in this category. Not only is it our top overall scorer, but it is also relatively inexpensive and remarkably durable. This windbreaker jacket should continue to perform well for years across a variety of activities. We recognize that price is a factor affecting every gear budget and that sometimes even a few dollars can make or break the bank. For an outstanding blend of value in a jacket that seamlessly blends wind resistance and breathability, The North Face Flyweight Hoodie is a slightly more casual jacket that still features many of the same standards as other high-priced, more technical pieces.

wind breaker jacket - slightly heavier weight jackets like the north face flyweight hoodie...
Slightly heavier weight jackets like The North Face Flyweight Hoodie are great options for mountain biking, where you need a jacket to cut out the wind on downhills, but still need them to be breathable for pedaling back uphill.
Credit: Jill Rice

Wind Resistance

Wind resistance is understandably one of the most important features these jackets can offer — we weighted this metric as 30 percent of a product's final score. Made of lightweight nylon or polyester, most of these jackets utilize an incredibly tight fabric weave to muster wind resistance. The tighter the fabric is woven together, the less space between individual fibers, and the less air-permeable the fabric becomes. The Ortovox windbreaker is special in this case, utilizing a proprietary weave that incorporates Merino wool and nylon into a single layer, resulting in an exceptionally wind-resistant jacket.

Aside from sporting these windbreaker jackets practically every day for months and assessing how we felt, we conducted a wind resistance test. This process involved forcing air through the fabric at close range via a hairdryer and our mouths. The combination of these methods gives us an idea of how easy it is for air to pass through the fabric of each model. To test this in the field, we braved the elements and wore each jacket on a 12,000-foot summit in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains with gusts up to 35 mph and wind chill temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit. We compared our previous findings with how each jacket felt in the strong, cold winds we experienced. Through this side-by-side testing, we are confident in our ability to determine the most and least wind resistant options.

wind breaker jacket - designed for the harsh climbing conditions of the scottish highlands...
Designed for the harsh climbing conditions of the Scottish highlands and loaded with pockets, the Rab Vital is more than capable in a variety of environments.
Credit: Jill Rice

In addition to the nylon fabric weave used in construction, a couple of other factors are vital in a jacket's performance to properly fight the wind. Fit is critical, and windbreakers work better when they fit close to the body. Features that help seal out the wind, like elastic on the sleeve cuffs and drawcords on the hem and hood, make a huge difference if you are battling a strong, sustained wind. These are easy entry points where the wind can circumvent your carefully woven nylon barrier.

wind breaker jacket - some chilly, mountaintop testing of wind resistance in the...
Some chilly, mountaintop testing of wind resistance in the less-than-ideal Patagonia Houdini Air.
Credit: Aaron Rice

The Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie is a shell featuring Pertex Diamond Fuse technology. The interlocking yarns significantly increase wind resistance without adding any weight. An alpine-inspired design is suitably minimalist for fast-and-light objectives. However, the jacket still employs many of these key features — half-elastic cuffs, a drawcord on the hem, a storm flap behind the front zipper, and an elastic hood that can be locked down — to further enhance its wind resistance.

wind breaker jacket - the unique diamond fuse ripstop of the outdoor research helium wind...
The unique Diamond Fuse ripstop of the Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie is particularly good at blocking wind, so designers feature underarm vents and a mesh-backed chest pocket to improve ventilation.
Credit: Jill Rice

Breathability and Venting

Since these jackets are most often used as an alternative, lightweight outer layer for high-intensity activities, we chose to weigh breathability and venting as 30 percent of a product's final score. After all, a jacket with no breathability would trap all of your heat and sweat inside its shell — leading to a horrible cycle of overheating, soaking, and then overcooling you. Wind resistance and breathability are often contrasting ideas in terms of fabric weave and performance. Many manufacturers choose to compensate for poor fabric breathability by including features designed to help with venting. Since these two concepts accomplish the same thing — removal of heat and moisture — we included them together in this metric.

Besides the notes we acquired from field testing, we wanted to judge each jacket side-by-side in a situation that would not incorporate the sun's heat — a major factor here in the Southwest. To analyze which jackets built up the most moisture or which helped us feel the coolest, we cranked up the heat in our gear room to 85-degrees Fahrenheit and put each jacket through a 15-minute workout.

wind breaker jacket - we found that this mesh backing across your shoulders on the kuhl...
We found that this mesh backing across your shoulders on the KUHL Parajax helped wick away perspiration and keep things a little more dry when wearing a backpack.
Credit: Aaron Rice

All of these jackets give bias towards protecting you from the wind, so none of them breathe that well. However, some jackets performed better than the rest, but often for different reasons. Jackets like the KUHL Parajax and Flyweight Hoodie breathe well by effectively wicking moisture from sweat away from the body with a mesh liner. Others include underarm vents — this is perfected by the Smartwool Merino Sport UL, which puts the naturally moisture-wicking power of Merino wool to use by incorporating it into its large, body-mapped ventilation system. The Salomon Agile also uses large, polyester/elastane panels to advantage to thermoregulate effectively. But this quality has been perfected by the Patagonia Houdini Air, which earned a nod for those uphill athletes looking for maximum breathability.

wind breaker jacket - the new standard for breathability, the houdini air kept us...
The new standard for breathability, the Houdini Air kept us completely dry long after our legs gave out on this training run.
Credit: Jill Rice

Weight and Packability

The lightest windbreakers weigh less than a quarter-pound. That's substantially less than your average, lightweight rain jacket. Every single windbreaker in our review tips the scales at less than eight ounces. These jackets are not only exceptionally light, but they often pack down to a size smaller than your average Nalgene bottle — so you have little excuse not to throw one of these into your pack for extra weather protection. Overall, we weighted this metric as 20 percent of a product's final score.

With all of them weighing seemingly next to nothing, does it make sense to penalize the ones that are just slightly heavier — but in the grand scheme of things — still lightweight? To fairly balance out this question, we rated each product based upon its weight but then adjusted the score slightly based on how small and easily the jacket packs up. Every jacket tested manages to stuff into one of their own pockets for easy portability. However, the size they pack down to is not equal, nor is the ease of stuffing them or transporting them afterward. A smaller stuffed size is a valuable attribute for attaching a windbreaker to a harness on a long climb or fitting in a hydration pack for a long mountain bike ride or trail run. Still, it doesn't apply to every situation.

wind breaker jacket - the arc&#039;teryx squamish is lightweight and packable enough that you...
The Arc'teryx Squamish is lightweight and packable enough that you hardly notice it stashed inside a pack, until it's time to break-out to fight off gale-force winds or a passing rain shower.
Credit: Jill Rice

The Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell is the lightest jacket in the entire review, and it stuffs down to a tiny package. The Arc'teryx Squamish, the Patagonia Houdini, and the Houdini Air are slightly heavier than the Distance, but all pack into their own chest pocket to relatively the same size. All of the jackets pack into their own pockets in one way or another — many have zippered pockets that double as stuff sacks. Additionally, these many of these stuff sacks — like the one on the Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody — often include clip-in loops for carrying or to easily rack up on a harness. The Columbia Flashback and Salomon Agile can still fold up into one of their hand pockets but are notably absent of a stowable pocket.

New wind jacket selections, all packed up with a standard Nalgene...
New wind jacket selections, all packed up with a standard Nalgene bottle for reference. Moving down the line from largest on the top left: Patagonia Tezzeron (previously tested), Marmot Ether DriClime Hoody, The North Face Fanorak, The North Face Flyweight Hoody, KUHL Parajax, Patagonia Houdini, and Black Diamond Distance Shell
The crop of windbreakers from our latest update: a packed-size...
The crop of windbreakers from our latest update: a packed-size comparison to a Nalgene bottle, as well as our Editors' favorite Patagonia Houdini (top, middle) and outstanding value North Face Flyweight Hoodie (top, right.) Starting with the middle left: Patagonia Houdini Air, Smartwool Merino Sport UL, Rab Vital, Backcountry Canyonlands, Ortovox Merino, Columbia Flashback
Clockwise top left: Arc&#039;teryx Squamish, Patagonia Houdini Air...
Clockwise top left: Arc'teryx Squamish, Patagonia Houdini Air, Patagonia Houdini, Billabong Wind Swell; compared relative to one another and a standard Nalgene bottle.

Fit and Functionality

It is important for any outdoor garment to fit well for its intended purpose and whether all of the features work as they were intended. When it comes to fit, we checked to see if the sleeves were long enough, if the hood fits over our head well (even with wearing a helmet), and whether the jacket was too baggy or too tight compared to the same sizing in other jackets. We considered whether it was designed to be used as a single layer — in which case we expected it to fit sleeker and closer to the body for optimal performance. If it was meant to be worn more as an outer layer, we wanted to see if it could be layered underneath. We weighed this metric as 10 percent of a product's final score.

Often point deductions came from features that annoyed us: hard to manipulate zippers; hood stowing systems that don't hold; drawcords that are hard to pull or release with one hand; or elastic cuffs and hood liners that aren't tight enough to keep the weather out.

Stripes of reflective material, as seen on the Smartwool Merino...
Stripes of reflective material, as seen on the Smartwool Merino Sport UL, are a thoughtful touch, especially for bike commuters. But often they are too small to catch the eye of a passing car; best to keep your blinking lights on.
A highly reflective insert in the arm of the Salomon Agile improves...
A highly reflective insert in the arm of the Salomon Agile improves visibility when running in the evening or early morning, but it is a bit strange to not include this feature on both arms.

While we loved the softshell-like fit and feel of the Squamish Hoody and the Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody. The Rab Vital Windshell earns our accolades for a combination of function and value. With a similar slew of features but more zippered pockets than any other jacket, the Vital is our choice when you don't want added features to compromise weight savings.

wind breaker jacket - many of these stowable jackets feature carabiner loops, but not all...
Many of these stowable jackets feature carabiner loops, but not all are particularly designed to be hung from a climbing harness, including The North Face Flyweight Hoodie.
Credit: Jill Rice

Water Resistance

While all of these windbreakers purport to be water resistant, none of them are meant to be waterproof. It is a tall order to ask for a jacket that is already wind-resistant, super breathable, super light, packable, cheap, to also be waterproof. We have yet to find such a unicorn of a jacket. We only weighted this metric as 10 percent of a product's final score.

A little bit of water protection is necessary from time to time, so most of these jackets come with a durable water-resistant (DWR) coating applied to the shell. DWR coatings are chemical applications that repel water while still allowing the fabric underneath to breathe properly. But they wear off — especially if you wear a pack over the jacket — or it is subject to lots of abrasion or scuffing. Once the DWR coating is gone, these jackets will no longer be water-resistant, and you will get wet. Luckily, you can re-apply DWR coatings.

wind breaker jacket - the ortovox merino windbreaker uses a revolutionary process to...
The Ortovox Merino windbreaker uses a revolutionary process to combine nylon and Merino wool into a single-layer piece of outerwear. Here, you see the all-natural fiber at work beading up water in our shower test.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Living in a dry climate, we did not have the good fortune of frequently being drenched by real rainstorms during our testing. However, we needed to objectively test how these jackets performed in the rain in comparison to one another, so we employed a garden hose or showerhead to simulate a passing rain shower. We performed this test towards the end of the test period to assess how well their DWR coating had held up over time. The results spanned the range from impressively good to very bad.

wind breaker jacket - the houdini has a burly dwr coating that gives it impressive water...
The Houdini has a burly DWR coating that gives it impressive water resistance despite its light weight. It performed just behind the front runners - built with significantly more material - in our hose test.
Credit: Jill Rice

For single-layer jackets, the DWR coating applied to the Patagonia Houdini is effective against passing showers — the interwoven treatment of the Black Diamond Distance is not. Regardless, we wouldn't choose any of these jackets if we knew we were walking out the door on a rainy day. Water resistance is a nice feature in a windbreaker but is certainly not what these jackets are designed for.

wind breaker jacket - windbreakers are a great choice for keeping us dry and protected...
Windbreakers are a great choice for keeping us dry and protected from the elements on ski tours, with the ability to breathe on the way up and block the wind on the way down.
Credit: Jill Rice


With the nuances of sport-specific design, choosing the perfect windbreaker jacket can be a challenge. All of the products we reviewed here certainly did a good job of protecting us from the wind. Some were better suited to water resistance, while others were much more lightweight. The trick to figuring out which jacket to buy is to figure out how you'll use it.

wind breaker jacket - an inscription on the flip-side of the storage pocket of the merino...
An inscription on the flip-side of the storage pocket of the Merino Sport UL. We couldn't sum up the need for a windbreaker jacket better ourselves...
Credit: Aaron Rice

Aaron Rice & Andy Wellman

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