Forum Index » GEAR » Montbell EX Light (5.7 oz.) vs. Arc’teryx Atom LT Jacket (11 oz.)


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Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
dead bird on 12/12/2010 17:10:51 MST Print View

Ya, I'm taking my dead bird back to REI. Can't justify two $$ jackets in the closet. And that's what I thought Eric, just use the DriDuck over it if I need the extra protection. BTW DriDucks will replace my current Marmot Aegis/Sierra Designs rain combo. Gonna drop around 10-11 oz on that deal! Mmmm, KFC.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Wahooo! on 12/12/2010 17:58:04 MST Print View

Montbell makes some windshirts that are really light and affordable ($75-90 and often on sale). I got the Montbell UL Wind Jkt on eBay for $35 a month or two ago and these are often listed but there's none right now.

It's really a question of how much durability do you want in your clothing system and where do you want it? Montbell makes windshirts with 7D nylon (same fabric as the ex-light) and 15D nylon and they are very light at 2-3oz. These shirts work well as a windshirt (ie. avoiding wind chill) and they will transfer a lot of the wear off of your Ex-light onto the windshirt, but they won't hold up that well to sparks or bushwacking. A big spark can pass through these and through your down jacket, so you need to decide how much protection you want. You need a windshirt in the 5-6oz range to really give you a second to brush off sparks.

The traditional backpacker would likely bring a heavy durable insulating jacket, heavy durable rain jacket and a heavy durable windshirt (and more). By using either the windshirt or rain jacket over the down jacket, you avoid the need for a more durable windshirt. This is a simple UL technique to save weight with no major downsides. If you want to take things a step further you can either reduce the durability of one/both of these garments or leave one or both behind. Either of these decisions comes with a more significant compromise and responsibility.

Around camp, either of these garments will do fine to protect the down layer (except from maybe large fire sparks). I prefer to use the windshirt as they are cheaper to replace. My wife put a few holes in her rain jacket when wearing it over her down jkt around a fire.

I wouldn't carry a wind shirt just to protect the ex-light. I carry a windshirt for other reasons, and then I wear it over the ex-light around camp because it's the best choice (less critical and expensive than the rain jkt). If you don't carry a windshirt anyways, then just use the rain jkt over the ex-light. I carry a windshirt because it's the most comfortable thing to hike in when it's chilly out. I find myself wearing it all the time, rather than bringing a heavier hiking shirt. A light hiking t-shirt (2.5oz) + light windshirt (2.5oz) is lighter and more versatile than a heaver long sleeve hiking shirt.

A similar benefit exists with carrying the windshirt and the ex-light (versus carrying the Atom LT). You have 2 separate layers so you can wear just the windshirt if it's a bit chilly, or both if it's colder. You can also replace the windshirt when it wears out and your ex-light will still be in great shape. Two separate layers will also be easier to dry than one combined layer.

FWIW, My summer upper body clothing setup is the Ex-Light Vest (3.6oz), Montbell UL Windshirt (2.7oz), Marmot Essence Rain Jacket (6.2oz) and a really light synthetic hiking t-shirt (2.5oz).

Sorry about the long winded post.

Edited by dandydan on 12/12/2010 17:59:58 MST.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Windshirt! on 12/12/2010 20:58:56 MST Print View

Dan,

Very appreciative of your post. I'm here to research and learn. I will be coming back to this thread to guide me in other decisions I make. Understanding the benefit a l/w windshirt can provide, I will look more into them. I live where its warmer so I might not need one. But I haven't really thought it through enough to know if I do or not. You've brought some good points to the fore and I'll consider them all. Thanks for your encouragement and enthusiasm. It's really infective, if that's a word!

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Learning on 12/13/2010 04:33:45 MST Print View

Yeah learning is fun. The more reading, learning and research you do before you buy, the less times you will regret your purchase and wind up wanting something else.

With pretty much any gear purchase, for me step one is identifying the function I want to obtain (ie. I want an extremely light and low durability insulating jacket for summer use because I'll wear it under my windshirt). Step two is understanding how best to meet this on a specifications level (ie. I want 15D nylon or lighter, 800fp down or better and I need about 2oz of down to achieve the desired warmth). Step 3 is identifying the potential pieces of gear that meet these specs and then Step 4 is choosing the garment by comparing other relevant factors (ie. feature sets, quality, price) that exist in the gear options that meet your criteria.

By really narrowing it down before you even start looking at actual pieces of gear you can save a lot of time wading through a million different options. In the example above, I could immediately dismiss a lot of the light down jackets on the market because they use 30D nylon and I don't want that because I don't desire that much durability. This is generally how I do it but it happens naturally as I read reviews and technical info and slowly develop a picture of what I want.

After a while deciding on stuff like insulation choice, nylon denier etc. gets a lot easier as you gain experience and have a better idea how well you are able to take care of stuff. When I first bought my UL Down Inner I thought I could use it as more of a stand-alone outer layer because I wasn't too familiar with 15D nylon. I ended up disappointed when it suffered some (minor) damage. Now I understand that you need at least 30D nylon for reasonable durability if you're going to wear it a lot without an over layer. Accordingly, I would choose 30D if I wanted to wear it by itself a lot, but I'm comfortable going all the way down to 7D for a garment I plan on not wearing often as an outer layer. There's no need for 30D if I've got a windshirt that I can just layer over.

Edited by dandydan on 12/13/2010 04:35:56 MST.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
I get it now on 12/13/2010 20:02:15 MST Print View

Dan,

I see. It's about a real (light) layering system. And the wind shirt can be used over a lw s/s shirt or in other ways, not just over my EXL. I currently use a 5 oz. shirt (heavy by your standards, what shirt is that you have anyway!) and when I need more protection, whether it be from sun or cold or mostly from mosquitos, I use a l/s button front shirt like Exofficio. Probably about 10 oz. or so in weight. So now I get it. Get a light wind shirt that can do the same job (as the Exofficio) and pair it with any lw s/s shirt and you've got a great UL setup. I've actually been looking for a l/s button front for a while because I use it against bugs and sun. Sounds like the windshirt is a better choice. Will the wind shirt do as good a job or better compared to the Exofficio? Can I use it while hiking? I think you said you hike in yours. If I can do that, that will be an excellent way to go. I think I mentioned in the beginning of my thread that I use a s/s shirt, l/s button front shirt, insulating layer (now EXL), and a rain jacket as my layering system. Really, the only reason the rain jacket ever comes out is to add heat trapping when its cold. I take it for that and the just in case rain. Didn't need it for rain all this year though. So, I'm going to DriDucks to drop a bunch of weight. The equipment I have now was purchased for a Boy Scout reunion trip to honor our Scoutmaster whom had passed away the year before. I got in five hikes/trips before we did the reunion in Kennedy Meadows (Immigrant Wilderness). So a few pieces I've bought may not be ideal, but they served me well this year and have gotten me back into the sport in a big :)way. I'm trying to get myself into extrememly lighter gear now and have been having much fun researching and moving on those items that seem to meet my objectives. So all of this has helped me significantly and your suggestions on windshirts will lighten the load a bit further. Hmmm, that was long. I appreciate your long and detailed posts Dan. I get it now.

-Any comments on an ideal windshirt + short sleeve (s/s) shirt combo, my mention of driduck, etc, would be and are as always, most appreciated.

Edited by WarrenGreer on 12/13/2010 20:09:53 MST.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
windshirt on 12/13/2010 20:11:52 MST Print View

you'll find many of us stating that our windshirts are the most versatile piece of kit we own- yes you can hike in them- some breath better than others though, also some shed moisture better than others, so keep that in mind when choosing

I'd suggest getting one w/ a hood, the added versatility is worth the small weight penalty imo

my personal choice is the Houdini (from Patagonia)- comes w/ a hood, breathes extremely well and the DWR finish is excellent- in the mountain west I often only carry the Houdini- size large is 4.1 oz

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
Moola on 12/13/2010 20:26:06 MST Print View

Warren ... I suggest using what you have now ... You can try usingbyr dri ducks as a windshirt as well if it gets windy

then decide if you need more gear

dont be like me and have closets full of gear ... And no moola for the more important things in life .... Like beer!!!

Hike Ultralight
(HikeUltralight) - M

Locale: Southeast
montbell tachyon anorak on 12/13/2010 21:04:12 MST Print View

The Montbell Tachyon Anorak just got favorable reviews here on the site. Weight: 2.3 oz and is 20% off at ProliteGear Right now.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
More info, cool on 12/13/2010 21:05:14 MST Print View

Mike, thanks for your pick. Good info there. All the things I want (breathble, OK under pack, etc).

Eric, I gotcha there! $$ is harder to come by these days. The button-front shirt I mentioned was borrowed gear and is now returned to its rightful owner. So, I need a l/s shirt that is good in sun, bugs, and maybe to keep a bit of cold off me. I have found that a l/s button-front garment really helped in the bugs. Much better than a l/s tee. And being a bit blousy, read big, it was cool to wear (literally) and the proboscusus' of those man-eater mosquitos couldn't get at me. Worth its weight in gold.

Thanks again. Researching and learning. It's all fun and I'm doing as the old boy scout motto encourages, be prepared.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Good match on 12/13/2010 21:31:23 MST Print View

It would match my EXL jacket. Thanks Rob. Will it breath when I'm wearing it in the sun to protect myself from the rays? I'm in SoCal where its mostly warm or warmer. Need this layer to be cool. I'm wondering if a wind shirt can do that?

Hike Ultralight
(HikeUltralight) - M

Locale: Southeast
Review on 12/13/2010 21:37:36 MST Print View

I do not own one myself, but intend to in the near future. In the full article that I linked at the bottom he goes into detail about ideal uses. It seems the writer reserves the windshirt for Cloudy, Windy, or Cool days.

Here is a quote from the review:

"The Tachyon completely blocks the wind and breathes well enough to stay comfortable, most of the time. However, when the breeze stops and the sun comes out, the anorak gets too warm and I have to take it off."

And here is the full article:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/montbell_tachyon_anorak_dynamo_wind_pants.html

Edited by HikeUltralight on 12/13/2010 21:39:19 MST.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Thanks on 12/13/2010 22:43:47 MST Print View

I appreciate your copying that excerpt for me. I just found this awesome reposistory of all things backpacking a few weeks ago. Had seen it before, but thought it was just an internet store and didn't catch on to the forums and other benefits. Now I realize I do need to become a member. And your thoughfulness is inspiring me to do just that. I've enjoyed allot of thoughtful input from many around here. BPL rocks.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
layers on 12/14/2010 18:37:38 MST Print View

"what shirt is that you have anyway"

I have two hiking t-shirts:
- GoLite DriMove Silk Tee (1.9oz, not silk it's polyester, no longer available)
- GoLite Wildwood 1/4 Zip Run Tee (2.8oz)

Both shirts are very light polyester shirts that dry extremely quickly which I highly value. I can wash these shirts in a stream, wring them out and put them back on and they are totally dry in under an hour. I did a test once in my house and wearing it inside with no activity or wind it was dry in 40 minutes as verified by a scale (ie. it was back to it's pre-soaking weight). Most shirts take this long in the dryer. On hot sunny days these shirts can dry in 20 min. They also wring out so well, they almost feel dry when I put them back on.

When going as light/simple as I can, I just bring one hiking shirt and I wash it daily and immediately wring it out and put it back on. This works well as long as the weather isn't really cold and/or wet. On most trips though I bring both shirts (wear one, pack one) so I can put a dry shirt on each evening and I've got a full 24 hours to get the other shirt dry which is normally very easy to do. This method also lets me avoid doing laundry if I'm just hiking for one night.

One advantage with using the lightest, thinnest short sleeve hiking shirt in combination with a windshirt is that you have a wider range of comfort compared to just carrying one long sleeve hiking shirt. You can use just the t-shirt on hot days, both when it's cool or just the windshirt when it's hot but the bugs are out. Most windshirts breathe quite well since they are really just thin nylon shirts (the ex-officio is probably nylon too). I would guess that a 15D nylon windshirt would be cooler than the ex-officio but I'm simply speculating. So to finally answer your question, yes I think a light t-shirt + windshirt combo will do a better job than just the Ex-officio due to being more versatile and easier to dry.

Since you rarely use a rain jacket, the DriDucks sound like a good option. They are light, cheap and work well. I use a more expensive rain jacket because I tend to spend quite a bit of time in it and I like something that fits a little better.

BTW, GoLite has a 40% off sale right now plus free shipping, so you could get their Dakota Windshirt (4oz) for $48 instead of $80 and one or two of those light hiking tees for ~$25-$30 ea. See the 'Gear Deals' section of this site for the coupon code for this sale.

Edited by dandydan on 12/14/2010 19:00:38 MST.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Considerations on 12/14/2010 21:10:15 MST Print View

Dan, I do the same as you. I just wear the one s/s shirt and wash it in the evening along with myself. The shirt dries over night and maybe sooner if I do it early enuogh and I wear my l/s sleeve shirt until I can get back in the s/s. I imagine that the windshirt would fulfill the same purpose. I looked at your gear list last night and noticed the GoLite articles. I'll go have a look over at GoLite. I really like 40% off too! My primary two hiking s/s shirts are 5 oz. each and chopping that in half would be great.

Do you think the Dakota is mostly the same as the Montbell Tachyon piece that is on sale? The Montbell is a bit lighter but also $73 on sale now. I could get a Dakota and a s/s shirt for around that price.

Also, just found this one another thread. http://www.golite.com/product/proddetail.aspx?s=1&p=AM1119 I know its currently out of stock, but lighter weight and on the wallet too.

Edited by WarrenGreer on 12/14/2010 21:57:37 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Considerations on 12/14/2010 22:11:01 MST Print View

Montbell makes several nice windshirts that make deciding a tough choice. Basically you've got:

Tachyon Anorak - 7D Nylon, Hood, Pull-over, Drawcord hem & hood - 2.3oz
UL Wind Jacket - 15D Nylon, No Hood, Full Zip, Elastic Hem, Shoulder Pkt - 2.6oz
UL Wind Parka - 15D Nylon, Hood, Full Zip, Elastic Hem, Shoulder Pkt - 3.3oz

The Tachyon Anorak is the lightest, but I opted for the UL Wind Jacket because I get a bit more durability and a full zip for just 0.3oz more. I rarely use hoods. If you do want a hood, then it's basically a question of if you want to add 1oz in exchange for a little more durability and a full zip.

GoLite's doesn't list the denier of their Dakota windshirt but they do list the nylon at 48g/m2 which is 1.44oz/yd2. I believe Montbell's 7D nylon is roughly 0.75oz/yd. Most likely the Dakota uses 30D nylon. If this is true, then this option breaks down like this:

Dakota Windshirt - 30D Nylon, No Hood, Pull-Over, Stows in Pkt, 3.6oz

Your preference of fabric denier (durability vs. lightweight and cooler) is likely what should determine the ideal windshirt for you. The GoLite one is a bit heavier mainly because it uses 30D nylon. 30D nylon is still pretty lightweight and it's considerably more durable than 7D or 15D. If you're going to be bushwacking or sitting around sparking fires then the 30D is a good choice. If you're mostly concerned about not getting too warm on hot days, then a Montbell one is likely the way to go. For comparison, most sleeping bags use 30D for their shells.

I personally suggest buying whatever option you think will suit your hiking best (as opposed to deciding based on price). I wouldn't buy the GoLite one just because it's a bit cheaper if it's not what you really think is best. The price difference isn't that big....40% off of $80 is $48 (GoLite) and the Montbell ones at 20% off are $59-$71.

EDIT: Regarding that GoLite wisp windshirt. GoLite's website rounds to the ounce, so to really get an accurate weight you need to look at the grams and convert to ounces. So the Wisp is really 3.2oz and the Dakota is 3.6oz. I think these shirts are basically the same but the Wisp is the older version. GoLite recently changed a lot of their stuff to use recycled fabrics which are slightly heavier. The extra 0.4oz of the Dakota is likely due to the recycled fabrics and because the zipper is longer. If you can find a Wisp then go for it, but GoLite probably won't be making them anymore since I believe the Dakota has replaced it.

Too bad the price went up from $50 to $80. Maybe have a look online at some other retailers that sell GoLite. Perhaps one of them has it in stock. Even full price is basically the same as the Dakota at 40% off.

Edited by dandydan on 12/14/2010 22:20:03 MST.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Sleeping bag on 12/14/2010 22:42:13 MST Print View

Ok Dan. The sleeping bag was a good example of fabric weight I can grab onto. Now, more thinking and research. I really appreciate the synopsis of windshirts. Helps me visualize the individual garments and the merits of each. Seems Montbell makes some pretty desireable windshirts. Thanks for the direction.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
windshirts on 12/14/2010 22:44:30 MST Print View

not all windshirt are created equal ... some are more breathable than others ... i can say that my marmot trail wind is not very breathable

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
breathable on 12/14/2010 23:12:59 MST Print View

Ya, Eric, that's a big concern for me. I'll learn more tomorrow. Thanks for the comments.

Nicholas Truax
(nicktruax) - F

Locale: Montanada
Re: windshirt decision on 12/14/2010 23:54:37 MST Print View

Hi Warren,

FWIW, regarding breathability, the MB windshirts are calendered fabrics. This means that they have been treated w/ heat to buff up their durability, while lessening their breathability. I personally love many a MB item, but own a Pataguch Houdini for its greater breathing. And while it breathes better, the DWR is definitely sufficient for a windshirt. Their are others that also breath better, such as Montane, for example. My Houdini is one of my most used items in my all season kit. It often comes with me over a hardshell here in SW Montana. Love it. Anyway, a light windshirt will probably be an integral part of anyone's LW/UL kit.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Breathability on 12/14/2010 23:56:02 MST Print View

Yeah breathability does vary quite a bit mostly due to the water repellent coatings, calendering and to a lesser extent, due to other materials that are sometimes added to the fabric (ie. lycra). I guess the Montbell ones are calendered because it's the same fabric they use in their down garments. If you wait until your Ex-Light arrives then you'll have a better idea what Montbell's 7D nylon is like.

Edited by dandydan on 12/14/2010 23:58:30 MST.