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August 06, 2021

Upon first glance, you may see a windbreaker and a rain jacket together and think they serve the same purposes—though maybe one is more effective than the other. While the two are similar, they’re not actually the same thing, and they both serve different purposes. Before you settle on purchasing a jacket to keep you warm during a workout or a hike, learn the differences between rain jackets and windbreakers to make sure you buy the right one.

Qualities of a Rain Jacket

Though you may think it’s simple to identify a rain jacket, they often look similar to windbreakers in design. Some still retain that classic, thigh-length, rubberized cotton appearance, but many now look baggy and more comfortable. Rain jackets prevent you from getting wet in the rain with multiple layers of fabric that work together to waterproof the jacket. This multi-layer make means that the jacket is heavier than a windbreaker but keeps you warmer and drier.

High-quality rain jackets will also be moisture-wicking and have extra ventilation to prevent you from overheating. You can find many variations of rain jackets, whether you want something that’s waist-length or a long trench.

Use a rain jacket for heavy rainstorms, wet environments, and cold temperatures.

Qualities of a Windbreaker

Windbreakers do exactly what the name suggests—they act as a barrier against pelting winds. These lightweight jackets may not keep you as dry as a rain jacket, but they will prevent a breeze from chilling you to the bone. Typically, windbreakers only have one protective outer layer of polyester or nylon and a mesh layer inside the jacket for comfort, making them simpler and less expensive than rain jackets.

The outer shell is water-resistant, but not waterproof; this means that with enough water, the rain may seep through the jacket and leave you feeling damp. Many windbreakers have large pockets and stretchy waistbands, which makes them useful to keep with you anywhere you go.

Use a windbreaker for light drizzles, mountainous hikes, and cool-weather outdoor workouts.

Conclusion: Is One Better Than the Other?

It’s impossible to compare rain jackets to windbreakers—they both serve different purposes! The differences between rain jackets and windbreakers make both useful to have in your closet or on the go. These jackets can often transform into a small pouch for travel, so you don’t need to worry about how much space they take up.

Whether you’re searching for a protective rain jacket or a stylish windbreaker, Escape Outdoors has you covered with a wide selection of the most popular outdoor brands and styles. Check out our collection of Kuhl outdoor wear for some of the best quality rain jackets on the market.

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