Feb 16, 2014 at 10:56 pm #1313402
@richard295Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
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?Feb 17, 2014 at 12:01 am #2074291
Those axis are good. It would be useful to measure water absorption somehow, and add it to the graph.Feb 17, 2014 at 1:23 am #2074297
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
CheersFeb 17, 2014 at 1:35 am #2074298
are those tested values for the MEC RD richard?
i would make it a graph with 3 variables … weight/breathability/water-resistance, thickness doesnt matter except as a function of the weight unless it implies durability … and i would invert the scale for the weight
that way the more area the in the graph a windshirt covers, the "better" (lighter, more breathable, more water resistant) it will be
i think most of the outdoor clothing industry is driven by marketing (and fashion) personally … not necessarily by performance, durability or common sense
how else will they sell new shinny gear every year to people who already have still functional models of their jackets/pants/baselayers/etc …
;)Feb 17, 2014 at 4:18 am #2074303
Woubeir (from Europe)Participant
"i think most of the outdoor clothing industry is driven by marketing (and fashion) personally"
+1 (sadly enough)
Personally, I would like to see water absorption, drying time and durability and thickness might not be very usefull (unless that is like Eric already said actually an indicator of durability ).
And then (of course): a CFM of 31,5 for the MEC RD while they say only 7 and they also say they do not carry or make highly breathable windshirts themself. Any idea why this difference ?Feb 17, 2014 at 5:22 am #2074307
Wow. This is a really cool analysis. Thanks.
It clearly reveals the difference (trade-off) between the '12 Houdini and the newer version.
I tend to agree with Eric that a single axis could be used to communicate durability. I personally prefer fabric thickness, as weight can be pretty loosely correlated with durability due to differences in feature sets.Feb 17, 2014 at 8:05 am #2074345
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
Awesome Richard. I wouldn't change a thing.Feb 17, 2014 at 8:47 am #2074359
@bolsterLocale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
It's good to think about reality in more than one dimension! Especially if one can use a nifty radar plot.
If water resistance is generally a tradeoff with wind resistance, then I'd put those on one axis (say, vertical). If weight and thinness are usually opposed, I'd put those on the other axis (horizontal).Feb 17, 2014 at 9:08 am #2074366
@richard295Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
You said, "are those tested values for the MEC RD richard?"
The answer is yes! A few days after mulling over your post of 2/4/14, I ordered a MEC RD. After it arrived, I tested it for the variables shown.Feb 17, 2014 at 9:33 am #2074374
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
With all the hang-wringing in a recent thread, I'm almost worried to see it graphed, but I'll send you a Rab CIrrus for testing if you want or have time. No worries if you don't.Feb 17, 2014 at 9:40 am #2074376
Good news! 31 CFM is a good number and the HH is even higher than the old Houdini. Looks like a winner even if a bit heavier than I would prefer. Not overly expensive either.
RyanFeb 17, 2014 at 10:18 am #2074387
Richard thanks for the tests and ordering one
I was pretty certain that it was fairly breathable based on the ones my partners have, the instore darth vader tests and dan's testimony
I think its good news for those who want something breathable as its cheaper than the old houdini … Though slightly heavier
And while this might not help folks outside canada … There is the mec no question asked warranty if you dont like it
If you need to combine shipping remember that the T2/3 are still in clearance at mec
;)Feb 17, 2014 at 10:37 am #2074391
@johnnyh88Locale: The SouthWest
Really nice work, Richard. I would volunteer to send you my Montane Mountain Star for testing if you'd like.Feb 17, 2014 at 10:37 am #2074392
The RD is a good windshirt. The hood seals well around the face to keep out bugs, so it's highly funtional in bug season. It is a bit heavier than some windshirts, but the weight is all in the fabric so you're getting a more durable garment. It's also got a nice long cut, so it doesn't ride up when you bend over.Feb 17, 2014 at 11:04 am #2074398
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
"i think most of the outdoor clothing industry is driven by marketing (and fashion) personally … not necessarily by performance, durability or common sense"
The checkbook rules. Some gambles are made and there are winners and losers.
But somwhere somebody thought that the changes would increase sales, profitability on that item, or serve the whole product line better. Who knows.
Others have pointed out that these garments may be pointed to other markets than backpacking. If consumer research is done, I assumed it is pointed at use per activity: climbing, running, hiking, skiing, etc. They may be responding to data that shows the sales are dominant in areas other than hiking, with marketing and design leaning to the surveyed needs of the activities that produce larger sales. If there is more money from runners, the needs of backpackers may take second seat. The horror!
Or there was some Peter Principle of Comittee rule that kicked in and they made a dumb choice— for our needs anyway. It has been interesting to see this slice of the outdoor market, looking at one category of clothing within one activity. Richard's contributions have really added to the science and objectivity.Feb 17, 2014 at 11:08 am #2074399
Partially unrelated, but I feel like Eric has come dangerously close at times to being completely dismissed on BPL because of his somewhat reckless way of presenting his (often polarized) opinions.
…and I think he's one of the smartest contributors to this forum, pushing other people to substantiate their claims and keeping a "hivemind" from forming on loads of topics.
I think this is awesome, and I think I want to apologize to Eric for what I can only assume were several times I ignored or publicly denounced him over the last year (though, I don't do anything like that often). Looking back, he's usually right, usually contributes a ton, and usually does it in a way that reflects a great deal of clarity.
Cheers, mateFeb 17, 2014 at 11:41 am #2074411
No apology needed
Everyone and their bear is entitled to their say =P
Dale is correct IMO that there are markets other than backpacking
For climbing i use my trail wind as an UL belay layer … In the summer i clip it to my harness and wear it belaying … It acts as wind and emergency light drizzle protection
Belayed climbing is very stop and go … Even while climbing a pitch youll try to take a decent amount of rests on technical pitches … So breathability isnt thr biggest deal
Of course youll sweat like a hippo in a sauna on steep approaches
Im sure theres other sports like this as well
And then theres the marketing …
;)Feb 17, 2014 at 4:13 pm #2074494
J Dos AntosParticipant
@damagerLocale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into your analysis. I greatly appreciate it.
IMHO, in this case very humble, I think you nailed it with your existing criteria.
The only drawback to your awesome data is I learned my 2013 Houdini is not the product I thought I was buying based on past performance reviews from many satisfied BPL members. However, since it's my first dedicated windshirt, I have nothing else to compare it to, and honestly have found it to be adequate thus far. That MEC RD looks mighty tempting now.
I also want to echo Max's comment and say thanks for much of the great info you have posted. I like that you present a differing opinion based on your experience. I wish I had more access to MEC gear, which I had never heard of (I'm in the US) until reading your posts.Feb 17, 2014 at 8:22 pm #2074568
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> But somwhere somebody thought that the changes would increase sales, profitability on
> that item, or serve the whole product line better.
Industry does not have motivations. Individual people do.
In this case, maybe a guy in marketing (or design) thought he had better come up with a new design for the next year so the boss doesn't think he is 'surplus to requirements'.
> Peter Principle of Committee
Quiz question: What constitues a majority on a committee?
Answer: two people coordinating and ignoring the rest.
CheersFeb 17, 2014 at 9:00 pm #2074579
@sgiachettiLocale: Boulder, CO
Thanks for your work, Richard. Nice to have some real data to reference in these forums.
I also appreciate a lot of your insights Eric.
@Dan–Curious what size you went for in the RD, Dan? Also, is there actually a meaningful amount of stretch?
CheersFeb 18, 2014 at 6:10 am #2074632
Q. What do you get when a committee sets out to design a horse?
A. a camelFeb 18, 2014 at 7:00 am #2074650
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I like the legend at the bottom that describes the 4 axes. I can understand what the four axes are and what they should be.
The XL oz and mm Thick values are approximately proportional so you could get rid of one if there was some other value you wanted to put on an axis.
That makes sense the '13-'14 Houdini is more waterproof and put provides less ventilation. 457 mm H2O is getting up towards the 1500 you say is required to be rainproof.
M90 T at 949 mm H2O would be even closer to rainproof. Too bad someone doesn't make a windshirt out of M90. Except, when does a "windshirt" become a "rain jacket"?
EVent is 30,000 mm H2O but maybe that's overkill for a shirt/jacket? 0.5 CFM (vs 0.2 CFM for M90) – that's a trick being both more waterproof and better ventilation, but maybe waterproofness gretaer than M90 doesn't add any utility if M90 is good enough. And it's heavier and maybe the membrane is not very durable.
My big problem with windshirts is they aren't rainproof, so I need a rain jacket in addition, in which case there's not much reason to have a windshirt also.
I've been playing with an M50 rain jacket. 5.5 ounces for extra long, "Napolean" pockets, front zipper, hood. I think it provides enough rain protection but I need more testing. Not very much ventilation which may be it's downfall. I wonder what the mm H2O and CFM are for M50? I see thru-hiker doesn't carry M50 (or M55) currently (anymore?) so maybe M50 is moot.Feb 18, 2014 at 7:53 am #2074661
Woubeir (from Europe)Participant
"My big problem with windshirts is they aren't rainproof, so I need a rain jacket in addition, in which case there's not much reason to have a windshirt also."
I guess that you mean it's specificly your problem, because at least for me personally, currently I wouldn't want to trade both a seperate windshell and rainshell for a unique rainshell. No WPB-material at this moment is breathable enough. Maybe in the future … let's hope. OK, that's heavier. So what.Feb 18, 2014 at 8:18 am #2074668
"@Dan–Curious what size you went for in the RD, Dan? Also, is there actually a meaningful amount of stretch? "
I'm a hair under 6 feet and 165 lbs. I went with the medium and it fits great – it's perhaps the best fitting garment I have. The torso length and sleeves are on the longer side, while the overall fit is slim. This is exactly how I like my shirts. I can toss a fleece or 3-season down jacket on underneath.
Stockier guys may not find it suitable, as they'd need to size up and then have really long sleeves.
There is a decent amount of stretch. It's certainly noticeable.
The hood seals well around the face, so it's extremely functional during bug season or when you just want to keep the wind at bay.
Feb 18, 2014 at 12:24 pm #2074765
It's great to see some actual test numbers. Thank you very much, Richard. A SOTM report by backpackinglight would be ideal, but if you are open to testing a few more jackets with wide appeal, or that are of particular interest to you, please let us know, and maybe we could send them to you with a postage-paid return envelope.
We might want to stock up on MEC RD Windshell Jackets before they ruin them, Houdini style. Luckily for my wallet, the green one is out of stock in medium.
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