What is a Windbreaker?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A windbreaker is a jacket made of synthetic material that is intended to provide warmth and insulation in windy weather. Because of the synthetic fibers, it does not allow air to pass through the fabric where it can reach and chill the skin. Some of these jackets are lined with cotton or another organic material in order to offer warmth, but most are made of just one or two layers of nylon or a similar synthetic material.

Windbreakers do not let air pass through the fabric.
Windbreakers do not let air pass through the fabric.

As these types of jackets are often made without insulation, most people use them as a piece of layered clothing. This means that a windbreaker is normally worn over a shirt or two layers of shirts. Depending on the size of the jacket, it may also be worn over a sweater or sweatshirt.

This kind of garment falls into the sportswear category, so it is intended for use during outdoor excursions and exercise. It can also be worn as a jacket with casual clothing. Many sportswear clothing companies and exercise clothing companies sell windbreakers in their seasonal product lines. They are often included in summer and fall lines because they are ideal for the average temperatures during those seasons. While they are worn by both men and women, they are usually designed and cut differently for each gender.

In addition to being worn by adults, many children's clothing companies also include a windbreaker in each of their product lines. These kinds of jackets can be especially useful for children because dressing in layered clothing allows for comfort in a range of temperatures, from chilly mornings to warm afternoons. Furthermore, the synthetic fibers are much more stain-resistant than natural fibers, which is always an advantage in kids' clothing.

One of the benefits of wearing a this type of garment is that most of them are water-resistant. This is because the synthetic fibers do not absorb water in the same way that natural fibers, such as cotton and wool, do. For this reason, the jackets are often worn in rainy or damp weather to protect the wearer. They are also ideal to wear while boating.

In fact, many windbreakers are designed with a hood, which may be removable, specifically to be worn in wet weather. Alternatively, the hood may fit into a small pouch that rings the neck of the jacket. Both adult and children's styles can come with or without a hood.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


People used to put team and college emblems on the backs of windbreakers.


Oh, back in the day, nobody wore windbreakers for their apparent wind breaking abilities. They wore them because they were cool.

I remember I had a hot pink one with the matching pants that had this funky geometric design across the front. Let me tell you guys, I rocked that suit like nobody’s business.

I also remember some of my friend’s windbreakers. One of the most envied was the one that Sabrina wore at least once a week. It was solid white except for the gold lame’ design on the front. She was everybody’s idol when she wore that brilliant piece of fashion.

Oh the things that we think look good...


Choosing a multi-purpose wardrobe for your kids can be a huge task, but if you pick up a windbreaker for each of them life can be a lot easier. The children's windbreakers I found did triple duty at my house. The windbreakers could be used as thin spring jackets or heavier fall jackets once the lining was put in. They also worked as raincoats thanks to the waterproofing on the coat and a detachable hood.

It is a good idea when you go to the stores to hit the end of season sales if you are looking for a good bargain. I find that just before summer starts windbreakers can go for around 50% off which is an amazing deal for such a versatile item.


I honestly think windbreakers are making a bit of a comeback, but they don't really look like they used to. The ones I have been seeing don't have quite the same plastic look as the ones I remember seeing when I was younger.

Many stores I have seen offering windbreakers are selling jackets that look like silky hoodies, or ones that are made of a heavier nylon. Overall, I think windbreakers are a lot more stylish than they used to be.

If you are going to buy a windbreaker it is a good idea to make sure you get one that is the right thickness. Some I find are a bit too heavy and can make you sweat.


You used to see a lot of people buying and wearing wind breakers. I am sure many still have them in the back of their closets somewhere, but haven't worn them for years.

They were very popular for awhile, but now you mostly see athletes wearing them. I have one that I keep in the back of the motorcycle that comes in handy. Sometimes on cool mornings and evenings, this material is just perfect. It is not bulky and does not take up much room.


I have run in small local marathons and almost always wear a windbreaker when I am training. I like them because they are light weight, but yet offer some protection if it is a slightly rainy or misty day.

It seems like we have several days when I have needed a hooded windbreaker, so these have come in handy when needed. Even though they offer some protection, if it rains very long or very hard, you are going to get wet no matter what.


@SZapper - I have a windbreaker but I definitely don't see them around as much anymore as I used to. I find mine to be useful when I want to take an evening bike ride or walk. I bought a bright orange one specifically for this purpose. Not very stylish but I haven't been hit by a car yet so I'm calling it a success!


I remember windbreakers being very popular when I was a kid. I had one in purple that I just loved and wore as often as I could! In fact, my whole family had windbreakers and wore them frequently. I grew up in the suburbs where an evening walk was part of the routine and windbreakers were perfect for evening weather.

I haven't owned a windbreaker in years though! I've been thinking I may need to invest in a new one but I usually prefer to just wear a sweater. I know sweaters aren't waterproof like windbreakers are but they are super comfortable!

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