Sep 17, 2008 at 10:53 am #1231207
I have a questions regarding windshirts and rain wear.
Now I just got back into backpacking and am transitioning to light weight. So, if I understand windshirts correctly they are usually very think "jackets" that simply block the wind to help keep you warm. Which is great, but after looking into some rain gear as well I find that most rain gear also states it blocks the wind and is usually thin and light weight as well. If that is the case, whats the need for a windshirt, why not use the rain gear as both.
The specific rain gear I was talking about was the DriDucks, I was in need of rain gear and figure for the price and weight I couldn't go wrong.
Anyways, am I wrong in thinking this?Sep 17, 2008 at 11:28 am #1451409
@thechampLocale: Portland, OR
Most UL hikers carry windshirts in the 2-4oz range. In an ideal world a rain jacket would be the only garment needed. Problem is, they are not breathable and are very easy to overheat in.
Breathable eVent rain jacket = 12oz
Simple effective rain jacket (not as breathable) = 8oz + 3oz windshirt = 11oz
It gives you two different garments to use depending on the conditions for the same or less weight.Sep 17, 2008 at 11:49 am #1451412
@foodLocale: Colorado Rockies
Brawny Silnylon Jacket 4.69oz $61.75
Brawny Widnshirt 3.50oz $46.55
Integral Designs eVent Thru Hiker Jacket
12.5 oz $260.00
One third lighter, less than half the cost and more layering options.Sep 17, 2008 at 11:50 am #1451413
I generally don't carry a windshirt when backpacking for the reasons you mention. In general, I put up with the fact that I can get a bit too warm in my puffy jacket or a bit too cold in my T-Shirt. When day hiking (when I'm less concerned about weight) I carry the windshirt to handle that in-between condition. I use an O2 style rain jacket (which breathes very well for a rain jacket) as a bug shirt. It doesn't breath as well as a windshirt, but I save a few ounces doing that. Again, when day hiking, I carry the windshirt as my bug shirt.
Also keep in mind the relative fragility of an O2 style rain jacket. If I could find a wind pant that I really liked, I would carry that, just because I'm afraid of ripping my rain pants.
All that being said, there are plenty of areas where I gain back the two ounces (like with a camera) so I'm hardly a pure ultralighter.Sep 17, 2008 at 11:53 am #1451416
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
The reason for a separate windshirt / rain jacket is that historically rain jackets were not sufficiently breathable to be use when engages in aerobic activities. Windshirts are typically more breathable, less insulating, and sometimes slightly air permeable which provides just the right amount of protection.
I used a windshirt for many years. Recently I stopped taking a windshirt on most trips. I found that the DriDucks works well enough below 55F, and than above that temp that my supplex shirt provided adequate wind protection.
–MarkSep 17, 2008 at 1:08 pm #1451420
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Windshirts may be excessive depending on the conditions you expect to encounter. I hike in windy NZ, where I probably need wind protection more often than not. Add to that a lot of 'bush-bashing' and you have a situation entirely unsuitable for a fabric such as DriDucks. If you stick to wide trails and mostly light to no wind conditions, then you could get away with just DriDucks. You may find yourself perspiring more on the uphills (DriDucks are not as breathable as good windhirts), but if saving 3oz is worth it to you then, yes, a windshirt would be 'excessive'.Sep 17, 2008 at 1:52 pm #1451426
As Allison says, it's down to conditions. You may not need one if you're strolling along a marked trail. I always carry a windshirt. Almost all my hiking is done off trail in tree-less, mountainous terrain. I can be working hard, climbing up a 3000ft steep, rough slope in a cold wind. Although i'm sweating hard, a Pertex windshirt allows it to escape, whilst cutting out the freezing wind. Any waterproof, including E-vent, would be overwhelmed in these conditions.Sep 17, 2008 at 5:06 pm #1451450
So it actually is down to personal preference, more options and the general conditions you hike it then. For instance if I were to expect only light rain but wanted the protection from the wind a simple windshirt would do.
I understand the differences between a more tougher/durable option unlike the DriDucks and I even understand the eVent option for the price, since a windshirt and rain gear is more versatile. However I was just confused with that most raingear nowadays is breathable but cuts heat loss, which typically a windshirt is for.
I, don't see myself needing a hefty rain shell and therefore was looking at the DriDucks like previously mentioned and since they are breathable didn't see the need for a windshirt as well, however the weight penalty is so minor that to take a windshirt that is more versatile and breathes better makes sense.
Anyways, Thanks.Sep 18, 2008 at 5:10 am #1451479
Inaki Diaz de EturaParticipant
@inaki-1Locale: Iberia highlands
also consider a windshirt, even if it's built out of lightweight fabrics, is pretty tough stuff. You don't have to baby it as much as Driducks or the like and you don't have to worry too much about dirt and body oils spoiling the waterproofness as you have to with (slightly) breathable rainwear. Basically, you wear your rain stuff only when it rains which is when it's most needed so you don't cope with rainwear drawbacks any longer than strictly necessary.Sep 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm #1451521
@johng10Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
By Sean Monahan:
Quote: "I understand the differences between a more tougher/durable option unlike the DriDucks and I even understand the eVent option for the price, since a windshirt and rain gear is more versatile. However I was just confused with that most raingear nowadays is breathable but cuts heat loss, which typically a windshirt is for." End Quote.
I think the part of your statement above that is causing your confusion is that you believe the advertising saying the raingear is breathable… Even pricey rainwear only breathes a LITTLE BIT.
Laminates (Gortex) and Coatings breathe hardly at all, and newer "wonder fabrics" (EVent)- breathes much better than Gortex, but not nearly as much as a wind shirt (maybe 1/3-1/2 as much ??). And none of them are breatheable enough for humid days (small moisture difference between inside jacket & outer air), or working hard enough to raise your breathing rate (ie: hiking up hills with a pack).Sep 18, 2008 at 6:13 pm #1451535
@missingutahLocale: Smoky Mountains
I'm about to find out this weekend whether the windshirt is excessive or not. I finally buckled down and bought one after reading all the hype. I've mostly been satisfied wearing raingear when I get chilly, but I agree with others that more breathability can not hurt at all.
The forecast and terrain doesn't really call for for a windshirt, but I'm bringing one along "just in case." I guess it's still a win overall, since my previous "just in case" coverage was a 20oz softshell that is just too much for a good 70% of my trips.Sep 19, 2008 at 10:20 am #1451577
I think you may be right, its understandable that different fabrics breathe different. I guess the only way it will be decided is just to get out there and experience it.
I am just too much of a planner I guess and like to have everything worked out ahead of time.Sep 19, 2008 at 10:01 pm #1451614
@jasonklassLocale: Parker, CO
I use Driducks for all of the reasons you outlined. So far, I'm happy with them.Sep 20, 2008 at 3:45 am #1451621
That's the key point. When the wind is blowing, a really light windshirt is fantastic. With a thin baselayer underneath it, you can handle quite a range of conditions and not get sweaty like when you wear a rainjacket.
Also, if you use a poncho tarp for your rain gear, then a windshirt gives you something to wear if you set up the tarp in the rain or need to leave your tarp for various reasons.Sep 20, 2008 at 4:20 am #1451622
@clt1953Locale: northern minnesota
speaking of wind shirts. any women out there own a marmot ion? if so, how do you like it? am looking to buy one…does the hood detach?Sep 20, 2008 at 7:33 am #1451629
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
I've owned various different windshirts and currently have and use a very nice Patagonia one. I'm not much of a fan any more and it comes on only a limited number of trips. The thing that I like most about it is how "cool" (as in sweet) it is. A 3 ounce jacket is just neat.
Performance and system wise though, windshirts generally don't make sense to me. If it is cold and windy, and I'm cold while hiking in a baselayer, it's always cold enough for me to wear my rain jacket (7 ounces) without overheating. Simple as that. If it is not cold enough to wear my rain jacket as wind protection, it's not cold enough to need any sort of jacket. I simply don't go from cold to hot by putting on a rain jacket. I go from cold to warm, and that is good. Same idea, if it is warmish and I put on my rain jacket to block the wind, then I'll get hot. But why do I need a windshirt for warmish conditions? I don't. Add to that the fact that none of my windshirts have blocked the wind as well as my rain jackets….
This being said. I do tend to delayer and relayer lightly more often while wearing a rainjacket as a windshirt. No big deal.
I do bring and enjoy my windshirt if I know that it's going to be very windy and I'm likely to wear it all the time. I those conditions I like the luxury of delayering less. Plus my windshirt is just cool (which is why I think most people buy them). So, I'm currently coming upon windshirt season. Fall and winter sees the most use for it. Especially in dayhiking.
I no longer bring my windshirt on any long distance hikes. It's not worth the weight. But I do have it available to be sent for the shoulder seasons.
Now, windPANTs, that's another "cool" piece of gear I'm interested in buying ;)Sep 20, 2008 at 8:10 am #1451633
I can't help but think that some folk don't understand what a windshirt is for. Say you set out to climb a 3,000 ft mountain slope. The climb might take you 2 or 3 hours. When you are working hard, your body produces sweat to cool you down by evaporative heat loss.
This is fine in warm weather.
Climb that same slope in temps nearer freezing, with a steady 10-20mph wind. You will still be sweating, but the cold wind will chill you pretty quickly, maybe dangerously so.
Of course you can put on your rain jacket to cut out the wind. You will still be sweating, but the sweat has no place to go. Even the most breathable waterproof shell can't cope with the sweat produced by 2 or 3 hours of hard work. Your clothing then becomes saturated with sweat. At best this is uncomfortable, in winter, maybe dangerous.
So you put on your windshirt in place of the rainshell. Good windshirts are made out of something like Pertex Quantum or similar. I prefer as little DWR as possible. Your sweat is wicked into the windshirt from your lower layers. It then spreads out on the outside to evaporate off. The dense weave of the windshirt allows this to happen, but still cuts the wind.
If you never encounter cold temps or wind, or you never work hard enough to raise a sweat, then leave the windshirt behind.
For myself, it's the most used item of outdoor clothing i have, and i wouldn't hike without one.Sep 20, 2008 at 8:40 am #1451637
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
Sounds correct in theory. And a windshirt still doesn't seem all that important (as a safety item??!?) in my actual experience.
Winter time…. yes, I use windshirts in the winter. But they're softshells a different beast.
My hiking shirt gets wet from perspiration. No big deal.Sep 20, 2008 at 9:02 am #1451639
Nothing to do with theory, but 30 years of practical mountain experience.
You've got me confused Jack.
"Windshirts in winter are softshell."
No they're not, they're windshirts! :)Sep 20, 2008 at 11:11 am #1451654
I currently use a single, breathable rainjacket, and the brand I have now is Cabela's Space Rain (8 oz). People say rainwear isn't breathable enough to use as windwear, but I wonder if these people have ever given quality rainwear a chance.
Not to sound condescending, I'm perfectly happy with my choice and have never felt too sweaty when I use it. I'll probably never buy another windshirt. They're one of those things that would end up sitting in my bag unused if I packed it.Sep 20, 2008 at 1:34 pm #1451669
Disclaimer: I have never used a wind shirt before so I have no real-world experience.
In your example you say that a hiker would be sweating while climbing up a 3000 foot slope w/ temps near freezing and 10-20 mph wind. Personally, I don't see why you would sweat in that situation, even with high exertion level. Sure, if you are wearing a thick, heavy baselayer or some other form of insulated layer or even a rain jacket, you certainly might sweat. But in that situation, I would simply delayer as much as I can (even wear a t-shirt if I have to) and in temps near freezing there is no way I would sweat. At stops, just put on a puffy jacket to keep warm.
The big benefit of wearing a wind shirt in that situation would be that less layering and de-layering would be necessary and that it would prevent someone from being very cold at the beginning of the climb before the body started pumping out heat. I am seriously considering getting a wind shirt for reasons of comfort and convenience, but I still don't see how they are essential.Sep 20, 2008 at 1:54 pm #1451671
I usually have the following layers. A merino base, 100 weight fleece, e-vent shell, and an insulated top for breaks and at camp. The base-layer is often not warm enough, even though i'm sweating. I'm too warm if i put on anything else but the windshirt. I'm hiking over rough ground, and a lot of it is start/stop. You may be using your hands for 100yds on a steep section, then an easier, more level section, followed by another steep section. You cool off on the level sections, then warm up again on the steeper ones. It can be hard to get a steady pace. It would be too much hassle to layer and delayer every 5 minutes. These are the conditions that a windshirt is made for, IMO. It isn't like running in cold weather on a trail, when you are warm and sweating wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Maybe the cold, damp conditions in Scotland are different. :)Sep 20, 2008 at 3:23 pm #1451674
Good points. I think one of the differences for me is that I am a light sweater, so I don't have a huge problem with evaporative cooling. However, I do have a tendency to walk on the cool side of my comfort range to prevent sweating. I think I will have to give wind shirts a try to see how they work for me. I think they might be especially ideal for humid climates such as in Scotland (and to a less degree New Jersey).Sep 21, 2008 at 1:18 pm #1451762
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
>For myself, it's the most used item of outdoor clothing i have, and i wouldn't hike without one.
That sums up my feelings, except to say that I don't consider a windshirt "essential" in the survival sense of the word. It's just a garment that increases my comfort zone AND protects my raingear from spiky shredding vegetation and rocks. I prefer my raingear to have as few holes as possible, but if you only walk on well-formed tracks this is not an issue.
The first outing I took my DriDucks on resulted in the shoulder seams wearing through from the pack straps rubbing. Then the rain set in and I got soaked through those perished seams. YMMV.Sep 23, 2008 at 7:12 am #1451975
@freeradicalLocale: Central TX
Just wanted to contribute my own thoughts here.
Like others, I won't make the argument that windshirts are a matter of necessity, or an emergency "essential." But, they are a joy to use if you happen to know how, and be in the right conditions.
Being small and warm-natured, I both warm up fast and cool off pretty fast. This means that when I go to the New Mexican Rockies in the summer and I'm gaining a bunch of elevation and then stopping to rest (in the intermittent wind and [maybe] drizzle), I'm putting my body through a wide gamut of changing, um, thermodynamics. Right? First I'm hiking hard uphill below a ridgeline, shielded from the wind, panting, and sweating . . . and then I'm resting on the ridgeline, exposed to the wind, and cooling rapidly. This cycle repeats.
Now, I definitely could get through all this by repeatedly changing out layers, as others have mentioned. I could take off my pack, strip/add my layer, pack/don it, and put my pack back on, over and over again.
Or, I could just wear a windshirt.
A nice breathable windshirt is the only layer I know of that can take me through all these conditions without a lot of discomfort. It protects enough, it breathes just enough. A windshirt just seem to fit that range of exertion and weather perfectly. Not to mention, most of them are fairly cheap, really light, and reasonably durable. Make a good choice like a Houdini, or Pertex, or (my favorite) a Montbell stretch, and you've got shower protection too.
Better explanation, maybe?
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