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Windbreaker vs. Rain Jacket: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 18, 2023
A windbreaker is a lightweight jacket designed to protect against wind, while a rain jacket is specifically designed to provide protection against rain.

Key Differences

A windbreaker, as the name suggests, is primarily designed to shield against wind. Its lightweight fabric makes it ideal for breezy conditions. Conversely, a rain jacket is tailored to repel water, offering protection against wet conditions.
Windbreakers are often made of synthetic materials that are light and somewhat water-resistant, but not entirely waterproof. Rain jackets, on the other hand, are crafted from materials that repel water, ensuring the wearer remains dry during a downpour.
Many windbreakers provide breathability, making them suitable for physical activities where the wearer might sweat. Rain jackets, although also breathable to an extent, prioritize water resistance, sometimes compromising a bit on breathability.
While windbreakers are more suitable for windy days with a slight drizzle, rain jackets are the go-to choice for rainy or stormy weather. Rain jackets often have features like storm flaps and sealed seams to enhance waterproofing.
Windbreakers may come with fewer features and might be more fashion-forward, focusing on style and light protection. Rain jackets typically have features like hoods, adjustable cuffs, and pockets with water-resistant zippers for better functionality in wet conditions.

Comparison Chart

Primary Purpose

Protection against wind.
Protection against rain.


Light synthetic materials, somewhat water-resistant.
Waterproof materials.


Generally more breathable.
May compromise some breathability for water resistance.

Weather Suitability

Windy days, possibly with light drizzle.
Rainy or stormy conditions.

Design Features

Fewer protective features, often more style-focused.
Hoods, storm flaps, sealed seams, and water-resistant zippers.

Windbreaker and Rain Jacket Definitions


A jacket offering minimal protection against light rain and drizzles.
I took my windbreaker since the forecast mentioned light showers.

Rain Jacket

A protective layer often used in outdoor activities during rainy seasons.
Every camper should have a reliable rain jacket in their gear.


A fashionable outer layer designed primarily for windy conditions.
This windbreaker complements my sporty look.

Rain Jacket

An outer garment providing protection against rain.
I always pack a rain jacket for unpredictable weather during travels.


A lightweight jacket protecting against wind.
I wore my windbreaker during the evening walk since it was breezy.

Rain Jacket

An outerwear piece featuring elements like hoods and storm flaps for enhanced rain protection.
The adjustable cuffs on my rain jacket prevent water from seeping in.


A breathable jacket suitable for physical activities in breezy weather.
My windbreaker ensures I don't sweat excessively during hikes.

Rain Jacket

A jacket made of waterproof materials ensuring dryness.
This rain jacket kept me completely dry during the storm.


A jacket made from synthetic materials designed to fend off wind chill.
The windbreaker is ideal for my morning runs.

Rain Jacket

A garment specifically tailored for wet conditions and downpours.
Investing in a good rain jacket has made my monsoon commutes hassle-free.


A light, wind-resistant outer jacket with close-fitting, often elasticized cuffs and waistband.


A thin outer coat designed to resist wind chill and light rain.


A kind of heavy jacket (`windcheater' is a British term)


Can a windbreaker be used during light showers?

While windbreakers offer some protection against light drizzles, they're not ideal for heavy rain.

Is a rain jacket waterproof?

Yes, a rain jacket is designed to be waterproof.

Are windbreakers generally lightweight?

Yes, windbreakers are typically lightweight and suitable for layering.

What features are common in a rain jacket?

Common features in a rain jacket include hoods, storm flaps, sealed seams, and water-resistant zippers.

Can I use a rain jacket for activities like hiking?

Absolutely, many rain jackets are designed for outdoor activities and provide necessary protection against rain.

How do I clean my rain jacket?

It's best to follow the manufacturer's instructions, but generally, gentle washing and air drying are recommended.

What's the main function of a windbreaker?

A windbreaker's main function is to provide protection against wind.

Are all windbreakers water-resistant?

Most windbreakers are somewhat water-resistant, but they're not as effective as rain jackets in heavy rain.

How long does a typical rain jacket last?

With proper care, a quality rain jacket can last for several years.

Are windbreakers stylish?

Many windbreakers are designed with both function and fashion in mind, making them quite stylish.

Do windbreakers come with hoods?

Some windbreakers come with hoods for added protection, while others might not.

Are there insulated windbreakers for colder climates?

Yes, some windbreakers come with insulation for added warmth in colder conditions.

Do rain jackets come in breathable variants?

Yes, some rain jackets are designed to be both waterproof and breathable for comfort.

Is it advisable to have both a windbreaker and a rain jacket?

Yes, owning both provides versatility for different weather conditions.

Are there rain jackets specifically for children?

Yes, there are rain jackets designed specifically for children's sizes and needs.

Is a windbreaker suitable for cold weather?

A windbreaker can protect against wind chill but might need layering for colder temperatures.

Can I use my windbreaker for running?

Yes, many people prefer windbreakers for running due to their lightweight and breathable nature.

Can windbreakers be packed easily for travel?

Most windbreakers are compact and packable, making them ideal for travel.

Can rain jackets be used in snow?

While rain jackets can repel snow, they might not offer the insulation needed for snowy conditions.

How do I maintain the waterproofing of my rain jacket?

Regular cleaning and using specific waterproofing sprays or treatments can help maintain a rain jacket's waterproofing.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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