Windbreaker Pants – Best of 2023
November 17, 2023 – Windbreaker pants serve a wide variety of adventurers across a wide spectrum of activities. From travelers to trail runners, from ultralight backpackers to retro fashionistas, this guide will help you find the best wind pants for your needs.
But first, how do we define windbreaker pants? For our purposes, we count any pair of lightweight pants or joggers constructed with wind-resistant, synthetic fabric and an elastic waistband. While two ounce wind pants for fastpacking may look and feel quite different from athleisure windbreaker joggers, both serve the purpose of keeping your legs warm by blocking wind chill.
While our content normally caters to hikers and backpackers, we let loose in this guide by also including some great windbreaker pants for runners, travelers, uphill skiers, and retro enthusiasts. And while you’re here, don’t miss our guide to merino leggings, fleece pants, or windbreaker jackets, rain jackets, and rain pants, all of which block wind.
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Options for Trail Running, Hiking, Sun Protection, Adventure Travel, Gym Climbing, Cycling Around Town.
Options for making a statement! Swishy retro windbreaker pants are still sweet and you know it.
Ultralight & Packable
Options for Backpacking, Fastpacking, Thru-Hiking, Ultra Running, SkiMo, Randonnée, XC Ski.
Waterproof Rain Pants
Rain pants are windbreakers too! These three span from lightweight to ultralight.
Technical Athleisure Windbreaker Pants
Janji Transit Tech Pants
7.1 oz | $94
If you like hiking in trail running shoes, why not consider trail running pants too? The Janji Transit Tech Pants are our preferred trail running pants for fastpacking. They’re stretchy, breathable, durable, UPF 50, and have three excellent and secure zipper pockets. And for just seven ounces, they’re also lighter weight than any traditional hiking pants.
Outdoor Research Zendo Pants
9.3 | $89
The Outdoor Research Zendo are an all purpose pair of modern windbreaker pants ready to take on travel, hiking, climbing, and all your athleisure needs. They are made with a combination of 95% recycled nylon and 5% spandex. The fabric is a tight weave with 4-waystretch and adequately blocks out moderate wind and light rain. We appreciate the Zendos for their durability, quick-dry capacity, and versatility. These are the pants we would choose for bouldering.
Stio PTV Joggers
7.0 oz | $139
Mountain running protection meets athleisure in the PTV Joggers (shop now). These lightweight windbreaker pants offer wind resistance via the Relance 100% polyester weave fabric. They have a soft microfiber handfeel, moisture wicking properties, four way Primeflex™ stretch, and a DWR finish. PTV is constructed with elasticized jogger-style hems and cuffs, one rear pocket, and a pair of hand pockets. A comfy mountain running jogger, perfect for working up a sweat in cool, breezy weather. The quality is high, but is so the price tag, given how simple this product is.
Patagonia Wind Shield Pants
9.3 oz | $169
The Patagonia Wind Shield Pants are perfect for cycling, running, cross country skiing, or any activity where momentum creates a front-facing chill. These windbreaker pants deliver comfort and protection thanks to their hybrid-mapped design. On the front and sides are panels of wind resistant shell fabric, with a soft, stretchy, breathable, moisture wicking back half. We love the comfortable elastic waist band and no-bounce side pockets. The Wind Shields are a cold weather performance all-star.
Retro Style Windbreaker Pants
Outdoor Afro + REI Co-op Trail Pants
How cool are the retro contrast zippers on the Outdoor Afro + REI Co-op Trail Pants collab? Supremely! These windbreaker pants are a “legendary style made modern.” The fabric is a durable nylon/spandex blend with breathability and 2-way stretch. They have a DWR coating for light water resistance. Outdoor Afro is an incredible organization pushing for inclusivity in the outdoors, and your purchase is like an endorsement for more collabs like this one.
NOLS Wind Pants
9.2 oz | $75
No list of windbreaker pants is complete without the NOLS Wind Pants. This retro design, sold to benefit the National Outdoor Leadership School, has been in production forever, basically unchanged. And it’s still going strong! They are constructed with water/wind-resistant ripstop Nylon in hunter green. Features include durably reinforced knees and seat, a cargo pocket, drawcord waist, and ankle-to-knee zippers. Flex your old school outdoor style with these indestructible, gone-out-of-style-now-back-in-style windbreaker pants.
Ultralight Windbreaker Pants
Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants
3.2 oz | $100
Japanese ultralight brand Montbell’s Dynamo Wind Pants are the second lightest pair of packable ultralight windbreaker pants, weighing just over three ounces. What’s nice about these is that the 15D ballistic Airlight nylon ripstop offers a degree of stretch. While they weigh twice as much as the Enlightened Equipment Copperfield wind pants, the improved mobility could be worthwhile for runners and fastpackers. Features include an elasticized waist and ankle zipper, as well as one small hidden “coin pocket.”
Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Pants
1.5 oz | $80
For backpacking, fastpacking, and ultra running, we recommend the Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Pants. Weighing just 1.5 oz in M’s medium, they are the perfect windbreaker pants to stow in any pocket, and provide incredible resistance to wind chill relative to their weight. The 10D nylon fabric is treated with DWR for light water repellency. They are extremely minimalist and delicate, so use them respectfully. A shock cord cinches the waist. It simply does not get lighter than these. Read more in our full-length Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Pants Review.
Dynafit DNA Race Wind Pants
4.2 oz | $130
Designed for SkiMo racing, the Dynafit DNA Race Wind Pants deliver ultralight, ultra packable, wind resistance with full length, color-coded side zippers for easy on/off over boots. We recommend these windbreaker pants for ski mountaineering, ski touring, and cross country skiing. When not worn, they stash up into a built in back pocket. An elasticized waist with drawcord adjustment ensures a secure fit.
Waterproof Windbreaker Pants
REI Trailmade Rain Pants
7.7 oz | $70
A basic pair of 2.5L, lightweight rain duds. What’s not to like? The REI Co-op Trailmade Rain Pants design features ankle zips, an elastic drawcord waistband, and a zippered back pocket. They’re available in a very wide array of sizes for all body types. Good all around cheap backpacking gear, perfect for hikers on a budget.
Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants
6.7 oz | $130
Incredibly light, fully waterproof, great value, and more durable than the competition, thanks for the Pertex DiamondFuse shell fabric. The Helium Rain Pants are our go-to rain pants for hiking and backpacking, and exemplary ultralight backpacking gear.
Zpacks Vertice Rain Pants
Zpacks Vertice Rain Pants
3.2 oz | $149
Fully waterproof, preposterously breathable, and only three ounces, the Zpacks Vertice Rain Pants are top tier rain pants for minimizing weight. Vertice has a breathability rating of 56k, that’s more than than triple Gore-Tex, perfect for high intensity fastpacking. True, this isn’t the most durable pair of rain pants, but we find them to be sufficient for on-trail use and are the current best option for a super ultralight gear list.
Wind Pants for Hiking & Backpacking
We view hiking pants separately from wind pants. Hiking pants typically have cargo pockets, a zipper fly, and belt loops, and are made to be more breathable and less wind resistant than windbreakers. Thru hikers, fastpackers, and ultralight backpackers might consider adding a pair of ultralight windbreaker pants if they plan to do a majority of their hiking in shorts. Windbreakers are the lightest possible mid-layer for situations where it’s too chilly for shorts but too warm and/or dry for rain pants. They can also act as a mosquito barrier. Consider treating them with insect repellent permethrin.
Wind Pants for Adventure Travel
The modern, high tech fabrics used in premium athleisure windbreaker pants are incredible comfortable, stretchy, breathable, and make for great all-purpose adventure pants. They are comfortable for air travel, walking around a foreign city, cycling around a mountain town, going on a short hike or chilly sunrise run, or whatever else you might ask of them
Wind Pants for Running
A good pair of windbreaker joggers can be comfier than shorts and tights and are perfect for brisk, chilly, cold weather runs. They prevent the front of your legs from freezing, while the stretch offers a full range of motion. And because they trap dead air pockets around your legs, they insulate better than tights and can be worn over top of shorts.
We hope you’ve found this guide to wind pants helpful and informative. Lightweight, wind-resistant pants are an incredibly useful tool across a wide spectrum of sporting and outdoor activities. May your next pair of wind pants serve you marvelously on your adventures. Happy trails!