Jan 11, 2010 at 3:24 pm #1254026
@johnzLocale: East Bay
Pretty new here, still learning (lots). For hiking in the Sierra Nevada, 8-10k foot range, what's the value of a windshirt?
Seems like if it's cool enough to need that protection I'd throw on my Capilene and/or rain jacket? I have been carrying something like a windshirt, but I must admit it's more to keep my fly tying stuff organized (Columbia fishing shirt), a problem I've solved so I don't need that shirt.Jan 11, 2010 at 3:34 pm #1561717
If you are happy hiking in your rain jacket, then you don't need a windshirt. A windshist is good for high exertion windy activities (so high that it overwhelms most WPB fabrics), and a good windshirt is also a lot better for scrub and off-trail conditions where you don't want to shred your expensive raincoat (or fragile cheap DriDucks). I also use my windshirt to sleep in as an added layer, and around camp to protect my fragile down layers. If none of these conditions apply to you, then a windshirt would be wasted weight.Jan 11, 2010 at 3:34 pm #1561718
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
For 3-season day hikes when rain isn't in the forecast, I'll usually take my windproof / rain resistant wind jacket — mainly to protect against cold winds when at rest. My wind shirt weighs 3-4 oz and takes up almost no space (space is a premium in my lumbar pack). And if it should rain, my car is not that far away…
For multi-day hikes, I will bring along my wp/b rain jacket for better weather protection — in which case, the wind jacket stays home.Jan 11, 2010 at 3:46 pm #1561723
+1 lynn's "if a wpb jacket works… stick with it"
For many of us, they typical WP/B jacket isn't sufficiently breathable. I often found myself in conditions were a base layer wasn't warm enough in the wind, but a 100% wind blocking WP/B shell made me sweat and overheat. A good windshirt gave enough protection while breathing sufficiently (and letting enough air in) that I could be comfortable.
In the last couple of years I have found that the combination of a supplex shirt (warmer conditions) and driducks (cooler conditions) removed the need for me to carry a windshirt but I use a windshirt often when not backpacking… and the windshirt still comes on some trips… specially in the winter when I might wear it constantly over a heavy base / light fleece.
–MarkJan 11, 2010 at 3:49 pm #1561726
I bought into the hype and paid $125 for a Patagonia Houdini. I just never use it. I did use it for 5 days last summer to block the bugs during breaks, but my Frogg Toggs could have done that just as well.
I see if it has any value this spring, but I just don't see myself using it in serious mountains.Jan 11, 2010 at 3:55 pm #1561729
In the serious mountains is exactly where my windshirt pays dividends.Jan 11, 2010 at 4:09 pm #1561736
@johnzLocale: East Bay
Good input everyone. I just got a set of dry ducks and the stuff is so comfortable and light (albeit not too fashionable) I'm going to do a short trip without the shirt and see how it goes. I'm the family "mule" (2 kids ages 5 and 9) so I'm shedding ounces wherever possible.Jan 11, 2010 at 4:14 pm #1561737
I think Lynn summarized the value of a windshirt well. I would also add that if you use a puffy jacket (instead of fleece) then a windshirt comes in handy. The reasoning for a puffy jacket is that it is warmer for the same weight. That warmth means you can extend your hiking into colder areas. It also means you may be able to use less of a sleeping bag (assuming you sleep with the puffy jacket). The drawback of a puffy jacket is that it isn't as breathable as fleece. As a result, you need something in between a T-Shirt and the puffy jacket. A windshirt fits that range more comfortably than rain gear, as it is more breathable.Jan 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm #1561739
Oh yeah, a windshirt fits in a small outside pocket where I can access it quickly during rest stops to keep the insects or chill off. My raincoat is bulkier and has to go inside my pack where it is less quick to get at. This, again, may not apply if you use a pack with outside pockets that can accommodate a raincoat, or if you don't don anything windproof/insect proof at rest stops. They are also nice to change into at the end of a rainy day when your raincoat is wet. It's nice to have a windproof dry layer at camp that will keep tent moisture away from down gear.Jan 11, 2010 at 4:44 pm #1561745
@woodenwizardLocale: Greater Mt Tabor
Could the right windshirt repel the drizzle of spring and fall 'rains' of the PNW? Enough that I could trust it during one of the many drizzle showers throughout the day. I know that is not a raincoat, I'm just curious since it can rain all day long but only accumulate .25inches. Where do you think the line is drawn between windshirt and rain jkt?
.25 inches/ say, 8 hrs?
.5 inches/ 8hrs?Jan 11, 2010 at 4:48 pm #1561748
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
While I like my windshirt a lot around town, and like it on the trail, I don't tend to bring it. If I'm aiming for an ultralight load, it's generally extraneous and can be left at home. I NEED a rain jacket, I usually need a baselayer, I need a warm jacket. I don't need a windshirt.Jan 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm #1561750
I think it depends a lot on how good your DWR is. The only windshirts I've used that could stand up to drizzle happened to breathe very poorly (worse than my rainjacket!). But if the drizzle is that light, it may not be worth worrying about. You'll dry quickly enough.Jan 11, 2010 at 4:57 pm #1561753
@woodenwizardLocale: Greater Mt Tabor
I'm interested because I frequently need a wind blocker. Usually I use my Rush jacket but wet it out. So I'm thinking if a windshirt can battle .5 inch throughout a whole day and block the wind, it would be a better choice in function than the Rush, and save a few oz.Jan 11, 2010 at 5:03 pm #1561758
If it's windy enough to need a windshirt, then I just toss on my rain jkt and I unzip it as needed to get adequate ventilation.
If it's not windy then I've got plenty of other layers I can toss on for warmth that are more insulation:weight efficient than a windshirt.Jan 11, 2010 at 6:05 pm #1561784
Funny thing about windshirts: companies bring them in as a summer thing, but I only really wear them in winter. If it's raining, a wind shirt doesn't do a lot of good. However, when it's cold and relatively dry, the extra breathability of a windshirt is great. In winter, my primary layers are a thin wool topped with a windbreaker. It keeps a pretty great microclimate going for me. Cover w/a big poofy down piece as necessary, maybe an extra midlayer. Similar kinda idea as the Paramo gear, really…
WPB shells are just too hot for most aerobic output. Windshirts are a good balance. That said, in most conditions warm enough to rain, I don't really need as much wind/weather protection when I'm on the move. Therefore I don't get much benefit from a windbreaker in those conditions, but when the mercury drops I need to keep things dry, so a light WPB shell goes along. 40*F rain is no fun.Jan 11, 2010 at 9:36 pm #1561876
@jephotoLocale: New Zealand
I've used mine a lot recently. I often encounter strong cold winds and my only other layer is a puffy jacket that is far too hot to hike in, so on goes the windproof. I could wear my waterproof, but it is just not breathable enough for me. Using a windproof with a combination of merino base layer, possum down gloves and a possum down or merino hat works for me over a wide range of temps.
I also find a windproof useful when facing on again off again showers. If I have only a waterproof I find that I sometimes delay putting it on as I know I will get too hot, then I take it off the moment it stops raining to cool down and then it starts to rain again so I put it on again etc. With a windproof I am not reluctant to put it on and then I find I don't feel the need to take it off gain so quickly.
I also find it useful when hiking in the bush in quite heavy rain. The thick bush can provide quite a lot of cover from the rain and a windproof can be just enough to keep me dry, whereas in waterproof I would over heat.
Finally wearing it over a puffy jacket seems to add quite a lot of warmth, in the same way as using a bivy bag with a quilt does. It is also useful for keeping the bugs off and I have slept in it as well.Jan 11, 2010 at 10:39 pm #1561907
@ckelleyLocale: Santa Barbara
I agree Jason. +1 for windshirts!
I just got back from a New Years overnight here in the Southern CA mountains where I didn't take my windshirt. All I had was my WM Flash down jacket for camp at night. There was no need for a rain jacket as there was no rain in the forecast.
When we stopped for lunch both days, I got a little cold. My back was a little sweaty and it was high 50s and cloudy/breezy. A 3-4 ounce windshirt would have been perfect. In fact in hindsight, if I'd had a windshirt, I could have done with a down vest for camp and left the full Flash jacket at home. The total would have been 1 ounce lighter. :-)
+1 for windshirts over puffy layers. They make a big difference. I've been comfortable down below freezing with just a windshirt over a Montbell UL down inner. The UL down inner is sewn-through; the windshirt really keeps the breeze from blowing through the seams. I assume the trapped air at each channel seams helps to insulate too, so there would be less of a windshirt benefit over a baffled jacket.
But as others have said, when rain is in the forecast, I usually leave the windshirt at home and bring a rain jacket, typically a Patagucci Specter.Jan 12, 2010 at 12:52 am #1561916
Can we state that Baselayer + Windshirt = Softshell?
With the main drawback of a shoftshell being that you can't use both layers separately.
Side question: how does the breathability of a windshirt compare against a "real" soft shell? Real being highly breathable, wind-resistant, water-resistant but not water-proof, and allowing moisture to escape without having to turn into vapor first.Jan 12, 2010 at 6:22 am #1561935
Can we state that Baselayer + Windshirt = Softshell?
Not sure. The soft shells I've had weren't as breathable and also added some more insulation.
Side question: how does the breathability of a windshirt compare against a "real" soft shell?
Pertex Microlight is awesome, I don't think a soft shell can compare to that.Jan 12, 2010 at 7:44 am #1561951
> Can we state that Baselayer + Windshirt = Softshell?
Yes… or at least a close relative.
> Side question: how does the breathability of a windshirt compare against a "real" soft shell?
Depends on the soft shell. Membrane based soft shells will be much worse. Lighter pertex/pile style will be about the same. Stretch woven is better. Scroll down the to the graph on percent of naked and you will see that patagonia doesn't use soft shells like dryskin because they think it's too breathable / air permeable.
> Pertex Microlight is awesome, I don't think a soft shell can compare to that.
Actually, something like the rab vapour light is better in my experience. Powerdry liner (approx midweight base) with a Pertex Equilibrium shell. Equalibrium is more durable and water resistant than Microlight, while being a bit more air permeable. I am not 100% sure, but microlight has an approx CFM of 3, Equilibrium is approx 10. When moving fast I don't want 100% wind protection… I want to be mostly protection from wind, but with a bit of air moving to help cool me and help vent the moisture I am generating.
–MarkJan 12, 2010 at 8:01 am #1561959
> Depends on the soft shell. Membrane based soft shells will be much worse. The stretch woven or the lighter pertex/pile style will be about the same.
Exactly my point, and why I mentioned "allowing moisture to escape without having to turn into vapor first". Most membranes out there require moister to evaporate in order to pass through the membrane. Where a decent (a "real") softshell will allow for direct moisture transport. Softshells with a membrane not allowing for direct moisture transfer should be called hardshells really.
A good softshell should provide you with the isolation of more or less a baselayer and the partial wind / rain protection of a windshirt.
One could argue that having 2 separated items is better, allowing you to use them individually and adapt to the environment and circumstances as you see fit. Especially if 2 separate items don't give you a weight penalty.
So does "does a windshirt has value" translates to "does a softshell has value" just as well? I guess the answer is yes – unless you love using your hardshell in an active way, or the environment forces you to use a hardshell (basically heavy continuous rain).
Without hijacking this thread: which one is better according to you: "real" softshell or base + windshirt?Jan 12, 2010 at 8:29 am #1561975
I've found that even most stretch-woven, uninsulated soft shells are not as breathable as a thin windbreaker ala Houdini. The materials are still thicker, possibly denser?, and inherently warmer. I'd like to try Patagonia's Traverse jacket, the thinnest soft shell I've seen. But in short, my experience has been that a windbreaker/baselayer is the most flexible option. (I have used a Paramo-type shell w/success, but that's a little different…)Jan 12, 2010 at 8:40 am #1561978
> which one is better according to you: "real" softshell or base + windshirt?
In conditions where you might benefit from separating the windshirt from the base… I would go with the base + wind shirt for the added versatility. In conditions where I will always being wearing both (say winter) softshell wins because there is one less layer to fiddle with.
–MarkJan 12, 2010 at 11:03 am #1562019
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I always thought that the main value of a lightweight DWR windshirt was in misty conditions, such as encountered in the OR/WA Cascades. However, I keep using it more and more: to keep off biting flies during rest stops, to keep off the wind when it's too cool and windy to hike without a wind jacket but far too warm to be comfortable while moving in a WPB jacket, to put on during rest stops if it's breezy but not cold, even in the sleeping bag at night so my inevitably dirty shirt doesn't transfer its dirt to the sleeping bag. My Montbell windshirt weighs 2.4 oz. and is well worth its weight, IMHO.
As for the conditions for which I originally bought the windshirt: If it's warm and drizzling, I just get wet. since I'll get just as wet from sweat inside my rain jacket or even the windshirt. My body heat dries out my synthetic shirt and pants in 10-15 minutes once the precipitation stops. If it's cool and drizzly, I wear the wind shirt–if it's more than a mist, I get a bit wet, but the extra layer keeps me from getting chilled. If it's cold enough that I don't sweat inside while hiking, I wear the rain jacket.Jan 12, 2010 at 4:28 pm #1562116
i was always under the impression that true rain gear is to be used for rain gear only, as the membranes that keep the water beading up are pretty fragile. therefor i like my 4 oz windshirt to wear unless it's really raining…
i also like to wear mine to bed. i feel it gives me a little 'microclimate' while sleeping
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