The Best Windbreakers in Canada
Windbreakers are one of the most versatile pieces of outdoor clothing. Its lightweight and flexible design make it the ideal jacket for several outdoor activities. For example, you can wear a windbreaker while running, skiing and snowboarding, sailing, or hiking. For this buying guide, we focused on the best windbreakers for camping.
What to look for in windbreakers
Wind and water resistance: Most windbreakers are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions. Wind resistance refers to how well the windbreaker blocks out the wind. This is measured in cubic feet per square meter (CFM). The lower the CFM rating, the better the jacket’s fabric blocks out wind.
To make windbreakers water resistant, a material called durable water repellant (DWR) is applied to the jacket’s outer shell. DWR makes water droplets roll off the windbreaker rather than soak through. Unfortunately, DWR wears off over time.
Wind and water resistance are arguably the two most important features of a windbreaker. We recommend you consider windbreakers that are good in both categories.
Breathability: This refers to how well air moves through the windbreaker. Some windbreakers have no air flow at all, while others let air move freely throughout the jacket. In general, it is good to have a breathable jacket so you do not overheat while wearing it. However, you do not want your windbreaker to be so breathable that it lets in huge gusts of air. The trick is to find a windbreaker that lies somewhere in the middle in terms of its breathability.
The breathability of a windbreaker also depends on the activities you plan on doing. For simple activities like walking or camping, less-breathable windbreakers are good. Breathable windbreakers are good for intense activities like hiking, running, and mountain biking.
Portability: Windbreakers are designed to be portable. You can fold most windbreakers up easily and place them in a bag. Other windbreakers fold down into their own pockets. We recommend you find a windbreaker that is easily portable.
Fit: Most windbreakers have a streamlined trim fit. These windbreakers stick close to your body. Looser fitting windbreakers let you wear other layers underneath, like sweatshirts or hoodies. Again, the fit of the windbreaker comes down to activities you will be doing, the weather you will wear the jacket in, and your own personal preference.
Best windbreaker overall
Arc’teryx Beta Jacket
For the best overall windbreaker, we went with the Arc’teryx Beta Jacket. It is a versatile jacket that suits various activities. The Arc’teryx jacket has several adjustable features including a storm hood and sealable cuffs. To protect you from the elements, this windbreaker is made from GORE-TEX material. This makes the jacket resistant to both water and wind. The Arc’teryx Beta Jacket is also breathable. It has pit zippers to vent heat, and the close to the body fit increases airflow.
Customers liked the versatility of the Arc’teryx Beta Jacket. Most found that the jacket fit well and withstood wind, rain, and snow well. The only issue was that more pockets were needed. The windbreaker had no inside pockets to store things like phones or keys. This was not a huge deal breaker for people but having more pockets would be another positive for this windbreaker.
- Withstands wind and water.
- Good airflow.
- No inside pockets to store valuable items.
Best budget windbreaker
Champion Packable Jacket
This windbreaker from Champion has an affordable price of around $47 on Amazon and about $55 on other outdoor store websites. The Champion Packable Jacket is pullover style windbreaker with a water-resistant coating and a bungie cord for adjustability. True to its name, this windbreaker can be packaged into its front pouch.
Many people praised the low cost of the Champion Packable Jacket, with several saying it was a good quality windbreaker for the price. Several customers said that this windbreaker was perfect for spring and summer weather. One person said that the jacket’s water-resistant coating kept them dry during a heavy downpour. Lastly, the front pouch was a plus with customers.
Despite being ideal for spring and summer, the Champion Packable Jacket does not hold up well in colder weather. This is due to its thin shell. If you still plan on wearing this windbreaker during the fall or winter, then you should wear an extra layer underneath.
- Affordable price.
- Ideal for spring or summer.
- Not suited for colder weather unless you wear extra layers underneath.
Best lightweight windbreaker
Patagonia Houdini Air
The Patagonia Houdini Air is an updated version of the original Houdini jacket. The Houdini air is more breathable and moisture resistant than its predecessor. It is also designed to be ultra light. The jacket has an overall streamlined look with minimum bulk. For protection, the jacket’s fabric is treated with DWR. The Houdini Air’s tight weave blocks out wind and withstands other abrasions. Lastly, the chest pocket doubles as a sack to store personal items. It also has a carabiner loop to secure a pack.
The light feel of the Houdini Air was a hit with customers. Others found that the jacket had good ventilation, with one person saying you do not get a sweaty, clammy feeling while wearing this jacket. Most reviews stated that the Houdini Air fit comfortably and left enough room for extra layers underneath. Based on all its features, most customers found the Houdini Air an improvement over the original version.
The only drawback to this jacket is that it has no side/hand pockets. This was not major issue for most people. Having them would be another plus in the Houdini Air’s favour.
- Comfortable fit.
- Breathable and moisture resistant.
- No side/hand pockets.
Best heavy duty windbreaker
Helly Hansen Crew Jacket
For this category, we looked for a windbreaker that offered more protection than the average windbreaker. We found that the Helly Hansen Crew Jacket met that criteria. This windbreaker is an all purpose jacket that provides ample protection. It has waterproof DWR coating on the fabric and a fleece inner lining to combat howling winds. This jacket also has a warming collar and pockets for added warmth and comfort.
Many people found that this jacket was good for cold autumn days; it kept them warm for long periods of time. Additionally, people thought the Helly Hansen Crew Jacket fit well and looked good. As one person commented, this windbreaker is a “high quality jacket made of light but soft and durable material from inside and out”.
Several customers reported sizing issues with this windbreaker. They found that the size they ordered did not fit them. As a solution, they recommend people order the next size up. So for example, if you are a medium size, then order a large.
- Keeps you warm during cold weather.
- Sizing may be inaccurate.
For this buying guide, we spent over eight hours examining various windbreakers. We only considered wind jackets rated four or more stars. Our teams read countless customer reviews to determine what people want from a good windbreaker. We referenced several outdoor blog sites when we needed additional information on windbreakers. Our picks were based on the protection and comfort the windbreaker provides.
Frequently asked questons about windbreakers
What is a windbreaker, and what is it good for?
According to Wikipedia, windbreakers are thin fabric jackets “designed to resist wind chill and light rain”. They are similar to rain or hardshell jackets except you do not get the same water resistance or insulation that those jackets provide. Windbreakers can be used for a wide range of activities, including:
What temperature should I wear a windbreaker?
Windbreakers are best worn in temperatures between 0-20 degrees C. That means during the spring, summer, and early fall. You can also wear windbreakers in the winter, but you should wear an extra layer underneath.
Will a windbreaker keep me warm?
By itself, a windbreaker will keep you warm if you wear it in warmer weather. When the temperature begins to drop, a windbreaker on its on may not keep you warm. That is why many people wear an extra layer underneath their windbreaker during colder months.
Are windbreakers waterproof?
Technically, windbreakers are not waterproof. However, they are water resistant. This means that water will bead up and roll off the windbreaker rather than soak through. Windbreakers will vary in the amount of water resistance they provide. With some wind jackets, the only water protection offered is the outer shell material. Other windbreakers are coated with DWR, which makes them highly water resistant. Therefore, we recommend you choose a windbreaker that has DWR coating.
If you want a true waterproof jacket, then you should consider buying a rain jacket or a hardshell jacket.
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