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How to Choose the Best Wind Jacket for Hiking

Best Wind Jacket for Hiking

Conditions at the start of the trail can be very different from what you run into on the mountain top, so make sure you pack a layer for colder, windy conditions to fight off the chill. A good quality wind jacket, or windbreaker jacket, will keep you warm on your journey, even as the wind picks up. You might be wondering how to find the best jacket for your needs. To help you on your search, the following guide explains what to look for in a windbreaker jacket, how to wear and care for one, and Stio's top picks for windy trails.

What Is a Wind Jacket?

A wind jacket, also commonly known as a windbreaker jacket, is a lightweight outer layer specifically designed to protect you against windy conditions during your time outdoors. The best windbreaker jacket for hiking, biking, running, or even setting up camp, should provide excellent wind resistance and minimal heat loss without compromising on breathability and comfort.

These jackets typically feature thin, light fabric and a streamlined design, making them easy to pack and carry when not in use. Most windbreakers will pack down into a pocket, making them easy to toss in a day pack and won't take up valuable space in your backpack on a multi-day trip. Some windbreaker jackets also offer a certain degree of water resistance with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish or coating, providing protection against light rain or drizzle. However, keep in mind that a windbreaker jacket is not a full-fledged rain jacket and might not withstand heavy downpour for extended periods.

Essential Features to Look For

When it comes to choosing the best windbreaker for your hiking or other activities, there are several essential features to consider to features and provide helpful tips and examples to guide you in your decision-making process.

Wind Protection

A wind jacket's primary function is to provide excellent wind resistance, keeping you warm and protected from the elements as you head out on the trail. To keep the wind out and keep moving on your hike, you need to consider several factors when it comes to purchasing a wind jacket. Construction and fabric are among the factors that you should take into account when finding the best wind protection for your adventures ahead. A wind shell designed specifically for your outdoor activities will help keep the wind out, while also maximizing comfort and movability.


While wind resistance is vital, breathability is equally important when choosing a jacket for your outdoor activities. A highly breathable windbreaker jacket will allow moisture and heat to escape, ensuring that you do not feel clammy, damp, or overheated during high-sweat, high-intensity activities. Keep an eye out for jackets with air permeable fabrics, mesh panels, or strategically placed zippered vents for enhanced breathability.

Water Resistance

Although a windbreaker jacket is not designed to be a primary rain shell, having some level of water protection is a great bonus feature that can prove useful during light showers or occasional drizzle. Most wind jackets will have a DWR finish or coating to help shed water and keep you dry during unexpected bouts of precipitation. Because windbreakers are so packable, it is easy to throw this layer in a pocket and have it just in case the weather turns on you. Keep in mind that DWR treatments do wear off over time, so be prepared to reapply the coating occasionally to maintain water resistance.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Perfect Wind Jacket

When it comes to finding the best wind jacket for hiking or any other outdoor activity, there are several factors to consider. In this section, we'll discuss the most important aspects to keep in mind when choosing the perfect windbreaker jacket for you. These include fit and comfort, breathability, weight and packability, durability and longevity, outdoor activities and uses, and wind resistance.

Fit and Comfort

Fit is essential when it comes to selecting the right wind jacket. You'll need a roomy fit that allows for freedom of movement but isn't too baggy or tight. A good windbreaker jacket should provide you with enough room for layering underneath, keeping you warm during cold weather activities like mountain biking, or trail running. It should also be constructed with carrying a pack in mind - try to find a wind jacket with seams that are constructed to resist chafing.

A well-fitting jacket will have a comfortable cut that is slightly tapered toward the waist. Most jackets come in both mens and womens versions to accommodate different body types. Additionally, a good windbreaker jacket will have adjustable hems, cuffs, and hoods, so you can further customize the fit to your liking.

Weight and Packability

A lightweight wind jacket is ideal for when you need weather protection without the added weight. Consider what your activities are and the amount of gear you'll be carrying when determining how important weight and packed size are to you. For instance, if you're planning to go on a day hike or are planning a mountain bike ride before happy hour, a lightweight jacket like the Stio Second Light Windshell will be a great option, as it provides excellent wind protection without adding excess weight to your gear. Options like these are also great for running, where every ounce counts in your overall performance. Find a windbreaker that is light enough to stash in your pocket, but doesn't skimp on performance.

Durability and Longevity

An outdoor jacket should be able to withstand harsh weather conditions and last season after season. Look for a wind jacket made from durable materials that can handle abrasions and resist tearing. Additionally, look for products with reinforced seams, high-quality zippers, and zippered chest pockets. A PFC-free DWR finish brings added water resistance in case you encounter light rain while out on the trail.

Outdoor Activities and Uses

Consider the activities you'll be participating in and the level of weather protection needed. For example, if you're mostly hiking, mountain biking, or trail running, a lightweight wind shell or windbreaker jacket would be a better pick instead of a more insulated jacket. The activities that you engage in will dictate how breathable, lightweight, or water-resistant your windbreaker jacket should be.

Wind Resistance

Wind resistance is the main selling point for any windbreaker jacket, so make sure the one you choose is ready to handle the elements. A good wind shell jacket should have a thin fabric that provides adequate wind protection without sacrificing packability, comfort, or breathability. Some windbreaker jackets will also offer a certain degree water resistance, with features like a PFC-free DWR coating or water-resistant zippers to help protect you from light rain. A reliable jacket will provide excellent weather protection without being overly bulky or heavy.

When to Wear a Windbreaker

Windbreakers offer a versatile layering option for various outdoor activities or when wind protection is the primary concern. They're a great addition to your layering kit when participating trail running, mountain biking, hiking, or just enjoying time around the campfire. As they are designed to block wind and are often equipped with water resistance, windbreaker jackets can also serve as a handy alternative to a bulkier rain jacket in mild or light rain situations. You could wear your windbreaker jacket during cooler weather as an outer layer or under a more insulated jacket for added wind and weather protection.

Ultimately, choosing the perfect windbreaker jacket comes down to factors like fit and comfort, breathability, weight and packability, durability and longevity, how and when you want to use it, and wind resistance. Keeping all of these elements in mind will help you in your search for the best wind jacket for hiking or any other outdoor activity you enjoy. With proper research and an understanding of your specific needs, you'll find the ideal windbreaker jacket to keep you comfortable and protected throughout your adventures.

Best Stio Wind Jackets

When it comes to finding the best wind jacket for hiking, Stio offers a wide range of options that provide exceptional wind protection and weather resistance. In this section, we will explore some of our top windbreaker jackets and the features that make them stand out for outdoor activities.

For your convenience, here are our top picks:

  • Lupine Hooded Jacket
  • Second Light Windshell
  • Sidecut Tech Hoodie
  • Colter INFINIUM Down Jacket
  • Colter INFINIUM Down Parka

Lupine Hooded Jacket

The Lupine Hooded Jacket from Stio is a lightweight wind jacket that offers excellent wind resistance and some water resistance, thanks to its PFC-free DWR finish. With a comfortable and roomy fit, this windbreaker jacket is perfect for layering over other clothes or even a sleeping bag. The main fabric is air permeable, making it highly breathable so that you can dump heat during active pursuits like hiking or mountain biking. An important feature of this jacket is the zippered chest pocket that provides storage for small essentials. Both men's and women's versions are available, making this an excellent option for any type of hiker.

Second Light Windshell

As the name suggests, the Second Light Windshell is a lightweight wind jacket that provides excellent wind protection without feeling too heavy or bulky. This wind shell features an eco-friendly PFC-free DWR coating that sheds water, ensuring good moisture protection during light showers without using harmful chemicals.

Additionally, the technical fabrics used in the construction of this wind shell make it highly breathable and perfect for outdoor activities like running or mountain biking. The half zip design allows for easy ventilation, while the mesh panels promote breathability, ensuring you stay comfortable throughout your hike. The Second Light Windshell is available in both men's and women's models.

Sidecut Tech Hoodie

Designed specifically for active pursuits, the Sidecut Tech Hoodie combines the best features of a windbreaker jacket and a technical hoodie. The thin fabric ensures a lightweight jacket experience, while the DWR finish provides some water resistance. The handwarmer pockets are a nice touch that adds functionality to this windbreaker jacket. The hoodie also features a chest pocket and a hem adjustment for a customizable fit. Available in both men's and women's versions, this windbreaker is perfect for more technical adventures like pitch climbing or extended hikes. Its sleek design and functionality make it a highly desirable wind jacket for outdoor enthusiasts.

Colter INFINIUM Down Jacket

If you're looking for a windbreaker jacket that also offers some insulation, the Colter INFINIUM Down Jacket is your answer. This insulated jacket features GORE-TEX INFINIUM technology, which provides maximum wind resistance and breathable weather protection. Ideal for colder conditions, this jacket is loaded with 800 fill down insulation, making it a great option for climbers or hikers who need to stay warm. The addition of a women's version and a plethora of color options make this an excellent choice for any hiker or mountain biker looking for durability and performance in their outdoor gear.

Colter INFINIUM Down Parka

With similar features to the Colter INFINIUM Down Jacket, the Colter INFINIUM Down Parka adds extra length and coverage to provide even more warmth and weather protection while you're out. The use of GORE-TEX INFINIUM technology and 800 fill down insulation ensures great performance in both wind resistance and warmth. Although not as lightweight as the other wind jackets on this list, the Colter INFINIUM Down Parka's added features make it an ideal choice for extremely cold weather activities like arctic hiking or ice climbing. Like the Down Jacket, the Parka comes in both men's and women's versions, catering to a wide range of adventurers.

Tips for Hiking with a Wind Jacket

Now that you know our top picks for Stio windbreaker jackets, it's essential to understand how to use a wind resistant jacket effectively during your outdoor adventures. These tips will ensure that your windbreaker jacket serves you well on the trail, providing maximum wind resistance and weather protection when you need it most.

Layering Strategy

Using a wind jacket effectively starts with a proper layering strategy. Pair your thin, lightweight windbreaker jacket with moisture-wicking base layers that pull sweat away from your skin and mid-layers that provide insulation. Lean towards fabrics like polyester and Merino wool. In colder weather, consider using a windbreaker jacket like the Colter INFINIUM Down Jacket or Parka for the highest standard of insulation. When selecting your outer layer, prioritize options that provide excellent wind resistance and breathability, like the Stio windbreaker jackets listed above.

Proper Care and Maintenance

To maintain the performance and longevity of your wind jacket, you should follow manufacturer recommendations for care and maintenance. This might include washing the jacket with mild detergents and avoiding harsh chemicals that can damage the DWR coating and technical fabrics. Periodic maintenance includes reapplying a DWR treatment if needed, ensuring continued water protection for your windbreaker jacket. Proper care and maintenance will keep your jacket functioning well for years to come.


Lastly, learning how to store your jacket properly while hiking is crucial. Convenient options include windbreaker jackets with a built-in packing mechanism, which allows the jacket to be packed into its own pocket. You can also use a stuff sack for storing your windbreaker jackets. A well-packed wind jacket should be small enough to fit in your bag or attach to your mountain bikes or backpack without adding too much bulk or weight, making it easy to access when needed without taking up valuable space. Proper storage ensures that your windbreaker jacket is always at the ready for sudden changes in weather conditions, providing protection when you need it most.

To properly store a windbreaker jacket at home, first make sure it's clean and dry. Zip up all the zippers and fasten the snaps, buttons, or Velcro. Then, fold the jacket neatly by bringing the sleeves and hem to the center of the back. Once it's folded, place the jacket in a plastic bag or vacuum seal bag and store it in a cool, dark and dry place like a closet or dresser drawer. Avoid hanging the jacket on a hanger for extended periods as this may cause misshapen shoulders. Properly storing your windbreaker jacket will help maintain its quality and prolong its lifespan.

Find Your Wind Jacket at Stio

When it comes to outdoor adventures, having the right gear is important, especially when you need to remain warm and need protection against the elements. A windbreaker jacket is a key piece of gear for any outdoor enthusiast, and Stio offers a collection of high-quality wind jackets that are sure to exceed your expectations. Our jackets are made with advanced materials and construction techniques to deliver superior performance. They are designed to block wind and resist moisture, making them ideal for a variety of outdoor activities, such as trail running, hiking, cycling, skiing, and snowboarding. And all of our products are designed and tested in the mountains, so you know they are ready for all of your trail adventures.

One of the standout features of Stio's windbreaker jackets is their versatility. Many of them are designed to be highly packable, so you can easily stow them away when not in use. This makes them a great choice for travel or for when you just need an extra layer of protection that won't weigh you down.

Our windbreaker jackets also come in a range of styles and colors, so you can find the perfect jacket to suit your personality and preferences. fashion-forward details mean you can easily transition from trail to happy hour. From bold, eye-catching designs to classic, understated looks, there's a wind jacket that's right for everyone at Stio.

In addition to their exceptional quality and style, our windbreaker jackets are also backed by our company's commitment to ethical manufacturing practices. We take great care to source materials responsibly and to minimize our impact on the environment in our journey toward sustainability.

If you're in the market for a new windbreaker jacket, Stio is the perfect place to start your search. With our unbeatable combination of performance, style, environmentally conscious practices, and ethics, our windbreaker jackets are sure to become a go-to piece of gear for all your outdoor adventures.

Shop our men's and women's selection of durable, breathable jackets.

FAQs About Getting a Wind Jacket for Hiking

Why should I choose a wind jacket over an insulated jacket?

A wind jacket or windbreaker jacket is designed primarily to resist wind, while insulated jackets focus on retaining heat. Windbreaker jackets are generally made from thin fabrics, making them lightweight and highly breathable, perfect for high-energy activities like hiking. Insulated jackets, on the other hand, tend to be bulkier and may not be as comfortable during intense physical activities like long treks or trail running. Your choice between the two depends on your specific needs and the conditions in which you'll be using the jacket.

What is the difference between a wind jacket and a rain jacket?

Though both wind and rain jackets provide weather protection, they are designed for different purposes. Windbreaker jackets focus mainly on wind protection and are typically more breathable than rain jackets, ensuring you stay comfortable during hikes in windy conditions. Rain jackets are designed to keep you dry in wet conditions, offering greater levels of water protection than windbreaker jackets. A windbreaker jacket can provide some protection against moisture, but these levels are generally lower than what is offered by a purpose-built rain jacket.

Can I use a wind jacket for other activities like mountain biking or trail running?

Absolutely! Many wind jackets are versatile enough to be used for various high-intensity activities, like biking or running. Look for windbreaker jackets designed to cater to the needs of both mountain bikers and trail runners, with features like breathable mesh panels and half-zip design. When choosing a windbreaker jacket for multiple activities, ensure it provides the right balance of wind resistance, breathability, and any additional features relevant to your specific activity.

Do I need a separate wind jacket for men and women?

While some wind jackets are designed to fit all genders or come in men's and women's versions, certain jackets are tailored specifically for women. The women's model of a windbreaker jacket often has a more tapered fit and may have additional features to accommodate for differences in body shape. The Stio Wind Shell, for instance, has a women's fit available, ensuring female hikers can find a windbreaker jacket that suits their needs. It's always a good idea to try on jackets of various fits to find the one best suited to your preferences and comfort levels.

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