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Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt?
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt? on 07/10/2012 16:09:11 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt?

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
windshirts on 07/10/2012 22:25:26 MDT Print View

nice piece. too bad no Arc'teryx Squamish Windshirt. IMO hands down the best protection vs. breathabilty out there. I dont even take a waterproof shell any more. DWR works for 4-5 hours in a downpour. I really do like more boreas oody. great for alpine use and spring/summer.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt? on 07/11/2012 00:36:07 MDT Print View

Great article, David. Lots of info and insights.

One question after a first read-through:

Are the measurements in your chart reflecting a size "Large" for each jacket?

From the measurements in the chart, I'm guessing the size for each jacket is Large, but not sure. If size is identified elsewhere in the article, I couldn't find it.

Thanks, and looking forward to the follow-up article.

PS - not in the same weight class as most true "windshirts" nowadays (at 8 oz), but one of my favorites for durability and breathability, is the Cloudveil Prospector Pullover --

No hood on the Pullover, though, which saved weight.

Maybe that's one reason it's extinct now -- no hood on the pullover, and the hooded version was too heavy.

Cloudveil should have added a Pertex hood to the Pullover.

Edited by JRScruggs on 07/11/2012 00:46:33 MDT.

Joseph R
(Dianoda) - MLife

Locale: Chicago, IL
Re: Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt? on 07/11/2012 10:45:09 MDT Print View

Removing the pocket from my Houdini sounds like a fun weekend project, so much thanks for the mini write-up on it. I'm not much of a DIYer yet, but the project seems simple enough, and I know a good seamstress if I bungle the job (and I conveniently have access to all her stuff, too).

Howie Schwartz

Locale: Eastern Sierra
CAMP Magic Jacket on 07/11/2012 12:40:26 MDT Print View

Great article topic and well done, as usual! I am going to put a plug in for the CAMP USA Magic Jacket because I have been using windshirts year round for work as a UIAGM mountain guide and for play since the inception of the Marmot Driclime Windshirt in the mid '90s.

CAMP Magic Jacket

I think that the CAMP Magic would crush the shells in this review for weight:performance as measured in Part 1 of this study. I say this because:

a) It weighs 4.3 oz in size M and includes a chest pocket, retractable hood and drawstrings on hood and bottom (none of which I would cut off personally).

b) It uses 20D fabric which is claimed to be 33% more durable than the 15D fabric used in the lightest shells in this review, and the CAMP shell is about the same weight. I have used the Houdini many times and it hardly lasts a rock scramble or a bushwhack. The CAMP Magic is WAY more durable.

c) It also has about the same degree of water resistance, without a DWR coating that wears out. The weave is tight enough to resist light rain. You can add DWR to it if you want more versatility, and then it will likely be even more water resistant than the Houdini.

d) The CAMP Magic is adequately breathable for all of the conditions I have worn it (extensively over the past year). Yet it is much more wind resistant than the Houdini for example. The comfort range of this shell is impressive. The drying time I would guess to be very close to the Houdini, but would have liked to see that in this test.

The cool thing for ultralighters is that they also make jackets using this fabric in a backless Anorak that fits around the pack at 4.0 oz and even more compact, and also in a hoodless version at 4.0 oz. Perhaps best of all is that they make a pant in this fabric as well (Magic Pant). When you don't need a full rain pant and you want to a wind shell to go over your hiking shorts up high or at night, these rule. You can also check out the Krypton series which have a DWR coating (the shell still only weighs 4.8 oz. And then there is the B-Dry series which is a fully waterproof non breathable (jacket weighs 5.1 oz).

Given that CAMP is such a major innovator in light and fast products, especially wind & rain shells, I would have liked to see them pitted against these other contenders in this study. I love your work at BPL and want to encourage you all to raise the bar even further when you see innovators coming out with cutting edge products.

Howie Schwartz
Sierra Mountain Guides
& Sage To Summit

Laural Bourque

Locale: PNW
no 4D? on 07/11/2012 13:01:51 MDT Print View

Kind of a crime not to put the MB Tachyon or TNF Verto in this review. Both under 3oz.

Jouni Mäkinen
Boreas Bug Resistance on 07/11/2012 13:01:54 MDT Print View

I've had the "opportunity" to test the mosquito-proofness of the Boreas since we have some kind of mosquito population density record this year in northern Sweden/Finland. I'm happy to say that i consider the garment effectively bug-proof for any normal conditions. I was skeptical when I first looked at the soft fabric but my doubts have been dispelled on several occasions. Don't get me wrong, when you are completely covered in a horde of misery some evolutionarily advantaged specimens will occasionally be able to puncture through, but I've only noticed it along the neck seam when wearing nothing beneath the garment. I was out yesterday with a standard merino T-shirt under and I didn't feel a thing (except for my face and hands that were pretty much drained dry even though they were covered in several layers of DEET).

The neck seam could also probably be modified for complete protection. And I'm not even sure that my Lite-Speed would be able to take this amount of punishment, since my hammock which uses a similar fabric also occasionally gets punctured. Although I may take them both out on a comparison outing. Since the fabric is stretchy there might be an increased risk for bites if the user fills out the fabric excessivily in certain areas (read: gut). This could probably be avoided with a larger shirt size or decreased calorific intake over a suitable amount of time.

Jim L
Montbell Tachyon Anorak on 07/11/2012 13:13:10 MDT Print View

I wonder how the Montbell Tachyon would have compared. At a listed 2.5 oz, it leaves out pockets and uses a 1/4 zip and simple elastic cuffs.

As to the hood, I find the rear velcro on the hood with the bungee drawstring at the front works fine for me and my head on my MB Rain Trekker.


Craig Marriner

Locale: Central Plateau
Call me stoopid but... on 07/11/2012 13:21:04 MDT Print View

Noob query here: does a 'windshirt' offer anything that a good waterproof/
windproof/breathable UL hardshell doesn't?

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Breathability on 07/11/2012 13:22:16 MDT Print View

Windshirts breathe

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt? on 07/11/2012 13:23:17 MDT Print View

windshirts are able to be worn on the move without the feeling of being trapped in a humid plastic bag.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Stoic Wraith on 07/11/2012 13:27:48 MDT Print View

Love your work on these. Thanks for letting us all in on the tests. If I could add one, it would be the Stoic Wraith at $37, 2.5 ounces, and pretty good reviews from others. If it works well, its a real bargain.

Charlie Sattgast
Re: Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt? on 07/11/2012 13:36:56 MDT Print View

I've had a Houdini for three years and consider it an essential piece of gear for both hiking and climbing. I've actually never felt offended by the pocket, though. It has always seemed rather handy to not need to fumble with a stuff sack, but to quickly scrunch it into the pocket, zip it, and be done. I'll not be removing the zipper from mine....

The other item not mentioned in the article is the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer. It is reported to only weigh 1.9 oz and looks pretty well-made. The biggest obvious drawbacks are the lack of a hood, no full-length zipper in the front, and hefty price at $135.00.

folecr r
(folecr) - M
Houdini pocket on 07/11/2012 13:39:08 MDT Print View

I have a version of the Patagonia Houdini - it's slightly heavier that what you measured - 5 ounces when I weighed it in size Medium. The fabric seems slightly heavier and less noisy than the other Houdini's I've tried in stores. The color is olive green.

The *really* *really* nice part : It doesn't have the zippered external pocket. Instead it has an internal, vertical chest pocket with a dime sized piece of velcro to act as the closure. I can still pack the entire jacket into this pocket, close the velcro shut and clip the jacket with a small nylon tab.

Patagonia, if you read this, please sell this version of the Houdini again!

Edited by folecr on 07/11/2012 13:42:32 MDT.

mitchell Keil

Locale: Surf City
Dragonfly on 07/11/2012 13:44:01 MDT Print View

As to durability, my dragonfly which I have owned since it was first released by patagonia looks as good as the first time I put it on. It is never out of my pack and has been just about everywhere. It has been a good cover over my down jacket to provided a bit more warmth, it has been in downpours and windstorms and duststorms and sandstorms. It has been to the top of Whitney and to the bottom of death Valley. I can't imagine a better more "go to" piece of equipement that I own. Windshirts (and particularly my dragonfly) are absolutely essential for any backpacker to own and use.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Call me stoopid but... on 07/11/2012 13:52:15 MDT Print View

"Noob query here: does a 'windshirt' offer anything that a good waterproof/
windproof/breathable UL hardshell doesn't?"

I haven't tried a windshirt, but

What does it matter that a windshirt breathes? With a hardshell, if it's too warm, take it off or unzip it.

And if you have significant rain, windshirt doesn't provide enough protection

It makes no sense to have both windshirt and hardshell.

I have a bias to western Oregon and Washington where it rains a lot. Maybe it makes more sense somewhere else.

Windshirt weighs less than a hardshell.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: Call me stoopid but... on 07/11/2012 14:12:02 MDT Print View

I only use a windshirt for day treks where getting wet won't cause any significant issue. For multi-day hikes, I use an 8 oz WPB rain jacket and simply unzip it if I get too warm. I would rather through the 5-8oz of a windshirt somewhere else.

Martin Carpenter
Both on 07/11/2012 14:13:34 MDT Print View

Well the idea is that you carry both, and wear the windshirt most of the time. Extra weight being traded for the comfort when you're wearing the windshirt.

Which is certainly quite often in the UK - we get an awful lot of days with either on/off showers or drizzle/mist and they're much better for that than any hardshell.

If what you normally get is stable periods of either very strong rain or nothing at all then they won't be so much good. Ditto if you get days switching between thunderstorms and sunshine I guess.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt? on 07/11/2012 14:42:48 MDT Print View

I think the important question is how a windshirt is used. I'm surprised how many don't really grasp the concept and reach for heavier and less versatile options rather than a coordinated layering system.

I think of a windshirt and other layers as an insulated jacket that has been disassembled, with the windshirt being the outer shell of a system that will protect me from convection heat loss, harsh sunlight or insects, and light precipitation.

My favorite options for layering include:

*A simple polyester base layer, with long sleeve being the usual form
*A light mid-layer like R1, Power Stretch or 100w fleece. I find a vest is great for summer use and a hoodie for colder weather
*An insulated vest like the Patagonia Micro Puff or REI Revelcloud

With these options I can layer up as needed and this is where the extra room in the Houdini design works-- you can add a light layer and still have a comfortable and breathable system.

I would normally take the windshirt off when adding a rain shell, but if I was in camp and things were too cold, I would add any layer that helps. Likewise for sleep.

For on trail use, I might start out from the trailhead with a windshirt on if it is chilly and usually end end up unzipping it or taking it off as I heat up on the switchbacks. It is compact enough to stow in a lid pocket or bungies. It is there to add on a rest stop or as the terrain and my exertion change, or as the weather dictates. I might put the windshirt back on when I come to an exposed level traverse across a slide area or going down hill.

A major challenge of Pacific NW hiking is the steep terrain coupled with high humidity and light precip. You really do make a decision whether the rain or your perspiration is going to make you wetter (or colder). A windshirt often makes the decision in the favor of the hiker's comfort.

If you have any doubt about the advantages of wind protection, put your windshirt on and take off in your car on a cool day and stick your arm out the window at 60mph-- it is amazing what a light windproof layer can do.

Finally, you don't have to buy a $125 4oz garment to get the advantages of a windshirt. There are many on the "windbreaker" side that are in the 10oz range. Many are designed for runners and track warm-up jackets and can be found in the big box stores or discounters like Ross or Marshalls for much less. I see them in thrift stores all the time for $6-$10. We're all about weigh here, but that one item won't change your base weight much and will introduce you to the windshirt layering system without breaking the bank.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Both on 07/11/2012 14:46:14 MDT Print View

"Well the idea is that you carry both, and wear the windshirt most of the time. Extra weight being traded for the comfort when you're wearing the windshirt."

I guess that it is situation / geographic specific then. Even at close to freezing in the Canadian Rockies, I am warm carrying a pack and don't need the windshirt. A simple long sleeved merino wool top is more than sufficient. When I stop and I get chilled, I throw on an insulated top.