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9 Different Types of Windbreakers for Men

Man wearing yellow and black windbreaker

Have you ever had that feeling when you are out running and the cold air creeps up through the cuffs of your top and up your arms? I certainly don’t find this the best part of running. I run for fun.

Not to be the best, but to be fitter and more toned. And certainly not when the wind is biting and creeping. That is why finding a lightweight windbreaker was just about the best thing that happened to my running fun.

Windbreakers literally protect you from the wind, which means they keep you warm. There isn’t only one windbreaker, though. Consider the options of men’s windbreakers, which are suited to different things you may do out in the wind.

Types of windbreakers

1. Down windbreakers

Down windbreakers are very similar to down jackets but are slightly thinner. However, when compared to other windbreakers, they are relatively thicker. Like the puffer jacket, these windbreakers are quite lightweight and can be pushed into a small bag, making them particularly useful to carry around as ‘in case’ protection against the elements.

Shot of down winter jacket in studio.

The outer layer of a down windbreaker is made from a synthetic fabric, like nylon or polyester. Tricot can also be used. Unlike a puffer jacket, a down windbreaker usually has a synthetic filling, which offers as much insulation as down does.

The windbreakers usually have a hood, so that the protection they offer is for the whole top half of the body.

2. Insulated windbreaker

An insulated windbreaker could be seen as the ultimate windbreaker because it has an outer layer, that offers wind protection, and an inner layer of insulation that is usually attached to the outer shell. If you are looking for protection from wind and the cold in winter, then these are the windbreakers to choose. They are perfect as part of your general wardrobe, being warm and stylish.

However, they can also be used for sports and other activities where a great deal of protection from the wind is necessary, such as skiing and hiking.

Insulated windbreakers are particularly useful when you are going to spend time outside in the cold and then return indoors. You can just remove the jacket in the warmth, without having to worry about layers.

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3. Waterproof windbreaker

The most versatile windbreaker would surely offer protection from all possible weather conditions. This means being waterproof as well as wind resistant. Waterproof jackets are made from a layer of natural or synthetic fibers, with nylon being a popular option.

They are coated with a layer that is waterproof. This can be made from rubber or polyurethane. For a windbreaker to be waterproof, it needs to be made from a fabric that is thin, so that the coating won’t make the jacket too heavy.

The advantage of a waterproof windbreaker is that it offers protection from wind, rain, and snow.

However, the fabrics are often quite noisy, so the jackets can be intrusive if they are used as activewear.

4. Track windbreaker

Track windbreakers are specifically designed to offer protection from the wind during physical activities like running. They need to be very lightweight, to offer little resistance during the activity. This means they are very thin.

Man in windbreaker on a blurred background of the sea.

A track windcheater does offer effective protection from the wind, but not from the rain. They are particularly useful for early morning training sessions in spring and fall, and even on a summer morning. They are not really useful for running during winter, because they are not warm enough.

When you are running, the cold air can get into the jacket via the arms, so these jackets usually have ribbed cuffs. They also usually zip up the front and have a high neckline.

5. Double-breasted windbreaker

Wind can creep into even the smallest gap in a jacket, so windbreakers need to be as ‘sealed’ as possible. Even a windbreaker that has a zipper in the front can allow the tiniest bit of wind in, which means you won’t keep completely warm. This is why some windbreakers are essentially double-breasted.

One of the front pieces overlaps the other, forming a double layer right down your front. This doesn’t allow any wind in easily. Usually, with these windbreakers, there is a zipper between the two halves of the jacket, with buttons securing the overlap.

A double-breasted windbreaker that is made from waterproof material will not allow any water or wind in, so it offers great protection.

6. Coach jacket windbreaker

A coach jacket windbreaker is a longer windbreaker and is usually part of the fashion side of a wardrobe, rather than being used for sport. There are some of these jackets that are slightly shorter and smaller and can be used as active wear. The most common fabric for coach windbreakers to be made from is nylon, which makes them slightly water-resistant, but they are not usually waterproof.

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They can be lined with a rubberized layer, which will make them waterproof. The characteristic poppers that do up the front of a coach jacket are sometimes used on coach jacket windbreakers, but they usually do feature zippers. The poppers are not as windproof as the zipper.

7. Tricot windbreaker

A tricot windbreaker is made from a knit fabric that has a particularly recognizable weave. This is recognized by the zigzag pattern on the front and the crosswise weave pattern on the back. The fabric is quite heavy, so the windbreakers are usually single layers.

Tricot windbreakers can be made from natural or synthetic fabric. Apart from the characteristic weave, tricot windbreakers are also recognized for being slightly shiny. The fabric is smooth and stretchy, so the windbreakers can be more tight-fitting than other windbreakers.

They are comfortable and are often used as active wear. A disadvantage of tricot windbreakers is that they are not particularly water-resistant and are slightly less wind-resistant. This makes them a little less versatile than some windbreakers, but it also makes them very useful for keeping the body warm and protect it from the wind.

8. Single-layer nylon windbreaker

One of the most popular windbreakers available is the single-layer nylon windbreaker. Nylon is naturally water-repellent and offers very good protection from the wind. The single-layer windbreakers are particularly light and can be packed into small bags, which makes them popular for hiking and other similar activities.

Man in waterproof jacket in the rain.

Some single-layer nylon windbreakers are useful for running, particularly if they have elasticized wrists, to keep the wind out. However, for running this type of windbreaker should not have an elasticized waist, because this will ride up during the action and become uncomfortable. A nylon windbreaker for running must be loose and relatively long.

Single-layer nylon windbreakers that are elasticized are quite popular for hiking, as they offer protection from the wind, but also from water to some degree.

9. Softshell windbreaker

A softshell windbreaker is specifically designed to offer protection from the wind, but also to allow some air to move through the fabric so that you don’t sweat too much inside. This means that a softshell jacket is not the most efficient windbreaker, but is rather wind resistant. These jackets are also slightly water-resistant, but cannot be used during significant rain.

Softshell windbreakers are not usually used for sporting activities, because they are not as effective as other windbreakers. They are a particularly useful addition to your wardrobe, as they are stylish, offer some protection from the wind, and can be worn over other insulating layers.

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The Different Parts and Features of a Windbreaker (Diagram)

Key parts and features of windbreakers

Understanding windbreakers

Jackets referred to as windbreakers are light, wind-resistant jackets that are popularly used to provide protection from the wind, but also from slight drizzle and even being spattered by mud. The most popular fabric that windbreakers are made from is nylon, which is lightweight and provides the protection needed. Nylon is particularly good at protecting you from the wind.

Windbreakers come in different thicknesses, but even the thicker down jackets are light and can be carried around easily. They have elasticized cuffs and a longer cut. The waist can also be elasticized.

Origin of the windbreaker

According to sources, the name ‘windbreaker’ emerged in 1918. However, the concept of having a covering to protect the body from the wind must have a much longer history. Windbreakers, as we know them today, are certainly slimmer, sleeker, and definitely more varied.

Wearing a windbreaker

Men choose to wear windbreakers usually during spring and fall when temperatures are lower, but not as freezing as in winter and the wind has a chill. However, some types of windbreakers can be as easily work in winter. Whatever the weather, there is always likely to be wind from which you may want to be protected.

For casual wear, men usually prefer to wear windbreakers that have a high collar, rather than a hood. However, athletes looking for protection against the wind may very well choose a windbreaker with a hood.

A windbreaker aqua isolated on a white background.


What is the best windbreaker for hiking?

When you are hiking, you will usually want to carry as little weight as possible. This means choosing a lightweight windbreaker made from nylon. Because you are likely to encounter different types of weather, it may be better to choose a waterproof windbreaker.

Keep to a light option, though.

Man in bright windbreaker hiking in the woods.

Can I use an insulated windbreaker in the snow?

Depending on what you are going to do in the snow, an insulated windbreaker is the best option for spending time in the snow. This is particularly true when you are likely to go into a heated building and want to remove your warm layer easily.

Why does a windbreaker keep you warm?

The wind is moving air and is typically cooler than the air that is still. If you can be protected from the wind, then your body will remain warmer than if the wind cools you down. A windbreaker protects you from the wind and so keeps you warm.