Arc'Teryx Squamish WindShell Review

A full-featured, high quality windshell

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

The Arc'Teryx Squamish WindShell has everything you could ask for in a windshell: excellent workmanship, simple hood, deep zipper, closable cuffs, durable fabric, and a nice supple feel. However, at five ounces it is heavier than some competing shells.

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by Don Wilson |

ArcTeryx Squamish WindShell SPOTLITE REVIEW - 1
The Arc'Teryx Squamish WindShell has more features than many other light windshells. The helmet-compatible hood has a brim stiffener.

Overview

The Arc'Teryx Squamish WindShell is a light, full-featured windshell designed to take a beating in alpine environments. Its alpine intent is revealed by the helmet-compatible hood, the durable, mini-ripstop fabric and the secure cuff closures.

I have had my Squamish out in all sorts of environments this winter: snow-filled endurance hikes, freezing rain, and howling cold desert gales. My two favorite features in this windshell are the deep front zipper and the soft, comfortable fabric. As you would expect, the zipper, which measures a whopping seventeen and a half inches long, provides an effective source of ventilation during aerobic climbs and warmer days. With any sort of wind blowing, I found the fully open zipper to be all the ventilation I needed to keep me cool and dry. I wore the Squamish on several cold, windy days and did my best to overheat on long, uphill climbs. Only when the temperatures were above 50 degrees did I find myself getting a bit warm. Arc'Teryx uses their Gossamera fabric in the Squamish. This is a nylon, mini-ripstop fabric (1.5 oz/sq yd) with a slight mechanical stretch and a DWR treatment. I was pleased with the breathability of the fabric, which seemed on par with similar windshells. What I like best about the fabric is the soft drape and comfortable feel against my skin. The fabric is less smooth than the fabric in many lighter windshells, and doesn't make me feel like I am wearing a plastic bag.

On one long hike, I was subjected to three hours of wind, sleet, snow, and freezing rain in my Squamish. I wore the windshell all day, never donning a rain jacket. The Squamish held the water at bay for over an hour before finally beginning to soak through at the shoulders. I got a little wet, but I stayed warm all day in horrible conditions.

Arc'Teryx claims that this shell has full seat coverage, but I found the torso length to be typical of other windshells. The Squamish has a slight drop-tail which improves coverage, but I am tall and rarely find garments which provide good seat coverage for me. The coverage of the Squamish was similar to that in my Patagonia Houdini windshell.

The only drawback of this windshell is the weight. The features push the shell to five ounces, a bit heavier than some other hooded windshells. However, this windshell is a superb choice for those who are willing to trade an ounce or so for the overall set of features and quality of construction.

ArcTeryx Squamish WindShell SPOTLITE REVIEW - 2
The 17 inch deep front zipper provides excellent ventilation control.

ArcTeryx Squamish WindShell SPOTLITE REVIEW - 3
Half way through a perfect day for gear testing in the Santa Rita Mountains of southern Arizona. The Squamish Windshell was a good choice for a long hike in freezing rain.

ArcTeryx Squamish WindShell SPOTLITE REVIEW - 4
The cuff closures are a combination of elastic and Velcro and can be tightly sealed or left loose.

ArcTeryx Squamish WindShell SPOTLITE REVIEW - 5
A small chest pocket is roomy enough for a snack, keys or other small items.

ArcTeryx Squamish WindShell SPOTLITE REVIEW - 6
The Squamish Windshell packs easily into the chest pocket, and has a small elastic loop suitable for hanging on a carabiner.

Features and Specifications

  • Nylon mini-ripstop fabric with mechanical stretch and DWR treatment, 1.5 oz/sq yd
  • Helmet compatible hood with brim stiffener
  • Chest pocket with vertical zipper
  • 5.0 ounces (141 g) as measured, Men's medium, Manufacturer's spec weight 5.3 ounces (149 g)
  • Laminated die cut velcro cuffs
  • Drawstring hem with single point adjustment
  • Full seat coverage
  • 3/4 length front zipper
  • Available in both Men's and Women's styles
  • MSRP: $139 USD


Citation

"Arc'Teryx Squamish WindShell Review," by Don Wilson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/arcteryx_squamish_windshell_review.html, 2008-04-08 14:49:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Arc'Teryx Squamish WindShell Review


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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Arc'Teryx Squamish WindShell Review on 04/08/2008 22:44:52 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Arc'Teryx Squamish WindShell Review

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
can Don Wilson name the other Windshells < 5 oz on 04/08/2008 22:54:53 MDT Print View

Nice review, but can Don Wilson name the other Windshells < 5 oz he was referring to? Could he list them in the order he likes best (first line being liked best, etc)? Thanks in advance.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Re: can Don Wilson name the other Windshells < 5 oz on 04/08/2008 23:08:59 MDT Print View

Hi Roleigh -

Sure, I can name a couple. The two other windshells that I am most familiar with, and that are most comparable to the Squamish, are the Patagonia Houdini and the GoLite Ether. Both of those have a hood, like the Squamish. The Ether and the Houdini have full zippers, while the Squamish has a deep zipper, but is still a pullover.

The Ether and Houdini are both lighter, about 4 ounces each as opposed to 5 ounces for the Squamish.

As far as my favorites are concerned, it would depend on the trip and conditions. For simple hiking I would probably choose the Houdini because of the full zipper and the lighter weight. But for off trail conditions or climbing, I'd choose the Squamish because of its fabric weight (slightly heavier) and good feature set for those conditions.

Hope that helps.

Don

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Re: can Don Wilson name the other Windshells < 5 oz on 04/08/2008 23:37:01 MDT Print View

Don, thanks. How does the Montane Aero Jacket (Men's XL size is 3.5 ounces) compare with the ones you mentioned. Are you familiar with this jacket? I have this one. Lacks a hood.

http://www.angelfire.com/or2/hikelight/closeouts.html

Rich Steixner
(cameraboy) - F
country of origin? on 04/09/2008 07:40:32 MDT Print View

I would like to suggest the BPL begin to routinely list the country in which whatever is being reviewed is made.

I used to favor Arc'teryx gear that was made in Canada. I've noticed recently that, though their prices haven't dipped much, it seems more and more of their stuff is made in China. That's a deal breaker for me.

Josh S.
(Stumphges) - F
Thanks on 04/09/2008 09:37:05 MDT Print View

Thanks for this review. I've been curious about this item for some time. The soft, non-shiny material is a big attraction. That alone would be well worth an ounce in my opinion.

It seems that an anti-bird-o-saur bias is prevalent these days (for mostly good reasons), but so far I've been very impressed by what Arcteryx makes.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Arc'Teryx Squamish WindShell Review on 04/09/2008 09:48:02 MDT Print View

I have used both the Arc'Teryx Squamish as well as a Montane product - the Litespeed (a hooded windshirt, very similar to the Squamish). I rank them very similarly in terms of quality, comfort and performance.

Quality: Arc'Teryx has always ranked at or near the top of brands I trust for durable gear production. Even though they have moved much production overseas they have maintained quality and durability standards. Montane I only became familiar with through reading on BPL but have been most pleased with thus far. I used my Litespeed on an 1200 mile hike during the summer of '07 on a daily basis with only minimal signs of wear.

Comfort: The Squamish windshell, being designed by a primarily climbing company has designed their shell with climbers in mind. As Don mentions, the helmet-compatible hood and velcro closures add weight but maximize performance. The Litespeed is, I believe, designed for backpacking. It features a full-length zip, no shape-able visor (which the Squamish features) and elastic wrists and waist. This brings the weight down slightly but offers little to no performance loss in comparison by my standards.

Performance: I did not climb with the Squamish nor have I climbed with the Litespeed but I did hike and bicycle with both of them. Honestly I feel both performed acceptably in terms of breathability (something no windshirt has perfected yet in my opinion) and both performed exceptionally in terms of wind resistance.

Edited by sharalds on 04/09/2008 09:52:26 MDT.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
"Arcteryx Squamish..." on 04/09/2008 10:20:57 MDT Print View

I own both the Arcteryx Squamish and the Patagonia Houdini wind shells.

The Squamish material has a softer hand/feel and is less noisy. For me the Squamish cut has room enough for going over light layers. The long zipper works well for ventalation but the shells main draw back for me is that it is a pullover.

I feel the Houdini offers slightly better weather protection from mist and light rain and I prefer the full length Houdini zipper.

Both shells perform well for their intended use but all things considered I prefer the Houdini. The Houdini slightly lighter, a little less money and performs great. Neither is made in the USA which is unfortunate.

Grzegorz Przeorski
(grzechu) - MLife

Locale: Ontario
Re: country of origin? on 04/09/2008 16:48:36 MDT Print View

Rich, I think that where it was made matters only to you and me.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Re: country of origin? and windshell question on 04/09/2008 21:02:23 MDT Print View

Roleigh -
I have not used the Montane Aero, though I have used other Montane wind shirts. It is probably fairly similar to those I listed - but I would put it into a different comparison group since the Aero lacks a hood. When it is very cold or blowing rain the hood can be a significant plus.

Grzegorz -
Regarding the country of origin, I'll propose the idea of publishing the country of manufacture in future reviews. I think it is a valid consideration.

Don

Florian 3000
(flo3000) - F

Locale: Bavaria / Alps
Seamsealing Jackets on 04/10/2008 01:39:39 MDT Print View

Hi there.

I own and use the Squamish as well as the Montane Aero, depending on trip and conditions.

Windprotection of both is superb. But after a while in the rain, both jackets soak through their seams.

I thought about sealing the seams, but doing this on the outside it will ruin the nice look of the jackets, doing it inside, the stickyness will ruin the wearing comfort - right?

Has anyone ever tried to seal the seams? And if yes, how?

Thanks flo

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Seamsealing Jackets on 04/10/2008 16:37:10 MDT Print View

My experience with windshirts is that the fabric soaks through with any significant or prolonged rain, regardless of the seams. Therefore, I believe it would be a waste effort, seam sealant, and added weight.

For me, windshirts are for wind resistance while being somewhat breathable and raingear is for cold rain while being slightly breathable.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
HOODED windshirts? on 04/12/2008 05:57:03 MDT Print View

If I'm going to carry ANYTHING hooded it will be my Cabela's PacLite GTX rain parka if it's realy that windy and cool. A light Gore-Tex parka always worked fine in the past.

Guess I've never seen the rationale behind a "wind shirt", especially if it is a substitute for rain gear.

Eric

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: HOODED windshirts? on 04/12/2008 13:16:26 MDT Print View

I guess it depends on what you want from a windshirt. For me it's all about comfort. A windshirt allows me to hike in comfort in windy conditions while a dedicated rainjacket just would be to sweaty for me. I certainly don't see a windshirt as a replacement for a dedicated rainjacket or poncho although it's more than enough in light rain.

Jerzy Ostrzyzek
(turysta) - MLife
Re: country of origin? on 04/12/2008 15:53:21 MDT Print View

Integral Designs is making the Pertex wind jacket, which works great for me.
1. You are not alone Grzesiek, supporting local quality shops is important for me too.
2. For total clarity, I would like to propose to include in review the method of acquiring the product under review (some examples):
-Purchased
-Send by Manufacturer for evaluation only (returned after evaluation)
-Send by Manufacturer for evaluation and allowed to be kept by reviewer

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: country of origin? on 04/12/2008 16:01:02 MDT Print View

> -Send by Manufacturer for evaluation only (returned after evaluation)
*** BPL does not accept items with this requirement.
And by the time we have finished testing some gear, the supplier wouldn't want it back anyhow!

Purchasing every item we review is not an option for us: we aren't rich enough to buy all that gear. Sigh!

Cheers

Gene Griffiths
(osteotome) - M
$$ Value of Arc'Teryx on 04/12/2008 18:47:37 MDT Print View

I have used several Montane Litespeeds for which I purchaced for $35-45 (New on Ebay). If the Arc'Teryx is otherwise compareabel to the Montane I think I'll stick with the Montane for the added Value.

Pete Strifler
(pstrifler) - F

Locale: OH, PA, VW, VA
Which one... on 10/02/2008 09:37:06 MDT Print View

Which one would you get (if you could afford only one, and had a trip coming up soon)?

The Arc'teryx Squamish,
Integral Design Wind Jacket,
Patagonia Houdini,
Montane Lightspeed.

any others I missed? I'd want it SOON, and hopefully on sale. I missed a Houdini on private sale here a short while ago... the only drawback was that it was green.

Jon Steve
(JonSteve) - F
Thanks for the review! on 08/24/2010 19:51:26 MDT Print View

Thanks for this review. Now I have an idea about Arcteryx Jackets. Maybe I should have one for gift to my friend, who really has a collection on Arcteryx items. Now I know why he really likes this product!

Edited by JonSteve on 02/09/2011 17:41:30 MST.