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Current UL windshirts and breathability: are there other options and layering techniques?
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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Current UL windshirts and breathability: are there other options and layering techniques? on 02/07/2014 18:07:12 MST Print View

The recent thread on the breathability (the lack of it) in many of the current offerings causes my to wonder if there are heavier but more effective wind layer options that should be considered.

Wind shells can be found in many weights and feature sets. They vary from ~2.5oz hoodless tops with full or partial front zippers and little else than some elastic or binding at the cuffs on out to lightly lined versions near 16oz. They can be found with various pockets, hem drawstring, hood and vents.

The foremost qualities are protection from heat loss due to wind and protection from light precipitation while active. Protection from sunlight and insects are secondary but welcome benefits. The challenge is to be as light as possible while giving good breathability, compact storage and hopefully remain durable.

With the changes in the fabric used in the Arcteryx Squamish and Patagonia Houdini windshirts, it seems to have left a gap in the market. There are certainly very light wind shells offered, but breathability is dismal in comparison and IMHO, durability is on the edge for serviceable use.

On the other hand there are a number of very light "soft shell" jackets that are much heavier but very breathable, more durable and may have better DWR and comfort. Maybe it is better to "throw the bums out" and lean to these heavier but more serviceable options, at least until the windshirt manufacturers come to their senses.

I found a First Ascent Sandstone jacket (see http://www.eddiebauer.com/catalog/product.jsp?ensembleId=44283&catPath=&viewAll=n&pg=1&cmPathInfo=T307) in a store the other day and that jacket was the inspiration for this post. It is a very thin and stretchy material with 78% nylon/12% polyester/10% spandex with a DWR finish. Is offered in both hoodie and jacket versions with the published weight on the hoodie at 14.7oz.

That is heavy enough to make me wince and there may be similar garments that weigh less, but I doubt if any are significantly less. Of course I'd love to hear about other options.

So I ask the question: if a windshirt is an important part of your layering system, would a 10oz increase in weight justify increased performance and durability for you?

hwc 1954
(wcollings) - M
Running hoody on 02/07/2014 18:33:24 MST Print View

From the Eddie Bauer pics, it looks like that is the soft, very stretchy running jacket material. Softer than the typical unlined softshell hiking jacket. I have a hybrid jacket with the same material on the back and sides, but with Pertex Quantum on the shoulders and front for a bit more wind protection (mine is not yellow):

http://www.spoteo.de/objects/common/5331/840_marmot-Fusion-Jacket-men-2012.jpg

This softshell material is all well and good, but it doesn't stop a bit of wind and, therefore, defeats my main purpose of a wind jacket: to block the wind on exposed mountain ridges or summits, even on a day when it is otherwise t-shirt weather. There are plenty of breathable options, with a wide range of warmth, if blocking the wind isn't a priority.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Softshell windproofing on 02/07/2014 18:48:15 MST Print View

I did the breath test in the store and it seemed acceptable for wind protection. That is part of the issue: there are all kinds of light fabric jackets out there. IMHO, they don't need to be good for blocking a 60mph breeze to provide the warmth and water repellency on the trail. Back in the "old days" there were many windbreakers made with very comfortable Supplex style nylon that served us well. Think of a Sahara shirt made like a Houdini. The demand for lightness fanned the flames to 2oz windshirts will all the comfort of a garbage bag. Certainly there must be a happy medium. In fact there was-- until some twit in a marketing department decided otherwise. GRRRRRR

As with insulation ratings, it would be a wonderful world if such figures were published along with the other garment information. [sound up: Jiminy Cricket, "When you wish upon a star" /close post]

Edited by dwambaugh on 02/07/2014 18:52:56 MST.

Edward Jursek
(nedjursek@gmail.com) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Current UL Wind Shirts on 02/07/2014 18:57:18 MST Print View

I think the added weight of other options is a deal breaker for me. I use a FF Jackorack wind shirt made of Pertex Quantum UL Endurance fabric and, in size XL, mine is 4oz. I have been pleased with the shell's performance over a wide variety of conditions. It has become a core item for me that I never leave behind regardless of the kind of hike I am taking.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Jackorack on 02/07/2014 19:12:10 MST Print View

I tried on a Jackorack in the store and found it lacking on breathability--- really not in the same league with the old Houdini.

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
Westcomb Crest Hoody on 02/07/2014 19:15:39 MST Print View

I feel like a broken record here on BPL.

I have the Westcomb Crest Hoody and it easily has or possibly surpasses the breathability of the older Houdinis, of which I own the 2012 and 2013 versions. It is made of Pertex Equilibrium and so looks and feels like a very thin softshell.

Fit and finish is just as good as we've come to expect from Patagonia's Houdini and it blocks both wind and rain incredibly well, easily taking the place of the Houdini with an added benefit - the bicomponent fabric serves to wick moisture away more effectively than the Epic-like fabric of the Houdini and has stretch for greater mobility and comfort. For me this is now the #1 windshirt I turn to for every day use and hiking. This is like the Houdini, but in fact it is better.

Edited by skomae on 02/07/2014 19:16:12 MST.

Delmar O'Donnell
(Bolster)

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Re: Westcomb Crest Hoody on 02/07/2014 19:21:20 MST Print View

> the Westcomb Crest Hoody and it easily has or possibly surpasses the breathability of the older Houdinis, of which I own the 2012 and 2013 versions...

Somewhere here on BPL, it's reported that the "new" less breathable Houdini was released in 2012; if so, it's possible both your Houdinis are "new" style, or it's possible you have one of each. If they both breathe about the same, you probably have two new ones.

All the same, the recommendation for the Westcomb is appreciated. At $160 it had better be good!

Edited by Bolster on 02/07/2014 19:23:00 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Westcomb Crest Hoody on 02/07/2014 19:45:30 MST Print View

What does your Westcomb hoody weigh?


As far as price, it is spendy. The Squamish is $149 US, so they have company.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Canada on 02/07/2014 19:49:46 MST Print View

Ahhh but all westcomb is made in vancouver canada by immigrated AZNs

Rather than sweatshops overseas

And their quality is superb

Besides just hit the outlet sale ...

;)

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Westcomb Crest Hoody on 02/07/2014 20:17:43 MST Print View

I too have a Crest hoody and would recommend it. It's not my lightest or most compact wind shell, but it's very comfortable and functional and I like that it's made in Canada.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re: Westcomb Crest Hoody on 02/07/2014 20:33:24 MST Print View

Had to look this one up because the Westcomb website is so crappy and only redirects you to "shop" for in stock products only. Outta stock, outta luck. No way to just browse a catalog of their lineup it seems.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onam531lYFE

Anyway, looks like good alternative except for the missing hem adjustment even though it still little heavier than the pre-Spring 2013 Houdini. Price on sale is way outta line though when Houdini's and RAB Borea's can be had in the $50-60 range.

FWIW, the RAB Alpine is uses the same fabric and with more features but is heavier still.

Edited by rmjapan on 02/07/2014 20:34:30 MST.

Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
Deja vu on 02/07/2014 20:49:55 MST Print View

Threads appear on this same subject over and over again. It would be good to have a wiki for this topic... or a 2014 state-of-the-market report.

The Westcomb Crest seems like one of top options, but judging from the videos on youtube and rei.com, it looks like the Westcomb Crest has a lot of extra fabric in the torso and waist. Is my impression wrong?

The eBay "Faux-dini" may be the best choice, but people say it has short-sleeves, and the price just went up dramatically. The DWR is of unknown quality too.

As for the Rab Boreas, it lacks DWR as far as I know (CORRECTION: the Rab Boreas (at least the current version) has DWR)... and the lack of a full-front zip puts it in a different category anyway, at least in my opinion.

TrailRunningReview.com has their own breathability ratings for a number of jackets:
http://www.trailrunningreview.com/servlet/ListaReview?ORDEN=1069#
The most breathable options that they've reviewed seem to be expensive, exotic, or heavy.

Edited by clear_blue_skies on 02/19/2014 14:55:16 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Softshell on 02/07/2014 22:17:48 MST Print View

Honestly folks

If you want guaranteed brethability ... Get a thin non membranee softshell

Sure you pay the weight penalty ... But they last a long time and are always on sale

Or get a windvest if yr going hard

;)

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
Re: Re: Westcomb Crest Hoody on 02/07/2014 23:15:33 MST Print View

> What does your Westcomb hoody weigh?
My size M, pretty dirty and unwashed is 0.31 lb on my scale. By comparison the 2013 Houdini size M is 0.23 lb on my scale. For something worn as often as this, pretty negligible if you ask me. :)

> Somewhere here on BPL, it's reported that the "new" less breathable Houdini was released in 2012; if so, it's possible both your Houdinis are "new" style, or it's possible you have one of each. If they both breathe about the same, you probably have two new ones.

No. I definitely have the (early 2012) Houdini that predates the other one. Versus the current 2013/2014 model, it has a wider cut, no pocket flap, fits easily in its own pocket, no rear reflective Patagonia logo, rear elastic only, and finally, breathes *significantly* better.

> The Westcomb Crest seems like one of top options, but judging from the videos on youtube and rei.com, it looks like the Westcomb Crest has a lot of extra fabric in the torso and waist. Is my impression wrong?

Speaking as to the fit, I don't think it is cut much differently than the older Houdini. At 6'0 185# the medium fits me snugly, but not like a sausage in casing.



(another photo here)

> As far as price, it is spendy. The Squamish is $149 US, so they have company.

I agree, it is spendy. That is a huge downside, but I was lucky enough to snag mine on sale.

It's currently available as part of REI's spring 2014 collection. http://www.rei.com/search?query=westcomb+crest

Edited by skomae on 02/07/2014 23:25:06 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Current UL windshirts and breathability: are there other options and layering techniques? on 02/07/2014 23:23:08 MST Print View

The problem with the lighter soft shells, the Boreas fabric being my reference point, is that they hold quite a bit more moisture than the Houdini et al. Not a big deal in warmer conditions, a serious nuisance in winter (for instance). As Dale said, ideally you'd have windblocking as good or better than the Matrix SWS fabric, a proper DWR (approaching Epic quality), durability, and low water absorption. I was this close to buying a Westcomb Crest a few weeks ago, but durability issues I had with the Rab Alpine put me off. Other than that I'm sure it checks all boxes.

Far too early to tell, but I may have found something which fits the above spec very well, the BD Alpine Start hoody. Breathability is only a bit less than a Boreas. Windproofing is darn good. DWR is really darn good (after two days this of course means little). Construction is excellent. Fit is fine or better. Price is unfortunately way the heck up there.

Of course, only time will tell.

There's a good article to be done comparing this class of windshirts. Rab Zephyr, Montane Mountain Star, Westcomb Crest, BD Alpine Start, etc. I'm not the person to do it this year. Too many other projects.

As a further note, the use of Pertex Endurance in a windshirt (or indeed, its existence) puzzles me. The PU coating wrecks havor on breathability with only a marginal enhancement in weatherproofing. Used it for a bivy top a while back. That was a miserable failure, albeit a really good way to freeze your bag to your bivy.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Current UL windshirts and breathability: are there other options and layering techniques? on 02/08/2014 02:07:43 MST Print View

My Marmot Trail Wind Hoody has mesh gussets in the underarms that aid breathability greatly. If I'm really active and things get steamy I just unzip the front zipper.

Because you won't be using your windshirt in the rain much (for obvious reasons), you always have the option of unzipping the front zipper (unlike a rain jacket in wet conditions). For this reason, I have never much understood all the "breathability problems" that everyone seems to have with windshirts.

Not sure if I'm being helpful here, but these are just my observations...

Edited by dmusashe on 02/08/2014 02:10:54 MST.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Westcomb Crest Hoody on 02/08/2014 05:41:12 MST Print View

"Price on sale is way outta line though when Houdini's and RAB Borea's can be had in the $50-60 range."

Since you're quoting sale prices, I got my Westcomb Crest last March from REI and paid $91.44.

Here's a pretty crappy pic from last weekend for those wondering about the fit. I don't miss having a hem adjustment on this jacket, but I ain't particularly skinny either.

Westcomb

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Martmot Trailwind on 02/08/2014 09:26:35 MST Print View

Derek wrote, "Because you won't be using your windshirt in the rain much (for obvious reasons), you always have the option of unzipping the front zipper (unlike a rain jacket in wet conditions). For this reason, I have never much understood all the "breathability problems" that everyone seems to have with windshirts."

Windshirts with good breathability are a very useful part of an UL layering system. If I'm going to wear a 2-3CFM plastic bag and need to unzip it to function or add pit vents, I might as well wear my rain shell and dispense with the wind shell altogether.

I really do think of a windshirt as a shirt as much as a jacket. It can protect me from sun and bugs as well as wind. Even with no wind, it adds warmth in camp as the "cap" for my fleece, exactly like a 3-in-jacket.

UL clothing is really about top performance and an integrated system. There is no room for equipment that doesn't deliver. In this case, the technology is readily available, but has been withheld by a marketing team that is evidently out of touch with the uses of the product.

When we buy these items that have lackluster performance, we reward the manufacturer for making it and perpetuate the problem. That's why I said "throw the bums out" meaning to throw them out of the game. It's great to see a light product, but if it doesn't perform well, there's no point in hauling the thing.

Delmar O'Donnell
(Bolster)

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Rear Elastic on 02/08/2014 10:52:11 MST Print View

> No. I definitely have the (early 2012) Houdini that predates the other one. Versus the current 2013/2014 model, it has a wider cut, no pocket flap, fits easily in its own pocket, no rear reflective Patagonia logo, rear elastic only, and finally, breathes *significantly* better.

I stand corrected.

These features duplicate my 2009 Houdini, except for the 'rear elastic only.' There's an elastic shock cord inside the bottom hem all the way around, but what is the 'rear elastic only'? Thanks.

Owen McMurrey
(OwenM) - F - M

Locale: SE US
light softshell on 02/08/2014 11:20:26 MST Print View

"On the other hand there are a number of very light "soft shell" jackets that are much heavier but very breathable, more durable and may have better DWR and comfort. Maybe it is better to "throw the bums out" and lean to these heavier but more serviceable options, at least until the windshirt manufacturers come to their senses."

I haven't used my windshirt(Marmot Ion) for anything except riding my bike since getting an OR Ferrosi hoody in 2011, and use the Ferrosi when riding trails, too.
14oz in size Large, but if it's cool enough to bring it, I'm wearing it the entire time, so it's not adding pack weight, or taking up space.

Debating the 1/2 zip hoodless version that lists at 12oz.
For anyone interested:
If you have the current(extended through today) 45% off Dealflyer coupon from Sierra Trading Post, they have the men's 1/2 zip in all sizes at $30.22, and both the full zip men and women's in all sizes for <$36.