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Windshirt Question
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hwc 1954
(wcollings) - M
RE: on 02/01/2014 23:44:55 MST Print View

>> How easily can you breath through the fabric?

I don't generally wear mine turned around so the hood is not covering my mouth or nose :), but it's no problem to stretch the fabric over my mouth and breath. It's a 4.9 ounce piece of extremely thin polyester fabric with a DWR finish. It's not rocket science. It's fine if somebody wants to pay $135 for a particular brand or style, but these little ultra-light mini-ripstop 5 to 6 ounce wind shells are pretty much generic items. More zippers, more adjustments, a little heavier. Fewer zippers, fewer adjustments, a little lighter.

You can buy the Marmot for $52 at Sierra Trading Post, before the 40% off discount in today's e-mail, which brings it down to $32. Marmot is not showing it on their site right now because it's the dead of winter. Whether they call it the Trail Wind Hoody or the Ion Wind Hoody, I'm sure it will be in their line. These things are a staple of every running and outdoor company's product line. STP has the Brooks for $58.


Ah, I see the hoody version of the dead bird. They say it's 4.8 ounces for the hoody version (no adjuster on the hood). I don't see that as being significantly less than 4.9 ounces.


Yeah, The Brooks has a back vent. May or may not be useful for hiking/camping, but it doesn't really hurt anything, even if it's covered by a pack. It actually might work a little with my Atmos pack.

I have a Brooks that I keep in my car for emergency protection in a summer rain shower. I carry the Marmot version in my pack all the time, except in the dead of winter. I wear it more than any other top layer. Just the ticket for a windy 50 degree summit over a t-shirt or a little light mist/shower.

I think this category is probably the first jacket I would buy for hiking and, personal preferences aside, I don't think the brand matters at all compared to just getting a 5 oz hoody and stuffing it in your pack.


I've seen a Columbia version of these jackets, sold as a cycling wind shell, for $19 at Marshalls. I've seen a nice Nike version for $39 at TJ Maxx.

Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
Lack of options on 02/03/2014 01:18:54 MST Print View

> There are tons of options in this category.

I still don't agree. There seem to be very few offerings in the highly breathable category, even by the outdoor clothing manufacturers.

Your discontinued Marmot wind jacket may be very breathable, but you don't actually know about the breathability of other models Marmot wind jackets. And even if the same jacket was still available, the manufacturer may have switched the fabric (In fact there's a comment in the Sierra Trading Post review about Marmot switching fabrics on the jacket and these backpackinglight reviews:

I just tested Adidas, The North Face, and Uniqlo hoodies today, and they are not breathable at all.

hwc 1954
(wcollings) - M
June 2013 on 02/03/2014 01:57:26 MST Print View

I just got the Marmot Trail Wind Hoody last June. It is identical to the jacket reviewed by Outdoor Gear Lab in 2011.

Marmot just redesigned their website and none of the out-of-season products are listed at the moment.


You know, I'm not so sure that breathing through the fabric is the best test of a wind jacket. I mean, the whole idea of these jackets is to block the wind. If I didn't need some wind protection, I would just put on quarter-zip running shirt. Lightweight. Breathable like crazy. Alas, the wind cuts right thru it. If you weren't cold because of the wind, or temperature, you probably would just leave the jacket in the backpack and hike in a shirt. Breathability and wind protection are the same thing. Just flip sides of the same coin.

Some of these jackets are slightly more weather resistant. Some are slightly less weather resistant. I'm not sure this isn't much ado about nothing. I've worn the Brooks. I've worn the Marmot. Functionally, big picture, they are the same. The hood is better on the Marmot for hiking, because it can be cinched down tight in a stiff breeze.

Edited by wcollings on 02/03/2014 02:00:41 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Montbell on 02/03/2014 07:42:46 MST Print View

We should be mentioning Montbell in this conversation. The Tachyon Anorak is hooded for 2.3oz.

I really like hoods. My main reason is bugs. With a good hood that seals around the face you can dramatically localize where the bugs can attack.

The best windshirt I've come across is the MEC RD Windshell:

It doesn't pop out on the specs sheet (5oz, $78 CAD) but it makes excellent use of that weight by having very few features and all of the weight in a more substantial fabric that you don't have to baby. To me, a windshirt should be a more durable layer because it's protecting my down around camp, and it's what protects my arms on a bushwack. It also has an excellent fit: nice long torso cut so it doesn't ride up, and a somewhat geeky but exceptionally functional hood that seals around your head.

Edited by dandydan on 02/03/2014 07:43:47 MST.

Lapsley Hope
no mention on 02/03/2014 08:22:14 MST Print View

Anyone with opinion on the Arcteryx Squamish? FWIW it was listed as #1 on the Outdoor Gear Lab review of windshells.

Scott Hayden
(Spiffyguy) - F
Squamish on 02/03/2014 08:36:54 MST Print View

I had not listed that in my original findings as the price was a bit higher than I wanted to pay. Most of the stuff that I was looking at was clearance. The 140 price was twice the Houdini, which should be arriving Wed from BackCountry, and the houdini was twice the price of the montane. I am hoping the Houdini will fill my needs. I may not be a strict on my requirements that others. Nor do I have the experience with all the fabrics and tests. Nice thing about this place, lots of experience here.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Squamish on 02/03/2014 08:52:22 MST Print View

I've been using a Squamish after losing my Houdini last spring. I found it on clearance and price was on par with other similar windshirts. Fit is great (although it could be slightly longer), DWR is excellent, breathability seems to be better than the Houdini. Overall I like it quite a bit.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Windshirt on 02/03/2014 11:27:07 MST Print View

I agree with Paul. The cutting edge of windshirts is trying to make something as light and almost as weather resistant as Quantum (for example), but breathes better. It's easy to make a calendered SUL fabric which looks good on paper but breathes like crap (Tachyon, Ghost Wisperer, Quantum GL all fit here). Personally, I'm willing to carry 6-7 oz v. 3-4 if I can bust brush and not worry about snags.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Windshirt on 02/03/2014 11:38:16 MST Print View

"Personally, I'm willing to carry 6-7 oz v. 3-4 if I can bust brush and not worry about snags."

I've found a few thrift store windshirts that were a bit heavier, but the fabric was pretty rugged and it breathed well.

Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
Fully-waterproof alternatives on 02/03/2014 12:18:01 MST Print View

Well if I am going to carry something that weighs 5 ounces and blocks the wind, but isn't ultra-breathable, then I'm probably going to carry my O2 Rainwear rainjacket, which blocks the wind, is waterproof in sustained rain, and is quite comfortable next to the skin. It's not stylish and not for bushwacking, but for rainwear, it "breathes" quite well.

hwc 1954
(wcollings) - M
ultra-nonbreathable on 02/03/2014 13:06:31 MST Print View

[quote]Well if I am going to carry something that weighs 5 ounces and blocks the wind, but isn't ultra-breathable, then I'm probably going to carry my O2 Rainwear rainjacket, which blocks the wind, is waterproof in sustained rain, and is quite comfortable next to the skin. [/quote]

I carry both. A 6 ounce Marmot Essence rain jacket -- ultralight waterproof "breathable" and a 5 ounce Trail Wind Hoody. Nobody would seriously compare the breathability of the two. I think it's an exaggeration to say that any unlined/unlaminated 5 ounce wind jacket will be as wind proof or non-breathable as a PU laminated ultralight rain jacket. I would certainly never put on the rain jacket instead of the wind hoody unless it were raining/snowing and/or I were freezing cold and trying desperately to warm up. The laminated rainjackets are ultra-nonbreathable.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
trail wind on 02/03/2014 21:59:46 MST Print View

i own and use the trail wind ...

IMO it is not very breathable at all ... it needs those perforated holes below the armpits to keep it breathing barely adequately

there plenty of other shirts that are more breathable ... a simple breath test will tell you that very quickly


Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
CFM rating for MEC RD Windshell Jacket on 02/03/2014 23:05:47 MST Print View

"The MEC RD Windshell Jacket has a CFM rating of 7.
MEC does not carry any high rated CFM jackets."

- MEC Service Centre

hwc 1954
(wcollings) - M
I must not be using a wind shirt properly on 02/04/2014 00:20:51 MST Print View

I'm just having a hard time comprehending the big deal. I mean, I understand how miserable it is to have to wear a rain jacket zipped up because it's raining. But, we aren't talking about rain jackets. We are talking about a very thin wind jacket. I only put mine on because I feel too cold without it (from some combination of wind and temperature). The only reason I put it on is because I want to be warmer -- specifically because I want the wind to stop cooling me down as much.

If I then get too hot, I either unzip it or push the sleeves up. Or, take it off.

I have other shirts that are nearly 100% breathable. For example, virtually any long sleeve tech shirt will provide a little additional warmth with virtually no wind protection. Many of my long sleeve shirts have large mesh panels with terrific breathability.

I don't think you want a wind jacket with 0 CFM air flow, but the zipper is a wonderful thing!

But, there's any easy solution. Just run any of these jackets through the wash a couple dozen times to get rid of the DWR finish. I suspect that will make them quite porous.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: I must not be using a wind shirt properly on 02/04/2014 02:29:06 MST Print View


To understand how to use a wind shirt properly you either need a lot of experience or an understanding of the related physiology and physics concepts. I can't help with the experience option but, I can with the other option.

"We are talking about a very thin wind jacket"

-Thinness is related to weight but, it has NO correlation with the primary functions of a windshirt. The primary function is to maintain an optimal micro-climate for a broad range of conditions.

"I only put mine on because I want to be warmer"

-In the typical UL backpacking environments the optimal micro-climate for comfort can change quickly and frequently. For example: in the shade; out of the shade; sheltered from wind; not sheltered from wind; walking on flat ground at 3 MET; going up a hill at 7 MET; sun behind clouds; sun unobstructed; ground hard; ground sandy; ground covered in sun cupped snow; radiation from a rock out cropping, no radiation from rocks, etc..; and etc.

"If I then get too hot, I either unzip it or push the sleeves up. Or, take it off."

-You have defined your way, the most inefficient, to deal with the micro-climate variability. The problems with that approach are twofold. First, taking a jacket on and off to regulate temperature, while carrying a backpack, is the most time and energy inefficient scenario possible. Second, the scholarly research has shown aperture ventilation (unzip, zip, push up sleeves, open pit zips, etc.) achieves less reduction in moisture transport resistance than an appropriately air permeable fabric.

"I have other shirts that are nearly 100% breathable. For example, virtually any long sleeve tech shirt will provide a little additional warmth with virtually no wind protection. Many of my long sleeve shirts have large mesh panels with terrific breathability."

-100% breathability is also known as the garment air permeability required to never become an impediment to sustained physical activity. That value is 400 CFM; it is typically only found in a loose weave T-shirt. Most conventionally woven technical shirts have an air permeability of approximately 100 - 150 CFM.

The scholarly research shows that for a base layer plus windshirt ensemble, as the air permeability goes up, the water vapor moisture transport also goes up approximately linearly to about 35 CFM. After that, the ensemble's moisture resistance elements found in the base layer, the base/windshirt air gap, and the windshirts’ boundary layer predominate. Further increases in the windshirt's fabric air permeability have a negligible benefit in the ensemble's system performance. Since a more breathable windshirt allows more forced convection (wind) in, most people intuitively believe they are improving their moisture expulsion rate; they are not.

"... there's any easy solution. Just run any of these jackets through the wash a couple dozen times to get rid of the DWR finish. I suspect that will make them quite porous"

-Any commercial DWR finish, applied according to the manufactures directions, has zero effect on the breathability of a garment. Washing doesn't change the weave and so the air permeability stays the same.

-UL backpacking is the only common sport that produces 7 MET activity and its attendant heat on a sustainable basis. It is the case in which most windshirt manufactures don't specifically target. Those that do, size the windshirt to create an optimal gap between it and the base layer of 3/8" - 1/2" adds .6 clo of warmth for free. They provide a weave that passes approximately 35 CFM because this the level that provides the most exports of body moisture with the least vulnerability to forced convection heat loss. Those windshirts optimize for UL backpacking also have either an EPIC thread coating for garment life time DWR or a fluorocarbon coating for moderate life DWR.

A windshirt designed for UL backpacking will best maintain a thermal neutral body temperature without requiring the wearer to constantly diddle with it. It will also yield a HH value in the range of .43 – .75 PSI (300 - 527 mm H2O HH).

In summary, a properly designed windshirt for UL backpacking adds warmth by the addition of .6 clo in the base-layer-to-windshirt air gap plus another .6 clo from the windshirt's boundary layer (this will vary with wind speed). When your body goes above its thermo-neutral point, you start producing sensible perspiration. If the air permeability allows the moisture to evaporate and pass through to the outside environment, the latent heat of evaporation cools your body back to the thermo-neutral point. If the air permeability is not sufficient to pass the amount of moisture being produced to the outside environment, the water stays on your body. Once approximately 20% of your body is wet, you have a feeling of discomfort. This is primarily sensed by the increased clothing friction. To put the difference in ability to pass moisture out in perspective, a Frog Togg or equivalent garment will pass .17 CFM and a pre-2013 Houdini will pass 35 CFM. Hence, a dramatic difference in the ability to automatically cool your body as required by different brief micro climates without any diddling.

Edited by richard295 on 02/04/2014 16:37:51 MST.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: Squamish on 02/04/2014 02:54:02 MST Print View

Interesting. How long did you have that Houdini ?
Regarding the Squamish, currently it has a claimed CFM of ± 7 while Richard Nisley measured a CFM of ± 100 which was more or less confirmed by the Arc'teryx Customer Service as one of those Squamishes using their Gossamera-fabric while it was still uncoated. However, I got from them another answer namely that it always had a coating. So very conflicting info.

Edited by Woubeir on 02/04/2014 10:23:10 MST.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: Squamish on 02/04/2014 09:53:03 MST Print View

I tested a US distributed 2007 Black Acteryx Squamish Windshell (Gossamera without the air permeable PU coating) at 100.59 CFM. I noted the 2013 Arcteryx specification for Gossamera was 7 CFM. I exchanged emails with Arcteryx Customer Service and the following is a summary of that email exchange:

On May 27, 2013, at 2:20 PM, "ARC'TERYX SERVICE" wrote:

Hi Richard,

The PU coating to the Gossamera fabric was introduced in 2009. 2008 and before don't have the PU coating.

Best Regards,

Arc'teryx Service Team - Jerome
ARC'TERYX Equipment Inc.


Summary: Service Forms: ASKSPCL Customer No 169704
Subject:RE: Service Request: Ask a Specialist (RefNo. 1087978)
Name:Richard Nisley


Thank you for your prompt reply. The specs for the current Gossamera fabric state that it has an air permeable PU coating. There is no air permeable PU coating on the 2007 Squamish that I own. What years was an air permeable PU coating not applied to the Gossamera fabric and what years was it applied?

Thank you,

Edited by richard295 on 02/04/2014 10:12:09 MST.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Squamish on 02/04/2014 10:16:33 MST Print View

I know Richard but here is what I got from them on 29/05/2013:

"Good morning Tom,

thanks for contacting us

Regarding the Squamish hoody, the Gossamera fabric has always had a PU coating and DWR finish. The only difference between the Gossamera and Luminara is the weight: Gossamera is 30D mechanical stretch nylon ripstop 52g/m2 and the Luminara is 20D mechanical stretch nylon ripstop 44g/m2.

We are sorry to not be able to provide the CFM values, as we do not have them available for the Luminara, but they are very similar and hard to notice their difference as individuals

Best Regards,



Why those conflicting answers ? Possibly because Arc'teryx only started stating in their tech manual from spring 2009 that Gossamera had/got a coating. Other specifications like e.g. weight were exactly the same. Now, does Arc'teryx only specify the weight of the raw fabric or including coating ?

Edited by Woubeir on 02/04/2014 10:40:10 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

RD Windshell on 02/04/2014 10:37:23 MST Print View

"The MEC RD Windshell Jacket has a CFM rating of 7.
MEC does not carry any high rated CFM jackets."

From ample personal experience, the RD Windshell is highly breathable. It's nothing like the pseudo-plastic bag windshirts (ie. Montbell). Unless you're looking for a super DWR windshell to attempt to wear during light rains, the RD is great. Compared to the Houdini, the RD is easily more durable and breathable.

Edited by dandydan on 02/04/2014 10:38:18 MST.

hwc 1954
(wcollings) - M
Research shows you sweat on 02/04/2014 10:41:16 MST Print View

All a very complicated way of saying that you get and sweat when carrying a backpack, especially uphill. I think that's something everyone who has hiked around here (White Mountains) has figured out pretty quickly.

When I'm hot and starting to sweat, the very simple solution is to NOT put on a wind jacket, but rather to stay in a lightweight wicking baselayer -- either long sleeve or short sleeve depending on the temps I expect to encounter.

It seems that now that Houdini and Squamish have "ruined" their products, there is no wind jacket that passes such a stringent definition of acceptable air permeability. This is probably because a wind jacket with such permeability would no longer be very effective at its main design criteria: blocking the wind.

I have found that hybrid jackets can help -- more wind resistant materials on the torso in conjunction with more breathable fabrics on the back, sides, and arms; however, most of these weigh more than 5 ounces.