There was a recent thread entitled “Windshirt Question”. See http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=87001&disable_pagination=1
As is common on the forum, there were a lot of dissenting opinions. About ½ ways through the thread, Paul Hatfield (clear_blue_skies) posted, “"The MEC RD Windshell Jacket has a CFM rating of 7. MEC does not carry any high rated CFM jackets." - MEC Service Centre.
This was first countered by Dan Durston (dandydan), who said, “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.”
Dan tweaked my curiosity and then Eric Chan (bearbreeder) PUSHED ME OVER THE CLIFF TO LAND ON A CLOUD OF ENLIGHTENMENT. I had never seen windshirt marketing and the resultant user psychology so honestly and clearly explained in a few words. The companion challenge was if I could explain the performance aspects as clearly and succinctly as Eric did his part. I have tried and my results are to follow after restating Eric’s post:
“the RD windshells of my partners that ive tried and the ones ive played around with at MEC are quite breathable IMO. much more so that my trail wind. as the the MB ... if its the same fabric as the EXL puffies ... well that fabric isnt "breathable" at all ...as to the "high CFM" thing ... i suspect that most "normal" people these days use their windshells as a semi-static layer or just walking around the park, so a less "breathable" windshell makes sense from a marketing perspective god forbid you get reviews on backcountry, REI or amazon saying "this $$$$ windbreaker SUCKS, it doesnt block the wind !!!" and to be quite honest, even among people who use it for higher exertion, most dont think that sweating is such a big deal anyways ... you can always walk into a warm building to dry off. if you want "guaranteed" breathability get a thin non-membrane softshell ... theyll be more durable (and heavier) to boot.
People frequently seek quick understanding by asking, "What is the best?"
Best is only known when the options can be objectively evaluated in Multiple Axis of Understanding. Has this ever been done before in an easy-to-understand way? If so, I have never seen it.
The objective of this thread is not to discuss windshirts other than those three measured and shown above. The objectives are to determine your opinions as to the most relevant windshirt characteristics to measure? Also, what is the most desirable way for that information to be presented?