Spring is a wonderful month; generally it is sunny and mild, only broken up with sporadic showers to drench even the most prepared gentleman. The use of layers is the simple way to adapt your outfit to the ever changing weather, allowing you to be prepared for anything. How can a gentleman stay dry without having to lug a large coat with him everywhere?
Luckily for you and I there is the Windbreaker. Just like Ronseal it does what it says on the tin, a windbreaker literally breaks the wind. Or in other words it protects you from rain and windy weather. Windbreakers are effectively a light waterproof jacket, typically made from synthetic composite materials to keep the garment as light as possible. Usually a polyester or similar synthetic material is exposed to the elements to provide water resistance, combined with a warm, breathable cotton mesh lining inside allowing your body to breathe slightly preventing you from perspiring excessively.
A windbreaker is a highly convenient item of clothing, tending to feature large pockets to store multiple items as well as featuring durable features, extending the life of the jacket. Many windbreakers feature removable hoods allowing you to adapt your jacket easily to the prevailing conditions. Some windbreakers feature cuffs with elastic or pull ties so the user can create a tight wind and water proof fit on the arms.
There are many different styles of windbreakers as is broken down for you below.
Styles of Windbreaker
The Small one
Due to their durable thin material a cagoule or windbreaker is able to be folded and compressed into a small space. This makes them idea for walkers, campers and a must have for any serious festival goer. The so called ‘Kag in a bag’ can easily be pulled out of a small carry bag and put on over any clothing you may be wearing keeping you warm and dry to continue on walking or partying.
The Sporty one
There are a number of sporty windbreakers specifically made for runners and outdoor sporting. From sailing to rugby, golf to cricket, there is a windbreaker specifically designed for your needs.
The Stylish one
Whereas the ‘Kag in a bag’ or a Nike running windbreaker are very functional items, a number of companies make casual windbreakers designed around style rather than utility. These can be mute black with a slightly thicker feel to them making them feel and appear like a high quality garment than some of the sporting versions.
If you want to be classical go for a black windbreaker, as beige or grey tends to be worn by an older generation. Or if you want to add a little colour try going for a brightly colour windbreaker in a blue, red or green which will create a striking image in a spring shower amongst the army of navy and black coats.
Which material should you buy a wind breaker?
The main materials a windbreaker is made from are polyester, nylon, cotton or wool.
Polyester windbreakers tend to be the cheapest, they have superior water resistant properties and are hard wearing, resulting in an affordable purchase that should last a long time, despite suffering a hard life.
Another advantage is the lightweight construction which makes them easy to carry with you, as well as store in a small space. This combined with the ability to machine wash most polyester windbreakers make them a great choice for kids or men who don’t want to put a large amount of time into caring for a garment.
The downside is that they are poor insulators, resulting in the need for multiple layers worn underneath to ensure warmth. This is combined with the a fabric that tends to be unbreathable, preventing water being absorbed which can result in you perspiring a lot when wearing them, as the sweat cannot evaporate easily from your skin.
Again an affordable choice, albeit with a slightly better quality feel. Nylon garments are even more durable than polyester, with machine washable characteristics make them easy items to care for. Nylon garments similar to polyester are very proficient at repeling wind and water, plus nylon wrinkles less than a polyester item. This keeps your windbreaker looking smarter and cared for, even if the reality is a garment that has been unlovingly stuffed in a bag for months.
Similar to before nylon is a poor insulator and is a non-bio-degradable material that is difficult or impossible to recycle.
A luxury option compared to the synthetic windbreakers, a cotton windbreaker tends to be a thicker heavier jacket. It has a satisfying weight to it that oozes quality. While much more expensive (as much as 3x the price) cotton windbreakers are very breathable and highly absorbent making them very comfortable to wear. It’s generally considered to be better to use cotton as a inner lining rather than as the outer shell on a windbreaker.
Unfortunately they lack the same level of water resistance as the synthetic items, plus a cotton windbreaker can ‘pill’. A pill (AKA bobble) is a small ball of fibres that form on a garment due to wear and tear. It makes the item look aged and drab.
Gentleman’s Hint: A waxed cotton jacket (such as a Barbour jacket) is a superior choice to a plain cotton Windbreaker.
When to wear a wind breaker?
The ideal time of year is spring, a month which can be hot and sunny one moment, then showering the next. A windbreaker can easily be rolled up and stored in an office or car boot, taking up little precious space yet providing a useful service if called upon.
Apart from spring months, any tropical or sub-tropical climate which is prone to sudden changes in weather or heat can be defeated by the trustee windbreaker. All round no gentleman should be without his trusted steed ‘the windbreaker’ regardless if he is popping to the shops in a showery spring or trekking through the Amazon in the rainy season.
By Sam Adam Smith #3PG – ‘The Windbreaker’