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Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Present and Future of Windshirts
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Present and Future of Windshirts on 10/30/2012 19:09:28 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Present and Future of Windshirts

Roman Vazhnov
(joarr) - MLife

Locale: Russia
Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Anorak on 10/31/2012 03:04:43 MDT Print View

Chockstone is actually Chocklite Anorak. Very pleasant and durable fabric (has some stretch). But a little strange cut (short sleeves), and no hood regulation. In basic terms it is a competitor for Boreas.

When choosing windshirt i was overwhelmed and have made a little table in google docs in result - to define categories for myself.

Big thanks for the article!

Edited by joarr on 10/31/2012 11:20:43 MDT.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Present and Future of Windshirts on 10/31/2012 11:24:02 MDT Print View

Hey Dave,

Great bit of research, testing, and reviewing!!

I just gotta ask, why in the world did you go with the MB Dynamo over the MB Tachyon Anorak?? Every previous SofM has shown that the MB Tachyon Anorak is *the* wind shirt of choice. Yet it gets nothing more than a small inclusion within the closing table - and it is the lightest one listed. Just seems odd you would choose the Dynamo over the TA.

BPL gave it a "Highly Recommended" rating. 2013 versions include lighter weights along with multiple options to select from.

Also regarding the MB Dynamo, why would you consider a jacket that has "Poor DWR" to be "ideal for winter"??

Also, if this is a state-of-the-art on windshirts, why are there 11 ounce hardshells being included as comparisons against 4 and 5 ounce windshirts?? Seems like if an article on windshirts is going to be a SofA, it should just be on windshirts.

Anyway Dave, these are not meant to be critical of the work you have done, your time spent testing gear, nor the quality of the article. It is all top-freaking-notch work!! Rather just a question on the TA-versus-Dynamo and me pondering on why the BPL Review team allowed hardshells to be listed within a windshell SotA article.

Casey Greene

Locale: upper rattlesnake
Centrifuge on 10/31/2012 11:38:59 MDT Print View

I can see how you don't fancy the top, but I think the Centrifuge piece that is going to shine is the pants. Perfect blend of tights, base layer, and soft shell. My size small is coming in at 9.6oz. So far, it's turning out to be as seasonally versatile as my Houdini and Atom LT.

It's been ideal through this first snow we've had, but we'll see how it does the rest of the winter. I'm hoping I can use it on the skin up, then throw a belay layer on over it in camp. We'll also see how the butt will hold up cycling. I don't think too well, but then again it wasn't designed for that.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Present and Future of Windshirts on 10/31/2012 11:59:24 MDT Print View

John beat me to it. I too am curious as to why you picked the Dynamo (5.1 oz.) over the Tachyon (2.3 oz.). Maybe you could have reviewed both of them. I know you can't review them all, but maybe if you skipped one of the soft shell ones, then you could have reviewed both the Montbell wind shirts. Maybe it would have made sense to split this into two different articles. This year do a review of traditional wind shirts, and next year do a review of softshell shirts. It seems like you may have spread yourself a bit thin, and left out a highly recommended, extremely light wind shirt.

Nick Brown

Locale: Highland Park
Rab Alpine on 10/31/2012 12:43:40 MDT Print View

Great review Dave. Thanks!

I recently took my Rab Alpine out for it's first trip. It's more than a windshirt. It is unlined Vapour Rise. The capillary action of this fabric was amazing. I hiked in very mixed conditions. Ascending through steady rain, sleet, hail, snow and then back again while descending. I was moving quickly for 4 hours and the DWR was never breached. I RAN down from the ridgeline and through exposed areas due to thunder snow. I was amazed when I reached the car to find my back was completely dry. I was wearing my MLD Exodus which causes my back to sweat profusely even when wearing just a 150 merino base layer. This fabric is serious voodoo. My Rab Kinetic hardshell is going to get very little use now. I can't recommend this jacket enough. Great hood, long sleeves, deep A line pockets, super DWR, wicks and breathes like crazy while still blocking wind. 8oz in a Medium. $80 on sale.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: questions on 10/31/2012 12:44:06 MDT Print View

A lot of this was addressed in the first article, but I'll retread some of that material here for the sake of convenience.

There are a lot of windshirts on the market which could have been included in this project. The choice ~11 months ago when Chris and I put this together was to include a huge number of garments and have very modest in-use data, or a small group of garments and be able to put in enough user-days to extract meaningful results. Obviously we went with the later, and I'm very content with that choice. SOTMRs are not mere spreadsheets with specs, that is very easy to do. They are analyses of why the market is as it is, and where it might go in the near future.

As for not including the Tachyon anorak, a big part of that choice was the fact that Will reviewed it recently, and that it had not changed since.

The Dynamo features and cut make it well suited to winter, the DWR quality would have me hesitating to recommend it to anyone for whom that is a prominent concern. Given that I found a similar, indeed more egregious, failing with the WPB Montbell I reviewed last year, I'm rather skeptical of Montbell shells generally.

The Centrifuge is a fine jacket, with excellent fabrics. Not a backpacking jacket, which I've been at pains to stress, but will probably gain a good following with nordic and backcountry skiers.

Equilibium is a fantastic fabric which ought to get more press. I'd like to get my hands on an Alpine jacket.

Edited by DaveC on 10/31/2012 12:49:19 MDT.

Brian Abram

Locale: The South
Feathered Friends Jackorack? on 10/31/2012 12:48:46 MDT Print View

It's pricey, but I've been looking to see what more people think of the Endurance UL Jackorack.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
equilibrium on 10/31/2012 12:53:16 MDT Print View

I've had my eye on the Alpine jacket for a couple years...
Dave, where would you say equilibrium breathability falls on a houdini-boreas continuum?

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Rab Alpine on 10/31/2012 12:57:23 MDT Print View

I have the Rab Alpine Pullover (older version) and love it.

I do need to redo the Dwr on it.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Rab Alpine on 10/31/2012 13:06:22 MDT Print View

The disclaimer here is that my only experience with Equilibrium is some fabric I got hold of a few years ago, and a vest I made from it. No factory DWR, and I'm not sure if the stuff Rab uses is different.

That said, it has a remarkable balance of wind resistance and breathability. Perhaps midway between a Houdini and Boreas in wind resistance, but much closer to the Boreas w/r/t breathability. As said above, and denier-gradient effect is the real deal.

Yes 1000
Cheap alternative Windshirt on 10/31/2012 13:44:44 MDT Print View

While it can't hang around with the big dogs tested here, I have a Eddie Bauer Sirroco wind shirt which is on sale for $20 and I attest its usefulness for relatively little money I spent to buy it.

joe newton

Locale: Bergen, Norway
Rab Alpine on 10/31/2012 14:31:50 MDT Print View

I have two Rab Alpines, the older pull-over and the more recent jacket.

Both have a DWR treatment.

My favourite combination for XC ski trips is a PowerDry hoody, the Boreas as a mid layer and then pulling the Alpine over the top when the wind picks up. Cuts the wind nicely and breaths and dries very well.

PowerDry hoody and Rab Boreas

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Rab Alpine on 10/31/2012 15:12:32 MDT Print View

+1 for Equilibrium fabric

When highly active in cold conditions combined with Powerdry (or I suppose mid-weight Merino) it's wonderful. Over the years I have used a Vapor Rise, REI Pyrn, and Rab Alpine. Loved Equilibrium and always surprised that more people don't use it.

If the windshirt is going to be used some, and carried some of the time, I opt for something light like the Houdini. But it I expect the shell will be worn 100% of the time (cool to cold conditions) then Equilibrium is my preferred fabric. My memory is that its has a CFM of 10? and what 2x more air permeable than the Houdini. It feel more breathable than the Houdini, though it is also 2-3x heavier. It does provide some capillary wicking, though I found this to be modest... when I am engaged in high output activities it is possible to overwhelm... but I suppose that's understandable since I can overheat in modest temperatures wearing a featherweight base :)

The one downside I found with Equilibrium is material started to pill after a year or two of heavy use. My Patagonia Dragonfly (and then a Houdini) looked new for at least 2x that time. On the other hand, my Dragonfly completely wore out after 3-4years and with the same amount of time my Equilibrium jacket was still usable, just looked rather worn with a drop in DWR performance.

The one windshirt I would have liked to see in the mix is the arcteryx squamish. A good friend of mine seems to think it falls between the Houdini and the Alpine. Since I just got rid of my Alpine (too big after I lose a bit of weight) and want to replace the Houdini for the same reason, I am thinking about giving the squamish a try.

I do love the material in the Houdini, but I am not happy with the cut. Too baggy (even if I had a size M rather than the L I currently own), and the wrists don't fit close enough (it's hard to get wrists write without using something hook/loop, or a panel made with a stretch fabric


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
windshirts on 10/31/2012 20:22:14 MDT Print View

Dave- thanks for the article :) Many of us have been singing the praise for the Houdini for quite some time, not surprising that it performed well

I do agree the cuffs on the newer models are a little loose, my previous one they weren't as loose

while it's not much of a pocket, it does serve to packs itself up and for trail running I can fit in some gels/cubes in it

question on the Centrifuge not hiking related, I'm looking for a softshell for trail running in the winter- temps between ~ 0 and 25 (I'm pretty comfortable w/ my system for above 25)- is this one I should look at, or do I need something more robust?



Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Present and Future of Windshirts on 10/31/2012 22:19:43 MDT Print View

Dave, Great report.
here are a couple of my observations:
1. Small chest pockets, I use to think they were unnecessary until my eyes started to go and I had to turn to reading glasses. I now only purchase clothing that has a chest pocket to hold the same.
2. For some reason I still give reverence to my Litespeed. I own a Houdini and stoic windshirts also but I feel the best in the litespeed- I think it is only psychological but the fabric does feel nice while worn. I could be that it was my first expensive UL purchase and the sentimental value adds more than true value.
3. I wish I would have picked up a Borea when EMS had them on sale in August.

Edited by bestbuilder on 10/31/2012 22:24:10 MDT.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Oregon
Boreas on 11/01/2012 08:36:50 MDT Print View

The Boreas has proven to be incredibly versatile out here in the dry climate of Colorado. I personally found that the Houdini didn't breathe well enough for me on the move and happily traded the DWR of the Houdini for the breathability of the Boreas. Good stuff!

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Centrifuge on 11/11/2012 08:29:43 MST Print View

I bit the bullet and purchased a Centrifuge, while I don't think it has a lot of application for "typical" backpacking, I do think it has potential for snowshoeing/x-country skiing and trail running in the winter/shoulder seasons

The jacket has a normal (to be maybe slightly athletic) fit and there is enough room to layer a mid-layer over a base layer underneath, nice fitting hood and the zipper is offset at the top so you don't chafe your chin

I'll be giving it a go today, we got a dump of 6-8" of snow so I'm going to take my skis, if it's windswept I'll run instead- either way I should have a good idea how the Centrifuge does w/ high aerobic activities in cold (high of 12F) and windy conditions

Trevor Martin
(trevormar) - MLife

Locale: Rockies/ Desert Southwest
Montbell Tachyon on 11/30/2012 17:42:33 MST Print View

I'll just go ahead and post another plug for the montbell tachyon. It is so lightweight that I have a hard time coming up with a reason not to include it in my kit and at 2.3 oz it is really in a separate weight class from most of the other jackets that were reviewed here. At first I was really concerned about the durability of the tachyon but it has held up very well. Blocks wind well and seems to breathe fine. Does wet out in the rain after a while but this isn't all that surprising.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Windshirt SOTMR follow-up on 04/25/2013 12:18:35 MDT Print View

Some further thoughts on these garments and on windshirts in general.

First, the number of threads asking some variation of do I need a windshirt since this SOTMR went up is impressive. Whether thats an organic demonstration of the utility of windshirts or a testament to market forces, fashion and peer pressure I do not know. Beyond some variation of become a member and read the article d@@@ it I have little to say on the matter. Arguing this is like telling someone why they'll bring damnation upon themselves if they put sugar in coffee; as obvious as it is impossible to explain.

I can only think of one more than day trip in the last 12 months were I didn't bring a windshirt of some kind, and that memory is prominent for deeply regreting not having one. Because they get worn so much, my attention to detail with windshirts is pretty obsessive. Because I use rain jackets relatively infrequently, I'm content with the two I have in the closest and don't pay the market much mind. With windshirts my attention is always on the move.

That being the case, it's worth noting that of the ones reviewed here I've currently divested myself of all but the two Rabs. The Cirrus came back into favor over an unusually warm winter here in Montana for two quite basic reasons: the fit and the quiet fabric. I tried to resculpt the Houdini, whose DWR is better and which dries a bit quicker in use, but the sleeves just couldn't be as well contoured as the Cirrus. This means snow in the cuffs during storms while skiing, and wind freezing my wrists while mountain biking. The Houdini fabric is also really loud, defeningly so with sustained high winds, or while smoking a fireroad on the bike at 30 mph. Not a huge deal, but a regular annoyance.

In short, with the obligations of testing leaving me free to pick whatever I wanted from a huge red pile on the shelf, the Cirrus got the nod 9 times out of 10.

This is a good place to explain the heirarchy of windshells I currently used, primarily based on temperature.

Above 60F is has to be very windy for a windshirt to be needed. In kind conditions like this, when the windshirt will likely stay in the pack and might well be filling the role of emergency rain layer, taking the small and light Cirrus is a no brainer.

From around 35F up to 60F the Boreas over a long or short sleeved baselayer not frequently gets the nod, if wind is the primary concern. The balance of breathability and weather protection works best for me.

If it's a bit colder than that, or light to moderate precip is in the forecast, I'll bring the Cirrus. This is classic spring weather like we're having now, with cool temps, moderate winds, and frequently day-long intermittent drizzle, fog, rain and snow squalls. The Cirrus over the Cap 4 hoody fits the broadest possible range of conditions for staying mobile without stopping to futz with layers.

If it's colder still (25F and below) but calm, I'll go back to the Boreas over the Cap 4, possibly with a sleeveless wool baselayer against the skin. Breathability becomes crucial at colder temps, and the Boreas gets the edge for this reason. The paradox is while the Boreas breaths better while on the move, it dries much slower once stopped. Back sweat can be a bit of a nuisance here, and slowing down for the last half hour before making camp to let things cool down and dry out slowly is a good idea.

If the wind kicks up and/or its darn cold (below 0F) I add a Patagonia Essenshell pullover with a coyote ruff around the hood. The Essenshell is sized to fit over all that other stuff easily, and the fur was a revelation during the 3 trips this winter where it was cold enough to use it.

I also tried and eventually passed along a Rab Alpine jacket. It's a great piece, with full features well executed and a breathability/weather resistance blend between the Cirrus and the Boreas. For many it would work very well. I found it to not quite hit the sweet spot, I was often left wanting one of the other options. The fabric also seemed a bit fragile (the heavier Essenshell is nice for the inevitable bashing through brush which ensues when you ski as badly as I do).

The next windshirt experiment? A Wild Things Tactical windshirt, in the mail as I type. It's 70 denier Epic fabric, and comes in multicam, which was the main motivator. The red of the Cirrus is great for staying visible to your partners while BC skiing, or not getting shot while mountain biking during deer season, but isn't going to get the job done sneaking along alpine ridges after elk. A tougher option withou the heavy fur will be good for bushwacking trips, and I'm curious to see where the Epic fabric comes in on the breathability v/ weather resistance spectrum.