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Logic Check: Windshirt
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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.