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Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt?
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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Call me stoopid but... on 07/11/2012 14:51:12 MDT Print View

Try it, you'll like it. Think "shirt" rather than "jacket." You end up living in the thing after a while. You are wearing it over a light base layer rather than looking for a puffy or your sweaty hard shell to take the chill off, from being sunburned, or eaten alive by bugs.

Any hiking garment needs to be part of a carefully coordinated *system* to be most effective in performance and weight. I think we tend to take our city ways to the trail when looking at clothing and have favorites that we cling to. I do it too. IMHO, chucking your city clothing habits and assumptions is one of the major hurdles in switching to UL gear.

I should add that a windshirt really comes to play with ponchos and capes and works very well with cold rain with your forearms exposed.

Edited by dwambaugh on 07/11/2012 14:53:57 MDT.

Greg Pehrson
(GregPehrson) - MLife

Locale: playa del caballo blanco
Re: Houdini pocket on 07/11/2012 15:13:29 MDT Print View

Folec r, check out this thread for a link to a vendor with that olive Houdini you're talking about.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt? on 07/11/2012 15:53:19 MDT Print View

I always thought a windshirt (or windbreaker as they used to be called) was just added weight--nice for a light jacket around town but not for backpacking.

In the Wind Rivers in 2008, I discovered that horseflies and deerflies treated my permethrin-treated shirt as so much appetizer. I decided that I had to get either a windshirt or a suit of medieval armor! I found a 2.4 oz. Montbell windshirt (hoodless) on closeout. It's the color of wine vomit, but at 40% off I wasn't about to be fussy about color (it's actually better looking than most of the current colors!).

My windshirt has since become the most versatile garment I own, and I wear it more than any other garment I own. I've worn it with temps in the low 30's F (plus wind) over just a base layer and was quite comfortable while hiking (of course my puffy went on over it any time I stopped!). I've also worn it in camp with temps in the upper 50's to low 60's F. It can be combined with any number of insulation layers. And it's great in the relatively warm drizzles common to Oregon summers (especially at the coast) when it's too warm for a hard rain shell but too cool for getting wet in shirt sleeves.

Yes, it does keep the bugs off!

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Use with RailRiders mesh panels on 07/11/2012 16:12:13 MDT Print View

I really use my wind shirts when I’m wearing my Rail Riders shirt because on a cold morning with high winds, the breeze howls through the mesh panels that go up the sides of the torso and down the inside of the arms. Those mesh panels are a blessing when it’s hot, but need help when it’s cold and windy.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: windbreakers on 07/11/2012 16:12:42 MDT Print View

I've Brits reduced to tears laughing at the term "windbreaker." I do remember getting a pullover style with a kangaroo pocket about 1964.

The concept is old. Artic folk have made their versions and military units like ski troops used breathable anoracks in WWII. They are lighter and more compact now, but the physics are the same.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Both on 07/11/2012 16:22:56 MDT Print View

This is what works for me currently, there are other perfectly good ways that work for others, blah, blah, blah,...

If it's warmer than about 40 F, if I wear any shirt I'll sweat, so I wear nothing. If it's raining it won't matter that I get wet. I just ignore any comments about the old guy not wearing a shirt : )

If I get cold and/or it starts raining I'll put on my hooded WPB jacket. Sometimes I'll put hood over head and don't put arms into sleaves. If it's not raining too hard/windy I'll unzip the front.

Sometimes it'll stop raining and I get a little warm, so I'll take off WPB jacket, then I'll get cold or it will start raining a little more and I'll have to put WPB jacket back on. Maybe I walk a little faster or slower. Maybe it would be a little more convenient to have a windshirt in this situation.

If I'm hiking and above 20 F, just shirt and WPB jacket is sufficient. May have to walk briskly to stay warm. I never go below 20 F.

When I stop hiking and I need warmth, I put on synthetic or down vest. The warmth per ounce is better for synthetic or down than having extra layers of windshirt, mid layer, or fleece. I have a lighter vest for warmer weather and a heavier vest for colder weather.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt? on 07/11/2012 16:32:05 MDT Print View

Long sleeve tight weave nylon like Supplex provides sun and bug protection.

But, if you have an extra 2.4 ounces of shirt that's not really necesary, who cares.

Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt? on 07/11/2012 17:02:31 MDT Print View

What a great State of the Market Report. Thank you. This was written precisely the way I wanted, giving me the right amount of testing and narrative.

Dave Chenault, you are a must-read writer/contributor with a great sense of gear, the outdoors, and life (not necessarily in that order).

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
review on 07/11/2012 17:11:19 MDT Print View

nice review Dave! :)

like others I too have concluded that the windshirt is the most versatile 4 oz of clothing I own, mine is used all four seasons

I was looking into the MH Ghost due to it's extreme low weight (and deck of cards volume), the lack of hood and some reviews pointing towards less breathability, made me decide to stick w/ my tried and true Houdini

to the one comment that the Houdini isn't very hardy, I have to strongly disagree- mine has survived numerous rock scrambles and off trail excursions (mountain goat patrols)- no 4 oz garment is going to be bombproof, but the Houdini is plenty stout for it's diminutive weight

Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Both on 07/11/2012 17:15:54 MDT Print View

I hike (and sleep, and live) cold, so I find a windshirt to be an incredible piece of gear for me when moving in temps between 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit, usually layered over thin merino. Any heavier of a shell and I overheat. Without, I'm too chilly for comfort and safety.

It also can be a perfect "insulation" layer for backpacking in the summer, when you flat out don't need anything heavier or warmer for camp or sleeping but your thin shirt just doesn't quite keep you fully warm around the campsite after dark.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt? on 07/11/2012 19:51:01 MDT Print View

Dave, nice review. I'll be interested in Part 2- to see if there are any changes in your feelings.

BTW: I also appreciate that I had to go to the dictionary a few times, just to make sure I understood the meaning of some of the words you used.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt? on 07/11/2012 20:10:12 MDT Print View

He's still too fresh out of grad school ---- even for Missoula :p

Mathieu Fagnan
(MFagnan) - M
NEW Re: Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 1: What is a Windshirt? on 07/11/2012 21:16:11 MDT Print View

Good work David,

However, I was looking forward to get your insight on (at least one exemple of ) the lightest stuff out there...

I have a Marmot Ion from 2004 that weights 97gr with a full zip and a hood that works. The jacket still perfom after intensive usage. It's the single piece of gear that I have that I wear the most, all year round, from jogging to hicking to full on expedition (Denali, Everest).

Is there anything out there that is comparable in the sub 100gr range ???

Keep up the good work !

Diego Zurek

Locale: Bucaramanga
Nikwax windproof on 07/11/2012 21:38:58 MDT Print View

Páramo Fuera Jacket and Smock, maybe not ultralight but tough.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Well written on 07/11/2012 22:03:52 MDT Print View

And engrossing. Dave, really liking your contributions here. I know when I click on another report by you that you have really thought about it from all angles and you are actively trying to head off missed criteria at the pass. Keep up the good work. It's obvious that you are doing a great job with all of the other comments of praise above.

-I've wanted to have a wind shirt that could replace a button-front longsleeve shirt for warmer weather where sun and bug protection are the biggest priorities. But I'm not sure that any of them are breathable enough to wear in place of the button-front.

*edited for spelling and to add the second paragraph.

Edited by WarrenGreer on 07/11/2012 22:07:18 MDT.

Mark Schultz
Odd selection to review & Weight Typo on 07/12/2012 00:54:47 MDT Print View

I find it odd BPL would even consider a windshirt weighing over 5 oz worthy of a review with all the options on the market, yet half of these windshirts are over 6 oz on up to 13 oz! I have the 3 oz TNF Verto and my wife has the 4 oz Houdini. My waterproof breathable fully hooded Pertex rain jacket weighs 9 oz. I can't imagine carrying a 13oz windshirt in addition to that.

Removing the pocket on the Houdini is a bizarre way to save 0.2 oz when the pocket doubles as a nice stuff stack. And then compare the custom cut look with a chest pocket destroyed? FYI: the article incorrectly reports the saving as 2 oz (half the weight of the Houdini) by removing a tiny pocket.

I hope Part 2 refocuses on truly lightweight windshirts < 5 oz and includes Mountain Hardware, more MB, and North Face in the mix. The article gets it right about the value and versatility of a windshirt, they are surprisingly awesome, but not if it weighs more than your bomber storm gear.

Martin Carpenter
Perspective on 07/12/2012 03:53:00 MDT Print View

They're considering them for the perspective they give on the lighter things :) The two (relatively very heavy) 'soft shell' things for an overview of potential options - they're quite different from straight up wind shirts and aren't really meant to be carried, more worn from the outset.

The lite speed is interesting in terms of the increased durability gained for the (minor) excess weight. That's potentially relevant for windshirts because they do get an awful lot of wear directly under rucksacks etc - much more so than waterproofs - and some of the very light ones aren't all that cheap either. They're definetly one place where I'd happily trade some weight for substantially increased garment lifespan.

I'm actually somewhat worried about the durability of gl (or even quantum) for windshirts - the abrasion resistance stats from Montane's website for it aren't at all good. 10,000k for GL and 40,000k for microlight at 12.5k PA (BN EN ISO 12947-2). iirc some of the Quantum's they previously used were 20,000k.

Of course hard to say what this means in the real world. Fabric testing might give some answers.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
My Houdini! on 07/12/2012 07:55:12 MDT Print View

Quality article Dave, as always.

I like the lack of any definitive "winner" in this test group- all are exceptional options with many factors to consider when deciding. The Houdini happens to be my 4oz. piece of magic, love that thing, even though it's in serious need of DWR maintenance and has a few ember holes.

This photograph is of me wearing my Houdini last weekend on the summit of The Needle. My faithful companion.


eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
durability on 07/12/2012 11:24:00 MDT Print View

ive generally found light softshells more durable than windshirts ... when you get to some of the UL fabric, durability in highly abrasive situations is questionable ... i dont use my marmot trail wind too much these days climbing (not scrambling) as its gets pinholes

whether you use one or not is a personal choice ... there is no "right" answer ...

IMO a windshirt should be as breathable as possible or as cheap as possible, or yr better off going with one of those new fangled event like shells ....

john hansford
(jhansford) - MLife
WINDshirts on 07/12/2012 11:41:32 MDT Print View

Surely the key with these garments is in the name - WINDshirts. They cut out the wind, and hence negate the chill factor, without providing unwanted insulation.

So you can be in a strong cold wind with a very thin and light baselayer, and be working hard uphill, without overheating.

They will also save wear and tear on your expensive Goretex, Event and so on.

You will hardly know you're wearing a 3 oz garment, and it takes up no room in your pack.

Edited by jhansford on 07/12/2012 11:44:21 MDT.