I've done a ton of research through the forum archives and have found a lot of useful info. I'm more of a back country skier than a backpacker but clothing-wise there seem to be a lot of similarities. I (think) that I am looking for a wind shirt or jacket to keep the icy chill of winter away while I am sweating my rear off on the skin track. My layering setup, some present, some *future:
capilene base layer
*patagonia micro puff vest: for easy warmth through fast layering; easy to vent
EMS primaloft jacket: emergency or cold-as-balls weather. (It is quite warm)
heavier gore-tex or rain jacket: if weather demands it
bottom: (I am pretty happy with this stuff.)
poly-pro base layer
REI schoeller dryskin pants
smartwool ultra light ski sock
My issue is this. When I am skinning or climbing with ski gear I work up a helluva heat with lots of moisture. I go through 2-4 full nalgenes of water pretty easily during a daytrip. I can be comfortable hiking along in 25 degree weather with just a base layer but as soon as the wind picks up or I go over a windy ridge and have to transition to ski mode or perform some other task I am FREEZING! I have experimented a bit. My TNF fleexe back softshell jacket is good for skinning in extremely cold (~10F) weather but bulky and not very versatile. I actually rather like using my mesh-sided old nylon cycling vest since it breathes and vents so well, but bare arms against the wind or light snow can get cold, and I end up putting a warmer jacket on every time I switch to ski mode. This can get time-consuming and cold on shorter laps. I got an ultralight Salomon wind shirt/jacket for next to nothing, only to find that it was as breathable as a trash bag. Within about 5 minutes of skinning in 15F cold I would be soaked; and then subsequently freeze.
-extreme breathability (!)
-a full zip
-a bright color and/or reflectivity, and a drop back would be nice for cycling versatility
-to not spend too much money (just have to find a sale...)
don't care about so much:
-full water repellency (I don't often go backcountry skiing in the rain, and if I know that it might rain I bring a full rain jacket. Gore-Tex for a blizzard.) If it can shed spindrifting snow that is fine.
-ultra light weight. Just something reasonably light and packable would be fine.
-I could go either way on a hood
I'm 5' 11" and 164 lbs. So far I have considered:
Montane Litespeed: Seems unavailable here in the states
Patagonia Houdini: expensive, and possibly discontinued
A friend suggested the Wild Things Epic wind shirts, which ironically are made where I grew up. I am concerned that there are more of a weather shell which won't breathe well enough.
Any and all suggestions would be appreciated.