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using a windshirt in the rain
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Theron Rohr
(theronr) - F

Locale: Los Angeles, California
using a windshirt in the rain on 06/05/2008 20:05:42 MDT Print View

I'm planning on getting back into backpacking which I did a lot of 20 years ago in high school. I was confused by all these soft shells you can get now until I found this article about the origins of soft shells that explains that the idea was to replace all traditional layers with one...

Having read this I went out and got a Marmot DriClime windshirt. I'd like to try this as an only layer in the Sierras this summer. (I have never been to the Sierras except briefly to Yosemite but I'm guessing it will be mild-ish alpine temps.) The concept as I understand it is that the windshirt does not require a seperate rain jacket. It should soak through in steady rain but as long as you are active it should keep you warm and then dry out fast once the rain has stopped. The only problem is I can't really test it out much here in LA - it probably won't rain again for months!

Does anyone actually use the DriClime as a single layer and expect it to get wet in rain? That seems to be the designed intent but almost every review i've read treats it as just another light layer that requires a rain jacket on top.

Edited by theronr on 06/05/2008 20:17:25 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: using a windshirt in the rain on 06/05/2008 20:57:39 MDT Print View

The DriClime windshirt is not waterproof therefore is not a "rainjacket", so if you don't mind getting soaked in a downpour then it will work fine. As an "only layer" it will also be too hot much of the time, so I hope you plan on bringing some kind of cooler shirt to wear underneath???

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: using a windshirt in the rain on 06/05/2008 21:08:50 MDT Print View

I think of softshells and windshirts as two different classes of gear.

I consider softshells to be warm, often heavy, stretchy, breathable, water resistant garments that accel in high exertion activities like skiing or snowshoeing. Many weigh a pound or more, but they are made of very durable fabrics.

I consider good windshirts to be ultralight, wind resistant, breathable, water resistant garments that accel at blocking the wind and light precip. They add a surprising amount of warmth because of the evaporative cooling that they prevent. The lightest ones weigh only a few ounces.

I use a really light breathable windshirt, the Patagonia Houdini, which will repel light rain. I have never relied on it in steady soaking rain. Wearing it in a soaking rain seems to be different than most people's typical use, and I would fear the amount of energy my body would burn trying to dry it out again, particularly if it were windy.

I do occasionally use the soak-through theory for shoes. I wear highly breathable trail shoes and midweight wool socks. If I have a stream or river crossing, I just let my shoes and socks get wet, and then I walk them dry. BUT, I always carry one extra pair of dry socks in case they don't dry soon enough.

Edited by jbrinkmanboi on 06/06/2008 01:11:05 MDT.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Wind shirt in the rain on 06/05/2008 21:17:06 MDT Print View

In the summer in the Sierras in rarley gets cold or chilly in the afternoon thunderstorms. I recomened the simple but eye turning UMBRELLA. You can ware a very light breathable Wind shirt and then hike happely down the trail. Not over heating because you have no rain hood on or hat. Montbell makes a 5.5oz umbrella and Golite makes a 8oz. Check it out!!! Goodluck

Theron Rohr
(theronr) - F

Locale: Los Angeles, California
DriClime as rain jacket on 06/05/2008 22:26:01 MDT Print View

I realize the DriClime is not waterproof. I understood that it should act like a wetsuit: get soaked, but only retain a small amount of water which your body heat will keep warm. (I got a snug fit so when its worn next to skin this effect should be maximized.) In principle you should remain comfortable whether its wet or dry and not get chilled. This supposes you are moving around of course. In camp you would have to be in your tent or wear something else when its raining. The point is to avoid needing to carry dedicated rain gear. In any case I'm not just trying to cut corners here. I think this is what the DriClime (in particular among windshirts) is designed for.

I would also take a synthetic t-shirt as a lighter layer and/or to put under the DriClime. But the DriClime would be the "rain jacket" should rain and cooler temps arrive.

Umbrella? Hmmm, I don't know if I'm quite THAT free-thinking!

Edited by theronr on 06/05/2008 22:52:15 MDT.

Richard DeLong
(Legkohod) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Europe / Caucasus
Re: DriClime as rain jacket on 06/05/2008 22:39:23 MDT Print View

I have a DriClime jacket. It's great, but because of its two layers (outer shell and inner soft lining) it is not really functional as rain gear, in my opinion. The two layers make for a lot slower drying. I think you'd find a one-layer windshirt plus a layer such as merino to be more functional for rainy conditions, mainly because of quicker drying.

Ben Kenison
(discomancer) - F
using a windshirt in the rain on 06/05/2008 22:57:26 MDT Print View

I have a DriClime, and I don't take it out very often anymore. It's too heavy and hot as a windshirt, and doesn't provide enough insulation to justify using as insulation. It would make a pretty good piece of gear for active use around 25-40 degrees if it wasn't really heavy compared to its equivalents: a real windshirt plus either an extra base layer (more layering versatility) or a synthetic fill/100 weight fleece (more insulation). I think you'll find more usefulness out of an extra base layer and a windshirt like Montbell's, a Houdini, or one of the Montane shirts. It's a cool piece of gear, but gets kind of caught in the middle and ends up being not very functional as a result.

But to rely on the DriClime, or any windshirt, as extended rain protection is silly, since it will wet out and soak you. Like any windshirt though, it will stand up to light, temporary showers.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: using a windshirt in the rain on 06/06/2008 01:05:15 MDT Print View

Given the summer conditions in the sierras.. just taking a marmot driclime windshirt might would pretty well. It typically doesn't rain that long, so there is a fair chance that the the rain won't even soak through. I have found that the driclime shirt dries quick quickly. So long as you are in you bag or under your quilt an hour or two after sunset, it should provide enough insulation.

I have not warn a driclim when I am expecting a lot of rain. I have worn it's near cousin... the Rab Vapor Trail in cool, continuous rainy conditions. My experience is that I have some moisture gets in, but the micro climate near my skin is pretty good providing I am moving pretty activity.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Give it a try. on 06/06/2008 02:00:24 MDT Print View


I'd be interested in seeing how this works out, since I just bought two of these on ebay for my wife and son. (Both BNWT, one was $10, and one was $0.99, in case Dale is reading) I've also read the Psychovertical article, and have a few friends who've used Buffalo shirts very comfortably in wet splodgy Australian and Scottish snow.

Why not pick a day when it's a pretty similar temp to what you expect, with a little wind. Go jump under the shower for ten minutes, then walk around outside until it dries out. This should be a fairly realistic test of what to expect.

I'm predicting that:

You'll get wet under the shower (although this may take a while with new DWR)

You'll feel pretty warm and dry against your skin within about 3-5 min of getting out.

The Driclime will be dry within about 15-20 min.

Anyone want to put in their own predictions?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: using a windshirt in the rain on 06/06/2008 21:05:52 MDT Print View

You might want to take a look at the O2 Rainshield. It is a WPB, very breathable, rain jacket that weighs ~5.5 oz. The only downsides are that it is easily torn by sharp objects, which shouldn't be a problem in the Sierra unless you are planning on bushwhacking, and its gawdawful bright yellow color. It's also very cheap. I got one online 2 years ago for $30. It easily doubles as a windshirt, BTW.

Theron Rohr
(theronr) - F

Locale: Los Angeles, California
Re: Give it a try. on 06/06/2008 21:25:24 MDT Print View

Ok so I did a test. I ran the shower all over the jacket. Water just beaded up on the outside but I soaked the inside. I put it on and it did warm up pretty quick. After it stopped dripping all over the place I went outside and walked around a bit. It was warm out (70sF?)and there wasn't really any breeze and it didn't dry out during the maybe 15 mins I had it on. I did notice however that my skin seemed to be humid but not really wet. Most of the water just ran out the bottom of the jacket. Very little is actually held in the inner liner material. I imagine an undershirt would act to hold in much more water next to your skin.

This probably wasn't the greatest test because of the conditions here. Also it sounds like just the water resistance of this jacket will suffice for the Sierras in summer. I think it will require colder conditions for a better test.

Theron Rohr
(theronr) - F

Locale: Los Angeles, California
Re: Re: Give it a try. on 06/06/2008 22:49:37 MDT Print View

BTW in case anyone is interested in this whole concept here is a nice explanation from a UK website:

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Windshirt inthe Rain on 06/06/2008 23:22:50 MDT Print View

Don't foreget the UMBRELLA!!!!!

Max Hoagland
(maxhoagland) - F
Re: using a windshirt in the rain on 06/07/2008 00:43:02 MDT Print View

I grew up using windshirts instead of raincoats, mostly because of their lightweight, versatility, and breathability. You can throw on a windshirt and be totally comfortable in so many different climates. I have also been completely soaked in a couple of different windshirts over the years and can say that they are definitely better than nothing, most of the time my shirt stays dry on the inside. I would never go backpacking with just a windshirt, always take some waterproof/resistant raingear. I would (and have) however, go on virtually any warm weather day hike, with just a windshirt.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: using a windshirt in the rain on 06/07/2008 01:07:37 MDT Print View

I carry a 4 oz windshirt on my non-winter day hikes -- where it doubles as both wind and rain jacket. No biggie if it rains, since the car is just a few hours away.

But on overnights or multi-day hikes, I would carry a waterproof/highly breathable rain jacket instead. I would not want my shell layer to be just a "temporary barrier" against rain anymore than I would want my shelter to be just a temporary barrier! On these trips, my rain jacket will double as my wind jacket -- I don't carry both.

Edited by ben2world on 06/07/2008 01:09:59 MDT.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: using a windshirt in the rain on 06/07/2008 08:16:47 MDT Print View

I gave up on windshirts when I discovered DriDucks. It breathes so well that I can use it for bug TEXAS, no less! Of course, it is windproof as well as waterproof. The presumed downside if the perception that DriDucks (and DuraFab rainsuits and ponchos - the same material) are not durable. I have used one set all the way through the Appalachian Trail, then used the same set again for trailbuilding with the Konnarock crew. I still have not torn this stuff up even though it SEEMS no more sturdy than double-layer toilet paper. The one small hole is patched (permanently, it seems) with duct tape.

Huzefa Siamwala
(huzefa) - M
using a windshirt in the rain on 07/17/2008 11:57:41 MDT Print View

I think this is an very interesting topic and would love some more comments.

On my hike last weekend it was raining heavily. Actually wind + rain. This was first exprience with hiking in cool very windy, rainy weather. I was wearing just my Nike poly wicking tshirt -no raingear. I was obviously soaked through. I found that when I stopped for a while I was loosing a lot of heat. I probably wringed my tshirt a thousand times. But when active I found that with neck zipped up I was warm. Actually I had to zipped down to ventilate after sometime even thought the tshirt was soaked with water.

My guess is that temp were around 20C on the top. I want to extend this line of thought to lower temps down to freezing.

Is it possible? Anyone done this?

Lets say I am wearing a wool base layer shirt, 100 fleece jacket, WR supplex shorts, windshirt and its near freezing out there with rain and wind. My idea is that I fast hike for a few hours at enough pace to keep myself warm. Then take a shelter, remove my wet cloths and put on something dry warm, wring out my wet clothing, have some food, put on the clothes back and hike again.

Any thoughts?

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: using a windshirt in the rain on 07/17/2008 13:21:22 MDT Print View

I am not sure I would call 20c / 68F cool...

As to using windshirt + fleece in cooler, rainy conditions... it can work. This is pretty much the original soft shell popularized by climbers in the UK. I have experimented with this... but still take my DriDucks jacket as a security item, and because I am often more comfort with it that I am with a warm enough but damp soft shell approach. I have links to a few people's pages about this in my recommended soft shells page.

As to taking shelter and drying clothing... they will dry a lot faster on your body... so this works best with a high loft synthetic belay style jacket. I would also recommend a synthetic base rather than wool because it will retain less water.


Edited by verber on 07/17/2008 13:23:47 MDT.

Huzefa Siamwala
(huzefa) - M
Re: Re: using a windshirt in the rain on 07/18/2008 03:11:59 MDT Print View

>I am not sure I would call 20c / 68F cool...

I think understand what you mean. It was more like pleasant, only if it had it not been for the rain and wind.

>As to taking shelter and drying clothing... they will dry a lot faster on your body... so this works best with a high loft synthetic belay style jacket.

Do you mean that I should continue wearing my damp clothes when taking a break. That wouldnt make sense to me. When inactive body will lose more heat through damp clothes then it can produce. Even if I wear a high loft jacket I would still lose a waste a lot of heat. can you clarify?

>I would also recommend a synthetic base rather than wool because it will retain less water.

Suppose it were raining continously and I had no chance of drying my base layer. Both wool and poly would be remain
soaked. Now wouldnt wool slow down evaporative cooling and be warmer then sythetic? I mean a very light wool layer like BPL UL merino.

My point is based on Ryan Jordan's post which I have bookmarked.

>> Wool clothing will keep you warm when its wet. I mean soaked wet.

If you are wearing clothing that is soaking wet, the rate of body heat loss due to CONDUCTION is so fast that the type of clothing you are wearing is immaterial, because WATER controls the conduction rate.

If you get soaking wet, WRING out your clothes so that water plays less of a role.

Once water content of clothing continues to decrease, entrapped air in fiber interstices now controls the resistance to heat loss.

Wring out cotton and you do not have this luxury because the interstices have collapsed due to a lack of fiber resiliency (e.g., a lack of "springiness") and you don't recover your entrapped air.

Wring out a synthetic and you recover your entrapped air, but there is still much water in the interstices because the water cannot ABsorb INTO the fiber, it sits at the surface (i.e., ADsorption ONTO the fiber surface). Result: evaporative cooling is dramatic with a synthetic.

Wring out a wool garment and you recover your entrapped air AND because wool is porous and can ABsorb water INTO its fiber, less water is ADsorbed ONTO its surface. The result is that wool fibers release ABsorbed water at a slower rate in response to heat addition (loss from the body) than a synthetic fiber, which releases ADsorbed water at a faster rate in response to heat addition (loss from the body).

The short story is that wool fibers act to DAMPEN (slow down the rate) of evaporative cooling, and heat loss due to conduction via water-skin contact as a result of its absorptive nature (which is different than a synthetic) and its fiber resiliency (which is different than cotton).

Mark, looking forward to your thoughts..

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: using a windshirt in the rain on 07/18/2008 09:06:39 MDT Print View

> Do you mean that I should continue wearing my damp clothes when taking a break


> When inactive body will lose more heat through damp clothes then it can produce

That's where the belay jacket comes in. You wet cloths speed up conductive cooling... but with the belay jacket the heat doesn't travel very far and ends up being contained, producing an environment that dries the clothing and keeps me warm.

If you don't keep the clothing on they will be very wet when you go to put them on again because the very high humidity environment slows drying.

> Wool & evaporative cooling

I there are a lot of theories about wool -vs- synthetic and the beginnings of some data but I don't think anyone can say definitively... we just don't have good data. I have not used wool as much as some of the people here because I have fond that I have a mild allergic reaction to it. It's possible this has somewhat colored my perception of it's wet performance. What I fond what the the synthetic was less likely to absorb moisture, I could "wring out" more moisture, and the flash off was largely controlled by my windshirt or by a driducks jacket. I have actually had my base layer dry while hiking in the rain while wearing a driducks jacket.

As I think about what I do.... If expect heavy or continuous rain when it's below say 65F... I put on a driducks jacket because it works well for me and I stay drier and more comfortable. I go the "softshell" approach when I expect on and off again showers the whole day and don't want to be messing with take off / put on the jacket multiple times a day and/or I am engaged in activities where messing with the jacket is a real pain like when I used to climb.

My suggestion would be to see what works for you by doing done in a day activities or take extra saftey gear on a multi-day trip and see what works best for you. That's what I did and how I ended up selecting the clothing I use.