Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Value of a windshirt?
Display Avatars Sort By:

Locale: East Bay
Value of a windshirt? on 01/11/2010 16:24:17 MST Print View

Pretty new here, still learning (lots). For hiking in the Sierra Nevada, 8-10k foot range, what's the value of a windshirt?

Seems like if it's cool enough to need that protection I'd throw on my Capilene and/or rain jacket? I have been carrying something like a windshirt, but I must admit it's more to keep my fly tying stuff organized (Columbia fishing shirt), a problem I've solved so I don't need that shirt.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Value of a windshirt? on 01/11/2010 16:34:21 MST Print View

If you are happy hiking in your rain jacket, then you don't need a windshirt. A windshist is good for high exertion windy activities (so high that it overwhelms most WPB fabrics), and a good windshirt is also a lot better for scrub and off-trail conditions where you don't want to shred your expensive raincoat (or fragile cheap DriDucks). I also use my windshirt to sleep in as an added layer, and around camp to protect my fragile down layers. If none of these conditions apply to you, then a windshirt would be wasted weight.

Edited by retropump on 01/11/2010 16:35:30 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Value of a windshirt? on 01/11/2010 16:34:46 MST Print View

For 3-season day hikes when rain isn't in the forecast, I'll usually take my windproof / rain resistant wind jacket -- mainly to protect against cold winds when at rest. My wind shirt weighs 3-4 oz and takes up almost no space (space is a premium in my lumbar pack). And if it should rain, my car is not that far away...

For multi-day hikes, I will bring along my wp/b rain jacket for better weather protection -- in which case, the wind jacket stays home.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Value of a windshirt? on 01/11/2010 16:46:34 MST Print View

+1 lynn's "if a wpb jacket works... stick with it"

For many of us, they typical WP/B jacket isn't sufficiently breathable. I often found myself in conditions were a base layer wasn't warm enough in the wind, but a 100% wind blocking WP/B shell made me sweat and overheat. A good windshirt gave enough protection while breathing sufficiently (and letting enough air in) that I could be comfortable.

In the last couple of years I have found that the combination of a supplex shirt (warmer conditions) and driducks (cooler conditions) removed the need for me to carry a windshirt but I use a windshirt often when not backpacking... and the windshirt still comes on some trips... specially in the winter when I might wear it constantly over a heavy base / light fleece.


Edited by verber on 01/11/2010 23:28:08 MST.

Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Value of a windshirt? on 01/11/2010 16:49:36 MST Print View

I bought into the hype and paid $125 for a Patagonia Houdini. I just never use it. I did use it for 5 days last summer to block the bugs during breaks, but my Frogg Toggs could have done that just as well.

I see if it has any value this spring, but I just don't see myself using it in serious mountains.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Value of a windshirt on 01/11/2010 16:55:41 MST Print View

In the serious mountains is exactly where my windshirt pays dividends.


Locale: East Bay
Thanks on 01/11/2010 17:09:43 MST Print View

Good input everyone. I just got a set of dry ducks and the stuff is so comfortable and light (albeit not too fashionable) I'm going to do a short trip without the shirt and see how it goes. I'm the family "mule" (2 kids ages 5 and 9) so I'm shedding ounces wherever possible.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Value of a windshirt? on 01/11/2010 17:14:04 MST Print View

I think Lynn summarized the value of a windshirt well. I would also add that if you use a puffy jacket (instead of fleece) then a windshirt comes in handy. The reasoning for a puffy jacket is that it is warmer for the same weight. That warmth means you can extend your hiking into colder areas. It also means you may be able to use less of a sleeping bag (assuming you sleep with the puffy jacket). The drawback of a puffy jacket is that it isn't as breathable as fleece. As a result, you need something in between a T-Shirt and the puffy jacket. A windshirt fits that range more comfortably than rain gear, as it is more breathable.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Value of a windshirt? on 01/11/2010 17:19:03 MST Print View

Oh yeah, a windshirt fits in a small outside pocket where I can access it quickly during rest stops to keep the insects or chill off. My raincoat is bulkier and has to go inside my pack where it is less quick to get at. This, again, may not apply if you use a pack with outside pockets that can accommodate a raincoat, or if you don't don anything windproof/insect proof at rest stops. They are also nice to change into at the end of a rainy day when your raincoat is wet. It's nice to have a windproof dry layer at camp that will keep tent moisture away from down gear.

Edited by retropump on 01/11/2010 17:19:43 MST.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
windshirt in rain on 01/11/2010 17:44:28 MST Print View

Could the right windshirt repel the drizzle of spring and fall 'rains' of the PNW? Enough that I could trust it during one of the many drizzle showers throughout the day. I know that is not a raincoat, I'm just curious since it can rain all day long but only accumulate .25inches. Where do you think the line is drawn between windshirt and rain jkt?
.25 inches/ say, 8 hrs?
.5 inches/ 8hrs?

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Value of a windshirt? on 01/11/2010 17:48:45 MST Print View

While I like my windshirt a lot around town, and like it on the trail, I don't tend to bring it. If I'm aiming for an ultralight load, it's generally extraneous and can be left at home. I NEED a rain jacket, I usually need a baselayer, I need a warm jacket. I don't need a windshirt.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: windshirt in rain on 01/11/2010 17:49:03 MST Print View

I think it depends a lot on how good your DWR is. The only windshirts I've used that could stand up to drizzle happened to breathe very poorly (worse than my rainjacket!). But if the drizzle is that light, it may not be worth worrying about. You'll dry quickly enough.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: windshirt in rain on 01/11/2010 17:57:01 MST Print View

I'm interested because I frequently need a wind blocker. Usually I use my Rush jacket but wet it out. So I'm thinking if a windshirt can battle .5 inch throughout a whole day and block the wind, it would be a better choice in function than the Rush, and save a few oz.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Windshirt on 01/11/2010 18:03:30 MST Print View

If it's windy enough to need a windshirt, then I just toss on my rain jkt and I unzip it as needed to get adequate ventilation.

If it's not windy then I've got plenty of other layers I can toss on for warmth that are more insulation:weight efficient than a windshirt.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Value of a windshirt? on 01/11/2010 19:05:06 MST Print View

Funny thing about windshirts: companies bring them in as a summer thing, but I only really wear them in winter. If it's raining, a wind shirt doesn't do a lot of good. However, when it's cold and relatively dry, the extra breathability of a windshirt is great. In winter, my primary layers are a thin wool topped with a windbreaker. It keeps a pretty great microclimate going for me. Cover w/a big poofy down piece as necessary, maybe an extra midlayer. Similar kinda idea as the Paramo gear, really...

WPB shells are just too hot for most aerobic output. Windshirts are a good balance. That said, in most conditions warm enough to rain, I don't really need as much wind/weather protection when I'm on the move. Therefore I don't get much benefit from a windbreaker in those conditions, but when the mercury drops I need to keep things dry, so a light WPB shell goes along. 40*F rain is no fun.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Windshirts on 01/11/2010 22:36:44 MST Print View

I've used mine a lot recently. I often encounter strong cold winds and my only other layer is a puffy jacket that is far too hot to hike in, so on goes the windproof. I could wear my waterproof, but it is just not breathable enough for me. Using a windproof with a combination of merino base layer, possum down gloves and a possum down or merino hat works for me over a wide range of temps.

I also find a windproof useful when facing on again off again showers. If I have only a waterproof I find that I sometimes delay putting it on as I know I will get too hot, then I take it off the moment it stops raining to cool down and then it starts to rain again so I put it on again etc. With a windproof I am not reluctant to put it on and then I find I don't feel the need to take it off gain so quickly.

I also find it useful when hiking in the bush in quite heavy rain. The thick bush can provide quite a lot of cover from the rain and a windproof can be just enough to keep me dry, whereas in waterproof I would over heat.

Finally wearing it over a puffy jacket seems to add quite a lot of warmth, in the same way as using a bivy bag with a quilt does. It is also useful for keeping the bugs off and I have slept in it as well.

Colin Kelley
(ckelley) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara
Value of a windshirt? on 01/11/2010 23:39:30 MST Print View

I agree Jason. +1 for windshirts!

I just got back from a New Years overnight here in the Southern CA mountains where I didn't take my windshirt. All I had was my WM Flash down jacket for camp at night. There was no need for a rain jacket as there was no rain in the forecast.

When we stopped for lunch both days, I got a little cold. My back was a little sweaty and it was high 50s and cloudy/breezy. A 3-4 ounce windshirt would have been perfect. In fact in hindsight, if I'd had a windshirt, I could have done with a down vest for camp and left the full Flash jacket at home. The total would have been 1 ounce lighter. :-)

+1 for windshirts over puffy layers. They make a big difference. I've been comfortable down below freezing with just a windshirt over a Montbell UL down inner. The UL down inner is sewn-through; the windshirt really keeps the breeze from blowing through the seams. I assume the trapped air at each channel seams helps to insulate too, so there would be less of a windshirt benefit over a baffled jacket.

But as others have said, when rain is in the forecast, I usually leave the windshirt at home and bring a rain jacket, typically a Patagucci Specter.

Mat D
(mattiasdeny) - F - M

Locale: Europe
The real softshell concept on 01/12/2010 01:52:13 MST Print View

Can we state that Baselayer + Windshirt = Softshell?

With the main drawback of a shoftshell being that you can't use both layers separately.

Side question: how does the breathability of a windshirt compare against a "real" soft shell? Real being highly breathable, wind-resistant, water-resistant but not water-proof, and allowing moisture to escape without having to turn into vapor first.

Johann Burkard
(johannb) - F

Locale: Europe
Re: The real softshell concept on 01/12/2010 07:22:27 MST Print View

Can we state that Baselayer + Windshirt = Softshell?

Not sure. The soft shells I've had weren't as breathable and also added some more insulation.

Side question: how does the breathability of a windshirt compare against a "real" soft shell?

Pertex Microlight is awesome, I don't think a soft shell can compare to that.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: The real softshell concept on 01/12/2010 08:44:15 MST Print View

> Can we state that Baselayer + Windshirt = Softshell?

Yes... or at least a close relative.

> Side question: how does the breathability of a windshirt compare against a "real" soft shell?

Depends on the soft shell. Membrane based soft shells will be much worse. Lighter pertex/pile style will be about the same. Stretch woven is better. Scroll down the to the graph on percent of naked and you will see that patagonia doesn't use soft shells like dryskin because they think it's too breathable / air permeable.

> Pertex Microlight is awesome, I don't think a soft shell can compare to that.

Actually, something like the rab vapour light is better in my experience. Powerdry liner (approx midweight base) with a Pertex Equilibrium shell. Equalibrium is more durable and water resistant than Microlight, while being a bit more air permeable. I am not 100% sure, but microlight has an approx CFM of 3, Equilibrium is approx 10. When moving fast I don't want 100% wind protection... I want to be mostly protection from wind, but with a bit of air moving to help cool me and help vent the moisture I am generating.


Edited by verber on 01/12/2010 08:56:41 MST.