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I don't get wind shirts
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Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
I don't get wind shirts on 09/02/2008 15:06:45 MDT Print View

I'm new to the wind shirt concept, or to practicing it at least.

I have a new Montbell UL Wind Jacket and an OR Zealot. Neither have had to face rain on the trail, but it rained here in Seattle recently (oddly enough) and I threw on the MB wind shirt to try it out. It felt stuffy, or maybe I should say clammy, -- whereas the Zealot felt perfectly pleasant to wear. I thought the point of wind shirts was comfort, but if the Zealot is more comfortable, I don't see the point if I need a WP/B layer anyway.

Is it that it protects better from the wind than the Zealot would?

Maybe its the particulars of the situation. I realize the MB isn't the most breathable of wind shirts. Also, I was wearing short-sleeved cotton underneath, and maybe it was mostly my arms that were unhappy.

Someone please explain.

-- Shirtless in Seattle

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: I don't get wind shirts on 09/02/2008 15:24:32 MDT Print View

The idea of windshirts is that although they are less waterproof and windproof than a standard rain jacket, they are much more comfortable and breathable to wear while hiking or even just around camp. Because they are usually very lightweight (3-4 oz), there is not much of a weight penalty for carrying both a windshirt and a rain jacket. Windshirts can act as bug protection, or as a more comfortable alternative to rain jackets in windy, foggy, or drizzly conditions. Also, they can be used to complement a poncho.

Rain jackets, because they are more water/wind proof, are not breathable or comfortable enough for many people while hiking or in warmer conditions. I can't really explain your experience w/ the Montbell Wind Jacket. Did you have the pit zips open or the front unzipped on the Zealot? Maybe it is just the inner surface of the Montbell UL is just not as comfortable? Did you wear the Zealot in the exact same conditions as the Montbell UL?

Edited by pedro87 on 09/02/2008 15:26:52 MDT.

Shawn Taylor
(staylor310) - F

Locale: Sierra
Re: I don't get wind shirts on 09/02/2008 15:30:32 MDT Print View


I own the Zealot, but have had minimal use with it. I am an advocate for the use of wind shirts. I have the Golite Wisp Shirt, which I always carry. There are so many varying conditions which affect moisture and breathability. A wind shirt or jacket will not be as breathable as a typical wool or synthetic base layer, but it should be far more breathable than a rain jacket. I think the reason for your discomfort was caused by either the rain moisture getting in or the rain actually clogging the fabric and preventing breathing. Winds shirts are not designed to be worn in heavy or prolonged rain, although some manufactures will claim that their products are.

My suggestion, wear the wind jacket in the wind, and nothing more than a light sprinkle. If it is raining break out the rain jacket, thats why you carry it. You can usually tell when your wind shirt is begining to fail in resisting the entry of water.

I'm sure you will get plnety of technical feed back on this topic shortly fro other members.

Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: I don't get wind shirts on 09/02/2008 15:33:58 MDT Print View

Thanks, folks. From the comments so far it sounds like I just need to give the thing a better test run. I didn't have it on for long.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: I don't get wind shirts on 09/02/2008 15:37:25 MDT Print View

I really like my windshirts but they're one of the first pieces to get the axe on my really light trips and hikes. They're great to add over my baselayer to cut the wind (duh I guess) without being as hot as my WP/B jacket when working hard. I have a few and they're all lighter and more compact than my NF DIAD (6.1oz vs 2-3.5oz) which is great for day hikes and bike rides where serious weather might just turn me around anyway.

But in a pinch my DIAD can serve the same purpose so for my really fast races/light trips where I have to bring rain protection, I bring the real deal and not a windshirt. I guess they're also really good for people using a poncho tarp as a shelter as short term rain protection when it's pitched. When I care less about absolute weight I bring them because they're more comfortable than the true rain jacket.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: I don't get wind shirts on 09/02/2008 15:39:50 MDT Print View

Peter's thoughtful response is consistent with my experience (although I've not used either of the garments in question). Some don't like the aggressive DWR treatment used in many windshirts and intentionally wash it out to maximize the breathe-ability. IIRC Ryan J. does this.

Either option benefits from a wicking type shirt underneath, so I'll guess the cotton shirt probably made comfort worse.

I almost always pack an older model hooded Patagonia windshirt (Dragonfly?) and find it's very effective for fending off wind and drizzle at less than 4 oz. One problem is it's LOUD in strong wind.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: I don't get wind shirts on 09/02/2008 15:42:54 MDT Print View

I suspect the MontBell shirt may be over-engineered towards water resistance, which makes it less breathable than something like the Zealot. I had this problem with a "windshirt" from Mountain Hardwear. Turns out the fabric they used was completely waterproof to the point that even light exertion caused sweat condensation on the inside of the shirt. Sure, it kept the wind off really well (and rain), but did not fit my needs in a windshirt. I am very happy with my Quantum Aero Wind Smock from Montane (sadly no longer available).

Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't get wind shirts on 09/02/2008 16:58:01 MDT Print View

Also, a related question: Is degree of wind protection exactly the same as breatheability (negatively expressed)? So would a more breathable shirt *necessarily* provide less wind protection?

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: I don't get wind shirts on 09/02/2008 17:23:18 MDT Print View

I think it's a matter of degrees--you're getting most of the wind blocking from the fabric, and an additional but much smaller measure from the DWR, perhaps a few percentage points.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't get wind shirts on 09/02/2008 18:11:37 MDT Print View

Not all windshirts are equally breathable. There are some rain jackets which are more breathable that some windshirts. I don't have personal experience with the montbell stretch windshirt and the or zealot, but I seem to recall that the montbell jacket is a bit more water resistant and therefore a bit like breathable than some wind jackets.

The other thing to keep in mind is that PacLite in your zealot has the ability to buffer some moisture. So in some cases, even though other jacket moves moisture to the outside of the jacket faster, PacLite will feel better because the moisture is no longer in on the inner surface, even if it hadn't passed through the jacket yet.

> Is degree of wind protection exactly the same as breatheability

When people talk about "Breathability" it's typically about the vapour transmission rate". The transmission rate is impacted by the material as well as how air permeability the material is. Patagonia wrote a nice article entitled What is Percent of Naked? which describes a way to characterize shells which captures both wind permeability and water vapor transmission. A nice study (my reference to it is broken right now) found that air permeability was a better predictor of comfort than vapor transmission rates.


Edited by verber on 09/02/2008 18:19:11 MDT.

Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: "What is Percent of Naked" on 09/02/2008 20:48:25 MDT Print View

Thanks. Very interesting reading. By breathability I did mean CFM, I think.

Johann Burkard
(johannb) - F

Locale: Europe
Re: I don't get wind shirts on 09/03/2008 03:36:52 MDT Print View

I like wind shirts a lot and have/had Featherlite Smocks and the MontBell Utralight Wind Jacket. I found both to let water vapour pass through equally well but I think the Featherlite Smock is a little bit better at keeping winds away from the body.

I wear wind shirts over the base layer if the temperature is over 15 °C up to 1000-1200 m where the winds get chilly.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: I don't get wind shirts on 09/03/2008 04:12:08 MDT Print View

> I threw on the MB wind shirt to try it out. It felt stuffy, or maybe I should say clammy,
The fabric in a windshirt is much softer, and you had bare arms. I suspect your skin got a little damp and the soft fabric stuck. The Zealot fabric is stiffer and won't stick like that.

Windshirts work very well over another layer. You would sweat less in one than in the Zealot too.