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SELF Activewear Awards 2022: The Best New Windbreakers and Jackets for Working Out



Exercising outdoors during colder months is all about the layers. The best windbreaker jackets—the outermost piece of any weather-proof workout outfit—can be difficult for anyone to find, particularly when you’re considering both function and fashion. 

That challenge is only more complicated for people who wear above a size large, who are often constrained by a lack of options—and even further limited when considering which of those are actually comfortable, functional, and visually appealing. “It is more challenging to find outerwear for plus-size bodies,” Louise Green, certified personal trainer, founder of Big Fit Girl, and president of the Size Inclusive Training Academy, tells SELF. To solve for this, Green says, she intentionally seeks out brands dedicated to providing plus-size options that are both stylish and functional.

Still, doing that amount of research can be daunting, time-consuming, and definitely frustrating. That’s why we’re so thrilled to share four excellent outerwear picks as part of our 2022 SELF Certified Activewear Awards. Below, see our choices for the best windbreaker jackets for exercise, as well as information about what to look for in a good jacket, and how we selected our winners.

What to Look for When Shopping for Windbreaker Jackets 

Since the primary function of any piece of outerwear is protection against the elements—cold temperatures, wet conditions, blustery mornings—it’s most important that you ensure the product is technically able to do that. Often that starts with the fabric. Cotton can absorb moisture—sweat and rain and snow—which may leave you feeling damp and cold. Instead, look for windbreaker jackets and layers that contain both moisture-wicking inners and water- and wind-resistant outer shells, particularly if you’re anticipating wearing the product in unpredictable weather. Waterproof materials are also helpful for staying dry, though they tend to be less breathable, which is worth noting if you know you’ll be sweating, say, on a long run outside. 


Depending on your personal preferences and how you’re planning to use the jacket, consider looking for something with a hood. Try the hood on when you test the jacket to make sure it fits comfortably while you move around. Green suggests looking for a hood with an adjustable string. “Those toggles are really nice to be able to control the position of the hood,” she explains. “Otherwise, it’s just kind of flopping in your eyes and falling off your head, especially if you’re running or if you’re cycling in the wind.”

When it comes to fit, “make sure the item is big enough so that your layers feel comfortable underneath,” Kaila DeRienzo, certified personal trainer and certified run coach, tells SELF. When you try on a piece of outerwear, wear the other items of clothing that you would normally layer underneath to make sure you have enough room to move comfortably. At the same time, you want to feel secure—a good jacket or windbreaker should never obstruct your movement—so make sure you aren’t dealing with excess roominess, either. 

Last, look for pockets, zippers, and other technical features that will make the item convenient to use. Nadia Ruiz, certified personal trainer and running coach, suggests ensuring a jacket has at least one or two pockets for stashing essentials (think keys, energy chews, and your phone), while Green recommends underarm zippers for maximum breathability. 

How We Picked the Best Windbreaker Jackets

All windbreaker jackets considered for the 2022 SELF Certified Activewear Awards had to meet our submission guidelines, which you can read here. In addition to setting parameters around when items launched, we also introduced an inclusive sizing eligibility requirement for 2022. We eliminated products from brands that haven’t displayed a true commitment to size inclusivity, meaning all of our winning products are from companies that carry some or all of their inventory in at least a size 20 or above, with a few exceptions from maternity-wear brands. (This year, we worked to ensure maternity and/or postpartum winners were selected in each category as well.) For specific items that lack a full range of sizes, we’ve provided similar, more inclusive alternatives. We also considered a brand’s commitment to size inclusivity via its public messaging, as well as the concrete actions the brand has taken toward having a more inclusive product line. 

Brands who met the above criteria were able to submit products for consideration. Of the 500-plus products submitted, our judges—a group of more than 40 people consisting of SELF staffers, fitness professionals, and influencers—tested over 300 products. Each product was tested against its respective SELF Certified criteria, which you can find summarized above and in greater detail here. Testers wrote extensive reviews and rated each product. Those who came out on top—all listed below—were awarded a SELF Certified seal.


See the best windbreaker jackets for 2022 below, and check out the rest of our 2022 SELF Certified Activewear Awards here. 

Source: Self

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