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Logic Check: Windshirt
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Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/17/2013 17:05:45 MST Print View

I'm having trouble with the philosophy of a windshirt, and I believe that stems from my inexperience.

When I'm hiking in most 65º+ temps, I wear a T-shirt or long-sleeve shirt made of some tech-wick fabric, and when I get to the summit and stop moving and chill out, I toss on a fleece jacket. If it's a really windy/misty day, I'll throw on my rain shell instead.

Am I missing out on some genius microclimate that a windshirt provides? Is this item purely seasonal to warm conditions that might get cool, like summer summits? How is a windshirt different from a rain shell?

You don't have to put hot coals under my feet for me to buy a new item, but I want to know how big a difference there is from a windshirt and a rainshell as far as comfort goes. What do I gain by throwing those precious ounces into my bag for something like, say, a Patagonia Houdini?

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
windshirt on 02/17/2013 17:09:08 MST Print View

In deep winter when there is little chance of rain, and snow is the only precipitation, windshirts shine...miles ahead in terms of breathability over a typical rainshell.

In you scenario of 65 degree summers, a windshirt would be lighter than your fleece and provide enough warmth for summit rests.

Personally, I only wear a fleece as a layer (and only very breathable ones) if I know it will be non stop cold rain (midlayer), or I'm doing some high exertion activity, like cross country skiing (outerlayer)

Edited by Konrad1013 on 02/17/2013 17:10:36 MST.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Makes sense on 02/17/2013 17:20:28 MST Print View

Makes some sense, but I'm still not sure if it makes sense to me. If I were racing over 72 hours where every ounce counts, I would take a windshirt over a fleece. However, the only ounces I count are the ounces on a longer trip.

For instance, when I did my 2012 bike tour around the northeast, I brought a 50º synthetic sleeping bag and a fleece jacket, along with a synthetic baselayer and then bike shorts and a light tech tee. When it was warm, I wore the bare minimum. When it cooled, I threw on the baselayer. When it was really cold and I had to sleep, like on our coldest night at one summit where we graced the upper 30's, I put on all my clothes, my fleece, and my raincoat and crawled into my bag. Comfortable!

A windshirt is great for standing on the summit, but it does nothing to help for actual low temperatures- just wind. Therefore, it can't be used in a sleep system like a fleece or a down puffy can. Am I correct in this line of thinking?

It's great for saving ounces for active hiking, but if you're carrying a sleep system anyways it becomes redundant.

Relevant extra facts: I took a synthetic bag and a fleece over a down bag and a puffy jacket for that trip because of expected wet conditions, and both were soaked at some point so I was glad for it.

Edited by mdilthey on 02/17/2013 17:21:18 MST.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Makes sense on 02/17/2013 17:26:48 MST Print View


Have you ever hiked in strong winds when its not raining?

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/17/2013 17:39:07 MST Print View

You might like to read this

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/17/2013 17:39:07 MST Print View

A windshirt is way more breathable than a rain jacket. It's better at regulating your body heat. You overheat less and cool down less compared to a rain jacket. You will have much less sweat build up during hard hiking and staying dry is always good. Hiking in windy conditions all day with no rain, you are going to really appreciate not being sweaty and cold.

Windshirts are really nice when it's warm out but windy. If it's warm enough to hike in a shirt but the wind is cooling you, you can throw on a super thin layer that will block out the wind without heating you up too much. If you try and throw on a fleece in that situation, the wind is going to blow right through it and when you get out of the wind you will instantly overheat. Try and throw on a windproof fleece, then you are going be stuck between being too cold and too hot.

Windshirts provide a super small amount of warmth. It's hard to get such a small amount of warmth from any other backpacking clothing item. When it's a little too cold to be comfortable in just a shirt, you can throw on a windshirt to add that tiny bit of warmth when anything else would overheat you.

Windshirts are also much lighter than rain jackets so you can leave the rain jacket at home if you expect wind but no rain.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Makes sense on 02/17/2013 17:43:02 MST Print View

"A windshirt is great for standing on the summit, but it does nothing to help for actual low temperatures- just wind. Therefore, it can't be used in a sleep system like a fleece or a down puffy can. Am I correct in this line of thinking?"

I almost always sleep in my windshirt. I get no condensation in my sleeping clothing while wearing it. I can't say the same for a rain jacket. It provides a little warmth.

Edited by justin_baker on 02/17/2013 17:45:31 MST.

samuel smillie
(sam_smillie) - F

Locale: central canada
breathability and cost on 02/17/2013 17:47:56 MST Print View

Basically those two reasons are why people use them.

Most people (who are sane) will bring some sort of waterproof shell into the backcountry. The higher the quality of the material used (goretex, eVent etc), combined with the overall weight of the garment contribute to cost. Even the most breathable of these materials is far less breathable than any number of significantly cheaper windshirts. Not to mention, by bringing a windshirt, you eliminate a huge percentage of your waterproof shell use. This means you can get one that is less durable, lighter, and justify a more expensive and nicer waterproof jacket because it will likely last you much longer than if constantly being used under packstraps bushwhacking.

In another thread that you recently started, you mentioned difficulties with finding a fleece to your satisfaction. The trouble is that a windproof fleece is very heavy and has lost a lot of the breathability that makes it such a good active layer to begin with. A very breathable fleece combined with a windshell will weigh the same or less, be more versatile and provide you with more options for things like waist draws, adjustable cuffs etc.

Personally, I use a relatively (for softshells) light softshell instead of a windshirt because I don't have the money to constantly replace them as basically they are acting as a cheap beat up layer (not cheap enough for me haha). I pay the weight penalty to wear something that is more durable and more comfortable next to skin.

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
logic on 02/17/2013 17:52:48 MST Print View

Here's my logic.

My wind shirt weighs about 2.5 ounces. When layered over my mid-layer, it makes me feel about twice as warm, because the wind isn't sucking the heat out of my mid-layer.
When I don't need my mid-layer, if it's windy and a little nippy out, I can put on my wind shirt and avoid being chilled by evaporative cooling, and be comfortable.
If I don't need any of it, I can store it and my 6 ounce mid-layer in about the size of a softball area inside my pack. It also provides a modicum of weather protection in a light mist. By reducing wind chill factor, it can really help your comfort level when the winds whip up, which otherwise would cut right thru your insulation layer like it wasn't there. And it breathes better than a rain jacket, and is a lot lighter too.

A fleece is a single layer which weighs about a pound, and takes up half your pack with bulk if you don't need to wear it that day, doesn't block any wind, and has one application without any flexibility for different conditions.

IMO, if there is one item of clothing that is worth carrying for its 2.5 ounces of weight that literally disappears into your pack or even your pocket, it's a wind shirt. It's about the most useful clothing item that I carry.

A fleece has its place, but it isn't a substitute for a wind shirt.

Edited by towaly on 02/17/2013 17:55:51 MST.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/17/2013 17:58:17 MST Print View

I use a wind shirt as part of a 4-layer system:

light (wool) base layer
single-layer wind shirt
insulation layer, down or micro fleece depending on time of year
hard shell

The wind shirt works very well for me in cool or cold conditions, when it's too cold to hike in just a base layer, but I would sweat up a storm in my rain shell. I tend to hike in the spring and fall around here, so the wind shirt gets a lot of use. Say, highs in the 40s or 50s or so, breezy on the ridge lines. If I stop on a summit I'll put on my insulation.

It also extends the utility of my microfleece by making it wind proof.

Dunno if it would add much to your situation, though.

If you wear a Patagonia size Large, I have a Houdini that doesn't quite fit me.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/17/2013 18:11:16 MST Print View

I use a windshirt to

1. Be more comfy over wider range of temps (rather than wearing less breathable rain jacket)
2. Protect my insulation by wearing it over the insulation
3. Keeping my sleeping bag cleaner by wearing it over my upper layers

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Windshirts on 02/17/2013 18:11:20 MST Print View

I guess I can see the draw, but I think my innate tolerance for slight discomfort would always edge me towards just feeling the "chill" of a brisk wind while hiking and then later tempering it with the fleece if I stopped moving and was actually at risk of cooling down too much. That golden medium where the windshirt results in perfect hiking seems to be a little vague to my liking, and the wear from packstraps is a huge turn-off. Maybe the only way to truly discover if this is something I want to use in the backcountry is to, well, use it, but I see this as a "stopped" item rather than an "Active" item. I also don't see it as a replacement for a fleece, but I could be wrong.

But in all seriousness, I'm a cyclist as well as a backpacker. Wind is ever-present and defines my riding for a good 9 months out of the year. And still, a wind jacket isn't something I've tried. I've merely layered up Smartwool and Under-Armour and Fleece until the right temperature was achieved. A windshirt is something I hadn't really considered and I'd like to try it, especially if it means leaving my Under-Armour at home.

Thank you for fixing my logic-loop!

Mark Andrews
(buldogge) - F

Locale: Midwest
Driclime... on 02/17/2013 18:28:18 MST Print View

I know a lot of people don't care for them...but...I prefer Marmot Driclime windshirts (and would like to get a hooded Ether).

I find that that a merino baselayer, a "tech T", and the Driclime is all I usually need.

If additional insulation is necessary I add one of the gridded fleece hoodies or a Marmot Parallax polartec hoody.

-Mark in St. Louis

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Most Durable Windshirt on 02/17/2013 18:30:44 MST Print View

It'd be useful to know what the most durable windshirt is that doesn't breach over the single-digits in ounces. I don't want to just wear holes in the shoulders from pack-rub in a single season if I'm going to shell out $100. How's the Houdini do? I don't bushwhack much.

Edited by mdilthey on 02/17/2013 18:31:43 MST.

Mark Andrews
(buldogge) - F

Locale: Midwest
Cycling... on 02/17/2013 18:32:05 MST Print View

Max...When it comes to couldn't pay me to cycle with a fleece on. I like the Campagnolo Textran jackets, either insulated or not, depending on conditions. Much like hiking...I find that I seldom need anything warmer than a single jacket (over merino/jersey) down into the teens. Extremities are much more important and harder to deal with (as I'm sure you know).


Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Fleece while cycling on 02/17/2013 18:40:19 MST Print View

I've cycled cold enough that I needed it once or twice. We've had a few days this season below zero, and seemingly infinite days in the single digits and teens... I have needed to break out the fleece about ten times for my commute. Whenever I get cranking, I do feel the heat start to set in... perhaps I need a windshirt!

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Most Durable Windshirt on 02/17/2013 18:50:31 MST Print View

Any windshirt in the 5-7 ounce range will be plenty durable. If it's in the 2-4 oz range, not so much. Windshirts can actually be durable enough for some serious bushwacking. They are very slick and brush slides right off of the material instead of catching or abrading.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Re on 02/18/2013 06:38:28 MST Print View

I use a windshirt and a disposable poncho, both of these combined weigh under 5 ounces.

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
durability on 02/18/2013 07:35:22 MST Print View

You can buy whatever windshirt you want and just reinforce the wear areas. I did this with my event jacket using 1 cm x 4" strips of tenacious tape. I put 3 parallel strips with 1 cm gaps on each shoulder where my backpack straps rubbed (slightly forward of the top of the shoulders ) and 4 parallel strips in my lumbar area. You could also reinforce the hips if you use a hip belt on your pack.

This way, you can still get a lightweight windshirt and increase the durability with a small weight penalty. Also, once the tape wears out, you can just replace the tape.

I like the clear tenacious tape for this as the edges don't fray as it wears.

You can check out the Marmot Super Mica rain jacket to see what I mean. A 6 oz rain jacket with printed on reinforcement (the reinforcement is hard and plasticky feeling instead of rubbery PU or silicone)

Edited by LunchANDYnner on 02/18/2013 07:39:02 MST.

John Zahorian
(johnzahorian) - F
windshirt durability on 02/18/2013 07:37:38 MST Print View

My Houdini was the one clothing item that I wore every single day on my PCH ride and PCT hike. After 200 days of everyday use it is still totally fine and only has a few very tiny punctures. It is so light and perfect for a lot of conditions. You obviously lose most of your heat to wind while cycling so I think a wind shirt is a no brainer. I've found that if I'm even a little bit warm while wearing a rain jacket, I build up condensation. Wind jacket with zipper in hood was perfect for anything from harsh mountaintop wind to sun protection in deserts to windproof warmth with a drafty down jacket to mosquito protection. I rarely use my rain jacket so I'm switching over to a poncho tarp, and my wind shirt will become even more valuable. It is my one go-to item for any outdoor activity now because it is so versatile yet tiny.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Here's the problem on 02/18/2013 08:08:50 MST Print View

I think there may be a flaw in the logic of the question. At 65+ degrees the only logic I can see is if it is very windy. But in my experience a windshirt shines when hiking at temperatures between 25 and 55F. I normally hike in a long sleeve base layer. The addition of a wind shirt allows me a hike without an insulation layer down below freezing. I view it as one of the versatile pieces of gear that I carry.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Here's the problem on 02/18/2013 08:29:54 MST Print View

If it's below about 45 F I'll use GoreTex jacket. If I get warm, unzip. If I'm still warm I'll take it off. There really isn't a temperature range where I'm too warm with GoreTex and too cold without, so windshirt is superfluous.

Since it rains a lot where I go, and GoreTex is a lot better in rain, I see no reason for windshirt.

But, it's just one of those things that works for some people/conditions and not for others.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: Here's the problem on 02/18/2013 08:53:48 MST Print View

I hike in Washington and I use my windshirt a lot,it is my favorite piece whether on day hikes or multiple days out.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Re on 02/18/2013 08:56:47 MST Print View

It adds a lot of warmth on cold summer mornings/ evenings where you would never have a full on rain jacket. Baselayer or t shirt + windshirt = a ton of warmth for the weight.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: windshirt on 02/18/2013 09:34:03 MST Print View

A windshirt is a shirt with jacket-like features and fills those gaps. Think about wearing one as you would a button down shirt and getting the jacket features along with at a weight that is less than a typical nylon button down.

a windshirt seals out wind and provides protection from light precip while remaining breathable. Get a light color and you have bug and sun protection too.

I find one useful for an extra bit of warmth when I have leveled out on exposed trails or heading downhill and in camp. It works great with a light fleece, which combine to make a deconstructed insulated jacket that can be worn in whatever combination is needed. If you use a poncho, it protects your arms and sides in cold wet weather.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: windshirt on 02/18/2013 10:44:09 MST Print View

Since I got a very lightweight breathable shell, I'm not tending to take my windshirt on backpacking trips as often as I used to. And I love my windshirt; it's been a hard decision at times.

Where I still use it a lot is doing long walks just from my house in shoulder seasons. A hoodless windshirt comfortably fits in a pocket so I can start out with it on and then not need a pack or fanny pack to carry it when I get too warm --- windshirt, thin gloves, earbags, and a small water flask all fit in my pockets and do me well for 5 to 10 mile local walks.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Thanks, all! on 02/18/2013 12:49:31 MST Print View

I'll be picking up the first windshirt that slips into a good percentage off from a sale. You all have convinced me that it's worth trying. While I love my Gore-Tex rain jacket, I can't imagine ever cycling in it. Just too much moisture!

I will probably become a windshirt believer/convert pretty quickly. THis is one of those shining moments where I'm extremely glad I'm on this forum!

Maris L
(Ablaut) - M
Re: Thanks, all! on 02/18/2013 14:31:28 MST Print View

Max, glad you'll give it a try, especially on the bike. I've use my Houdini on the bike from autumn thru early spring, all the way down to those 5f nights. The multi-use of having it for other activities sure beats buying a separate, cycling-dedicated wind shell. Takes a couple of minutes getting warmed up but even cycling on those coldest days I can get away with wearing very little under it and stay warm with next to no moisture. It also packs up way smaller than rain shells to stash in the back of the jersey pocket as a just-in-case layer.

Dan D

Locale: Boston, MA
it's tough on 02/18/2013 14:52:23 MST Print View

Honestly, my biggest hold up with a windshirt is that i'm afraid it would limit the use of my nice Arcteryx goretex shell that i paid so much for! Even though it weighs over a pound... ugh.

Then again, i'm still unsure on how the windshirt fits in with rain gear. Shouldn't one always be prepared for rain/wet? Does a windshirt cover this base or is it a gamble? I guess that's why some use the windshirt + poncho method. Which i suppose makes some degree of sense, but you won't be very happy in a cold windy rain storm.

I guess i feel like i can go to a point with a baselayer + goretex shell that is warm enough that i won't be cold no matter how much wind there is. probably a good 55-60F.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/18/2013 15:02:58 MST Print View

I wear my very breathable uncoated windshirt (hooded windbreaker actually) at all times (sometimes with nothing underneath) for protection from sun and mosquitoes.

The windshirt also helps keep my heat in if I'm wearing fishnet, a foam vest or a loosely fitting and overly vented military surplus jacket liner underneath the windshirt.

A waterproof or waterproof/breathable jacket would be way too warm for me on a warm day so I wouldn't be able to use it for bug and sun protection when I needed it the most.

On the other hand neither my wife nor my sometimes hiking partner wear a windshirt regularly, if at all.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/18/2013 15:07:21 MST Print View

You guys actually use a windshirt for sun and bug protection? That sounds terribly hot. I would rather just use a breathable long sleeve shirt. Why a windshirt?

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/18/2013 15:15:40 MST Print View

I have used a windshirt for bug protection,Washington can have bugs out and not be as hot as you are in CA. and the bugs can be bothersome at higher altitudes where it is not as warm.The hood also helps protect my head and neck from bites.

Edited by annapurna on 02/18/2013 15:21:05 MST.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Re: Re: Re: Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/18/2013 15:39:54 MST Print View

Justin, just get a very breathable windshirt.

Richard Fischel
ditching your hard shell for a windshirt on 02/18/2013 15:44:05 MST Print View

unless the weather calls for heavy prolonged rain i don't take my hard shell. even if it rains hard i may get damp, but i'm not going to get wet. if the weather truly looks sh!ty I may just stay home. i’m a big fan of an r1 style hoodie and a windshirt together or an atom lt style primaloft jacket (wt insulight) for everything from the mid 40*’s to 0*f. going light(er) is all about making smart decisions on what kit goes with you and what stays in the trunk of the car. the more you try different things the better you get at the calculus of gear selection.

drifit long sleeve base layer, power stretch hoodie and windshirt. started out somewhere between 0* and 5*f and was cold. after about 20 minutes was comfortably cool. Picture was taken it was about 10*.

power stretch and windshirt

Edited by RICKO on 02/18/2013 16:42:10 MST.

Rob P
(rpjr) - M
Chris Townsend on Windshirts on 02/18/2013 19:01:48 MST Print View


Chris Townsend in the fourth edition of the Backpacker's Handbook has an excellent discussion of windproof fleece, vs regular fleece, softshell and's on pg. 145-148. He says that a windshell is the piece of clothing he wears the most. It's really helpful, he really knows his stuff.

Hope you find a windshirt that you like!

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

The Chosen One on 02/18/2013 20:22:03 MST Print View

I'm edging into the windshirt camp with a seriously low weight penalty; the Arcteryx Incendo vest weighs in at 3.3oz, which will let me stow it with my arm warmers in a hip pack while biking or in a backpack pocket while backpacking. If the thermal efficiency is to be believed, the lack of sleeves will be less relevant since my core will be kept warm. I think an item suited for a runner, like this vest, is the best choice for me because I aim to move quick when I'm backpacking. A brisk stride gets more miles under my feet, which is what I'm looking to increase these days.

When I'm stopped at a cold summit, it's Gore-Tex time for full coverage. If I'm going to use a windshirt, it's going to be a purely active layer. While I believe the endless testimonials here on the forum, if breathability ceases to be an issue (such as while stopped) then I'll cut the sleeves and use my rain shell that I'll already be carrying anyways.

Wind Vest

Purple, awesome!

Edited by mdilthey on 02/18/2013 20:22:45 MST.

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
Houdini vs. vest on 02/18/2013 20:46:12 MST Print View

For only .7oz more, you can have sleeves and a hood in the Houdini. In a piece as light and unrestricting as this, I see no reason to forego the sleeves and hood.

I find the Houdini to be a standout piece that travels with me on every outing, although I elect to wear a heavier, stretchier windshell for climbing. The hood often adds a good amount of control over warmth, especially when combined with a light hooded base layer or R1 which means I often don't bother to carry a hat, and the sleeves slide up over your elbows easily if you need to vent. In the warmer months I'll play with the sleeves and hood throughout the day to adjust my temperature, and in the winter I'm wearing it all day long and it doesn't come off until I'm home. I too thought the windshirt thing was a silly one... then I tried it and now I've got a whole closet full, including two Houdinis.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: The Chosen One on 02/18/2013 20:46:44 MST Print View

Windshirt vest?

Not even in the same league IMO. I do find a simple vest to cut wind for highly aerobic activities (running, cycling, xc skiing, etc) to be beneficial in some instances, but those are very few and far between. Vests need to be worked into a system, especially a wind vest layer which is solely for cutting wind at your core while moving quickly, not necessarily static use (backpacking). Not a solid replacement for a full on windshirt which provides coverage against wind and subsequent rapid cooling at the surface of your skin at rest, assuming you've broken a good sweat.

If you're looking to save an ounce or two over a windshirt, look for those savings elsewhere.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Under 2 ounces on 02/18/2013 20:56:20 MST Print View

How about a full windshirt for under 2 ounces?

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Some minor flaws in that logic. on 02/18/2013 21:02:29 MST Print View

Hmm.. I mean, I hear what you're saying, but I feel like the shortcomings are being addressed by my rain layer.

You say it'll be part of a core-warmth management layer for highly aerobic activities, which is exactly what I'm using it for. While static, you say the sleeves and the hood provide warmth, which is exactly what my rain shell provides me. I'm not bare-skinning up the mountain, remember; I've got at least a baselayer, more in sub-freezing conditions.

As far as weight penalty goes, if I was trying to go as low weight as humanly possible and nothing else I could probably slip under 1 ounce. What kind of durability am I looking at? Slim to none. Durability matters to me, so don't quote my 3.3 oz brag as a claim at finding the lightest. I found the lightest at a certain standard for durability.

Besides, the weight penalty is not a fair comparison. The Houdini might be only .7oz for sleeves and a hood, but as another forum member stated before, as you increase weight you can mildly correlate an increase in fabric quality. I checked in to the Dead Bird camp specifically so I'd get something durable, since I don't want pinhole tears in my windshirt after a few weeks of use. If you compare it to the Incendo Jacket, I'm cutting a full ounce, plus the associated, let's say, 20% reduction in bulk. Seemingly irrelevant, but when you're packing everything you own for a month into a hip pack, a frame bag, and a stuff sack, an extra 2 inches of compressed material can be a make or break for even bringing it.

Let me emphasize that; if the benefits of the item aren't above the bulk penalty, it doesn't come with me. If it rips at a sneeze, it doesn't come with me. I biked across the northeastern U.S. without a windshirt, and I used my rain shell on peaks. The phrase "Skimp on ounces elsewhere" implies that this item is a necessity, which it is not.

I think the decision to get the vest as a core piece during aerobic activities was a good one. Maybe I'll get a full hoodie down the road, but I was a skeptic from the beginning of this thread because I had simply never felt the need for a windshirt. It seemed to me to be another UL item touted to backpackers to get them to spend more money. I am now a believer that there is some value to be had, but I see that value to be a way to keep your comfort up while you're plowing up the mountain, which is the one area I can say I'm almost always too warm or too cold in.

For this aerobic activity, the vest balances the durability and weight I'm looking for to dip my feet.

Edited by mdilthey on 02/18/2013 21:10:21 MST.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Interesting Question on 02/18/2013 21:14:15 MST Print View

Here's something. Should this item be defined as a "Luxury Item" if I've backpacked hundreds of miles and biked thousands of miles without one? ;)

Edited by mdilthey on 02/18/2013 21:15:46 MST.

Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
Houdini all the way, forget the vest. on 02/18/2013 21:39:09 MST Print View

I'm an avid Houdini user. Was AT skiing sunny powder in mine over a thin wool baselayer today. I hike, run, bike commute and rock climb in it as well.

A wind vest might be nice for adding just a bit of warmth on a cold bike ride but is probably more of a luxury item then a full windshirt.

My main use case for the houdini is when I want sufficient protection with minimal warmth so I don't sweat out while moving so sleeves and hood are needed.

Today I was using it for protection from sun and snow covered brush. For the uphills I had it unzipped but with the hood up over a ball cap to keep sun off my ears. It also great against wind, snow, light rain and mist, damp brush, ticks etc and will hold surprisingly well to a short exposure to heavy rain (like a rainy run, bike commute or quickly passing thunderstorm).

In summer it is great over a light base layer for climbs where you are exposed to the wind for a long time before you reach the summit.

It doesn't replace a warm layer for rest stops but may let you get by with a thinner one. Houdini + r1 and/or nano puff is a frequent combo for me. I have enough confidence in it that that I bring it in place of a hardshell sometimes, especially for day hikes and climbs.

Durability has been good and I've tree skied bushwhacked and climbed granite in mine. I actually just bought a second one in a larger size so I could fit more warm layered under it but my first one is still going strong despite some stains etc.

Edited by ryanbressler on 02/18/2013 21:41:17 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
windshirt durability on 02/18/2013 22:33:26 MST Print View

The correlation between fabric weight and durability is very far from direct.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Durability on 02/18/2013 22:47:35 MST Print View

True, and that's why I mentioned the looseness of the correlation. It's not 1:1. However, choosing an Arcteryx piece for durability is usually a safe bet.

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
cold on 02/18/2013 23:08:17 MST Print View

in colder temps, my windshirt is a layer that never comes off. sometimes it is my outer shell. sometimes it is on underneath a thicker goretex jacket. sometimes it is a condensation barrier b/t me and my down quilts/parka. i literally leave it on from the time i leave my house until the time i get home once it gets cold.

i recommend against cutting the sleeves. that would save you an ounce at best. that isn't a good way to make weight savings imo...

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

All Things Considered on 02/18/2013 23:27:09 MST Print View

Weight savings is not the only thing on my mind... see above. Venting excess heat is most of it.

G Sticks

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: All Things Considered on 02/19/2013 07:25:08 MST Print View

Max, thanks for getting this thread going. It's answered a lot of my questions about this whole windshirt phenomenon.

Dan D

Locale: Boston, MA
Re: Re: All Things Considered on 02/19/2013 07:45:10 MST Print View

Agreed, good thread.

I just pulled the trigger on a Houdini. (last year's model). From what i gather the 2013 model has slightly heavier nylon, yet drops a few grams because it removes some elastic from the cuffs. It may hold up better, but i haven't read of any problems with the old version's durability. I hope the new version breathes as well.

At a minimum i'll use it for running and cycling. I'll try it out hiking as well and maybe it'll change my life.

Btw, Max, a wind breaker is a MUST for cycling in the cold. I have a hot/heavy crappy one now, but its still a life saver. Some cycling specific breakers have windblock in the front, but ventilation in the back which is really nice i hear.

Richard Fischel
venting heat is easy on 02/19/2013 07:52:06 MST Print View

first there's the front zipper, works just like a thermostat; second is the hood, on or off makes a big difference in how warm you feel; and third are the sleeves, unless you have forearms like popeye most of the sleeves on winshirts are pretty easy to push up. it's amazing with the rest of the windshirt buttoned-up how much you can cool your body with just your forearms exposed to a cool breeze. and let’s not forget we are talking about windshirts, which by their design breath pretty well.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Some minor flaws in that logic. on 02/19/2013 08:06:56 MST Print View

If you haven't read this or this you might find them interesting.

Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
Re: All Things Considered / Venting on 02/19/2013 10:20:02 MST Print View

The thin highly breathable fabric is already pretty good at dumping heat.

Your arms and ears need the most protection from the weather since they are out their waving around in the air and coming into contact with brush and things. I would sooner look at the backless camp flash anorak ( ) then a windshirt vest if dumping heat is your main concern.

Vests are nice as insulating layers (add warmth to the core) but this is a protection layer that adds minimal warmth.

A windshirt vest might make sense for highly aerobic activities like running in the cold with little wind where it would increase the rate of evaporation from your core without increasing the rata at which you sweat yet keep your hands/arms cold enough that you could wear gloves without sweating them out.

The veins in your forearm/wrist are close to the surface so this is an important area to protect to keep your hands warm. Same goes for the neck.

Think about how cold your hands and ears can get on biking in the cold due to the added chill from moving through the air. The windshirt is to cut this sort of chill. The windshirt is to cut this effect without overheating you so coverage of the extremities is good.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Deleted on 02/19/2013 10:43:45 MST Print View


Edited by lyrad1 on 03/17/2014 18:20:58 MDT.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Breath Test on 02/19/2013 11:03:25 MST Print View

I shudder to think of the consequences of a failed test...

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/19/2013 12:33:03 MST Print View

I'll pile on as another believer in the power and awe of the windshirt.

I've been using the same Houdini for the last 6 or 7 years; it still looks brand new. It goes everywhere with me for all sorts of activities: hiking, traveling, mountain biking, running, work commute, light duty rain jacket, etc. It's easily one of my most frequently used pieces of clothing. I don't often bring a dedicated rain shell given the climate/nature of most of my trips, but I always bring the houdini.

- With the windshirt, I can hike comfortably in a long sleeve baselayer down to a bit below freezing.
- During breaks, throwing on the windshirt often provides enough warmth to keep my comfy for a short stop to eat something.
- Adding it over/under other insulated layers adds a noticeable amount of warmth.
- Works great as a light protective layer for snowy weather or light "misty" rain.
- Dropping the hood, opening up the zipper, pushing up the sleeves, etc. gives me some flexibility in terms of venting when just a baselayer is too little but adding a mid-layer would be too much.

I don't use the hood very often as it adds too much heat for me when on the go, but it sure is nice to have for sedentary time in camp.

For something so light and packable (you can compress it down to the size of a plum), it's hard for me to find fault with it.

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
Re: Interesting Question on 02/19/2013 13:13:29 MST Print View

I'm going to have to agree with the feeling that a windshirt is a luxury. It is by no means, an essential piece of gear the same way a rain jacket is: it doesn't protect you fully against rain, nor wind, but on the other hand, paired with a hard shell, it lets you fine tune your exposure to the elements and increase your comfort level dramatically. You can certainly make do without it, but the amount of comfort it adds on an ounce-by-ounce basis is incredible.

I've worn nothing more than an R1 hoody & Houdini from 20º all the way to 5º for backpacking and snowshoeing. It lets me move at a normal pace without overheating or sweating, which in turn means I need to carry and wear less insulation for when I slow down or stop. When I heat up or cool down throughout the day I can simply regulate my temperature by sliding my sleeves up and down, opening the front zipper, or wearing the hood.

In warmer months like spring and fall I'll wear the Houdini over a lightweight, long-sleeved base layer and I can continue to regulate my temperature in a similar manner. I'll even carry the Houdini into the summer, for cool nights.

More importantly for me is how it fits into a typical clothing layering system, which has radically changed the way I layer. When I used to use a hard shell as a light additional insulation layer, I would wear it and sweat in it, knowing that being waterproof, it would dry quickly when I took it off.

If I got cold, I would have to take off the hard shell, put on a mid layer, and then put the hard shell back over it. With the Houdini, I can simply slide a mid layer over it for warmth, whereas doing the same with a hard shell is far less viable due to the stiffer, less breathable material. My hard shell is then relegated for when precipitation is too much for the wind shell to handle, or if I'm above treeline or in an exposed, windy area in subfreezing conditions.

The other great thing about a hooded wind shell is, unlike just about any other material people wear in the backcountry, snow and water slips right off. If you duck under a tree branch only to dump snow or water on you, it will fall right off your windshell instead of falling down your neck or soaking into your layers.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Water resistance on 02/19/2013 19:46:33 MST Print View

Can anyone add some experience with wind shirts made from more water resistant materials like Windstopper or Epic? Seems these might make for a good compromise between wind shell and hard shell for day hiking. Full zips would allow for ventilation if required.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/20/2013 10:55:06 MST Print View

It replaces your fleece for less weight and bulk. A fleece can often be too cold in really strong winds, as well, whereas a windshirt is fine.

If you're bringing a fleece for camp warmth, that's a bit different. Most of the time, I find a fleece not warm enough for camp, at least not lightweight ones (down works a lot better). For warmer trips, I bring an Ex-Light Down Vest - when coupled with a windshirt (total 6oz), it's about as warm as a lightweight fleece under a rain jacket, but more flexible and less bulk.

It might have to do with your location, as well. In CO, I spend a great deal of time above treeline. To do so without wind protection is difficult. When exerting heavily, a rain jacket often does not breath enough.

Edited by lindahlb on 02/20/2013 10:57:33 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Water resistance on 02/21/2013 12:47:46 MST Print View

"Can anyone add some experience with wind shirts made from more water resistant materials like Windstopper or Epic?"

They would be too hot/sweaty for moving. Epic for a rain shell, yes, but the strength of a windshirt is in providing wind protection while remaining breathable.

Windstopper is great for gloves and beanies, but all the tops I have seen were just sweaty and heavy, not to mention expensive. Once you are stopped, it doesn't provide much warmth other than blocking wind. It's just another kind of soft shell fabric, with all the weaknesses.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Re: Wind Vests on 02/21/2013 12:52:29 MST Print View

You guys were right.

Tell your sister.... You were riiight.....

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/21/2013 12:55:26 MST Print View

"It replaces your fleece for less weight and bulk. A fleece can often be too cold in really strong winds, as well, whereas a windshirt is fine."

I think a windshirt and fleece make a perfect paring. You basically have a a breathable insulated jacket that you can wear all together or one of the separated layers. Good fluffy breathable fleece has poor wind resistance but is warm when used with wind or rain shell, or for sleep. Fleece is fine around camp to take a little chill off if there is no wind. Fleece packs poorly and doesn't have the loft of down for below freezing weather, but it is the best stuff for cool wet weather.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/21/2013 13:00:43 MST Print View

Doesn't the fluffy fleece have much more warmth for the weight than the windproof stuff?

Edited by justin_baker on 02/21/2013 13:01:58 MST.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Re: Water resistance on 02/21/2013 13:22:30 MST Print View

Dale, thanks for the feedback on my question about more water resistant fabrics. You wrote:

"Windstopper is great for gloves and beanies, but all the tops I have seen were just sweaty and heavy, not to mention expensive. Once you are stopped, it doesn't provide much warmth other than blocking wind. It's just another kind of soft shell fabric, with all the weaknesses."

The fabric I was referring to is the windstopper active shell material. While I agree, it looks rather pricey, it's not a typical soft shell in the sense of what I think of a soft shell to be. Gore advertises it as more breathable than WPB Active Shell, but not water proof. And I believe it's air permeable - unlike typical gore membrane. Jackets are available in the 4oz range, putting them in the same league (in terms of weight and pack-ability) as the other windshirts mentioned here.

Thanks for the words on Epic fabric. Never handled it personally, only heard of it. I remember looking at a Wild Things shell made of the fabric a few years ago.

RA Amundsen
Sense in wind on 02/21/2013 15:55:50 MST Print View

Sitting here with a brand new Montane Lite-speed jacket, I sort of have my decision process fresh in mind:

My walks are in the mountains of Norway (sidetracking into Sweden). Mostly the weather is impossible to predict, but one thing is a safe bet: wind and most likely something howling out of Siberia.

My previous walking jacket is a very nice soft-shell that weighs in at 680 grams and takes lots of volume. It stops wind and breaths great. It also add a bit of warmth and water-resistance (15 minutes in light drizzle). These last two points are already covered by an insulating mid-layer, a wool shirt, an umbrella and a bomb-proof poncho.

The way I see it, the wind-shirt gives me a lighter, trimmer pack and better options on windy days. There is a sacrifice at the lower end of the temperature scale, but that is what the rest of the gear in the pack is for.

It is a specialized item, but given that the rest of my clothing system is specialized as well, one might throw out the jacket of all trades (but it comes back on in winter).

By the way; Montane Lite-speed jackets seem to run small in sizing. I'm happy in U.S. Medium, but Large is a snug fit with this one.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Logic Check: Windshirt on 02/21/2013 17:11:33 MST Print View

Here is my take on it: In most cases it is a luxury. So is a pillow (use a rock-stone like Bob Marley). But it is a very light luxury item that comes in handy for a lot of uses:

1) As mentioned, as a compliment to a poncho. This is a very light system that can provide protection for wind, rain and bugs. Unless you are carrying breathable Cuben, this is probably the lightest system that provides really good protection for all three.

2) It compliments fleece for day hikes. For a lot of my day hikes, I bring a fleece jacket and a windshirt. I leave the rain jacket at home if the forecast calls for 0% chance of rain. Worse case scenario I high tail it down the trail to my car (I always bring a rain jacket when backpacking).

2B) The same combination works great for skiing. I sweat a lot going uphill, so the fleece is usually just fine. But if it is really coming down (especially as slush) then I'll throw on the windshirt. When I go downhill, I'll probably have both a windshirt and down jacket on.

3) It adds a middle layer when combined with a puffy jacket and rain jacket. A very lightweight puffy jacket (like the Cocoon Hoody) is much warmer than a fleece jacket of a similar weight. Because it is much warmer, you can get by with a lighter sleeping bag. The drawback is that a puffy jacket is often too warm. In other words, you are too cold for just a base layer, and too warm if you put on your puffy jacket. The windshirt solves this problem by providing a nice middle warmth.

In all these cases it provides a much more comfortable layer than a rain jacket, which means that when I use it for bug or wind protection, I am a lot more comfortable. As mentioned, it is way more durable than Propore, which means I am a lot less likely to damage my gear.

diego dean
wow on 02/21/2013 19:00:15 MST Print View

I just got my houdini yesterday and went out for a walk in the neighborhood today in blizzard conditions. Merino wool base layer, houdini, and a Patagonia syn pullover and I was perfectly comfortable while not even really exerting myself. Temps at 19 degrees and 30-40 mph winds with lots of dry snow falling.

Im excited to try it out some more and bummed I havnt until now!

Edited by cfionthefly on 02/21/2013 19:01:49 MST.