Windbreakers are an easy item to overlook. Generally, they all kind of work the same: they block the wind, repel a wee bit of moisture, and generally burn you up from the inside out during high output activities like running. So it can be easy to swear them off. However, two windbreakers available today aim to improve upon this tried and true essential backcountry item. Two of the best I’ve tried that are available today include the Ultimate Direction Moonlight Jacket & Patagonia Airshed Pullover.
As one of the most versatile pieces of clothing you can own I’ve found a lot of use for these minimalistic windbreakers, including:
- Running, of course
- Emergency layer in a running pack or waistbelt for adventure runs with an unpredictable forecast or change in elevation planned
- Cycling (pack in to a jersey pocket)
- Traveling (takes up virtually no room in your travel bag and handy to have when walking around in new places)
- Emergency layer in a commuting bag
- Outdoor activities (e.g., concerts) when going from mid-day sun to cooler temps after sunset (I just stuff one in to the back pocket of my jeans)
Ultimate Direction Moonlight Jacket
The Ultimate Direction Moonlight Jacket is a limited production quantity run from the good folks at UD
- Back vents. This is the main reason I love this jacket so much. The inclusion of back vents really ups the breathability in running specific use cases.
Big ups to the UD design team who decided to include back vents
- Lightweight and packable. At 2.2oz (62g) it’s about as light as it gets when it comes to minimalistic windbreakers and packs down really small. Small enough that you can fit it in most trail-running short pockets even.
The Ultimate Direction Moonlight Jacket is as packable as the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer!
- Fit. It’s a contoured fit just like any good running-specific second layer should be.
- Value. At a MSRP of $84.95 it’s certainly not cheap for a simple 100% nylon shell but compared to other brands out there it represents a good value.
- Underarm gusseted vents. I’m being picky here but a small underarm vent in each armpit wouldn’t add much weight and improve the breathability a bit more.
Patagonia Airshed Pullover
The Patagonia Airshed Pullover takes a novel approach to windbreaker design by letting just enough air pass through it
- Breathability. The Patagonia Airshed Pullover uses a design that allows a wee bit of air to pass through the jacket. And this is awesome. It really ups the breathability of the jacket while still allowing for just enough heat retention. Essentially, this pullover is just the shell of their Nano-Air jacket.
- Dries quicker. Because the design allows a small amount of air to pass through the shell it means both the shell and your base layer dry much faster than a typical windbreaker while wearing it. That clammy feeling you get once you sweat inside of a traditional windbreaker without venting is virtually non-existent here.
The Wasatch Mountains are no match for the Patagonia Airshed Pullover (ok, that’s a total lie)
- Stretch. A spandex jersey material is included at the hem and cuff panels to allow for a fair amount of dynamic movement of the jacket. This is a good design choice as the stretch is needed when putting the pullover on or taking it off.
- Fit. Traditional Patagonia slim or athletic fit here that works well in running situations.
- Value (on sale). At a MSRP of $119.00 it’s not a great value at full retail. However, the pullover has been out for a few seasons now and readily available at as low as $59.00 during Patagonia’s semi-annual sale.
- Not a knock on this pullover but I’d love to see a full-zip jacket using the same design and materials added to the Patagonia lineup.
If you’re interested in purchasing either of these windbreakers, please first check availability at your local, independently owned running specialty store. They need your business and are a great resource for the community.
If that’s not an option, please support the brands directly by ordering from their sites:
- Ultimate Direction Moonlight Jacket (women’s and men’s)
- Patagonia Airshed Pullover (women’s and men’s)
Meet Your Reviewer: Ben Zuehlsdorf
I am an avid running gear junkie. When I’m not smelling new shoes I’m usually running or racing around the local trails in Marin County, California or talking shop with the San Francisco Running Company community of friends. I was once a road marathoner but now have transitioned almost exclusively to the trails and racing ultras the last few years.
Disclaimer: The Ultimate Direction Moonlight Jacket was provided to URP/me for review purposes. Compensation was neither offered nor requested and all words and thoughts are 100% my own.