What Are Windbreakers?

We’ve all been sitting in front of the TV, watching our favorite sports, or just catching some of the Olympic Games as we wait for the advert breaks to be over. Then, as we’ve been watching, we hear some unfamiliar term that we’ve never heard before.

Normally, it’s something that is related to that specific sport or is unique to that country or culture. But, no, not this time. This time it is definitely an English term, it’s just one that you’ve never heard before: Windbreaker.

What Are Windbreakers

This term is certainly a strange one. Is a windbreaker a person? Whose job is it to break the wind? Is it related to sailing? A maneuver that they have to do to cut through the wind and bad weather?

Though all good guesses, they are all unfortunately wrong, and we are still sitting in front of our TVs scratching our heads and thinking we imagined it. Well, I’m here to tell you that you didn’t imagine it and, more importantly, to explain what in the world a windbreaker is and what it is used for.

What Is A Windbreaker?

Although it sounds like the name of a cool basketball team, you may be slightly disappointed to learn that a windbreaker is a kind of jacket. Yes, a kind of jacket, however this jacket has some very special properties that make it unique amongst clothes.

The windbreaker is made of a lightweight synthetic material and is also constructed to be very lightweight. It is intended to provide effective protection against wind chill, especially strong blustery breezes that can pass through other clothes.

The reason it can do this is the synthetic fiber it’s made of, often this is Nylon, Micro-Polyester, Polyester, Tricot, or a combination of all four. These super lightweight materials are also incredibly tightly compact and pulled together at a molecular level.

This means that air cannot pass through the fabric, as such stopping gusts of howling gales from actually touching the skin, instead just pushing against the fabric. With wind physically touching skin, there is no wind chill that a person can experience, effectively keeping the person warm in gales.

Thanks to the material used, these jackets are not only good against wind. They are also handy against rain, with most being full water-resistant, but this does depend on the brand and quality of the material used.

Being light as well, they are great in warmer weather, as they are less heavy than coats but offer more protection than standard cotton or denim jackets, and the material is malleable enough that if it gets too warm you can fold them up and store them easily.

Since summers in lots of areas of the world can be damp and windy, despite the heat, this turned out to be a god-send for many people.

Windbreakers as a term started being used in the 1940s, when the John Rissman Company started putting out ads for their gabardine jackets, coining the term ‘Windbreaker’ when talking about their line of clothes.

Yet, originally the term ‘Windbreaker’ could be attributed to pullover anoraks or parkas that the Inuit peoples of North America wore, which, like the modern Windbreaker, was very effective at resisting wind-chill. It was not until the 1970s where Windbreakers, the term and the article of clothing, began gaining traction.

The advances in technology, the advent of mass production, and the ease of wearing that these jackets provided soon led to a burst of different types and designs. Fashion and sportswear were looking for something functional and fashionable to market to young men during this time, and they found it in windbreakers.

This rise in popularity coincided with the popularity boom of spectator sports. Sports stars on the side lines, coaches and managers, and thousands of fans were looking for a new item of clothing to keep them warm as they watched their teams with awe and wonder live in their stadiums.

Since that time, almost every sport’s brand or shop has a type of windbreaker that a person can buy and has taken the place of raincoats in young men’s drawers and wardrobes.

What Are Windbreakers

Types Of Windbreakers

Considering their time on the market and their popularity, there have been many different types of windbreakers produced. All of them have the windbreaker’s signature wind and rain protection, however many things have been added for comfort and for style.:

Insulated Windbreakers – These jackets have a cotton or fleece liner inside the jacket. Since the outer material can feel somewhat coarse against the skin, but with the soft inner lining you can feel protected and cozy in your windbreaker.

Outer Shell Jackets – These windbreakers act more like rain jackets but are much lighter. Though they feel similar to a rain jacket, they are not resistant to water. However, they are good in colder weather and provide an extra thick layer for you.

Single Shell Layer – These ones are thinner than the outer shell ones, so provide a great jacket in warmer weather, even in humid and dense heat. As such, these are the jackets of choice for sporting activities, like biking and running.

Other jackets that have become popular that originated from the windbreaker design are bomber jackets, biker jackets, or cropped jackets. Changes in material and overly purpose still stem from the original windbreaker design.

So, Is A Windbreaker Worth Buying?

I would say, yes, a windbreaker is worth buying. It is useful in most seasons and through most types of weather, being resistant to the worst a storm can bring and comfortable enough to wear even in hot weather. If you do lots of physical activity or just need a new jacket, then they are worth the price.

Final Thoughts

A windbreaker is an incredibly comfortable piece of sportswear and a fashionable piece of clothing to wear even in the most competitive of sporting occasions.

Thanks to the quality of the material used and its resistance to the elements, windbreakers are useful in most given situations and have been beloved by spectators and sporting teams alike for many, many years.

With its long history on the market and the versatility of its application, there is no reason that a windbreaker should not be part of your wardrobe.

Eric Willis
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