Best Windbreaker Jackets of 2024

Here’s our survey of the best windbeaker jackets for running (or any activity!), made by companies like Montbell, Black Diamond, inov-8, Cotopaxi, and more.

By and on March 5, 2024 | Comments
Best Windbreaker Jackets - Montbell Tachyon Hooded Jacket high desert running

The Montbell Tachyon Hooded Jacket is a windbreaker jacket but provides good coverage from an incoming sprinkle, too. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Ah, the windbreaker jacket! This glorious piece of apparel weighs nearly nothing, disappears into almost any corner of your hydration pack, and keeps you comfortable in the wind and cold. Even more, this is often a one-and-done purchase: buy the best windbreaker jacket for your specific needs and climate and enjoy it for a lifetime of running.

To bring you this windbreaker jacket buyer’s guide, the iRunFar team tested an array of jackets on the market in all four seasons to find out what works best — and what doesn’t. Our team of runners, including trail, road, and ultra runners, assessed jackets based on their weight, packable size, fit, breathability, and extra features. Ultimately, we chose the champion jackets you see here to help you navigate the world of windbreakers.

To learn more about our choices for the best windbreaker jackets for running, jump down to our recommendations for how to choose, as well as our frequently asked questions. You can also learn more about our research and testing methodology. If you’re looking for a rain jacket instead, be sure to check out our best running rain jackets guide.

Best Windbreaker Jackets of 2023

Best Windbreaker Jackets - Cotopaxi Teca Light Half Zip Windbreaker high desert running

The Cotopaxi Teca Light Half-Zip Windbreaker is perfect for pre- or post-run stretching and relaxing. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Best Overall Windbreaker Jacket: Patagonia Houdini Jacket ($109)

Best Windbreaker Jackets -Patagonia Houdini Jacket - product photo


  • Ultralight
  • It packs into its own pocket
  • Competitive price


  • Noisier than our top picks

An iconic windbreaker jacket and longstanding favorite among trail runners and mountain athletes, the Patagonia Houdini Jacket offers superb wind-blocking performance in an ultralight package. It features a simple design with few bells and whistles, offering ample warmth and protection for its weight. The jacket’s cuffs contain cinched elastic to help them stay in place (though no thumb holes), and a single chest pocket can hold a chapstick or some cash for après run. Aptly named, the Houdini conveniently and easily fits into its chest pocket when you don’t need it. Like the Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell above, this jacket features a uniform, full-length front zipper and an adjustable hood that can fit over a climbing helmet.

Our main gripe with the Patagonia Houdini is that it’s louder and more crinkly than our other top picks that offer comparable weight and performance. That said, the Houdini is less expensive than our favorites from both Montbell and Black Diamond, so if you’re looking to save a little bit of money, this jacket provides an excellent value for the cost. It’s durable and reliable; many of our testers have been using theirs for a long time.

Actual weight: 3.7 ounces (105 grams) | Material: 1.2-ounce 100% recycled nylon ripstop with a PFC-free DWR finish

Shop the Women's Patagonia Houdini JacketShop the Men's Patagonia Houdini Jacket

Best Windbreaker Jacket – Runner-Up: Montbell Tachyon Hooded Jacket ($139)

Best Windbreaker Jackets - Montbell Tachyon Hooded Jacket - Product Photo


  • Ultralight
  • Affordable
  • Features galore despite a very low weight


  • Shiny material
  • Thinner, so maybe not appropriate for very cold winds
  • Seven-denier nylon fabric may be less durable than thicker but heavier jackets

With many features, an ultralight weight of 2.6 ounces (73 grams), and an affordable price, the Montbell Tachyon Hooded Jacket is another top choice for the best windbreaker jacket.

Montbell essentially achieves this jacket’s low weight by using seven-denier nylon fabric, the thinnest fabric in windbreaker jackets today. It feels quite delicate, but the ripstop nylon showed no signs of wear or tear on our runs, even when worn underneath a variety of hydration packs and when brushing up against the occasional shrub or rock. We love how tiny and light it packs into our running vest or even a small running belt.

This fabric has some shine, so that’s a downside if you don’t like that particular look. An upside, however, is that it’s a quiet fabric — you don’t hear swishing or flapping noises in the wind and while running.

Given the weight of this jacket, it has an impressive number of key features, including a full-length zipper, two zippered hand pockets, a hidden inner pocket with a Velcro closure, a bit of elastic at the waist, tiny underarm vents, and a drawstring hood with front pull tabs for adjustment.

The jacket also features a microfiber material on the elastic wrists for comfort, the back is a touch longer than the front, there are a couple of reflective hits, and it’s treated with a DWR finish for water resistance.

Actual weight: 2.6 ounces (73 grams) (all weights measured in men’s medium unless otherwise noted)  | Fabric: Seven-denier ripstop nylon, what Montbell calls its Ballistic Airlight fabric

Shop the Women's Montbell Tachyon Hooded JacketShop the Men's Montbell Tachyon Hooded Jacket

Best Windbreaker Jacket – Runner-Up: Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell ($140)

Best Windbreaker Jackets - Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell - Product Photo


  • Feels good, looks good
  • Generously sized to fit over a small pack or extra layers
  • Fabric is quiet in the wind as you run
  • Fabric repels water longer than the other windbreaker jackets in this guide


  • Price

The Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell is a bit pricier than other wind jackets in this guide, but with a combination of quiet fabric, generous sizing, some solid water resistance, and a stylish appearance, we chose this jacket as our runner-up.

While Black Diamond states this windbreaker jacket has a slim fit, we found it to be generously sized in all aspects, allowing it to fit over a small running pack or several layers easily. We appreciate that the 15-denier fabric is quiet and doesn’t look as technical as other windbreaker jackets, so you can transition to a post-run coffee beer without looking like a space nerd.

The Distance Wind Shell’s features include a full-length zipper, a zippered chest pocket into which the jacket packs for storage, elastic wrists with a bit of microfiber for comfort, and a generous hood that is adjustable via a drawstring at the nape of the neck. The hood is additionally climbing helmet-compatible, so get your scrambling adventures on. The jacket’s length is the same at the front and back.

Several windbreaker jackets in this guide are treated with DWR to help repel water, but we found the Distance Wind Shell’s fabric repels the longest in a light sprinkle before wetting out. While you’ll still want to turn to a proper rain jacket in inclement weather, this one can help protect in the event of an unexpected sprinkle.

Actual weight: 3.6 ounces (102 grams) | Fabric: 15-denier ripstop nylon

Shop the Women's Black Diamond Distance Wind ShellShop the Men's Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell

Best Windbreaker Jacket – Runner-Up: Montane Featherlite Windproof Jacket ($82)

Best Windbreaker Jackets - Montane Featherlite Windproof Jacket - product photo


  • Ultralight
  • It packs into its own pocket
  • Quiet fabric


  • No hooded version is available for women
  • Narrow neck opening

The Montane Featherlite Windproof Jacket is a super lightweight, comfortable jacket that fits close to the body without restricting movement. Its length reaches past the hip bones, providing more coverage than the Patagonia Houdini, yet it stretches and allows uninhibited movement while running and mountain biking. It truly lives up to its Featherlite name, and it’s the kind of jacket you can forget you’re even wearing. It has a full-length front zipper with a strip of fabric inside to block wind from entering through the zipper. It also has one chest pocket, which the jacket can pack into when you’re not wearing it. Partial elastic cuffs help keep the sleeves in place, while an elastic cord in the hem cinches tight for very blustery conditions.

The fabric feels light and stretchy, and it’s more breathable than the Patagonia Houdini. However, this jacket doesn’t have a hood, and while the men’s Featherlite is available in a hooded version, there is no hooded option for women. Additionally, the fitted collar design doesn’t leave much space around the neck when it’s fully zipped. This is the only detail about the jacket that felt a little restrictive. Otherwise, if you don’t need or want a hood, this jacket is an excellent choice for windy weather.

Actual weight: 3.2 ounces (90 grams) | Material: 100% nylon

Shop the Men's Montane Featherlite Windproof Jacket

Best Windbreaker Jacket – Runner-Up: La Sportiva Blizzard Windbreaker Jkt ($119)

Best Windbreaker - La Sportiva Blizzard Windbreaker JKT - product photo


  • Lightweight
  • Environmentally-friendly construction


  • Not much storage
  • Technical look

When you’re looking for a lightweight windbreaker that provides a solid level of protection, the La Sportiva Blizzard Windbreaker Jkt ticks a lot of boxes. While the appearance of this jacket is far from casual, it’s at home on trails and doesn’t try to hide its European origins. Made of almost entirely all recycled fabrics, this jacket gives a solid nod towards sustainability. The recycled polyamide and polyester are mixed with elastane to create a material that is lightweight and able to block the wind effectively. The elastic back mesh increases its breathability, making it versatile in a variety of temperatures. The sides and underarms of this jacket are also made of more breathable material for increased comfort. To help ward off light moisture, the material is treated with a PFC-free DWR coating.

The elastic hood is articulated and fits snugly, and we didn’t have an issue with it blowing off in the wind. Both the waist and the wrist cuffs are also elastic to seal in warmth and keep the jacket in place. True to its European heritage, this jacket fits slimmer than many others. If you’re looking to fit a pack or extra layers underneath it, you might want to consider sizing up.

A single mesh pocket provides the only storage, but this is to be expected in such a minimalist jacket.

Actual weight: 3.3 ounces (93 grams)  | Fabric: Recycled polyamide, recycled polyester, elastane

Best Hoodless Ultralight Windbreaker Jacket: Montbell Ex Light Wind Jacket ($129)

Best Windbreaker Jackets - Montbell Ex Light Wind Jacket - product photo


  • Super ultralight
  • Affordable
  • Packs down tiny


  • Shiny material
  • Seven-denier nylon fabric may be less durable than thicker but heavier jackets

The Montbell Ex Light Wind Jacket is another winner from Montbell, this time in the super ultralight category at just 1.6 ounces (47 grams). Think of this jacket as a pared-down version of the Montbell Tachyon Hooded Jacket described above. It’s simpler but still with all the features it needs to protect you from the wind.

This jacket keeps the same seven-denier ripstop nylon fabric, full-length zipper, underarm vents, elastic wrists with the microfiber panels, a bit of elastic at the waist, the small pocket with the Velcro closure (but this time on the outside of the jacket), the DWR finish, and the reflective hits. But it loses the hood, two zippered hand pockets, and a full ounce of weight.

We love that it packs down so incredibly small that it fits in the palm of your hand — it’s about the size of a Clif Bar. It’s so small you could even stuff this jacket into a large running shorts pocket.

Again, this fabric is quiet and quite thin, but it still packs a durable punch even when we brush against rocks and vegetation.

Actual weight: 1.6 ounces (47 grams) | Material: Seven-denier ripstop nylon, what Montbell calls its Ballistic Airlight fabric

Shop the Women's Montbell Ex Light Wind JacketShop the Men's Montbell Ex Light Wind Jacket

Best Hooded Ultralight Windbreaker Jacket: Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt ($120)

Best Windbreaker Jackets - Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt - Product Photo


  • Super ultralight while still having a protective hood
  • It runs a bit larger than standard sizing and can fit over a running pack or extra layers
  • Size inclusive


  • Shiny material

Made by a small company in Winona, Minnesota, the Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt is the best-performing hooded super ultralight jacket we’ve tested, even if its ultra-shiny fabric means it’s not the prettiest in the bunch. It weighs a magical 1.8 ounces (51 grams), making it so small that there’s no reason not to take it along on a run as a just-in-case layer.

Made from 10-denier nylon, the fabric performs excellently in the wind. It has a very robust waist cinch, so you can pull it tight against you to keep out all the breeze, and it is the same length around from front to back. You can also adjust the hood from the front via the same elastic type. The wrists have elastic for security, too.

As Enlightened Equipment states on its website, this jacket runs very big for its size, both in width and length. If you prefer a sleeker jacket, size down. On the other hand, choosing your standard jacket size will likely mean the jacket will fit over several layers and a modest running pack — we tested up to 12 liters underneath the jacket, and it works!

In addition, the Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt comes in the widest variety of sizes of all the jackets we tested. We also love that it’s a quiet fabric that makes very little noise when you’re running or in the wind.

Actual weight: 1.8 ounces (51 grams) | Fabric: 10-denier nylon

Shop the Women's Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind ShirtShop the Men's Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt

Best Reflective Windbreaker Jacket: L.L.Bean Bean Bright Multisport Jacket ($100)

Best Windbreaker Jackets - L.L. Bean Bean Bright Multisport Jacket - product photo


  • Incredibly visible in low light
  • Good pockets


  • Sleeves are long

If you’re regularly running in low-light conditions or at night, especially if you spend time running on the roads, the L.L.Bean Bean Bright Multisport Jacket is an excellent option for ensuring you’re seen by passing motorists or other trail users. While most jackets use reflective hits to increase their visibility and night, this jacket goes all in to be seen. And it makes sense, as a multi-sport jacket, it’s used by cyclists riding on the road who want to maximize their chances of being seen by drivers. The reflective yellow shell is bright enough that you won’t be missed, and 14 reflective hits increase its visibility at night. While this isn’t necessarily a jacket that you’d wear for a post-run coffee or beer, it serves its purpose of being as visible to the human eye as possible.

The 50-denier polyester material has a DWR finish and is quite thick and warm compared to the other options in this guide. It does have a back mesh vent, which helps with temperature control. We appreciated the ample pocket space in this jacket. One zippered rear and two zippered front pockets provide plenty of storage if you need to stash gloves, a hat, or small items. There are also two interior pockets, one designed specifically to hold your phone with a Velcro closure.

We found that the sleeves of this jacket run a little long, a feature appreciated by cyclists but not needed for running. But if visibility is your top priority in a jacket, the long sleeves are a small inconvenience to put up with. And if you’re a cyclist, this is a great multi-purpose jacket for both sports.

Fabrics: 50-denier polyester

Shop the L.L.Bean Bean Bright Multisport Jacket

Best Features in a Windbreaker Jacket: Inov8 Windshell Windproof Jacket 2.0 ($90)

Best Windbreaker Jackets - inov-8 Windshell Windproof Jacket 2.0 - Product Photo


  • Wonderful feature set, including thumb holes, a chest snap, reflective details, a zippered pocket, and an earphone cord hole
  • Good weight and price for features offered


  • Louder material while running in high wind than some jackets in this guide

While it’s in the middle of the pack for both weight and price, the Inov8 Windshell Windproof Jacket 2.0 has the best collection of features among all the windbreaker jackets we tested.

Double layers on the front for extra protection! Thumb holes! An earphone cord hole in the zippered chest pocket! A chest snap that keeps the jacket in place when you want it unzipped to stay cool but don’t want it to flap around in the wind! Another snap to stow the hood when you don’t need it! A hood crest to keep water off your face! Elastic on the hood, wrists, and waist! Reflective hits! And all this on a jacket weighing just 2.8 ounces (80 grams) makes it truly extraordinary.

The jacket also features a waist significantly longer in the back than the front for added protection. The waist and hood aren’t adjustable, but their fitted construction works well enough to make that unnecessary. The 20-denier recycled ripstop nylon does crinkle in the wind and makes a fair bit of noise, but that’s our only gripe. As we said, it’s not the lightest or the cheapest, but this jacket’s attention to detail and feature-packed design has won us over.

Actual Weight: 2.8 ounces (80 grams) | Fabrics: 20-denier ripstop nylon; the front fabric is windproof, while the back fabric is more breathable

Shop the Women's Inov8 Windshell Windproof Jacket 2.0Shop the Men's Inov8 Windshell Windproof Jacket

Best Budget Windbreaker Jacket: Montbell Wind Blast Hooded Jacket ($89)

Best Windbreaker Jackets - Montbell Wind Blast Hooded Jacket - product photo


  • Affordable
  • It functions great in blocking the wind
  • It has some nice features despite being in the budget category


  • Weight
  • Fabric can be a little noisy

While not ultralight nor ultra-technical, the Montbell Wind Blast Hooded Jacket is an awesome entry-level windbreaker jacket that works for almost everyone and has an approachable price point.

This is a pretty standard windbreaker jacket. It has a nice-sized hood with front pull tabs for adjustment, mesh underarm vents, two zippered mesh hand pockets, elastic wrists with microfiber panels for comfort, and a drawstring waist. It doesn’t pack into itself but comes with a separate stuff sack. It has a DWR treatment for increased weather resistance, a full-length zipper, and is a touch longer in the back than the front, similar to other Montbell jackets. It is sized to fit layers underneath, so if you want a more streamlined and tighter fit, you might want to consider sizing down.

Because this jacket is made of 40-denier nylon, it is the thickest and warmest of the bunch here. One of our testers needed to unzip it for ventilation while running, even in frigid winds. While the material does make some noise with movement, it’s less than some of the other jackets in this guide. This jacket has two generous hand pockets and one chest pocket that is perfect for storing small items. Not everyone needs an ultralight and ultra-expensive jacket, so if you want something simple and affordable, this one is for you.

Actual weight: 6.2 ounces (177 grams) | Fabric: 40-denier nylon taffeta

Shop the Women's Montbell Wind Blast Hooded JacketShop the Men's Montbell Wind Blast Hooded Jacket

Comparing the Best Windbreaker Jackets for Running

Montbell Tachyon Hooded Jacket $139 2.6 ounces Seven-denier ripstop nylon
Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell $140 3.6 ounces 15-denier ripstop nylon
Patagonia Houdini Jacket $109 3.7 ounces 1.2-ounce 100% recycled nylon ripstop
Montane Featherlite Windproof Jacket $82 3.2 ounces Nylon
Montbell Ex Light Wind Jacket $129 1.6 ounces Seven-denier ripstop nylon
Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt $120 1.8 ounces 10-denier ripstop nylon
L.L.Bean Bean Bright Multisport Jacket $100 Not listed 50-denier polyester
Inov8 Windshell Windproof Jacket 2.0 $90 2.8 ounces 20-denier ripstop nylon
Montbell Wind Blast Hooded Jacket $89 6.2 ounces 40-denier nylon taffeta
La Sportiva Blizzard Windbreaker Jkt $119 3.3 ounces Recycled polyamide and polyester

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Windbreaker Jacket for Running


Like any other piece of clothing, fit is the most important part, and it’s subjective from person to person. The one thing to note is that almost all windbreaker jackets are made from nylon or polyester that doesn’t stretch, so getting the fit right may be a little more challenging than normal.

Do you want something that fits a bit tighter, or to size up for a little more room to move or to put the jacket on over a running vest? The best windbreaker for running will, at minimum, cover your wrists well and stay below your waistline when you raise your arms. Some are longer at the back, like the Montbell Wind Blast Hooded Jacket. Some people prefer that their windbreaker jacket actually covers their backside and opt for a longer product, but that is a personal preference.

The jacket should also have enough room in the shoulders when you bend over and raise your arms, say when you raise your arms to scramble a scree field or bend down to tie your shoe. A potential downside of sizing up a windbreaker jacket specifically is to consider that the more extra material there is, the more there is to blow and flap in the wind. That won’t change the protection factor, but it does make noise and can be bothersome.

Best Windbreaker Jackets - Black Diamond Distance Windshell high desert running

The Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell is very lightweight and also very protective. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi


Protection from the elements — namely, wind and the cold air it brings — is why you are searching for the best windbreaker.

Keep in mind as you shop that windbreaker jackets are not waterproof or meant to serve as rain jackets. However, most windbreaker jackets are made of nylon or polyester, which naturally repel a little water. And several windbreaker jackets in this guide have a water-resistant coating, like the Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell. Your windbreaker jacket should ward off some rain or snow but should never be used as a rain jacket.

Nylon or polyester windbreaker jackets, even when the material is thin, are all quite good at offering wind protection. However, with this kind of fabric, generally thicker means at least a little warmer. That said, the windbreaker jackets in this guide with the thinnest material are still protective!

Various features add weight but also add protection. The lightest and least protective jacket would be one with no hood, loose cuffs, and a non-adjustable waistline — a minimalist jacket. However, if you want improved protection, look for a jacket with an adjustable hood, fitted cuffs, a waist cinch, and maybe thumb holes.

While a sleek-fitting jacket can feel good and be lighter, buying a jacket that is a bit bigger than you normally would means you can wear it over a running pack to protect all of your gear, not just your body.

Best Windbreakers for Running - wearing the Montane Featherlite Windproof Jacket

During a chilly run, iRunFar’s Alli Hartz tests the Montane Featherlite Windproof Jacket. Photo: iRunFar/Alli Hartz


The lighter your clothing and gear, the easier it is to run. Windbreaker jackets offer some incredible bang for your buck in terms of being a protective garment with a very low weight. That said, note that there is still significant variation in windbreaker jacket weight — the jackets in this guide vary from 1.6 ounces (47 grams) to 6.2 ounces (177 grams).

If you’re a gram counter looking for the lightest windbreaker jacket, we recommend the hoodless Montbell Ex Light Wind Jacket or the hooded Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt.

The more bells and whistles like pockets, zippers, and hoods, the heavier the jacket, so there is a tradeoff to consider. Another element that adds to the weight of a jacket is the material: 40-denier nylon is thicker, heavier, and likely more durable than seven-denier nylon.

While even the lightest jackets do a great job stopping the wind, you may have to be extra careful on terrain not to rip their thinner fabric.

Best Windbreaker Jackets - Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt high desert running

The Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt is shiny but also ultralight and very protective. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi


Speaking of storage, everyone loves pockets! But as we’ve said, there’s a tradeoff: more storage equals heavier weight. For some people, a single chest pocket for a key will suffice; others will appreciate the standard side pockets to keep hands warm or store light objects.

In our experience, for an object to be stored in a windbreaker jacket pocket, it must be pretty light not to bounce. For example, we have trouble carrying our phones in these pockets but find gloves and a hat store easily, particularly in big pockets like the one on the Cotopaxi Teca Half-Zip Windbreaker. And, of course, if you want somewhere to keep your hands during a break in your run, they can be convenient for that purpose.


Packability often goes hand in hand with weight — usually, the lighter the jacket, the more packable it is. Some styles, like the Patagonia Houdini Jacket and the Montane Featherlite Windproof Jacket, have an internal pocket where the product itself can be rolled up and stored, producing a package no bigger than your fist (although, we’re just as likely to shove a windbreaker jacket in a pack or tie it around our waists regardless of a stuff pocket or sack). Others are bulkier but provide increased insulation and storage capacity. Ultimately, the best windbreaker is one you’re willing to carry, and extra weight and bulk make a difference.


Layering is the secret to success for every outdoor athlete. Each time we venture outside, we try to wear and carry layers that, when worn together, keep us cozy in the worst weather we find on that outing, and when we strip down to our last layer, cool us in the best weather. The best running windbreakers can accommodate a variety of layers underneath.

So, when you consider adding a windbreaker jacket to your running kit, consider how you might wear it in tandem with your other clothing and size your windbreaker jacket properly. For instance, you might consider sizing up if you’d like to wear two shirts and a running pack under your windbreaker jacket. And if you only think you’ll need one shirt underneath it, size normally. Some jackets, like the Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt, run very large to accommodate several layers and even a running pack underneath.

Best Windbreaker Jackets - Inov-8 Windproof Windshell Jacket high desert running

We love the thumb loop and front button features of the inov-8 Windproof Windshell Jacket. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Why You Should Trust Us

iRunFar experts are often based in the mountains, where some of the most unpredictable weather can occur. We’re used to runs that may be quiet and calm at lower altitudes, but as soon as we crest the ridgeline, we get blasted by huge gusts of wind. We are committed to testing the best products out there for a variety of conditions, so you don’t have to suffer through trial and error in the elements.

We started developing this windbreaker jacket guide by researching roughly 70 jackets from a huge range of brands. From there, we polled the large team at iRunFar on their favorite jackets and dived deep online before choosing many jackets to test in person to find the best windbreaker possible.

For this guide, we took 22 windbreaker jackets to the field for four seasons of testing in Colorado, Utah, and Alaska in the U.S. and several Western European countries. The jackets we chose for this guide represent the best over several hundred hours of total testing in every condition you can imagine. We continue to test windbreakers regularly both within and outside of the U.S. and update this guide accordingly with newer and updated models.

Ultimately, we identified a pair of best windbreakers and several standout jackets in specific categories to help you get the best jacket for your running requirements.

Best Windbreaker Jackets - running in the Montbell Wind Blast Hooded Jacket

The iRunFar team named the Montbell Wind Blast Hooded Jacket (right) as our favorite budget pick. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Frequently Asked Questions About Windbreaker Jackets for Running

Is there a difference between men’s and women’s windbreaker jackets?

Along with other clothing items, jackets are usually made for men’s and women’s specific body needs. Wide versus narrow shoulders, a straight cut versus a waist taper, and larger hips are only a few differences between jackets made for different body types.

Of course, if you find a jacket made for a specific gender that feels the best for you, go with it! Most brands make equivalent models in men’s and women’s jackets, like the inov-8 Windshell Windproof Jacket 2.0. Some jackets in men’s and women’s versions have significant differences, like the women’s Montane Featherlite Windproof Jacket not having a hood while the men’s version does.

What size should I buy to layer clothing underneath?

Brands will generally give specific measurements (including chest, waist, and hip size, and sometimes even sleeve length and shoulder width) to ensure you get the best size you need.

In general, if you only plan on wearing a single layer underneath, a windbreaker jacket will be sized in line with your regular running top size. You may want to size up if you layer heavier clothing or multiple elements, including your running vest or waist pack underneath. There will be some exceptions, like the Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt, which runs large to accommodate extra layers. Size guides when shopping online will generally inform you if a jacket runs small, large, or true to size.

Best Windbreaker Jackets - testing a wind jacket

The options for windbreakers are endless. This guide can help you choose the right one for you. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Should I prioritize lighter weight or increased protection?

The good news is that with modern windbreaker jackets, you can have both simultaneously! We consider all the jackets in this guide to be lightweight and protective in the wind.

Technology is advanced, so even the thinnest windbreaker jacket material can be pretty darn wind-resistant. Additionally, windbreaker jackets can be so light because they generally lack extensive features.

However, other elements increase a windbreaker jacket’s protection — like an adjustable hood, waist cinch, and elastic wrist cuffs — with only super-small weight penalties. The ultralight Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt has a nice waist cinch and elastic at the wrists while weighing under two ounces. However, you won’t notice much difference between two and four ounces unless you are a strict gram counter.

Does my windbreaker jacket need to be waterproof? What’s the difference?

As previously stated, a water-resistant element in a windbreaker jacket is excellent, but windbreakers and rain jackets are totally different pieces of equipment. While a DWR coating, as found on the Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell, will help protect you in light flurries or a very light sprinkle and is a nice bonus, you should never substitute a windbreaker jacket for a rain jacket.

If you’re going to be running in potentially wet weather, always make sure to have a waterproof rain jacket with you.

Hood or no hood?

This depends on your needs and how comfortable you’d like to be. In the wind and rain, it’s ideal for keeping your head warm and dry, as that’s where a large portion of body heat can be lost, but if you can’t stand the swishing around your head and you’d like to save a bit of weight, a hoodless jacket like the Montbell Ex Light Wind Jacket can be a great choice.

If you go for a jacket with a hood, some jackets have an elastic strap, a button, or another way to pack the hood away when you don’t want to cover your head. We love the feature-packed inov-8 Windshell Windproof Jacket 2.0, which can stow its hood with a snap closure. Alternatively, you can try shoving the hood down the back of the jacket, but that might not work in the windiest conditions.

Best Windbreaker Jackets - Running in the Patagonia Houdini Jacket

The Patagonia Houdini Jacket is a lightweight and affordable option runners have loved for years. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Do I need a windbreaker jacket at all?

This depends on the climate in which you’re running. Take note: windbreaker jackets are designed for performance in … windy environments. Even cheaper options like the Montbell Wind Blast Hooded Jacket will do an excellent job of keeping the wind — and the cold that it often brings — away from your body, and they also perform well to help hold your body heat inside of the jacket.

This latter quality also helps them perform well in cold, dry environments. Windbreaker jackets are not designed for high-moisture environments, like when it’s raining or high humidity.

Why are running jackets so expensive?

Like the Montbell Windblast Hooded Jacket, a great jacket can be reasonably priced. Other jackets in this guide range up in price from there, with prices generally increasing as features increase and weight decreases.

The cost of a product increasing with added features is intuitive enough, whether it be the cost of additional parts or the labor cost from other steps needed to make the jacket.

Counterintuitively, a lighter jacket will likely cost more than a moderate-weight jacket. This is the case as ultra-fine fabrics are produced in lesser quantities and may require specialized equipment or techniques to weave. On the other hand, the lighter material might be more difficult to sew, and the design may require tighter tolerances in sewing and construction.

Call for Comments

  • What is your favorite windbreaker jacket and why? Leave a comment to share about yours, and we’ll consider it for the next round of testing!
  • Do you have separate jackets for wind and rain for the climate you run in?
Back to Our Top Running Windbreaker Jackets Picks
Meghan Hicks

Meghan Hicks is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar. She’s been running since she was 13 years old, and writing and editing about the sport for around 15 years. She served as iRunFar’s Managing Editor from 2013 through mid-2023, when she stepped into the role of Editor-in-Chief. Aside from iRunFar, Meghan has worked in communications and education in several of America’s national parks, was a contributing editor for Trail Runner magazine, and served as a columnist at Marathon & Beyond. She’s the co-author of Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running with Bryon Powell. She won the 2013 Marathon des Sables, finished on the podium of the Hardrock 100 Mile in 2021, and has previously set fastest known times on the Nolan’s 14 mountain running route in 2016 and 2020. Based part-time in Moab, Utah and Silverton, Colorado, Meghan also enjoys reading, biking, backpacking, and watching sunsets.

Meghan Hicks

Alli Hartz is a member of the gear review team at iRunFar. She’s been writing about outdoor gear, outdoor adventure, and adventure travel for 10 years. Aside from iRunFar, Alli contributes gear reviews and adventure stories to Switchback Travel, Travel Oregon, and other outlets. She also works as a ski guide during the winter season and has dabbled in run-skiing on the Cascade volcanoes. Alli is based in Bend, Oregon, where she loves to run from her front door up into the Three Sisters Wilderness.