Super packable, paper thin, but still enough wind and rain protection to protect you while you run through the fall or spring
Shockingly good wind protection
Small, delicate zipper
Lack of hand pockets
Ortovox, available at backcountry.com
Every runner, no matter how warm or cold their climate, should have a reliable, go-to windbreaker. Even if you’re only wearing it to stay warm in the first 10 minutes of a run or on long descents or windy ridgelines, it’s crucial to get a dependable windbreaker that won’t overheat you, but still blocks the wind and retains some level of warmth as your core temperature heats up. Though it’s not exactly cheap, Ortovox—a German brand, known more for its mountaineering gear—has somehow hit the nail on the head with this fantastic garment that works well for runners. Find the Ortovox Windbreaker and other ideas in our 2020 Holiday Gift Guide.
Ortovox Windbreaker Review: The Basics
Though the lack of flashy features may make this jacket look like a simple piece, there’s more than meets the eye. First, this jacket is made with a surprising (and unusual) blend of Merino wool with a DWR treatment. The result is something that repels light rain and even heavy winds but doesn’t sound or feel like an emergency blanket. Elsewhere, the light weight allows this jacket to pack down into its pocket the size of about a man’s fist—zippers, hood and all. Finally, the sleeves are a pretty slim cut (the entire jacket is pretty slim, but we’ll get to that), but a unique shape leaves more fabric on the back of the hands for extra protection while running.
Ortovox Windbreaker Review: The Good
Despite no real bells and whistles on this piece, what it does, it does right. The Merino-plus-DWR combo surprisingly breathes better than almost any other windproof garment we’ve tried, and while it’s not waterproof, it repels enough water to keep a runner from getting soaked and cold in the fall or spring. The slim fit is perfect for a runner who might have a thin midlayer on underneath, helping prevent any drafts, while still allowing the body to move. Finally, the hood on this piece is one of the best we’ve tested, and it covers the head well with a small brim and elastic in just the right places—no need for extra toggles or bungees that can often fail, fly around as you run, get lost, or add weight/size to the packability. The best part? If you’re the type of runner who rarely wears a jacket during your whole run, the easy packability of this jacket means you can store it in even the smallest pocket on a hydration belt or pack.
Ortovox Windbreaker Review: The Ok
While we didn’t have any big issues with it, the super thin and delicate zipper (which helps keep weight and packability down) is a little scary to pull up and down as you’re running. And the lack of hand pockets—while not at all important while running—is a little surprising, but of course that would have added to the weight/complexity of this jacket. Finally, the fit is quite slim, so definitely go ahead and order up a size if you have a broader shape or want to wear a thicker midlayer underneath, keeping in mind that this is not a deep winter jacket by any means.
Ortovox Windbreaker Review: The Conclusions
This is an excellent spring/fall jacket that nails all of the basics just right and doesn’t try to get fancy. That said, there is technically some fancy stuff going on “under the hood” of this windbreaker, with the unique Merino fabric blend, the excellent cut of the body/hood, and the ridiculous weight/packability of the jacket itself. Though you may only use it from time to time, you’ll be much warmer and you’ll feel more comfortable knowing that this windbreaker will work well in more conditions than you’d think.