Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Windshirts, excessive?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
Windshirts, excessive? on 09/17/2008 11:53:58 MDT Print View

I have a questions regarding windshirts and rain wear.

Now I just got back into backpacking and am transitioning to light weight. So, if I understand windshirts correctly they are usually very think "jackets" that simply block the wind to help keep you warm. Which is great, but after looking into some rain gear as well I find that most rain gear also states it blocks the wind and is usually thin and light weight as well. If that is the case, whats the need for a windshirt, why not use the rain gear as both.

The specific rain gear I was talking about was the DriDucks, I was in need of rain gear and figure for the price and weight I couldn't go wrong.

Anyways, am I wrong in thinking this?

Carter Hunt
(TheChamp) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Wind Shirts on 09/17/2008 12:28:57 MDT Print View

Most UL hikers carry windshirts in the 2-4oz range. In an ideal world a rain jacket would be the only garment needed. Problem is, they are not breathable and are very easy to overheat in.

Breathable eVent rain jacket = 12oz

Simple effective rain jacket (not as breathable) = 8oz + 3oz windshirt = 11oz

It gives you two different garments to use depending on the conditions for the same or less weight.

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Wind Shirts on 09/17/2008 12:49:54 MDT Print View

Exactly, Carter.

Brawny Silnylon Jacket 4.69oz $61.75
Brawny Widnshirt 3.50oz $46.55


Integral Designs eVent Thru Hiker Jacket
12.5 oz $260.00

One third lighter, less than half the cost and more layering options.

Edited by food on 09/17/2008 12:50:45 MDT.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Yes, Windshirts can be a luxury on 09/17/2008 12:50:34 MDT Print View

I generally don't carry a windshirt when backpacking for the reasons you mention. In general, I put up with the fact that I can get a bit too warm in my puffy jacket or a bit too cold in my T-Shirt. When day hiking (when I'm less concerned about weight) I carry the windshirt to handle that in-between condition. I use an O2 style rain jacket (which breathes very well for a rain jacket) as a bug shirt. It doesn't breath as well as a windshirt, but I save a few ounces doing that. Again, when day hiking, I carry the windshirt as my bug shirt.

Also keep in mind the relative fragility of an O2 style rain jacket. If I could find a wind pant that I really liked, I would carry that, just because I'm afraid of ripping my rain pants.

All that being said, there are plenty of areas where I gain back the two ounces (like with a camera) so I'm hardly a pure ultralighter.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Windshirts, excessive? on 09/17/2008 12:53:49 MDT Print View

The reason for a separate windshirt / rain jacket is that historically rain jackets were not sufficiently breathable to be use when engages in aerobic activities. Windshirts are typically more breathable, less insulating, and sometimes slightly air permeable which provides just the right amount of protection.

I used a windshirt for many years. Recently I stopped taking a windshirt on most trips. I found that the DriDucks works well enough below 55F, and than above that temp that my supplex shirt provided adequate wind protection.


Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Windshirts, excessive? on 09/17/2008 14:08:43 MDT Print View

Windshirts may be excessive depending on the conditions you expect to encounter. I hike in windy NZ, where I probably need wind protection more often than not. Add to that a lot of 'bush-bashing' and you have a situation entirely unsuitable for a fabric such as DriDucks. If you stick to wide trails and mostly light to no wind conditions, then you could get away with just DriDucks. You may find yourself perspiring more on the uphills (DriDucks are not as breathable as good windhirts), but if saving 3oz is worth it to you then, yes, a windshirt would be 'excessive'.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Windshirts excessive? on 09/17/2008 14:52:30 MDT Print View

As Allison says, it's down to conditions. You may not need one if you're strolling along a marked trail. I always carry a windshirt. Almost all my hiking is done off trail in tree-less, mountainous terrain. I can be working hard, climbing up a 3000ft steep, rough slope in a cold wind. Although i'm sweating hard, a Pertex windshirt allows it to escape, whilst cutting out the freezing wind. Any waterproof, including E-vent, would be overwhelmed in these conditions.

Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
Re: Windshirts, excessive? on 09/17/2008 18:06:39 MDT Print View

So it actually is down to personal preference, more options and the general conditions you hike it then. For instance if I were to expect only light rain but wanted the protection from the wind a simple windshirt would do.

I understand the differences between a more tougher/durable option unlike the DriDucks and I even understand the eVent option for the price, since a windshirt and rain gear is more versatile. However I was just confused with that most raingear nowadays is breathable but cuts heat loss, which typically a windshirt is for.

I, don't see myself needing a hefty rain shell and therefore was looking at the DriDucks like previously mentioned and since they are breathable didn't see the need for a windshirt as well, however the weight penalty is so minor that to take a windshirt that is more versatile and breathes better makes sense.

Anyways, Thanks.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: Windshirts, excessive? on 09/18/2008 06:10:43 MDT Print View

also consider a windshirt, even if it's built out of lightweight fabrics, is pretty tough stuff. You don't have to baby it as much as Driducks or the like and you don't have to worry too much about dirt and body oils spoiling the waterproofness as you have to with (slightly) breathable rainwear. Basically, you wear your rain stuff only when it rains which is when it's most needed so you don't cope with rainwear drawbacks any longer than strictly necessary.

Edited by inaki on 09/18/2008 06:12:29 MDT.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Re: Re: Windshirts, excessive? on 09/18/2008 17:18:52 MDT Print View

By Sean Monahan:
Quote: "I understand the differences between a more tougher/durable option unlike the DriDucks and I even understand the eVent option for the price, since a windshirt and rain gear is more versatile. However I was just confused with that most raingear nowadays is breathable but cuts heat loss, which typically a windshirt is for." End Quote.

I think the part of your statement above that is causing your confusion is that you believe the advertising saying the raingear is breathable... Even pricey rainwear only breathes a LITTLE BIT.

Laminates (Gortex) and Coatings breathe hardly at all, and newer "wonder fabrics" (EVent)- breathes much better than Gortex, but not nearly as much as a wind shirt (maybe 1/3-1/2 as much ??). And none of them are breatheable enough for humid days (small moisture difference between inside jacket & outer air), or working hard enough to raise your breathing rate (ie: hiking up hills with a pack).

Craig Burton

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Windshirts, excessive? on 09/18/2008 19:13:44 MDT Print View

I'm about to find out this weekend whether the windshirt is excessive or not. I finally buckled down and bought one after reading all the hype. I've mostly been satisfied wearing raingear when I get chilly, but I agree with others that more breathability can not hurt at all.

The forecast and terrain doesn't really call for for a windshirt, but I'm bringing one along "just in case." I guess it's still a win overall, since my previous "just in case" coverage was a 20oz softshell that is just too much for a good 70% of my trips.

Edited by MissingUtah on 09/18/2008 19:16:26 MDT.

Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
Re: Re: Re: Windshirts, excessive? on 09/19/2008 11:20:22 MDT Print View


I think you may be right, its understandable that different fabrics breathe different. I guess the only way it will be decided is just to get out there and experience it.

I am just too much of a planner I guess and like to have everything worked out ahead of time.

Jason Klass
(jasonklass) - F

Locale: Parker, CO
Re: Windshirts, excessive? on 09/19/2008 23:01:12 MDT Print View

I use Driducks for all of the reasons you outlined. So far, I'm happy with them.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Windshirts, excessive? on 09/20/2008 04:45:35 MDT Print View


That's the key point. When the wind is blowing, a really light windshirt is fantastic. With a thin baselayer underneath it, you can handle quite a range of conditions and not get sweaty like when you wear a rainjacket.

Also, if you use a poncho tarp for your rain gear, then a windshirt gives you something to wear if you set up the tarp in the rain or need to leave your tarp for various reasons.

victoria maki
(clt1953) - F

Locale: northern minnesota
re:wind shirts on 09/20/2008 05:20:49 MDT Print View

speaking of wind shirts. any women out there own a marmot ion? if so, how do you like it? am looking to buy one...does the hood detach?

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
why i'm not a fan of windshirts on 09/20/2008 08:33:18 MDT Print View

I've owned various different windshirts and currently have and use a very nice Patagonia one. I'm not much of a fan any more and it comes on only a limited number of trips. The thing that I like most about it is how "cool" (as in sweet) it is. A 3 ounce jacket is just neat.

Performance and system wise though, windshirts generally don't make sense to me. If it is cold and windy, and I'm cold while hiking in a baselayer, it's always cold enough for me to wear my rain jacket (7 ounces) without overheating. Simple as that. If it is not cold enough to wear my rain jacket as wind protection, it's not cold enough to need any sort of jacket. I simply don't go from cold to hot by putting on a rain jacket. I go from cold to warm, and that is good. Same idea, if it is warmish and I put on my rain jacket to block the wind, then I'll get hot. But why do I need a windshirt for warmish conditions? I don't. Add to that the fact that none of my windshirts have blocked the wind as well as my rain jackets....

This being said. I do tend to delayer and relayer lightly more often while wearing a rainjacket as a windshirt. No big deal.

I do bring and enjoy my windshirt if I know that it's going to be very windy and I'm likely to wear it all the time. I those conditions I like the luxury of delayering less. Plus my windshirt is just cool (which is why I think most people buy them). So, I'm currently coming upon windshirt season. Fall and winter sees the most use for it. Especially in dayhiking.

I no longer bring my windshirt on any long distance hikes. It's not worth the weight. But I do have it available to be sent for the shoulder seasons.

Now, windPANTs, that's another "cool" piece of gear I'm interested in buying ;)

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Windshirts excessive? on 09/20/2008 09:10:52 MDT Print View

I can't help but think that some folk don't understand what a windshirt is for. Say you set out to climb a 3,000 ft mountain slope. The climb might take you 2 or 3 hours. When you are working hard, your body produces sweat to cool you down by evaporative heat loss.
This is fine in warm weather.
Climb that same slope in temps nearer freezing, with a steady 10-20mph wind. You will still be sweating, but the cold wind will chill you pretty quickly, maybe dangerously so.
Of course you can put on your rain jacket to cut out the wind. You will still be sweating, but the sweat has no place to go. Even the most breathable waterproof shell can't cope with the sweat produced by 2 or 3 hours of hard work. Your clothing then becomes saturated with sweat. At best this is uncomfortable, in winter, maybe dangerous.
So you put on your windshirt in place of the rainshell. Good windshirts are made out of something like Pertex Quantum or similar. I prefer as little DWR as possible. Your sweat is wicked into the windshirt from your lower layers. It then spreads out on the outside to evaporate off. The dense weave of the windshirt allows this to happen, but still cuts the wind.
If you never encounter cold temps or wind, or you never work hard enough to raise a sweat, then leave the windshirt behind.
For myself, it's the most used item of outdoor clothing i have, and i wouldn't hike without one.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
windshirt on 09/20/2008 09:40:59 MDT Print View

Sounds correct in theory. And a windshirt still doesn't seem all that important (as a safety item??!?) in my actual experience.

Winter time.... yes, I use windshirts in the winter. But they're softshells a different beast.

My hiking shirt gets wet from perspiration. No big deal.

Edited by Found on 09/20/2008 09:41:31 MDT.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Windshirts excessive? on 09/20/2008 10:02:43 MDT Print View

Nothing to do with theory, but 30 years of practical mountain experience.
You've got me confused Jack.
"Windshirts in winter are softshell."
No they're not, they're windshirts! :)

John Sixbey
(Wolfeye) - F
my 2 cents on 09/20/2008 12:11:19 MDT Print View

I currently use a single, breathable rainjacket, and the brand I have now is Cabela's Space Rain (8 oz). People say rainwear isn't breathable enough to use as windwear, but I wonder if these people have ever given quality rainwear a chance.

Not to sound condescending, I'm perfectly happy with my choice and have never felt too sweaty when I use it. I'll probably never buy another windshirt. They're one of those things that would end up sitting in my bag unused if I packed it.