Why is a Windbreaker Called a Windbreaker?

Windbreakers have been around for decades. You might even picture a brightly colored 80s windbreaker when you think of them. Much more commonly pictured may be a neutral-colored thin jacket worn on a chilly day or possibly by someone hiking.

You may know what they are but find yourself wondering why they are called a windbreaker.

The name windbreaker came from a company in Chicago, John Rissman, that used the term windbreakers for a jacket made out of gabardine that became a genericized trademark.

The term was once a trademarked name for a jacket but slowly became used as the type of jacket instead of the brand or style.

Some believe that the term came from the fact that the jacket blocks your body from wind or breaks the wind from hitting you.

There is not a set-in-stone answer on why the company came up with the name. Why the name has been around for a while, the idea of a windbreaker has been around for many decades. Read on to find out everything there is to know about windbreakers.

Why Are They Still Called Windbreakers?

Just like the popular brand Kleenex™, it is very common when someone asks for a Kleenex, they are actually asking for any form of tissue.

This is what sadly became of John Rissman’s Company’s style of jacket. They are not getting paid royalties for each time the term is used. It’s sad, but it happens more often than you think. You most likely didn’t know about the John Rissman company before this article. 

This has happened to many brands. Many people call all orange crunchy cheese snacks cheese puffs, but that is the brand name, not the type of snack. The reason they are still called by that name is it would be too hard to try and fight to get their rights back. 

At this point, the name windbreaker will always refer to a jacket that is thin or lightweight and blocks your body from the wind. 

Difference Between Windbreakers and Rain Jackets

The main difference between a rain jacket and a windbreaker is the material.

Rain jackets will repel water away from your jacket and body. Windbreakers are not always waterproof. Some lighter ones can keep the wind from giving you a chill but can’t necessarily repel water.

Let’s look at how different windbreakers and rain jackets are from each other. 

How Are the Materials Different?

Traditionally a windbreaker was a jacket made from gabardine.

Gabardine is a fabric that is a smooth twill-woven cloth. Some raincoats are made of this material now. A windbreaker is made up of light material such as:

  • Cotton Blends
  • Nylon
  • Polycotton

Some windbreakers are also coated with some type of waterproof finish as this helps to keep them very lightweight while wicking away water.

Not all are coated, though, so double-check before buying if you need one to be waterproof. 

They are very lightweight but will help to block out the wind on a warm but breezy day. This makes them able to be taken just about anywhere to give you a little added protection.

Some windbreakers even have a bag that they can be stored in.

For instance, some can roll up and store in a pocket and easily be carried. That is the biggest difference between a windbreaker and a rain jacket. 

Rain jackets are usually a little heavier duty as they are made out of material that has been treated with a water-repelling protectant such as:

  • Cotton
  • Microfibers
  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Rayon
  • Vinyl
  • Wool
  • Wool gabardine

There are many fabrics that can be used to make a rain jacket, and most of them are much heavier than those that make a windbreaker. They are also typically heavier and can’t fold down as small as a windbreaker. 

They, of course, do protect you from the rain, but they also don’t allow a lot of airflow. This is a big reason why many choose a windbreaker over a rain jacket. 

Windbreakers – A Thin Jacket That Protects You From the Wind

There are many different types of windbreakers, but in the end, they are technically just referring to a thinner jacket to keep you warm. While everyone will always call them windbreakers, after reading this article, you can spread the word about this little fun fact. 

As a closing fun fact, you can also refer to them as windcheaters as they do overseas if you want, or just stick with the term everyone knows – windbreakers.

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