There’s nothing better than getting outside and spending time surrounded by and appreciating the beauty and wonder of Mother Nature, but the weather may not always be on your side. The wall-to-wall sunshine and blue skies that inspired you to explore the great outdoors can quickly take a turn, and without warning, you can end up being swept up in gusty winds, drizzle, or even a downpour.
When you’re planning on spending time in the great outdoors, as the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry; in other words, it’s always a good idea to bring along anything that you may need on your journey. Water and snacks are always a wise idea, even if you’re just going for a short jaunt, but there’s something else that you should toss in your backpack or around your waste, too: a windbreaker. While this garment can certainly come in handy, as it can shield you from chilly winds, but if the heavens open up and you end up getting stuck in a downpour or even just a light drizzle, you may be wondering if your windbreaker will keep you dry. To find out, keep on reading.
What is a Windbreaker?
First, let’s take a minute to define what a windbreaker is. It’s a style of jacket that is designed to keep the wearer warm, particularly on windy days. What distinguishes a windbreaker from other types of jackets is that the fit usually tends to be tight and the cuffs around the wrists and the waistband are usually elasticized. These elements make it possible to tighten the jacket, thus blocking out cool winds; hence the name, “windbreaker”.
Waterproof vs. Water-Resistance
Most windbreakers are designed to be water-resistant, not waterproof. But what does that mean? What’s the difference between the two? Well, it’s pretty simple, actually; as the name implies, when something is waterproof, it is made of materials that have been treated with agents that prevent water from seeping into the fabric. Instead of being absorbed into the fabric, the moisture will essentially ball up and roll off. As a result, not only do waterproof garments stay relatively dry, but they also help to keep the parts of the body that are covered by the fabric dry; while a few drips or drops may make their way through, overall, you will remain relatively dry. Water-resistant fabrics, on other hand, are also treated with agents that help to minimize the penetration of moisture; however, they cannot completely resist the moisture. In the event that the fabric is exposed to water, it will absorb it to some degree, but you will remain somewhat dry underneath.
To further illustrate, if you’re stuck in a downpour, a waterproof jacket will keep you drier than a water-resistant jacket. As such, a windbreaker won’t keep you completely dry, but it will provide you with a pretty decent level of protection against any moisture that may come your way. It should be noted that modern-day water-resistant materials, including those that windbreakers are made of, are thoughtfully made. The material that they’re constructed of is very tightly woven, and they’re treated with agents that allow water to collect on the surface and roll off, thereby keeping you pretty dry. With that said, there does come a point where, like all water-resistant garments, windbreakers will no longer be able to withstand the moisture, and it will penetrate the material.
Why Are Windbreakers Water-Resistant and Not Waterproof?
You might be thinking that a garment that is supposed to protect you from the elements would be waterproof and not water-resistant. Initially, that may seem to make sense; however, there’s actually a good reason why windbreakers aren’t waterproof, but rather, are water-resistant.
The primary reasoning behind this is because of breathability. As you can probably imagine, waterproof garments, like a ski jacket and snow pants, are heavy and bulky. While they do a great job of keeping you dry, they aren’t very breathable and they can end up making you sweaty.
Since windbreakers are usually intended to be worn by people who are partaking in outdoor activities that involve a good bit of movement, such as hiking or climbing, chances are, you’re going to end up sweating. If you were wearing a waterproof jacket, while you might stay dryer in the rain, you’ll end up getting soaked with sweat. That kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Sweating is no fun, especially when you’re partaking in activities that involve physical activity; it can make you feel downright uncomfortable, not to mention a pretty gamey (that’s a nice way of saying “stinky”).
Because windbreakers are water-resistant, they’re much lighter and a lot more breathable. They also provide you with a good deal of warmth when you need it, but they also help to prevent you from overheating and sweating. They also offer a pretty generous degree of moisture resistance. In other words, when you’re wearing a windbreaker during your outdoor adventures, you can rest assured that you will remain comfortable, cool, and relatively dry.
Why Should I Choose a Windbreaker?
While a windbreaker may not be able to provide everything you need (what can do that, anyway?), there are a lot of reasons why you should choose to wear – or bring along – a windbreaker on your outdoor adventures. Here’s a look at some of the benefits that a windbreaker provides and why it’s considered essential outdoor gear.