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Best Windshirt/Hard Shell Combo?
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Antonio Abad
(tonyabad) - F
Best Windshirt/Hard Shell Combo? on 05/16/2006 13:18:48 MDT Print View

It's a pretty slow day in the office for me and for some odd reason I'm contemplating gear and gear lists. Anyhow, here is what's cooking in my noggin:

IF you're sold on the idea of a wind shirt in addition to some hard shell protection, then what's the best gettup? If I was starting from scratch, with a good 3 years of UL backpacking experience and considering the fact that I hike in the NE, then I think the best combo for me would be a hooded windshirt and hoodless hard shell (W/B jacket or poncho). Since I'm going to be carrying a hat anyways, it seems that a hooded hard shell is redundant (and the hood always leaves me feeling way too hot). However, a hooded windshirt increases that garment's utility (e.g. better at cutting down flash-off, better at reducing convective heat loss in the cold) and also protects your core from the precipitation that would otherwise find its way into a hoodless hard shell (while also keeping you a mite cooler than under a hard shell hood). Thoughts?

For the moment, I am sold on the idea. So taking it a step further: what about a full zipper on the hooded windshirt? Does this really buy you anything extra? Thoughts? If so (and if money were no object and I didn't already have suitable substitutes), I think the perfect combo for me would be a Patagonia Houdini and hoodless Rainshield jacket.

Edited by tonyabad on 05/16/2006 13:22:10 MDT.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
WS/HS combos on 05/16/2006 13:44:09 MDT Print View

You need to talk about what kind of trips you would be using such a combo, as well as what seasons and where. If, for example, you plan on off trail trips that involve scrapes with granite or brush, that Rainshield hardshell is not appropriate and will be shredded.

In genearal, full-zip shells are more comfortable over a broader range of conditions, with a small weight penalty. However, my full-zip Marmot Ion windshell weighs under 3 oz. If it were a partial zip, it might have a .5 oz. reduction or less in weight.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Best Windshirt/Hard Shell Combo? on 05/16/2006 14:23:08 MDT Print View

I just went through a similar mental process. Mine started with the base layer, however. I just bought a Smartwool Shadow's Hoody. I currently own a Montbell U.L. Wind Jacket which I love, but felt a hooded wind shirt would better compliment the hoody. So I just bought the Patagonia Houdini and will compare it's performance to the Montbell U.L. Wind Jacket. All this now leads me to the rain jacket or poncho. Should it be hooded or not? My first thought was that it should be hooded because my hat isn't waterproof. I haven't yet taken the needed time to consider this or to do any tests.

I personally like a full zipper in a wind shirt. The ability to carefully dial in the performance you need with ease is worth the weight to me. It's also about the convenience. The zipper allows me to keep the wind shirt on longer without discomfort. It is a bother to put on and take off clothing when you are wearing a pack, and are on the move. This is also why I chose the Shadow's hoody and Houdini. If my head and neck were cold but bearable it's unlikely I would stop to find and put on a hat. With hoods I can make fine adjustments with almost no effort. Hoods are also better when insects are a problem. I hate wearing insect repellent. The obvious down side to a hood is that if it gets wet you can not un-attach it.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Best Windshirt/Hard Shell Combo? on 05/16/2006 17:33:16 MDT Print View

I stood on my head with that one too. A poncho/cape took care of that issue:

working hard or warm weather: base layer polyester tee-- long or short sleeve.

rest stop, cool wind or intermittent light rain: add the windshirt

colder: add a polyfill vest or a long sleeve microfleece shirt-- or both

wetter: add poncho/cape

Cook al dente :)

I do use a Marmot Precip rain jacket for day hikes-- it was a good blend of function, price, and ease of packing. If you're just going to wear the windshirt around camp when it's getting cool, you could fake it with the rain jacket, with breathability being the issue between the two kinds of clothing.

A windshirt with or without a hood is more a question of what kind of hat(s) you like. A hood doesn't add much weight and it is convenient if you don't want to take your pack off and dig out a hat. The hood on a windshirt with good DWR will buy you a little time if it is just spinkling a bit too. And the rule does say that your head looses a lot of heat. Good for the back of your neck too-- for sun or cold wind. If it gets really nasty, I'll happily use anything handy that will keep me warm and dry.

So I have a windshirt with a hood-- more because I got a deal. I wear a Tilly hat most of the time or an OR Peruvian wind block fleece hat if it's really cold-- nice to sleep in as well.

I found it easier to think shirt rather than windshirt-- when would I step up to another layer past a base layer? Well, yeah, at home I'd put on some kind of long sleeve shirt, which is what a windshirt is-- just a high tech version--- maxiumum function for minumum weight.

I like full zippers on anything but a base layer and I like the half zippers that have come with some heavier base layers I've found. It's nice to be able to zip a jacket all the way open and even tuck the loose ends back under your shoulder straps to get some air. A roller coaster trail or going back and forth from shade to sun finds you never in the right layer and the full zipper lets you fine tune on the fly (no pun intended).

Edited by dwambaugh on 05/16/2006 17:38:39 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Best Windshirt/Hard Shell Combo? on 05/16/2006 18:46:48 MDT Print View

I am not sold on carrying or wearing two shells, although I will keep an open mind.

Up to now, for a local day hike where rain is not expected, I carry a wind shell (GoLite Helios) -- keep out the wind when at rest, or partial protection against a sudden shower. I figure that even in a prolonged rain, it's just a day hike, so no big deal about getting a bit wet (my locale is in temperate southern California).

For multiple-day trips where weather can be more variant and/or don't want to risk getting soaked, I carry a hooded wp/b jacket instead (and maybe pants too). Here, I will use the jacket as both wind and rain shell.

If you are not bushwhacking, you might consider something like the waterproof and very breathable DriDucks (5 oz. for the jacket) for both wind and rain protection. This jacket is no good for bushwhacking, but then, neither is a lightweight wind shirt in all likelihood...

Antonio Abad
(tonyabad) - F
RE:Best windshirt/hard shell combo? on 05/17/2006 13:32:07 MDT Print View

Great replies all around.

Kevin - I would definitely stick to the trails with the mircopore jacket. I've been able to get plenty of mileage from mine with just a little bit of extra care. Of course, I only use it when necessary and so I benefit from bringing the windshirt along.

However, I understand how a micropore jacket isn't everyone's cup of tea. BTW, besides the rain shield jacket and some cottage poncho/tarps, does anyone else offer a hoodless W/B shell?

Kevin, Dale - Great points with the added benefit of being able to fine-tune your moisture/temp management on the fly with a zipper. I am sold on the zipper (um, whenever my current windshirt bites the dust...but its still going strong).

Dale - I agree about the context in which a windshirt should be considered. The other reason I rationalize the windshirt decision is that I make the weight difference up by being able to skimp the same amount on my insulation piece. I end up with the same weight, but have the additional layering versatility and insect, sun, utility that a winshirt provides.

I think the reason why I started pondering the W/B hood issue is my experience with one this past weekend. I spent Saturday apartment hunting around Boston with my wife. We were walking all about in the midst of steady rain with temps in the upper 40's/lower 50's. As soon as the W/B hood went up I started overheating. I just wasn't comfortable. As soon as the hood came off and the umbrella went up, I was happy.

Edited by tonyabad on 05/17/2006 13:33:13 MDT.

Re: RE:Best windshirt/hard shell combo? on 05/17/2006 13:40:13 MDT Print View


Check out the Golite Rage.

Antonio Abad
(tonyabad) - F
RE: Best Windshirt/Hard Shell Combo? on 05/17/2006 14:31:11 MDT Print View

I'm in love. That jacket looks perfect for my tastes. Thanks for the heads-up.