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How to Choose a Lightweight Windbreaker that Fits Your Needs

While we would all prefer the conditions to be perfect every time we go for a run, the weather doesn’t always cooperate. If you are serious about running, you will have to accept that some days it will be cold, damp, and windy. Fortunately, wearing the proper running gear can help to keep you comfortable and protected from the elements as you focus on enjoying your run.

Why Purchase a Lightweight Windbreaker for Running?

One of the best pieces of running wear you can invest in is a lightweight windbreaker designed for running. As the name implies, they can keep you warm and comfortable during windy conditions. While they are not necessarily waterproof, most offer some water resistance to stay dry on those damp and drizzly morning runs.

The best options are also lightweight and breathable, so they will not impede your movements or cause you to overheat. This allows you to focus on your running form and performance rather than worry about discomfort caused by the conditions outside.

How Can We Help?

If you are ready to find the perfect lightweight windbreaker, we can help! We will highlight some of the best options on the market today and detail some of the critical factors you should consider when choosing a lightweight jacket for running

At a Glance: Our Top 5 Lightweight Windbreakers for Running

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PRODUCT

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1

Best Overall

Men’s

Nike Tricot Classics Windbreaker Jacket

Machine washable  Made from 100% polyester for wind and water resistance Mesh lining for breathability and comfort

2

Best Affordable Option

Men’s

Little Donkey Lightweight Windproof Running Jacket

Budget-friendly price Breathable and water repellent UPF 50+ protection  Wearable in all four seasons

3

Best For Cold Weather

Men’s

Columbia Men's Challenger Packable Windbreaker

Fully water and wind resistance for all-weather wear Adjustable hood for added warmth Packable and compact

4

Best For Men

Men’s

Nike Men's Trail Running WindRunner Jacket

Built-in hand mittens Can be packed into its own pocket Vented design for optimal breathability

5

Best For Women

Women's

Adidas Women's Hooded Running Windbreaker

Machine washable Wind and water resistant Full-zip and high neckline for full coverage

The 5 Best Lightweight Running Windbreakers Reviewed

To help you find the perfect lightweight running windbreaker, we are going to review some of the top options on the market today. We chose each of the following windbreakers because they offer the perfect balance between comfort, performance, and affordability.

1. Nike Tricot Classics Windbreaker Jacket

The Nike Tricot Classics Jacket is our best overall pick because it has everything you would want out of a lightweight running windbreaker. Thanks to its 100% polyester design, it offers outstanding wind protection and reliable water resistance.

It has a classic and stylish fit, but the performance really draws our attention. It is still reasonably breathable despite its ability to keep you dry and warm on the windiest days.

This is thanks to the built-in mesh liner, which helps to wick sweat away from your body. The hood polyester hood enables you to stay dry on rainy runs, while the ribbed drawcords allow you to pull it tight to help shield your face from rain and wind. Overall, it is an excellent running windbreaker that performs just as impressively as it looks.

  • Overall Score: 96%
  • Comfort: 100%
  • Breathability: 90%
  • Price: 95%
  • Customer Feedback: 95%
  • Water and Wind Resistance: 100%

Pros:

  • Made from 100% recycled polyester fibers for maximum wind and water resistance
  • Mesh lining for breathability and comfort
  • Incredible comfort and fit
  • Iconic and stylish design
  • Dries exceptionally fast

Cons:

  • Somewhat expensive
  • Does not feature built-in hand warmers

2. Little Donkey Lightweight Windproof Running Jacket

If you are on a budget, but you would still like a high-quality lightweight windbreaker for running, you simply cannot go wrong with this windproof jacket from Little Donkey.

Despite its entry-level price, it offers some high-end features, like a 95% polyester and 5% spandex design. It offers protection from wind and moisture while remaining stretchy and breathable for a more comfortable experience.

We also like that it is designed with a UV-protective coating, so it is even a practical option on sunny days. The mesh interior also helps with moisture wicking and breathability. It is just an all-around great running windbreaker, especially for the price!

  • Overall Score: 94%
  • Comfort: 90%
  • Breathability: 90%
  • Price: 100%
  • Customer Feedback: 95%
  • Water and Wind Resistance: 95%

Pros:

  • Very budget-friendly price
  • Available in 17 unique colors
  • Fully water repellent and wind resistant
  • Offers UPF 50+ protection from UV rays
  • Light and 4-way stretchable for incredible comfort
  • Available in hooded and non-hooded varieties

Cons:

  • Less packable than other running windbreakers on our list
  • Limited size options

3. Columbia Men’s Challenger Packable Windbreaker

For those that plan on running in cooler and rainier climates, the Columbia Challenger Packable Windbreaker is an excellent option.

The pull-over design means warmth is kept within, while a moisture-wicking mesh lining helps keep you dry. The adjustable hood keeps the wearer’s ears and face dry, especially on windy days.

It features built-in hand pockets and elastic cuffs for extra warmth, which help prevent those cold breezes from climbing up your arms. Not only is it very lightweight, but it is also fully packable into one of its own pockets.

Columbia also added high-visibility details for safety if you jog on foggy or rainy days. It really is the go-to jacket for outdoor running on chilly and damp days!

  • Overall Score: 94%
  • Comfort: 95%
  • Breathability: 85%
  • Price: 95%
  • Customer Feedback: 95%
  • Water and Wind Resistance: 100%

Pros:

  • Available in a variety of colors and patterns
  • Built-in hand pockets, adjustable hood, and windproof pull-over design keep you warm and dry
  • Fully water repellent for all-weather conditions
  • Incredibly durable materials and double stitching at common tear points

Cons:

  • Can be a little bit too warm for use during the summer months

4. Nike Men’s Trail Running WindRunner Jacket

For men that are looking for a stylish and highly functional running windbreaker, the Nike Men’s Trail Running WindRunner Jacket is an excellent option. As a trail running jacket, it offers many practical features, such as extendable hand mittens and fully waterproof, zippered pockets.

This windbreaker can keep you dry and comfortable even on damp, rainy morning runs. It has a lightweight design and a streamlined fit, so you will hardly notice you are wearing it while you run. It keeps you dry while remaining very breathable. It is available in various colorful designs, so it is just as stylish as it is functional. 

Whether running on trails or paved paths, this lightweight windbreaker is an excellent option for all outdoor runners.

  • Overall Score: 95%
  • Comfort: 100%
  • Breathability: 90%
  • Price: 90%
  • Customer Feedback: 95%
  • Water and Wind Resistance: 100%

Pros:

  • Built-in extendable hand mittens
  • Can be packed into its own sleeves for portability
  • Zippered warming pockets
  • Adjustable hood with covered vent
  • Extremely waterproof and wind resistant

Cons:

  • Fairly tight fit, so you may need to order a size up
  • Streamlined design clings to the body, which makes it challenging to wear layers beneath

 

5. adidas Women’s Hooded Running Windbreaker

This women’s running windbreaker from adidas is a perfect option for any woman that is in the market for a lightweight option that offers reasonable water and wind resistance.

It is made from 100% polyester, with 60% of the polyester coming from recycled sources. This means the windbreaker is an environmentally-friendly choice, as well as one that is highly functional.

We like that it fits close to the body, as this helps reduce wind resistance while you run, especially if you are running against a strong wind.

The full-zip hood has a raised neckline, so you get added protection if it starts to rain. Highly reflective accents are also important safety features that make you more visible when running in foggy or low-light conditions.

  • Overall Score: 94%
  • Comfort: 100%
  • Breathability: 90%
  • Price: 95%
  • Customer Feedback: 95%
  • Water and Wind Resistance: 90%

Pros:

  • Made with sustainable, recycled polyester
  • Adjustable hood with high neckline for extra coverage
  • Fits the contours of the body for minimal wind resistance while running
  • Water and wind resistant
  • Reflective details for added safety in low-light conditions
  • Extremely lightweight and comfortable

Cons:

  • Limited options for colors

It is an outstanding, versatile option that looks great and works incredibly well!

 

What to Look for in a Lightweight Windbreaker

Woman in a red windbreaker running over a wet surface

While the lightweight windbreakers highlighted above are all fantastic options, it is worth taking a few seconds to review some of the features you should be looking for while you are making your choice.

While personal preferences certainly play a role, we believe it is essential to look out for the following features:

Breathability

A running windbreaker should help block the elements, but it should not trap excess body heat and sweat. The best options will have mesh interiors, vents, and adjustable waistbands, encouraging airflow and air circulation within the jacket.

Material

Look for windbreakers made from lightweight materials that will keep you comfortable as you run. The primary material should also offer some degree of water resistance. Many of the best options are made from a high percentage of polyester, as this man-made material provides a good blend of the characteristics you would want out of a running windbreaker.

Fit

Since you will be wearing your windbreaker while you run, it should hug your body reasonably closely, as this will reduce drag. An overly bulky windbreaker will be uncomfortable and difficult to wear while running at higher speeds or against the wind.

Extra Features

Many of the best windbreakers have extra features, like built-in hand mittens, zipper pockets, reflective accents, and multiple adjustment points. These features can separate a basic windbreaker from an exceptional running windbreaker.

Water and Wind Resistance

Naturally, you will want to choose a windbreaker that can actually keep you comfortable in the wind and rain. The best options will be made from materials that offer these features.

No matter which item you choose, the aim should always be to keep you comfortable and protected from the elements. Rather than being distracted by wind, rain, and other ugly running conditions, you can focus on enjoying your run and monitoring your performance!

For More Information

If you want more advice on running wear, we highly recommend checking out our Running Wear Reviews and Buyer’s Guides. Here you will find plenty of helpful tips and product recommendations to help you enjoy running to the fullest.


Our extensive catalog of Running Shoe Reviews is also a valuable resource that can help you find the perfect footwear for your running needs.

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