A windbreaker, or a windcheater, is a thin fabric jacket designed to resist wind chill and light rain, making it a lighter version of the jacket. It is usually of lightweight construction and characteristically made of a synthetic material. A windbreaker often uses elastic waistbands, and/or armbands, and a zipper to allow adjustments for the current weather conditions.
Regular jackets, coats, etc. may include a type of windbreaker as an interlining that can be removed when desired. Windbreakers sometimes include a hood that may be removable and/or stowable. Many windbreakers may also include large pockets on the inside or the outside which allows belongings to be covered from weather such as light wind or rain as mentioned above. Windbreakers offer light to moderate insulating protection, more so than a sweater, but less than an overcoat.
Windbreakers are primarily worn during the warmer seasons when wind or rain are expected, or as part of a layering strategy during colder seasons. Brightly colored windbreakers may also be worn by runners as protection from the weather, and as a reflective garment used for safety. A 2012 study demonstrated that adding windbreaker pants and jackets offer a lightweight but effective means of delaying hypothermia if the user is outside walking and encounters unexpected low temperatures.
The term windbreaker, used primarily in the United Kingdom, United States and Japan, is probably in the process of becoming a genericized trademark, but it is still registered with the U.S. Trademark Office. It was first used by the John Rissman company of Chicago for its gabardine jackets.
Windbreaker is used in the United Kingdom and certain Commonwealth countries, including Australia and India. It can also refer to any glossy synthetic material used to make clothing. Windcheater tops are also commonly known as cagoules or windbreakers in the United Kingdom.
However, the term windcheater precedes the term windbreaker and was originally used to describe a sort of garment that was more akin to a pullover anorak than a modern windbreaker. Unlike windbreakers, which are waist-length, windcheaters tend to extend down to the thighs, and they lack quilting or net linings.
Windcheater is also used to describe a retail item used on the beach and camping to prevent wind from disturbing social enjoyment. Normally made from cotton, nylon, canvas and recycled sails, these windbreaks tend to have three or more panels held in place with poles that slide into pockets sewn into the panel (like many tents).The poles are then hammered into the ground and a windbreak is formed.
The term windpants (also known as "splash pants" or "overtrousers") describes pants made out of a synthetic material with an elastic band around the waist. They are usually lightweight and serve to shield the wearer from wind, and sometimes also mud and water.
Windpants are almost always made out of polyester or nylon. They are sometimes worn as an outer layer on top of other clothing, and often have zippers on each ankle so that they can be pulled over footwear. Some windpants have zippers that run the full length of the leg so that the pants can be unzipped entirely.