In one of our previous posts, we talked about the best clothes to wear on a hiking date. As we already said, consider that guide as a simple introduction because there is much more to learn. For instance, you need more information about the best jackets for outdoor activities. In the summer section of that post, we mentioned windbreakers, but we did not focus on their characteristics. For example, are windbreakers waterproof? Can they keep you warm?
Since these jackets are among the most popular garments, we decided to focus on these products only. We will outline windbreakers features and compare this jacket with another popular one: the rain jacket. Keep reading the post to discover which of these jackets fits your needs best and why.
A Few Words on Windbreakers
Windbreakers are one of the simplest models of jackets on the market. They usually consist of a single layer, have pockets with zippers and elastic waistbands and wristbands. Traditionally, they are made of polyester, nylon, or a mesh of both. And, even though they are single-layered, they keep you warm on spring and summer chill days.
This is due to two factors: synthetic textile fibers properties and jacket fitting. As we mentioned, windbreakers are made of polyester, which is a material that provides a good amount of thermal isolation. To make it clear, consider that polyester can replace goose down in winter jackets. Moreover, windbreakers are close-fitting. This means this jacket stays close to your body. Thus, there is not much room for the air either to enter or exit.
People love windbreakers for many reasons. Here are some:
Since they consist of a single layer, windbreakers are lightweight and easy to carry. Plus, when you wear it, this kind of jacket does not hinder your movements.
Because they are made with synthetic fibers, windbreakers are very resistant. Thus, they hardly tear off.
This is the characteristic all people that play sports appreciate. Breathable fabrics allow the moisture to pass through their fibers and help you keep your skin dry. And keeping your skin dry is a must if you do not wish to deal with hypothermia.
Synthetic fibers do not need much maintenance. Polyester is stretchy and does not wrinkle, so you’ll never need to iron your windbreaker. Plus, to wash away the stains, you just need your washing machine.
Let’s Get to the Point. Are Windbreakers Good for Rain?
The short answer is no. Indeed, jacket technology has made progress, and now some windbreakers are water-resistant. The truth is that water-resistant jackets feature a thin layer of water-repellent materials. Thus, they only protect you from light rain. If you face a downpour in a windbreaker, you’re definitely going to get soaked.
Alternative to Windbreakers on Rainy Days
So what should you wear in poor weather conditions? Well, that’s easy: rain jackets. As you can guess by the name, these products are completely waterproof. Rain jackets come with a laminated or coated layer that blocks wetness outside. Moreover, most of them are equipped with seams taping technology. This is a particular feature that prevents the water from leaking out of the stitches and soaking the jacket interiors.
These jackets have some characteristics in common with windbreakers too. Rain jackets are made of synthetic materials, so they do not tear off easily, and they are easy to clean. It’s not a common rule, but sometimes rain jackets can protect you from the wind.
Although you can find many kinds of rain jackets, they all consist of different layers. Generally, the outer layer is treated with durable water-repellent coating while the isolating material is sandwiched among other layers. In particular, there are:
• 2 Layer Jackets
In these products, the water-resistant membrane is almost in contact with your skin. So the front fabric protects you from the wind, while the second layer keeps you dry. Since the waterproof material is sticky, inside the jacket, you’ll find a mesh layer that protects your body. 2 layer jackets are pretty heavy-weighted, so they are not suitable for hiking.
• 2.5 Layer Jackets
The term layer is confusing. In this case, in fact, you only have the outer layer and the waterproof membrane. The half layer is just a coating people spray on the waterproof material to prevent it from sticking to your body. Basically, the spray substitutes the mesh layer. The advantage of this jacket? It is very lightweight.
• 3 Layer Jackets
In this case, the waterproof material is put between an outer layer and an interior lining.
Why do Windbreakers not Feature Waterproof Technologies?
Remember what we said about windbreakers breathability a few paragraphs ago? If windbreakers had a waterproof membrane like rain jackets, sweat would never pass through the textile fibers. First of all, if you go hiking in the summer, it would feel like practicing sports in a plastic bag. Second, if you stay covered in sweat all day long, you could face hypothermia. And this is a real threat to your health, regardless of the season. What we mean is that you can’t have the best breathability and rain protection. You can only choose one from time to time.
Do Windbreakers Keep You Warm?
The short answer is yes, but it actually depends on many factors. First, you have to consider the season. Windbreakers are the perfect garments for chilly summer days. Sure, it’s okay to wear them during springtime, but, of course, they are not suitable for the North Pole. Second, it depends on the kind of windbreakers you choose. Not every model, in fact, guarantees the same degree of protection.
When people speak of windbreakers, they usually refer to an old-fashioned jacket made of thin fabric. Actually, the textile industry has progressed, so now we have different kinds, and each one is designed for particular situations.
• Padded Windbreakers
These jackets feature fleece or cotton interiors. While they are suitable for the cold season, you should avoid cotton padding at every cost! Cotton, in fact, will trap your sweat inside, so it’s dangerous to use it for outdoor activities. If you want to buy this, choose fleece interiors.
• Tricot Windbreakers
They are the warmest ones. The bad news is that they are heavy-weighted too, so they are definitely a no-go for hikes.
• Nylon Windbreakers
This is the most popular one. Do you want to know why? Nylon jackets are the best in terms of breathability. So, if you wear one of these, you won’t be stained in sweat.
• Polyester Windbreakers
Compared to nylon ones, they are heavy-weighted. The advantage is that they provide better thermal isolation. Plus, they do not create swishy noises when you move.
We want to end this article by summarizing windbreakers advantages in comparison to rain jackets.
• Windbreakers Are Lighter
Generally, windbreakers weigh around 3 OZ. Rain jackets, instead, weigh at least 8 OZ. It does not seem a big difference, but you’ll notice for sure when you’ll play sports outdoors.
• Windbreakers Are Easier To Pack
Windbreakers can be folded many times. When you’re done, the packed windbreaker is about the size of a small tangerine. When packed, a rain jacket, on the other hand, might be the size of a big apple. The difference? The tangerine could be fitted in your pockets, while the apple has to stay in your backpack.
• Windbreakers Are Easier To Mend
It’s true, both windbreakers and rain jackets are resistant. If a synthetic jacket gets caught on rocks, however, it is very likely to tear. Since windbreakers are made of thinner fabrics, it’s easier to repair them.
• Rain Jackets Are Bulky
Layers keep you warm and protect you from the rain, but they can be a problem as well. During hikes, you generally need to move freely, and rain jackets may hinder your movements.
• Rain Jackets Cost More
Those that feature laminated materials are particularly pricey. However, you have to consider that rain jackets are pretty resistant, so this would be a sort of investment.
In a Few Words
Windbreakers are pretty versatile, and, as you read, there are various models that may adapt to your needs. However, you can’t expect that a single piece to do everything. So, if you suspect the forecast would not be good on your hiking day, the best thing is to buy a rain jacket.
We hope we answered all your questions and now you know if windbreakers are waterproof or not. You feel satisfied with what you read? Then keep following our website, we’ll analyze countless more garments!