There are days where you can get by dressed casually at home, outfitted in the best loungewear, for instance. And there are days where action is required, where you’ve got to throw on a functional men’s windbreaker and venture into the world. That’s where we come in, because our favorite outerwear move of the moment is a crucial piece of any well-equipped wardrobe. When the time comes to hit the road or hit the trail, you want to be wearing one of the best men’s windbreakers, full stop.
Along with the right accessories, be they comfortable stretch pants, some of the best men’s gloves or a rugged pair of sneakers or canvas high-top sneakers, a windbreaker can be a multi-faceted style move. Wear one on the road to haul your everyday carry with ease, wear one during your commute to fight back against blustery rain and chilly breezes, or wear one on your next training run or day hike. It’s rare to find a jacket that can do all of that while still remaining lightweight, packable and easy to wear at a moment’s notice, but that’s where the best windbreakers go above and beyond.
As with most outerwear options, finding a jacket that’s wearable with the rest of your wardrobe, be it sportswear or casual gear, is also crucial.
That’s probably an understatement, because the market for men’s windbreakers means you’ve got to check off some crucial boxes when searching for the right one. For one, windbreakers need to avoid one crucial trap: Unlike a thick puffer jacket or parka, a windbreaker should act as a functional style go-between, so it should be neither too light and flimsy, nor too heavy so as to slow you down. This means most windbreakers are made with durable materials like nylon, and sometimes treated with water-resistant technology via a special coating or seam-sealed zippers.
As with most outerwear options, finding a jacket that’s wearable with the rest of your wardrobe, be it sportswear or casual gear, is also crucial. We’ll get into this point more later, but when in doubt, neutral colors or patterns will serve you well. Of course, as you’ll see if you keep reading, it’s OK to have some fun with your outerwear game, too. The choice is all yours, but if you heed some of our tips, you’ll find the best windbreaker for your lifestyle.
The best men’s windbreakers are also high-quality and technically advanced: As simple as might seem on the surface, a windbreaker is a huge step up from, say, the flimsy parka you picked up during a rainstorm at the amusement park (we’ve all been there, right?). It’s also another reliable layering option to add to your rotation, which should ideally include other seasonal favorites. You’ve got your zip hoodie for cool summer nights, your denim jacket for spring breezes, your rugged waxed trucker jacket for the depths of fall, that trusty parka for blizzard-like conditions and now, a windbreaker for just about everything in between.
Windbreakers don’t have as much style history and heritage as other menswear favorites, like the workwear-inspired roots of denim jeans and the military-minded history of the field jacket, to name but a few. But as major athletic brands have picked up steam over the years, they’ve also met the need for gear you can wear on the go, like a lightweight windbreaker designed to fight back against the elements. And fashion brands have picked up the baton too, with both performance companies and traditional style outlets now offering different variations on the once-humble windbreaker.
There’s a wide variety of men’s windbreakers out there, so let’s call it trial and error when it comes to finding the best one.
Beyond that, you’ll now be covered for plenty of different situations if you pick up one of the best windbreakers. The right windbreaker from an athletic brand, for instance, works in plenty of active situations on the go. Other options are well-suited for casual style scenarios and best worn with other laidback picks, like a henley or a graphic tee and faded jeans.
What makes a useful, functional and surprisingly stylish windbreaker? Here are a few tips as to what you should be looking for when shopping this downright essential piece of outerwear.
What to Look for When Shopping for a Men’s Windbreaker
- Know your way around the style and select accordingly: It’s also worth remembering that as versatile as a windbreaker can be, you can dial in your shopping search even further if you know exactly how you plan to wear this essential jacket. Some windbreakers are better suited for hiking or running, and some are merely stylish enough to get you from point A to point B in a bit of a different manner than a windbreaker from an athletic company. Pick up one in a versatile color, all the better to match with different styles and shades of, say, running pants or denim, and you’ve found a new outerwear staple you won’t be able to live without.
- Shop for style and functionality: Some windbreakers are packed with pockets and able to be adjusted at the waist, the wrists or even a hood with draw-cord functionality. Others are more simple on the surface and not packed with as many bells and whistles. When in doubt, a jacket that gives you choices in terms of customizing the fit and protecting you from the elements (it’s in the name, after all!) is as solid as it gets.
- Splurge or save?: Most windbreakers, given that they’re made with less material than thicker jackets on the market, and often crafted with less expensive material than denim or flannel jackets, are going to fall on the more affordable end of the spectrum. However, there are options on the market from upscale fashion brands that use bolder colors and distinctive designs. The choice is yours when you get down to it: Do you want to splurge or save on your windbreaker? We’ll give you options to do both.
With a few handy tips in mind, are you ready to find the windbreaker jacket to take your style to the next level? Here are are top choices to add to your digital shopping cart now.
The Best Men’s Windbreakers to Shop Right Now
Relwen Windzip Jacket
There are your average windbreaker jackets, and then there’s the Relwen Windzip Jacket, which represents the next level in terms of old-school appeal and modern technology. Relwen designs are often based on jackets worn out in the field in decades past, and this windbreaker jacket blends the cool style and warmth of a tough bomber jacket and a puffer coat. It features a water-resistant exterior and is made with nylon and spandex, which Relwen says delivers “just the right amount of stretch.” It’s burlier than your average nylon windbreaker, but all the better for it when you need a dependable, simple and yet stylish cold-weather jacket.
Nike Sportswear Windrunner Hooded Jacket
It’s not quite a roundup on some of the best men’s gear, and specifically, the best men’s windbreakers, without including a brand that changed the face of the athletic apparel and footwear industry forever. Nike’s shoes have been shaking up the game for decades now, and if you want to keep the rest of your next running ensemble just as streamlined, it’s wise to get the aptly named Windrunner Jacket from the iconic brand. It features the brand’s throwback logo, and even blends both sustainability and style: It’s made from recycled materials. As a bonus, it comes in versatile colors like Black, all the better to mix and match with Nike joggers and running shoes. If it’s an athletic-minded windbreaker you seek, well, we say to go with Nike and… just do it.
The North Face HMLYN Windbreaker Jacket
Here’s a men’s windbreaker from a timeless brand that knows plenty about delivering some of the most functional gear and outerwear on the planet. It’s colorblocked for a touch of retro style, but the fabric is really what sets this North Face jacket apart from the rest of the pack. It’s designed to repel wind and rain, as all great performance jackets should do. It also retails for well under $100, a nice bonus if you still need to gear up for your next day hike with a few other essentials. Make it the only jacket you wear hiking and camping in breezy conditions.
L.L. Bean Packable Hooded Waterproof Windbreaker Jacket
L.L. Bean is another brand you can always trust when it comes to brands that emphasize both performance and style, to go along with a good dash of heritage. This hooded windbreaker jacket might not be as well-known or fast-selling as the Northeast brand’s famed Bean Boots, but that doesn’t mean they’ve cut any corners in the design and production process. Remember what we said about some jackets providing plenty of customizable options with design details? This jacket is packed with them, from the adjustable hood to elastic cuffs and a streamlined fit.
Polo Ralph Lauren Orange Logo Windbreaker
Remember what we said earlier about some windbreaker options proving more splurge-worthy than others? While this jacket is still priced quite agreeably through luxury retailer MR. PORTER, you’re really paying for the pride that comes with wearing a legendary brand like Polo Ralph Lauren. The vibrant orange color also makes this a more fashion-forward piece, so keep the rest of your outfit more simple here (think a thermal henley and blue jeans).