As temperatures heat up and you prepare to soak up the sunshine, it’s tempting to pack away all your outerwear for next season. But a trusty windbreaker is the perfect layer for warmer weather where there’s still a chance of wind or drizzle—plus it’s among the ’90s fashion statements that we’re thrilled to see making a comeback these days. And for those who really like to be prepared, windbreakers are more versatile than just a stand-alone layer: You can pair one with a base layer or insulated layer for extra protection when it’s unexpectedly chilly.
Windbreakers are made with thin, lightweight materials that keep wind chill out but allow sweat to evaporate. Sports-specific models can pack down into a pocket so you can carry them easily on your hike or run, and many windbreakers will have a DWR (durable water repellent) coating to shed moisture in case of a light rain—although they won’t be fully waterproof like a rain jacket. Whether you’re relaxing by the beach, embarking on your first backpacking trip, or taking a stroll with your kids, these portable jackets will become a go-to wardrobe staple.
Below, we’ve rounded up the best windbreakers for all your fitness and outdoor endeavors. Here are our picks from fan favorite brands like Patagonia, Arc’teryx, Smartwool, Outdoor Research, and more.
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