Current UL windshirts and breathability: are there other options and layering techniques?
Display Avatars Sort By:
David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Re: Re: Current UL windshirts and breathability: are there other options and layering techniques? on 02/09/2014 09:20:53 MST Print View

I've had the Alpine Start for all of 4 days and ~13 hours of use, and due to weather haven't used it in temps above 5F. That said, it seems promising. Spitballing a recollection from last year (when I had a Rab Alpine), I'd say breathability is a bit less, and wind resistance is a bit more. If you create an arbitrary scale of air permeability with a Boreas at 10 and a Houdini/Cirrus at 1, the Alpine would be 6.5 and the Alpine Start 4.

DWR seems really good. There's normal good DWR, which from the factory will bounce water off just fine, and then there's Epic DWR (like the Wild Things Tactical wind pants of which I'm very fond), where said water seems to actively bounce off. The Alpine Start is very Epic like. Again, what really matters is how long this lasts.

To further the mini-review of the Alpine Start:
The cut is very slim and athletic. No tail drop. Underarm gusseting is fantastic, the hem does not move biking or skiing. Arms are just long enough. Wrist elastic could be a bit tighter to seal over gloves. Hood is big, definitely an over helmet fit. It does have elastane in the fabric, but dry rate and moisture uptake seems to be right up there with fabrics like Quantum and Microlight. Did my best to snag the fabric during a protracted bushwack exit skiing yesterday, and had no success.

This last is the issue I had with the Alpine. The soft fabric seemed prone to snag on brush. I have high standards in this area. For most people it is probably not a concern at all.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Re: Re: Re: CFM claims of brands vs. CFM values here ? on 02/09/2014 09:26:04 MST Print View

"Is the only reason you create extra moisture when you're exercising, that you're over-heating? If you don't wear too much, then you won't create any more moisture than when you're sitting?"


The issue I struggle with layering is well encapsulated when backcountry skiing.

Breaking trail uphill is hard, sweaty work. If it's warm and not windy, you can strip to a baselayer. If it's 5F with a 10 mph wind and regular gusts to 25, I need something more. Finding something that will balance just right for me, and not suck up too much water when it gets wet (under your pack if no where else) is the ongoing quest.

I spend almost no time thinking about rain shells. I've got two, a light and a heavy, which work well. I try to wear them as little as possible, if nothing else so I don't have to spend 200+ bucks on a new one. Outside summer I wear my windshirt 15-30 hours a week, thus putting more time into a windshirt in two weeks than I do in a rain jacket in half a year. Ergo the obsession.

Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
Hood on 02/09/2014 11:13:48 MST Print View

Hi Dave... A few questions about the Black Diamond Alpine Start. Since most of us don't use helmets, how well does the hood work without a helmet? Also do you have an actual weight for the jacket?

Do you think the improved DWR but less breathability of the Black Diamond Alpine Start compared to the Rab Vapour-Rise Lite Alpine is a good tradeoff for you?

Edited by clear_blue_skies on 02/09/2014 11:14:56 MST.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Winter and sweating on 02/09/2014 16:46:51 MST Print View

I struggled for many years finding a good system for my upper body in winter.
Light puffies, the latest WPB jackets, soft shells jackets and so on.
The shells would be coated with frost inside the jackets, the soft shells would make me overheat,

The solution that works for me? A light fleece (100 wt works beautifully as I really pump out the heat) and a no-name old school nylon anorak. A windbreaker we'd call it growing up. The fleece combo and the nylon anorak was perhaps $35 total on the high side.

A bit heavy vs say a Patagonia Houdini (10 oz), but since I am taking it skiing the extra durability is an asset.

The shell becomes damp or even wet with snow, but my light fleece is merely lightly damp and my base layers are dry. Fleece still retains some heat when wet and dries quickly. If there is no falling snow or light wind, I just wear the fleece alone. I can actually see moisture pumping out from my body in the form of frost on my fleece.

I find breathability, not waterproofness, is the what is important in winter.

In fairness, I live in a part of the Rockies where the snow is generally not wet and sloppy.

I've plugged this site before, but a big shift in my view of winter clothing was from this site: http://wintertrekking.com/clothing/

Edited by PaulMags on 02/09/2014 16:49:39 MST.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - M

Locale: Western Washington
base layer? on 02/09/2014 16:49:43 MST Print View

Paul, is there a base layer under your fleece? I'm still struggling with my winter layers. These days I'm often wearing a wool long-sleeve, either a fleece vest or fleece jacket, with a wind shirt over top until I get moving and warmed up, then it comes off. The vest vs. jacket is where I can't seem to make up my mind.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
base layer on 02/09/2014 16:50:48 MST Print View

I wear a mid-wt merino wool top.

In fact, I just came back from skiing and I am wearing it right now. Drinking some Moose Drool as I type. :D

What I like about my system is I can mix and match the layers easily. Very windy but fairly warm? Anorak and baselayer. Cold but not wind/snow? Fleece and base layer. Wind, snow and cold? Anorak, fleece and baselayer (like today and yesterday). Spring skiing? Typically just the base layer.

Edited by PaulMags on 02/09/2014 16:53:07 MST.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Winter setup on 02/09/2014 16:52:15 MST Print View

I love wearing Paramo in winter as its very breathable, wind proof.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: base layer? on 02/09/2014 17:21:06 MST Print View

"....is there a base layer under your fleece? I'm still struggling with my winter layers. These days I'm often wearing a wool long-sleeve, either a fleece vest or fleece jacket, with a wind shirt over top until I get moving and warmed up, then it comes off. The vest vs. jacket is where I can't seem to make up my mind."

I see fleece mostly as mid-layer and wear it with a base. Some R1/Power Dry and Power Stretch stuff is cut like a base layers, others more sweater-like and that is how I use them. Vest plus long sleeve base layer plus wind/rain shell is lighter and lower bulk and the long sleeve base layer keeps the cold shell off your arms. That's a pretty good summer system for me. I carry a R1 vest for my summer day hiking essential "extra layer". A vest is great to take off a little chill without the bulk on your arms.

Another strategy is long sleeve base, fleecy sweater-like mid layer and a puffy vest. That makes a pretty good 3-season cool weather ensemble-- if it will all fit under your wind and rain shell. You can wear that in all kinds of combinations.

If you tend to be cold, go for sleeved mid layers. If you want lower weight and bulk and you can handle the temps, a vest is good. Also, a puffy trumps combined fleece layers, IMHO. I would rather have base/mid/puffy/shell options.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Hood on 02/11/2014 08:22:00 MST Print View

Hood work well with just a hat or two. Side drawcords get the job done.

alpstart

Medium is 7 oz.

For me this is a better option than Equilibrium. Can't speak for anyone else.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re: Hood on 02/11/2014 19:35:19 MST Print View

Kewl! 7oz for the this BD Alpine Start seems pretty light for what looks to be ~40D fabrics! About the same as the RAB Alpine that uses 20D Pertex.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Hands on look on 02/11/2014 23:34:07 MST Print View

I got by REI today and got a look a some new wind shells.

The Westcomb Crest looks great--- until I got to the price tag. It's on my bargain watch list

Speaking of bargains, the REI Fleet Packable Jacket looks interesting.

Mammut has some windshirts too and Salomon has a lot of garments that UL hikers should look at.

Roman Vazhnov
(joarr) - MLife

Locale: Russia
Re: Re: Re: Re: Current UL windshirts and breathability: are there other options and layering techniques? on 02/12/2014 07:20:21 MST Print View

I wonder why we don't have fabics from silicone encapsulated fibers. Not like Epic - when silicone is applied to the fabric, practically closing all pores (reducing the number and the size of the pores) - which is why Epic has low air permeability. But if we will make fabric from fibers, previously encapsulated - we can regulate durability by changing denier of the fibers, and air permeability by changing threat count. And we will have life long DWR. As for Nanosphere DWR - judging by similar SDWR (and consultation with local manufacturer), in field conditions it will last approximately 3x times longer than regular DWR. And it will degrade soon enough due to abrasion. And then i think BD Alpine Start will be comparable to MHW Choclite (except better quality, full zip, etc) which has air permeability between Equilibrium and Squamish, and is much cheaper. Nevertheless i would like to test BD by myself.

Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
Ordering on 02/12/2014 15:32:18 MST Print View

> MHW Choclite (except better quality, full zip, etc) which has air
> permeability between Equilibrium and Squamish

Roman, did you get the ordering mixed up? In your previous post in this thread, you said
Quantum GL < Squamish < Equilibrium/MHW Chocklite

Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
Salomon on 02/12/2014 15:36:01 MST Print View

> Mammut has some windshirts too and Salomon has a lot
> of garments that UL hikers should look at.

I don't know about Mammut, but Salomon's Fast Wing Hoodie has poor breathability.

Mark Andrews
(buldogge) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Salomon on 02/12/2014 20:59:29 MST Print View

Hey Paul…Did you try the Fast Wing out? What year was it (looks to be 3 generations)??

…strangely, I was just about to post and ask if anyone had any experience with it.

TIA
-Mark in St. Louis

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Salomon on 02/12/2014 21:43:11 MST Print View

I saw the Salomon S-Lab Light jacket at REI that was interesting. It uses ClimaWIND Pro fabric that I found 5CFM specs on-- nothing stellar. They have a ClimaWIND Stretch family of fabrics that go out to 40CFM. Nothing Houdini like.

Roman Vazhnov
(joarr) - MLife

Locale: Russia
Re: Ordering on 02/12/2014 22:11:06 MST Print View

Paul, thanks you noticed. I have specially checked again, since last post, just to be sure. The correct order is DryQ Elite (=Event Pro) < Quantum GL < Squamish < Chocklite < Equilibrium. And i think Pertex Microlight is between Quantum and Squamish, but i have to test. It is rather hard to give accurate numerical ratings for air permeability. Now i want to make some kind of air permeability tester.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: airflow meter on 02/12/2014 22:42:17 MST Print View

I came up with the idea to adapt an incentive inspirometer, which is used for respiratory therapy by hooking up to a vacuum cleaner to make a poor man's fabric air flow tester. Its on a long list of round-to-it projects.

See http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/xdpy/forum_thread/83997/index.html?skip_to_post=716473#716473

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Current UL windshirts and breathability: are there other options and layering techniques? on 02/12/2014 23:05:08 MST Print View

Roman,

The EPIC process encapsulates the fibers within a woven fabric with an ultra thin polymer film and it precisely places a durable, breathable barrier within the fabric, between fiber bundles. The technology makes it possible to engineer fabrics with an array of different properties. I have tested commercial Epic fabrics with air permeability ranging from .25 CFM to 35.4 CFM and the corresponding HH readings ranging from 1266 mm H2O to 70.31 mm H2O.

Roman Vazhnov
(joarr) - MLife

Locale: Russia
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Current UL windshirts and breathability: are there other options and layering techniques? on 02/12/2014 23:31:04 MST Print View

Big thanks, Richard, didn't know that. Are these higher air permeable Epic fabrics available somewhere?
Richard, can you tell us, what measuring instrument do you use?

Dale, thanks for the link.

Edited by joarr on 02/12/2014 23:35:08 MST.