Clothing

The 10 Best Windbreaker Jackets for Life on the Water

Last updated on August 23, 2022 by Ben Snatler

EDITOR'S PICKS

Recommended
Best windbreaker jacket Overall
Helly Hansen Crew Hooded Sailing Jacket thumbnail

5/5

  • Perfect as an everyday jacket for the autumn
  • Adjustable hood
  • Lightweight design
  • Super comfortable
Recommended
Most Versatile lightweight wind jacket
The North Face Flight Lightriser Wind Jacket thumbnail1

5/5

  • A breathable windbreaker
  • Lightweight
  • Very easy to carry and packs up small
Recommended
Best for Everyday Wear
L.L. Bean Waterproof Windbreaker Jacket thumbnail

4.5/5

  • Ample pockets
  • It can be worn daily
  • Good coverage
  • Keeps you dry in the rain

MORE PICKS TO CHOOSE FROM

Ignore the forecast! The right windbreaker jacket will keep you dry and comfortable, whatever the weather conditions. Whether you are an outdoorsy person or someone who just likes to pull out a jacket when the weather turns, a lightweight wind jacket is a wardrobe essential for anyone and everyone.

All the jackets below are offered in both men's and women's sizes, making them suitable for any sailor. But before diving into our picks for the best windbreaker jacket of the season, let's break down the key product features that make them so effective on the water.

What to look for in a sailing windbreaker jacket

Windbreaker jackets are undoubtedly one of the most practical and versatile outerwear styles an adventurer can own. They're protective enough for inclimate weather and light enough to stuff in a backpack or carry-on, just in case. Here are a few of the key design details that make for a good windbreaker and wind jacket:

Waterproof Fabric— The most important feature to look for in a windbreaker jacket is durable, ripstop nylon fabric. For superior wind and water resistance, opt for something made using Goretex, a breathable waterproof membrane that'll keep your body protected from wind gusts and water spray.

Water-Resistant Zippers— The best windbreakers boast water-resistant zippers that prevent moisture from creeping into your jacket and dampening the belongings in your pockets.

Sealed Seams— Similarly, look for jackets with sealed seams that prevent moisture from entering through the stitching.

Layerable Fit— A well-fitting windbreaker leaves enough room underneath for an extra layer, like a sweatshirt or fleece jacket. If your coat is too small, it'll restrict your movement. Too large, and cold air can easily get inside.

Adjustable Cuffs and Hem— Look for styles with a drawcord along the cuffs and hemline to help lock out cold air and lock in warmth.

Zippered Pockets— Hip, chest, and internal pockets keep your phone, wallet, keys, and other small essentials dry and close by. Look for zippered styles that'll ensure your belongings don't go overboard.

Hood— For the ultimate protection, look for jackets with a hood that'll keep your head dry and prevent cold air from creeping inside. Many wind jacket hoods can be stowed away in a zippered pouch or fully removed for added versatility.

Packable Design— Many windbreakers can be packed into a pocket like its own chest pocket or hood pocket. Some can be packed into a small stuff sack when not in use to save space in your tote bag, backpack, or suitcase.

Insulation- Many windbreakers can act as a barrier between you and the element and keep you warm without the bulk of traditional insulated jackets. If you are looking for extra warmth, be sure to find insulated options.

The Best Windbreaker Jackets for Sailing

Now that you know what separates the good from the bad, it's time to start shopping for your new go-to sailing jacket. The versatile styles below come equipped with innovative waterproof materials, ergonomic cuts, and practical design features.

Helly Hansen Crew Hooded Sailing Jacket

Best windbreaker jacket Overall

overall 

5/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Helly Hansen Crew Hooded Sailing Jacket

Features:

  • Waterproof, windproof, and breathable jacket
  • 2-layer construction
  • Polartec® fleece-lined comfortable collar
  • Embroider friendly

This Helly Hansen Crew Hooded Sailing Jacket was designed specifically for use on the water. Constructed with reliable Helly Tech® Protection, the technical sailing jacket is fully waterproof and windproof. A packable hood, Polartec® fleece-lined collar, sealed seams, and an adjustable drawcord hem lock out moisture and maximize warmth. Zippered hand pockets and a Race ID back neck pocket offer ample space to stash your stuff. With five color options to choose from, it's the perfect jacket for anyone with a marine lifestyle.

Material

100% Polyester

Weight

620 grams

Care

Machine wash, Tumble dry. Do not use fabric softener.

Pros:

  • Super comfortable
  • Keeps you warm and dry
  • Perfect as an everyday jacket for the autumn
  • Lightweight design
  • Adjustable hood

Cons:

  • Can run short

The North Face Flight Lightriser Wind Jacket

Most Versatile lightweight wind jacket

overall 

5/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

The North Face Flight Lightriser Wind Jacket

Features:

  • Packs into a pocket inside the collar
  • Hand strap for carrying jacket when it's packed inside the collar pocket
  • WindWall™ shell made with 94% recycled nylon for breathable, wind-resistant protection
  • Darted sleeves for maximum mobility

The North Face Flight Lightrise Wind Jacket is guaranteed to be the most versatile piece of outdoor gear you've ever owned, and it may just become one of your new favorite wind jackets. The lightweight jacket can be used for boating, kayaking, hiking, or running errands on a rainy day.

Made with WindWall™ and breathable-waterproof FUTURELIGHT™ technologies, it's incredibly lightweight and comfortable. Engineered perforations at the center back improve breathability, while darted sleeves ensure maximum mobility. Between uses, it packs neatly into a storage pocket (complete with a practical carrying strap) inside the collar.

Material

Polyester, Nylon

Weight

N/A

Care

N/A

Pros:

  • A breathable windbreaker
  • Lightweight
  • Very easy to carry and packs up small

Cons:

  • Lack pockets

L.L. Bean Waterproof Windbreaker Jacket

Best for Everyday Wear

overall 

4.5/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

L.L. Bean Waterproof Windbreaker Jacket

Features:

  • The recycled ripstop polyester shell resists abrasion and blocks wind and rain
  • Two front pockets with Velcro® closure
  • Mesh lining in the body for added comfort
  • Hooded for extra protection and comfort

The L.L. Bean's Waterproof Windbreaker Jacket makes a practical addition to any water enthusiast's everyday wardrobe. Its lightweight, packable design is easy to toss in your work tote, car console, or backpack for everyday use. But don't underestimate its protection on the water!

The functional windbreaker jacket is constructed from 100% recycled polyester with a waterproof coating. A hood and front storm flap keep out the elements, while a mesh lining keeps you dry and comfortable inside. Use the two front pockets with Velcro closures to hold your phone, wallet, and keys during your adventure.

Material

100% recycled polyester

Weight

N/A

Care

Machine wash and dry

Pros:

  • Ample pockets
  • It can be worn daily
  • Good coverage
  • Keeps you dry in the rain

Cons:

  • It can run a little large

Moncler Besar Zip-Up Jacket

Best insulated jacket

overall 

4.5/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Moncler Besar Zip-Up Jacket

Features:

  • Crafted from weather-resistant nylon
  • Long sleeves with snap cuffs

Moncler's luxury outerwear brand features insulated, high-performance gear for women, men, and kids. Famous for its down insulated jacket that provides ultimate worth, today you can find the luxury brand to offer beyond just down jackets. This Moncler Besar Zip-Up Jacket can provide wearers with superior warmth. While protective enough for cold weather boating, it's stylish enough for winter wear on the streets.

The lightweight jacket is crafted from water-repellent nylon material and technical mesh lining. A hood trimmed with zip fastening allows you to zip up so it can protect your neck and face from the rain or wind. Zipped external pockets will ensure all your essentials stay dry and protected too.

Material

polyester, nylon

Weight

N/A

Care

dry clean

Pros:

  • Stylish enough to wear every day
  • Water repellent
  • You can zip the hoodie all the way up

Cons:

  • Expensive jacket
  • Style is not available for women

Rab Xenair Alpine Light Jacket

Best for Spring And Fall

overall 

4.5/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Rab Xenair Alpine Light Jacket

Features:

  • Lightweight synthetic layer
  • Pack-away chest pocket
  • Breathable panels ensure you won't overheat
  • Cinched wrist openings seal in the warmth as you move

For serious protection from the elements, turn to Rab Xenair's Alpine Light Jacket. Crafted from Pertex nylon and PrimaLoft insulation, it delivers superior wind resistance without sacrificing breathability or comfort. Its versatility and layerability make it an excellent mid-layer for touring, fishing, hiking, and climbing.

Articulated sleeves and cuff gussets improve the fit and maximize your range of motion. The elasticized hood tucks neatly under your helmet during high-intensity activities on cold, windy days. Tuck it into the self-stowing pocket between wears, and use the harness attachment loop to hook it onto a backpack, pant loop, or keychain for easy access.

Material

Nylon

Weight

10.3 ounce

Care

N/A

Pros:

  • Lightweight but keeps you warm
  • Comfortable fit that gives you mobility
  • Provides the right amount of warmth for those spring/summer

Cons:

  • It provides less warmth than the Xenair Alpine

Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer Jacket

Best for Summer

overall 

5/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer Jacket

Features:

  • Airy, stretchy, packable windbreaker designed
  • G-1000 Air Stretch hood, chest, and sleeves protect from wind
  • Pliant polyester body packs well and ensures sun protection
  • Adjustable hood and hem ensure secure coverage

The Abisko Midsummer Jacket from Fjallraven is ideal for warm climates. Its ultra-light, ultra-stretchy material is made from a pliant blend of organic cotton and recycled polyester, allowing it to move with you like a second skin. While the fabric doesn't offer complete waterproof protection, it'll fend off damaging sun rays and chill-inducing water spray.

The vacation-ready wind jacket is lightweight and well-ventilated so that you won't overheat. A drawcord hemline locks out cold winds, while the addition of Fjallraven's G-1000 Air Stretch along the hood, shoulders, and tops of the sleeves adds extra weather protection. Keep it stashed in your sailing bag to stay ahead of unpredictable conditions.

Material

Polyester

Weight

12.7 ounce

Care

N/A

Pros:

  • It can be machine washed
  • Packs down small
  • Lightweight
  • Fabric is breathable and comfortable

Cons:

  • Lack of color selections

Arcteryx Squamish Hoody

Most Durable

overall 

4.6/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Arcteryx Squamish Hoody

Features:

  • Versatile, high-performance designs
  • Breathable material
  • High-performance, minimalist design
  • A windproof garment with significant weather resistance

The Arc'teryx Squamish Hoody is intended for use in mild but shifting conditions. Named after the coastal mountains of Squamish, British Columbia, it offers the water and wind protection you need during water activities and wet hikes.

The packable windbreaker jacket is made using Tyono™ 30 nylon, a technologically advanced wind-resistant fabric that's surprisingly lightweight and durable. The breathable material allows moisture vapor inside to escape, helping regulate your temperature and keep you dry. An adjustable Stormhood™, No Slip Zip™ front, and adjustable hems keep out cold air for a more comfortable adventure.

Material

100% nylon

Weight

4.9 ounce

Care

Machine wash in warm water

Pros:

  • Great packability
  • Offers great wind and water resistance
  • Great breathability

Cons:

  • Water resistant, not waterproof

Adidas Own the Run Hooded Wind Jacket

Best on a Budget

overall 

4.7/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Adidas Own the Run Hooded Wind Jacket

Features:

  • Made with 100% recycled content
  • Reflective details light up in low light

This affordable Own the Run Hooded Wind Jacket from Adidas can be used for sailing, running, hiking, and a whole host of outdoor activities. Layered over a sweatshirt, fleece jacket, or sweat-wicking long-sleeve, you'll stay warm and dry no matter the conditions outside.

The lightweight windbreaker jacket is made using 100% recycled polyester with a PFC-free water-repellent finish. It's equipped with two handy front pockets, including one with a sweat guard to keep your electronics completely dry. Reflective tape on all sides ensures you're seen in the dark, even with the drawcord hood pulled up.

Material

100% recycled polyester dobby

Weight

N/A

Care

Machine wash cold. Do not tumble dry and Do not dry clean. Touch up with cool iron.

Pros:

  • The budget-friendly price point
  • The material is soft and light
  • Good for light rain and windy weather

Cons:

  • Not recommended to be worn as a rain jacket

Helly Hansen HP Racing Wind Jacket

Best for Racing

overall 

4.9/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Helly Hansen HP Racing Wind Jacket

Features:

  • PFC-free
  • Waterproof, windproof, and breathable
  • Full stretch construction
  • Quick dry lining

You'll look like a pro in Helly Hansen's HP Racing Wind Jacket! Crafted with HELLY TECH® Performance construction, it offers the reliable weather protection and unrestricted range of motion you need for competitive racing. Without a doubt, it's stylish enough for the streets too.

The breathable, PFE-free waterproof fabric insulates you from cold winds and keeps out sea spray and light rain. A brushed tricot collar and chin guard feel comfortable against the skin, zipped or unzipped. Hand warmer pockets and a quick-dry lining maximize warmth without adding bulk.

Material

N/A

Weight

570 grams

Care

N/A

Pros:

  • Nice and lightweight
  • Very good balance between lifestyle and sails needs
  • Stylish design
  • Keeps the water and wind out

Cons:

  • Lack of color options

Gill OS3 Coastal Sailing and Boating Jacket

Best Stain Resistant

overall 

5/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Gill OS3 Coastal Sailing and Boating Jacket

Features:

  • Engineered for all-around protection
  • Suitable for beginner to advanced sailors
  • 2-layer fabric construction for a waterproof and breathable finish
  • Offer incredible levels of water repellency, stain resistance, and odor control

This splurge-worthy Gill OS3 Coastal Sailing and Boating Jacket offer the perfect balance of performance and protection. It features exclusive XPEL technology that increases water repellence and stain resistance. Constructed with two-layer XPLOREÂ fabric, you'll stay warm and dry no matter the weather conditions.

A high-cut thermal collar and adjustable cuffs with inner seals keep cold winds from sneaking in. Pull up the high-visibility hood for even more protection from the wind and rain.

Material

Nylon, Polyester

Weight

N/A

Care

Machine Wash (30°C)

Pros:

  • A great lightweight waterproof, windproof jacket
  • Versatile. It can be worn as is during the summer or layer up in the winter
  • One of the more durable jacket options and well made

Cons:

  • Can feel stiff
  • Pricey

How to Care for a Windbreaker Jacket

With proper care, a high-quality windbreaker jacket can last a lifetime. It's worth treating yourself to something well-fitting that will get plenty of use. Keep your sailing jacket looking sharp and performing its best with these helpful care tips:

  • After each use, rinse your jacket in clean water to get rid of any salt, sand, dirt, and debris.

  • Let it dry thoroughly before packing it away. Never store your jacket wet.

  • Follow the care instructions to a T. Each performance fabric is a tad different. While these days, most windbreaker jackets can be machine-washed and tumble-dried, some jackets require special care.

  • Do not bleach your windbreaker jacket. The chemicals can damage the treated fabric, decreasing durability and water resistance.

About the Author

Ben Snatler

Ben is a veteran boat captain, scuba instructor and sailing instructor. He grew up on boats and spent nearly the past 20 years working on all types of boats, yachts and even cruises doing all sorts of jobs, from maintenance to safety. He is fully certified with the american sailing association.