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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: Mind your own business
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) - F

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) - F

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) - F

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.