Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones
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Steve Zavoda
(Anotherdyemention)

Locale: NE Ohio
Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 10/31/2013 09:53:22 MDT Print View

I've been looking at various windshirts and was wondering if the cheap ones (Adidas climashield for $25 ) would be any good. I know it's not water resistant but I can get a bottle of DWR for a few bucks that would be enough to do all my clothes if I wanted to. I mean, I honestly find it ridiculous to spend $100+ on a wind breaker with DWR coating on it just cuz it has Patagonia or marmot embroidered on it. Especially when I can get an 800 fill down jacket for the same price. So I was just wondering if anyone uses the cheap ones. I actually seen one on Sierra trading post for $25 and my local Khios has one on clearance for $15.
Thanks

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 10/31/2013 10:02:37 MDT Print View

Wind shirts block wind. They are not waterproof. "Durable Water Repellency" is not durable, or does in repel water for very long. With that in mind, one would like the lightest shirt that does indeed block wind and is breathable. Most cheap ones don't breath well. Neither do some of the expensive ones (MontBel UL wind shirt for example).

For me, the Houdini is the best breathable wind shirt I have ever used. I take it on every trip and I also have one in my suitcase for business trips.

For precipitation, I have other gear to handle that.

Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
Wind Shirts can be Hit or Mis on 10/31/2013 10:24:21 MDT Print View

I had a thrift store one for a while, now I'm on my second (previous generation) houdini. The cheap one was fine for windy but dry desert conditions but the fabric in the houdini offers much better moisture protection and breathability, is lighter and packs smaller (into its own pocket which can be clipped to something which is nice). It is without a doubt my most used piece of mountain clothing. It comes on most trips and I run, bike, ski, hike climb etc in it.

My wife has had a couple over the years but now also has a houdini and feels it is much more breathable then her previous ones (or and golite i think) in which she would sweat out more often.

On a technical level I believe that, in a garment like this, the weather proofness is as much a property of the fabric weave as any chemical treatment.

That said, we paid something like $50 each for ours last year during an rei-outlet sale and my previous one came from geartrade. My advice would be to watch for deals on windshirts that get good reviews for the sports you do.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
darth vader on 10/31/2013 10:36:18 MDT Print View

do the darth vader breath test

put the shirt against yr mouth and try to breath through it ... youll either choke or sound like darth vader ...

if you choke its not very breathable of course ... if you can breath through it somewhat then you know its at least air permeable, which influences the "breathability" ...

as said windshirts are hit and miss ... the old squamish/celeris was very brethable, and the old houdini im told as well ... the new houdini people indicate as less breathable ... and the MB not very brethable

if you want guaranteed breathability get a light non-membraned softshell ... of course its tends to be a bit "warmer" and heavier of course

one thing to remember is that EVERYONE makes a windshirt these days ... they have for decades ... the ones for runners go on sale all the time and as long as they pass the breath test theres nothing really "wrong" with them ... runners tend to sweat much more aggressively that hikers

;)

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 10/31/2013 10:50:00 MDT Print View

For decades I used cheap windbreakers, usually from places I worked. My only requirement of them was the "Darth Vader" breath test above. They all worked, to one degree or another.

But the Houdini which I finally got a couple years ago(definitely bought on sale!) is definitely ahead of the cheap ones, for breathability, weight and compactability.

So yeah, the cheap ones work, but the more expensive ones CAN be better. But shop the sales!

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
The Darth Vader Test on 10/31/2013 10:57:34 MDT Print View

Love it! Never heard that before, but this windshirt question is something I've been wondering about for a while. Thanks for asking and answering!

Delmar O'Donnell
(Bolster)

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Post Houdini on 10/31/2013 11:16:50 MDT Print View

Now that the new Houdini is significantly less breathable, what's the NEW de facto recommendation for a windshirt?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 10/31/2013 11:27:31 MDT Print View

Thrift store windshirts will usually do the job just fine. You aren't going to find any real ultralight windshirts in thrift stores, but if you really look you can usually find one around 7 oz. I like a cheap, thicker fabric windshirt for thrashing around through brush and scraping against sharp rocks.

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
Re: Post Houdini on 10/31/2013 11:35:56 MDT Print View

> Now that the new Houdini is significantly less breathable, what's the NEW de facto recommendation for a wind shirt?

I've been testing the Westcomb Crest Hoody as a replacement for the Houdini and it seems like an ideal substitute. It breathes better than the 2013 version and just as well as the 2012 one, with an excellent hood and velcro cuffs.

Pertex Equilibrium is stretchy, lightweight, more wicking, and more breathable than the 2013 Houdini's tightly woven silicone-treated fabric.

The one downside is that if you bushwhack a lot it might develop pulls since the weave isn't as fine and tight.

* * *

To OP, I'd argue that cheap wind shirts do work just fine. I've used a lot of various wind shirts out of curiosity and interest in the overall state of the market and any wind shirt will do exactly as advertised by cutting down on the wind blowing around you. They will perform, and they will do the primary job of keeping you comfortable.

However, I think that if you do have the budget to pay a little extra for a nicer wind shirt (or a nicer any-piece-of-clothing) then there are a lot of valid reasons to do so.

First of all, the trim is usually better (neater, smaller, nicer to deal with) on a more expensive wind shirt -- there's usually less flaps, cuff material, better elastic cinching mechanisms -- and secondly, the fit is usually better. A slimmer fit that doesn't restrict your movement comes from more complicated tailoring or patterning. Most cheaper garments are cut to a boxy pattern that restricts arm movement, particularly forward or upwards if worn too slim and flaps around a ton if worn too baggy. Better garments can fit close without restricting movement and may still yet allow layering. Finally, and possibly most important, is that the fabric itself can be (but not necessarily) better.

Patagonia for instance uses a very light 10D nylon on their latest revision of Houdini (the new, less breathable 2013 model which I use and still recommend) that is actually silicone impregnated. That means that it absorbs less water, has permanent water resistance lasting the life of the garment, and is slick enough to slip on over and under other layers with ease. That slickness also seems to add to its durability, since it experiences less abrasion… surprising for such a gossamer thin piece of gear. That's not a fabric you'll see on other, cheaper products, since most cheaper windbreakers simply use calendared nylon or nylon with a light PU coat.

Steve Zavoda
(Anotherdyemention)

Locale: NE Ohio
Thanks on 10/31/2013 12:00:17 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the very informative responses. Weight for me isn't such a huge issue if it's one or two pieces of gear. Durability, not too much either as I live in NE Ohio and just trek through the woods. But fit is important. I would definitely spend some extra cash on something that wasn't going to piss me off and either bunch up or restrict movement. I will defiantly research these a lot more before making a purchase. Thanks

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Windshirts on 10/31/2013 16:38:59 MDT Print View

I like modestly priced windshirts, as they tend to take a lot of abuse. I wear it over my downjacket around camp, or to protect my arms when bushwacking.

The MEC RD Windshirt is really good. Nice long torso with a slim cut and a hood that fits snugly to keep bugs out. Virtually all the weight in the fabric, so for 5oz you get a nice durable windshirt that lasts years. You can get one that weighs half that, but you don't actually want that to be taking a lot of wear. Having a jacket that you can use for the rougher parts of hiking is great so you can perserve your more expensive WP/B jacket and downjacket. $78.

http://www.mec.ca/product/5019-388/mec-rd-windshell-jacket-mens/

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear)
Re: Windshirts on 10/31/2013 23:45:36 MDT Print View

The thing i like most about the Houdini is the truly durable/D in DWR coating, since it's like an Epic like coating. Can be refreshed just by washing and potentially lasts a long while. Most DWR's on most other windshirts will wear off much faster.

Bought ours on clearance and so thought it was well worth the price.


A decent and cheaper alternative is the Brooks LSD windshirts. They seem to be somewhat styled after the Houdini, like with the hood design etc. They probably won't be as durable as they are make out of polyester and not silicone coated nylon like the Houdini. Around the same weight, and usually cheaper than the Houdini.

One thing i like more about it, is that my Brooks LSD II windshirt version is definitely more breathable than my 2012 Houdini, both in the fabric itself and the fact that it has a back vent. I lean to liking more breath-ability than not as i run warm.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/01/2013 00:57:39 MDT Print View

Once you get off the super light factor, there are lots of running and biking wind shells that work. The Brooks LSD series running jackets are quite good. I have a Royal Robbins polyester shell that I use for my town wind shell.

Many of the less expensive shells like Sierra Designs and Red Ledge are coated to the point that they are more like a rain shell that hasn't been seam taped and are sweaty.

As others said, the breath test tells you what you need to know. You can treat them with Nikwax and improve the DWR.

Montane makes some good windshirts. I would love to see data on the latest Mountain Hardwear and Outdoor Research offerings.

You do get lighter weight and more product integrity with the better wind shells. Things like zippers, fit, hood construction count, as well as all the little features like hem drawstrings and cuff design. A good warranty adds value for me c

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/01/2013 01:26:44 MDT Print View

Steve,
This is a tough one to answer because it depends on the fit of the wind jacket, the weight of the fabric, the type of fabric, etc...

What I will say is that you can certainly get a wind jacket that performs well for you without breaking the bank.

With the wind jackets made by the "outdoor brands," you will be getting a piece of clothing that is made to be light, and will usually layer pretty easily. With the other brands, it's hard to say, but you could get lucky.

I use a Marmot Trail Wind Hoody that I got off Amazon for $50 (they are currently $64, I checked). It's held up well after several years of use. The DWR is now non-existent but I find that all DWR coating are not very durable, so it's to be expected. The jacket has performed well enough that I don't feel any need whatsoever to replace it with something "more technical."

I'd advise just finding a wind jacket from one of the outdoor apparel companies that happens to be on sale. It's just a lightweight nylon or polyester shell. It's not that complicated. The fit of the jacket, the weight of the fabric, and the tightness of the weave is going to be more important than the brand.

Just my two cents. Good luck with your search.

Edited by dmusashe on 11/01/2013 01:29:51 MDT.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/01/2013 05:06:32 MDT Print View

Perhaps adding that windshirts designed for running or biking can have a design that not allows carrying a backpack (backvent that is incompatible with carrying a backpack., pockets that interfere with a hipbelt, ...)

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: windshirts continuum on 11/01/2013 07:59:29 MDT Print View

After some skimming I think I'm agreed with Dan -- moderately priced is great, and that MEC windshirt looks like a great deal.
The thing with windshirts is that, in my experience, used as described in various canonical ultralight literature (like on this site) ... they tend to be worn a whole lot. That means they accumulate light (or heavy) amounts of abrasion, they get a lot of incidental friction contact with other pieces of gear like base layers (with sweat and body oils) and pack straps, belt loops, that kind of thing. IMHO in other words your windshirt is a workhorse-like piece of gear, and as such it should be good enough that you enjoy using it, but not so precious that you would mourn its loss of the new-pristine-gear condition. Hope that all made sense.

And, keep in mind that, as Dan pointed out, the market is coming down. There are a lot of reasonable, breathable, wind-resistant, ultralight windshirts that are under 5oz and under $60. I remember tracking the Marmot Trail Wind Hoody for a while when it was under $40 on a variety of sites. At that price, with that quality, man, I would think you couldn't go wrong. Unless it was like the dreaded bad run of Marmot Ions from a few years ago that had basically silnylon for fabric -- but hey, that's what the darth vader test is for.

Here are some other quick samples of what you can get for not nearly as expensive as a Houdini:
http://www.backcountrygear.com/mens-jackets/montane-featherlite-smock-mens-s13.html
http://www.campsaver.com/nine-trails-jacket-mens
http://www.campsaver.com/cirrus-pull-on-wind-jacket-men-s

... and so on. Search for longer than my ~5min and you'll find better deals than that. Oh, and Campsaver happens to be running a 20%-off-everything coupon right now, see front page for the code.

You get the idea. No need to compromise on this stuff. In my book, getting down to $35 - $50 for a reputable-brand windshirt like what's listed above, seems like the sweet spot.

Adrien Baker
(AdrienBaker) - F - M

Locale: Kern County
Houdini on 11/01/2013 09:02:49 MDT Print View

I'm not sure what size you are, but I just picked up a blue Houdini in XL from 6pm.com for $50.

Adrien

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: windshirts continuum on 11/01/2013 09:19:41 MDT Print View

Just to say that I bought a Dead Bird Anabatic windshirt (6 oz. for an M) years ago (2007 or earlier) Okay, MSRP wasn't cheap, but fortunately I found it on sale (± -35 %). Now, I have been using it up to this past summer, even sometimes with a rather heavy pack.

Edited by Woubeir on 11/01/2013 10:12:55 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
trail wind on 11/01/2013 09:56:47 MDT Print View

i own and use a trail wind occasionally

its not very breathable for a windshirt ...darth vade who probably breath through it, but hed turn blue

its not that durable either ... mine has enough pinholes that ive started seam gripping it

i remember seeing 7$ clearance windshirts at superstore earlier this year, unfortunately they were only womens ... they look very UL with only 2 pockets, a hood and nothing else ... passed the breath test fine

as i said everyone and their mom makes them these days

a windshirt should be as breathable as possible while stopping the wind ... and dont worry about the DWR, if you use it alot under a pack or high abrasion activities, it will wear off where it rubs

;)

hwc 1954
(wcollings) - M
light weight windshirts on 11/01/2013 22:11:57 MDT Print View

I have two lightweight wind shirt hoodys -- a Brooks LSD running hoody and a Marmot Trail Wind Hoody. I bought both on sale. Both were still expensive for little bits of wispy material, but they are the jackets I wear more often than anything else. One of them is always in my pack. One is always in my car. Just a little rain protection against a shower. Perfect wind protection on a breezy summit in the summer. Great when you need just a little something extra when hiking or walking fast. 5 ounces and stuff into its own pocket, there's really no reason not to carry one.

It is the first jacket I would get for hiking or running or sightseeing...

--------------

I have another one -- a Marmot Essence jacket -- that is similarly light weight fabric, but with 100% waterproof "breathable" material. I would choke on the price of this thing ($175), but found it on the clearance rack at TJMAXX for $59 and grabbed it as quick as I could. A 6 ounce 100% waterproof hoody. Wow. Still clammy on a hot day, hiking uphill, but infinitely better than most rain jackets. I love it so much, I got a pair of matching ultra-light rain pants. Those are now a pair in my pack as my standard rain gear in the spring, summer, fall... I wouldn't want to bushwhack through dense underbrush. The fabric is definitely not rugged, but for occasional use rain gear -- perfect.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: trail wind on 11/09/2013 17:06:26 MST Print View

"a windshirt should be as breathable as possible while stopping the wind"

While I agree with Eric Chan's general intent with this comment, I think it's a little misleading to the uninitiated.

The idea that you can have both very high breathability and very high wind resistance in a wind jacket fabric is a fallacy. It's one or the other. It's all about how thick and how tightly woven the fabric of the jacket is. The same gaps in the weave that are creating the fabric's "breathability" will also allow windblown air in.

So the more tightly woven, the more wind resistant, and the less breathable. And vice versa.

But I think what Eric is intending to say is that you should get the most breathable jacket you can that will still block most of the wind that you plan to encounter.

So you probably don't need a jacket that will block 100mph winds, because it would be overkill on the wind blocking aspect and wouldn't be very breathable either.

In the end though, it's all an empirical game. You sort of have to try the jacket out and see if you like it... Which doesn't help too much when you are ordering things online...

Edited by dmusashe on 11/09/2013 17:08:46 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: trail wind on 11/09/2013 18:22:53 MST Print View

"The idea that you can have both very high breathability and very high wind resistance in a wind jacket fabric is a fallacy."

Tell that to my old, well-washed, never re-treated, Houdini.

A tightly woven uncoated fabric can do both very well. I can literally breathe through the Houdini fabric, yet it does an admirable job of shedding wind and transporting water vapor.

Edited by greg23 on 11/09/2013 18:28:21 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/09/2013 20:13:18 MST Print View

The main difference between most of the expensive windshirts and most of the cheap windshirtss is usually the amount spent on marketing.
After all, most of them are made in Asia.

Cheers

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
eh on 11/09/2013 20:14:44 MST Print View

I have a zipper if I want 'breathability'. Personally I am more interested if it can keep some heat in and shed a little drizzle. $20 buys me usually what I need. Heck with all the treatments.

Edited by bpeugh on 11/09/2013 20:15:49 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/09/2013 20:37:07 MST Print View

Roger opined, "The main difference between most of the expensive windshirts and most of the cheap windshirtss is usually the amount spent on marketing.
After all, most of them are made in Asia."

So much for the careful analysis of the other BPL staff.

The difference?

Fabric performance
Component quality
Quality control
Customer service and warranty
Fit data
Dealer and distribution network
Working conditions for the assemblers
Sustainability

I've seen miles of cheap stuff with promotional logos or just plain cheap crap from Big Box discounters. There is indeed a difference and the landfills are full of it.

It would be a shame to have someone abandon UL techniques because they used cheap stuff that didn't measure up. Failed rain gear, sweaty wind shells, shoes that hurt, and packs that self destruct are wasted dollars, frustrating and possibly dangerous.

If you can find something that works and costs less, I'll get in that line with you. Double points for using recycled items like water bottles. And discretion IS the better part of valor. Caveat emptor.

My $0.02

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: trail wind on 11/10/2013 00:04:15 MST Print View

But I think what Eric is intending to say is that you should get the most breathable jacket you can that will still block most of the wind that you plan to encounter.

something like that ...

IMO a windshirt that isnt "breathable" is pretty useless for decent output activities above freezing if yr hot and sweaty like me ... you might as well get a good "breathable" rain shell instead

a windshirt is an active use layer, which is when you are moving and sweating ... the only reason you are wearing it rather than a shell is so you dont sweat it out ... if a rain shell "breathed" as well as a windshirt, we wouldnt bother spending $$$$$ on these pieces of thin nylon

for static insulation you have your puffy and your shell anyways ... IMO if it lets in a bit of wind when active, its no big deal, itll help cool you down

well ... there is one more reason, because its cheaper sometimes ... but with pieces like the dead bird squamish ... they are getting very close to the price of a rain shell

i dont think theres any real correlation between price and "breathability" ... some people say the new houdini which costs $100 isnt that breathable anymore ... while the running windshirt from adidas i say in the discount store today passed the breath test easily

its more a function of design and materials IMO .... my personal opinion is that some windshirts are moving towards a less breathable, more wind./water resistant format to satisfy the "urban" market ... people who do less strenuous activities and who are more likely to feel the wind through the shell in less active scenarios ...

remember that the majority of people who buy this stuff use it rarely outside day walks or the city

;)

Edited by bearbreeder on 11/10/2013 01:08:11 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/10/2013 16:38:00 MST Print View

> So much for the careful analysis of the other BPL staff.
You want the careful industry analysis? OK, herewith.

The expensive garments are made from fabric. The fabric is made from thread. The thread is made from single fibres.
None of the companies involved in the above chain want to sell a single small lot to someone like Patagonia. It is simply not worth their while. They want to sell tons. But they do plan ahead.

So the market goes like this.
* First, a new fabric (say) is developed, following discussions with a few customers. The one or two customer buy the fabric, make garments, and sell them in one season. (For fabric also read coatings etc etc.)

* Since genuine backcountry use is probably <1% of the street fashion market, 99% of the details in the design of the garment are aimed squarely at the fashion market. Of course, this also requires lots of marketing to draw the street customers' attention: it's a very harsh world, the fashion market.

* Next year lots of the competitors of the first customer get in on the act and buy the same fabric to make similar products - sometimes in the same factory in Asia. The volume is a little bigger. There are cosmetic differences to the design of course, plus changes to the embroidered logo.

* But the fabric mills want more sales than that little volume. So next year they pitch at the Walmarts of this world. One of them bites, and the order is probably 10x as large as everything before (or bigger). This is the goal! The factories which were making the original bits of clothing, plus all their competitors, want those contracts for the volume as well.

To be sure, the Walmart version may be a bit simplified, but the frills on the originals are not that significant for backcountry use anyhow. They were never meant for the backcountry; they were meant for the street fashion market.

Translated into availability: last year, Patagonia exclusive; this year: most of the majors; next year: Walmart.

> I've seen miles of cheap stuff with promotional logos or just plain cheap crap
> from Big Box discounters. There is indeed a difference and the landfills are
> full of it.
True about the landfill, but why? Mostly because the fashion market is fickle! What was cool last year is dodo this year, so the average customer junks it and buys this year's model. Most of the other comments are the marketing message: junk from the other companies is junk; only our stuff will give you that real cool look.

When it comes to shoes, all bets are off. Sure, people buy what looks cool - but often it does not fit their feet, so they hasten to try something different.

> packs that self destruct
Yeah, happens. Here we do have actual load testing! Most really cheap packs are not aimed at that market, and often we find that the pack was seriously overloaded as well. If you stick 30 lb in a small day pack meant for <10lb, your problem.

Another example: spectacles. I can buy a pair at my local optician, for $400 - $600. I can buy essentialy the same design and lens quality from the web (eg Zenni) for $40 - $60. What I don't get from Zenni is the huge Bolle marketing budget.

Yes, I may be over-stating the case slightly - but not by much. Sorting out the reality from the hype - that's hard.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 11/10/2013 16:40:00 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/10/2013 17:02:25 MST Print View

The Walmart version may be made of nylon thread, but all similarities stop there. Here in the US, people shed this cheap junk by the ton. From an environmental standpoint, it is criminal.

Switch the discussion to tools: both made of steel, but from there on out, the differences in tolerances, finish, hardening and customer service are huge. My poor knuckles have known the difference. Having the soles peel off your boots when you're halfway to nowhere is analogous.

Any consumer item is the same really. Certainly there is a good dose of hype and fashion is just hype as well. But the service life and functionality of a well designed and manufactured item is quantitatively and aesthetically measurable. Deciding if it is worth the extra cost is the quandary --- and the rub. We all know that a chunk of the price goes for fancy store overhead, full page magazine ads and color catalogs. So it goes.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/10/2013 17:24:09 MST Print View

Heartily agreed with Dale here. If any two garments composed of the same basic materials are to be considered equivalent commodities, then we are wasting our time here with comparative reviews and detailed examinations that happen on this website.

For that matter, I would say honestly that a not - insignificant part of what makes a piece worthwhile is the fit and styling. Roger I glean from your comments and design ethic that you care not for how a piece fits you publicly or whether the colors favor you or not. That's fine. But for me, being bound for 95% of my life to an urban context, it makes me happy when I end up owning a down jacket that both serves me well on a hike and also keeps me warm in the city through the winter. In this case then, the cut and fashion of a piece is an appreciable benefit, and commendable too because it keeps my consumption lower by providing an item that works in multiple contexts.

Again, you may not care how the piece looks, and that's fine. You are perhaps more enlightened than me and I won't begrudge that. But I do second Dale on the idea that often the companies that can afford to make use of new technologies and construction techniques in their gear are often able to do so because they can pay for such machinery and skilled designers using income made from the purely fashion-oriented part of their line. That was a long run on sentence but I think you get the point.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/10/2013 20:22:34 MST Print View

> tools: both made of steel, but from there on out, the differences in tolerances,
> finish, hardening and customer service are huge.
We don't get 'customer service' here, so I wouldn't know.

The interesting thing here is that a lot of the tools might come from the same factory in China. So why the difference? Well, one person, very experienced in the ways of China, explained it thus. If you want good, we build good. If you want it to a real cheap price, we build to the price YOU specify.

I have to say, that has been my experince with Chinese engineering recently. I have bought some excellent tooling from China - from a distributor I trust (mostly).
How does Walmart (generic term, not focusing solely on them) fit into this? You can work it out. Some of the stuff they flog is (I am sure) total crap, but some of it can be OK. The trick is to be able to discriminate yourself. That said, when it comes to clothing, Walmart has to be careful. Parents might not bother complaining to the shop about a cheap $2 plastic toy which breaks, but people will complain about a bit of clothing which is not satisfactory. Too many returns and the profit margin goes below zero.

> Having the soles peel off your boots when you're halfway to nowhere is analogous.
I have actually experienced exactly that. The problem was that the Australian company had been pushing the factory in China to keep lowering their ex-factory prices (for no reduction in Australia). So the factory did. One cost saving was to replace the bonded waterproof inner foot bed with (genuine) cardboard. When it got wet ... squoosh. End of Australian product line reputation. Yes, the product line died.

But it is not that simple for us consumers. An aquaintance of mine was trying to sell tents into the Oz market, for about $60 (I think). The same tents were being brought in by an Oz retailer and sold for about $200. A HUGE markup. Their justification for this? "We can get away with it." I have also seen the same item for sale in an up-market store and in a Walmart-class store - at radically different prices.

My bottom line from this is that the local retail price (be it Patagucci or Walmart) is simply not a reliable indicator of quality.

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/10/2013 20:31:46 MST Print View

> If any two garments composed of the same basic materials are to be considered
> equivalent commodities, then we are wasting our time here with comparative reviews
> and detailed examinations that happen on this website.
I haven't done many garment reviews ...

Up to a point, I think you are right. Where you may find a genuine difference is in comparing cottage with 'Walmart'. The cottage will be a lot dearer, but may be of better quality - sometimes. Is the extra quality worth the extra cost? Individual choice.

> Roger I glean from your comments and design ethic that you care not for how a
> piece fits you publicly or whether the colors favor you or not.
Geez mate, I dunno.
I'm retired, so I don't need an office 'uniform' any more. I haven't bought outer layer garments from a shop for ... rather a long time. It's almost all MYOG. Maybe you're right.

Cheers

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/10/2013 20:53:58 MST Print View

Roger,
Hope I didn't offend. I meant genuinely that at some point in life, I'll probably care a bit less about how I look. But I'm not there yet. So, part of what draws me into gear purchases, at any price point, is not just the quality and utilitarian performance, but the aesthetic "fashion" of the piece. Now, whether that aesthetic lines up with the general mainstream North Face - mania that seems to dominate the market here ... well ... I haven't sunk *that* low :-)

Meanwhile you said this:
My bottom line from this is that the local retail price (be it Patagucci or Walmart) is simply not a reliable indicator of quality.

.. and I do agree -- not reliable, but sometimes still worth wagering on -- particularly when one is familiar with a brand's reputation otherwise.

I think one of the reasons that people have submitted options above in this post that are both A) from high-end outdoor brands, but also B) marked down to the $40 - $60 range, is that at least with the high end brands, we can probably count on customer service being good. At minimum, that is. It's also highly plausible that if an $80 Montbell windshirt is marked down to $40, it might be a pretty good deal. 95% sure (though not 100%) that that piece would be a better buy than the Wal-mart windshirt that starts at $44.95.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/10/2013 21:35:55 MST Print View

This discussion over price is kinda silly I think. No reason to pay full price for brand name off-the-rack outdoor clothing (or gear), at least online. The standard discount off MSRP seems to be about 20%. In off season, discounts up to 50-70% are common. On top of that, there are the cash rebate shopping portals like Fat Wallet and Active Junky that give up to an additional 2-15% for clicking thru them.

For example, I paid ~$50 for my Houdini direct from Patagonia and less than $40 for my wife's thru REI. A few months later Fat Wallet sends me a rebate.

Given these discounts, what amazes me is the prices people seem willing to pay for USED clothing or so-called "new without tags" pieces in the BPL Gear Swap!

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/10/2013 22:16:32 MST Print View

A slogan I recall from a high quality tent manufacturer from 20 years ago: "You can't afford cheap stuff."

While I'm sure people were handsomely paid to come up with that line, I am also certain that many people in the market of those particular tents back then resonated with it. I also suspect that many readers on BPL ask that question all the time, when it comes to the outdoor equipment they either consider purchasing or making for themselves.

"I mean, really. Can I actually afford to take the risk and get the cheaper one? It's half the cost for SOME reason? Is it half as good? Ahh hell with it, I'll make my own and improve on the design while spending less on materials and more on my own labor!"

As far as a windshirts, clearly some of us value them differently here. Personally I've been a "dead bird" fan since they flew down from Canada, and I wear my Squamish all the time: hiking, running, or walking around town in. I have an old, beat up SD shell, but it doesn't perform nearly as well and I use it when I'm doing weekend construction, yard work or when I simply prefer a slightly less breathable wind breaker.

For me, my windshirt is like my Dewalt cordless impact driver. Sure I can use a cheapie "screw gun", or even my 18v Dewalt drill. But most consumers use a "drill" to screw (because it can) and have no clue what an impact driver is. But to those who know the difference; drills are not even in the same league at screwing/unscrewing as using a good impact driver: its a specific tool for a specific purpose - which just so happens to coincide with most of the needs around a person's house. Besides, like a good windshirt, the entire impact driver weighs several ounces less than the BATTERY of the 18v drill.

Of course at the end of the day (or the weekend), is it about looks, performance, comfort, life-safety, or all of the above?
What do I choose to invest my value in - today?

Matt

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/10/2013 22:31:54 MST Print View

"This discussion over price is kinda silly I think. No reason to pay full price for brand name off-the-rack outdoor clothing (or gear), at least online. "

I saw the discussion as one of function and value. What fool would pay retail for ANYTHING? :)

The game is to get maximum value. I like the concept of "being too poor to buy cheap." Some things are more obvious: a cheap climbing rope or hardware, cheap brakes, a cheap bullet proof vest. Likewise, I would like my gear to last, to have zippers work, to keep me warm and dry and comfortable. But NO WAY would I pay RETAIL. Sheesh!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/11/2013 00:05:44 MST Print View

Hi Ian

> Hope I didn't offend.
Not a chance! :-)

> It's also highly plausible that if an $80 Montbell windshirt is marked down
> to $40, it might be a pretty good deal.
It is also quite likely that the gear shop is STILL making a marginal profit. Mark-up these days is usually ≥100%. (I have seen 200%, 300% ...) So when they want to unload last season's stuff, a 50% discount leaves them covered.

But take care when comparing with (say) Costco: their mark-up is MUCH less. Very much less.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/17/business/yourmoney/17costco.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
"At Costco, one of Mr. Sinegal's cardinal rules is that no branded item can be marked up by more than 14 percent, and no private-label item by more than 15 percent."

http://blogs.marketwatch.com/great-columnist/2012/10/15/retail-markups-and-the-power-of-amazon/
Amazon: averages 15%. Bed, Bath and Beyond: averages 81%

My experience with some outdoors gear shops is that they go for >100%. Why not, if they can get it?


Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 11/11/2013 00:18:11 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/11/2013 00:41:33 MST Print View

A 100% markup yeilds a 50% gross profit. In general a 30% gross in a retail operation will barely break even--- keep the doors open so to speak. High overhead businesses like jewelry stores typical run with a much higher markup. You pay dearly for the plush carpet, sofmt music, security and media advertising. Each type of business needs to fine tune for spoilage, breakage, theft, warranty issues, franchise fees, mall fees, insurance, labor, equipment, tools, repairs, and so on. And they all pay taxes.

Costco does it with high volume and low overhead. I can't imagine what their average checkout total is. I'd love to see REI's data.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/11/2013 00:46:02 MST Print View

Lets break this down one by one

1. does a specific piece of gear make a difference? - a particular piece MAY make a difference

there is likely a reason why wicking layers, softshells, windshells, light weight gear are more popular among those sponsored high output athletes ...

of course you will note that
- every athelete who does similar stuff (example alpinists) often use somewhat different gear systems, yet they all perform at a very high level
- with a few exceptions, BPL is not the providence of top athletes at their limit

an example is the much touted "innovations" like grid fleeces and "active" puffies with fleece inserts ... popularized by patagucci and dead bird respectively ... for many years competitors such as THF, marmot, OR, mammut, etc ... didnt have such "must have" items, but their sponsored athletes didnt perform any less well

now im not saying theres not a minor incremental benefit to new technology or pieces of gear ... but the effect is VERY minor compared to a persons experience, fitness and skill level ... especially if you arent pushing the limits

2. does a specific "performance" brand matter? - other than a very few exceptions the answer is a resounding NO ... any "decent" brand will tend to work as well as any other ...

look at sponsored athletes ... they switch brands all the time, but dont climb/run/swin/bike any less well because of it

what a brand DOES matter is how it deals with warranty issues and its customer service

now some brands do have better PERCEIVED quality ... a prime example is westcomb which is made in vancouver canada, has 20 SPI so they claim, and excellent quality control ... as much as im a fan of that company, and i do own their gear, realistically it doesnt allow me to climb any harder, and i dont think the gear will significantly outlast my cheaper MEC items

3. does a "recognized" brand matter over some department store one? - it DEPENDS ...

for something such as rain jackets i would say YES ... as the better fabric does make a bit of difference, as does proper seam taping, etc ... also the exceptional warranty on certain brands (OR, MEC, EB) is more likely to be used when the jacket delaminates eventually (weve seen this alot on BPL)

for other stuff such as fleece ... not really ... ive probably got 10+ fleeces. some old, some new, some dead bird and patagucci, some MEC, some no name ... and honestly the difference has more to do with the specific design than the brand ... normal dead bird fleece isnt that different from a cheap brand ... MEC T2 (old style) isnt any real different from the cap4 (old style) ... etc ...

some department store brands are VERY GOOD ... notably MEC ... some have reported good experiences with lands end, ll bean, REI, target champion brand, costco 800 fill jackets, etc ...

4. but i can buy a "top end" brand for 50%+ off - absolutely true ... but remember that sales arent exclusively limited to patagucci or dead birds (and ive been enough to those factory clearances) ...

proof in point ... the BPL group buy for NEW MEC T2 hoodies for 25$ ... you would be hard pressed to fond the cap4 hoody for that price anywhere ...

after xmas you will see tons of these 50$ down jackets, 40$ windshells go for 10-30$ or so ... i bought an old navy synth puffy that i wear every day and im surprised hasnt went flat in the last 1-2 years for 19$, it was 80$ new

heres a pair of climbing/hiking pants i picked up a bit back ... it weights 310g v 290g for my dead bird palisades (which are excellent pants) ... is just a breathable seems to be built well enough ... it cost me ~20$ on clearance vs ~50$ for the dead bird which i got at a deep sale ... well see how long it lasts



5. but this brand is very innovative - remember that alot of "innovation" is simply marketing run amok, the outdoor industry is littered with failed concepts

also remember that every company CLAIMS they are "innovative" (all companies, not just outdoor ones) as a reason why they are "better" ... the reality is that there is very little real FUNCTIONAL innovation that happens successfully ... its more often the propaganda of the marketing department

now assuming that this brand does come up with some REAL innovation that works ... how long do you think itll take for everyone else to come out with their own version that works basically as well for FUNCTIONAL purposes ???

everyone and their dog now makes down sweaters, synth micro/nano poofays, grid fleeces ... now not to say there arent slight differences that MAY make a difference to a particular user ... but the best sponsored athletes in the world do the gnarliest things in those copies ...

rab xenon, patagucci nanopuff, dead bird atom ... it doesnt matter, give em the gear and theyll go climb/run/bike/etc ... it

at the end of the day the differences in gear is pretty minor compared to other more important stuff ...

;)

Edited by bearbreeder on 11/11/2013 00:58:42 MST.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/11/2013 00:46:42 MST Print View

"A 100% markup yeilds a 50% gross profit. In general a 30% gross in a retail operation will barely break even--- keep the doors open so to speak. High overhead businesses like jewelry stores typical run with a much higher markup. You pay dearly for the plush carpet, sofmt music, security and media advertising. Each type of business needs to fine tune for spoilage, breakage, theft, warranty issues, franchise fees, mall fees, insurance, labor, equipment, tools, repairs, and so on. And they all pay taxes."


This is why brick and mortar stores are going to eventually die off. Welcome to the internet.

Edited by justin_baker on 11/11/2013 00:47:44 MST.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/11/2013 03:34:35 MST Print View

Wow, this thread has turned into discussion hour hasn't it? At least it's a worthwhile discussion, so I'll join the fray :)

It's clear that the real issue here is much bigger than wind shirts. To me, the crux of the problem is knowing when buying something that's more expensive, or cheaper, or not buying anything at all, will lead to a better outcome.

Businesses are not going to help you with this problem. At the end of the day, and with very few exceptions, all they want to do is sell you their product, be it a cheap or expensive product... be it a product that will actually help you out or not. This is the system we have bought (and been born) into, for better or worse.

This is, of course, why branded water bottles are still sold in large quantities even though a re-used (and hence, free) "disposable" water bottle is a superior product in almost every meaningful way (with some caveats, like hot beverage use). The "disposables" are cheaper, lighter, and much less environmentally harmful (at least in most cases).

But you will never see an ad for a used water bottle by anyone other than maybe a not-for-profit company or a government agency. On the contrary, you will see warnings on most "disposable" water bottles telling you not to re-use them. This is all of course hogwash and simply legalese so that companies don't get sued when somebody invariably gets sick after re-using one of their bottles. The cynics out there will also note that it's in the companies' best interest for you to not use their bottle again anyway, so the health warning is certainly very convenient for them.

Anyway, I bring this up because I think it's a prime example of where the consumerist culture we live in actually fails to inform us about, and deliver, a superior product or experience given all the available options.

To me, this is the real challenge facing all of us these days and one that our current system doesn't help us deal with in many cases (because sometimes the best solution doesn't necessarily make anyone money).

And for goodness sake, can we as a society stop calling something that can last for 1000 years "disposable?" It would be laughable if it wasn't ultimately so harmful.

Ok, that's enough ranting out of me I think.

Edited by dmusashe on 11/11/2013 03:42:59 MST.

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Sun/bug breaker on 11/11/2013 07:39:14 MST Print View

I use these garments differently than many/most of you. I use them as my primary shirt to protect me from sun and bugs. I wear this garment during all my waking hours while backpacking. I want the most breathable fabric I can get because this will be my primary garment in temps up to 90 degrees F. Wind protection is secondary.

So, for me,. the best of these garments is typically a used cheap xxl sized former windbreaker that has had any/all coatings removed by being washed hundreds of times.

Edited by lyrad1 on 03/17/2014 18:07:18 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Sun/bug breaker on 11/11/2013 11:27:11 MST Print View

Kids, don't do this! Geez, Daryl!

That warning aside, yes indeed, windshirts should be thought of as shirts, just like a button down, but with some jacket-like qualities. I definitely want a light color to get the most use.

Companies like Solumbra make sun protective shells with lots of ventilation. They aren't as light as the SUL windshirts and are more like Supplex button downs for weight.

Patagonia, Ex Officio and others have turned out "sun hoodies" with more knit like fabrics. I would much rather have something on the windshirt side of the design fence.

Edited by dwambaugh on 11/11/2013 11:28:56 MST.

Mo Rodopsky
(rhodopean) - MLife
westcomb on 11/12/2013 20:31:13 MST Print View

Probably offtopic,but as we are talking about high-end brands,street fashion and marketing,I just noticed that the male models on Westcomb's web site are wearing...jeans! Unbelievable...

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: westcomb on 11/12/2013 20:46:40 MST Print View

Art directors have never really struck me as hikers.

Besides you're not going to take your $550 rain jacket out in the dirty old woods are ya?

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: westcomb on 11/12/2013 20:57:23 MST Print View

Westcomb, like dead bird and patagucci ... While being used by athletes on mountains ... Is more often found in the wild urban concrete forest ...

But unlike the others everything is made in vancouver CANADA

IMO, most if not all major "outdoor" brands cater more to the (sub)urban fashion conscious upwardly mobile professional

;)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Urban outdoorsy on 11/12/2013 21:24:34 MST Print View

Eric,

I've never seen anything like that in Seattle :) Dead Bird, TNF, Patamygucchi, etc on the bus, UW campus, at the theatre, you name it. We even have our own Arc'teryx store now. If Tilley moves in, we're all going to start spelling funny and saying "eh," eh?

Edited by dwambaugh on 11/13/2013 01:10:57 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: Urban outdoorsy on 11/13/2013 13:23:49 MST Print View

Dale,

i actually stopped by the new dead bird store in the heart of "trendy" vancouver yesterday

basically it looked like one of those fashion stores ... ie LV, coach, gucci ... etc ...

bare appearance, with some racks with pieces, not too much selection, not a sale in sight, everything at full price, and a poor selection

the majority of the goods were puffies, rain shells, a few fleece/softshells, and stuff like gloves. belts. their urban $$$$ veilllance line ...

generally what people buy for urban wear to look cool and trendy

note that on this particular street block alone there is a dead bird, bankbreaker, TNF and lululemon stores all within 200 ft of each other and next to other "fashion" store brands

;)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Urban outdoorsy on 11/13/2013 13:51:37 MST Print View

Exactly what I saw in Seattle. The Ibex store strikes me the same way. With the cost of those locations, they want a more universal audience. Fun place to slum :)

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Expensive windshirts vs cheap ones on 11/13/2013 16:01:42 MST Print View

Hi Steve,

I wear a cheap one. $10, new. It has a hood, fits like a high end jacket, is quite breathable, water proof for a while, and a good wind shirt. Weighs less than 3 oz. It also came with a free set of chaps from the same material.

Check it out here: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=64670