My “wind shirt” rant…

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Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 88 total)
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    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    I have never carried a separate wind shirt. I'll wear a tightly woven nylon shirt if I need bug protection.

    Instead of a wind shirt I carry my eVent rain parka and use it as a wind shirt when necessary. Works very well and saves the weight of a wind shirt.

    Does anyone else also do this "multiple use" clothing strategy?

    Stephen M
    BPL Member


    Locale: Way up North

    On some winter trips I wear Paramo or Neoshell, but for 3 Season use I always take a windshirt (and raingear)

    Bob Moulder
    BPL Member


    Locale: Westchester County, NY

    I used the Montbell Dynamo hooded wind jacket (154.5g) a LOT last year and found it super handy. Early in the spring it was quite useful over a EB 150wt fleece to tweak it a bit when the wind picked up, but it tended to pass moisture through much better than a shell. I really like having the hood which is also quite useful for thermoregulation.

    I'm keeping it on my list this year, for sure.

    Bob Moulder
    BPL Member


    Locale: Westchester County, NY

    PS, hey, I forgot… that's it in my avatar! :^)

    Jim Colten
    BPL Member


    Locale: MN

    Instead of a wind shirt I carry my eVent rain park and use it as a wind shirt when necessary.

    I'm certain this is a YMMV thing and very very much a YWMV (Your Weather May Vary).

    For me, the breathability gap between eVent and not calendared nylon with minimal DWR disqualifies eVent for active use. But that is me, not Eric. Also, eVent WILL wet out in all day rains, which are not unheard of in my area.

    Richard N's comments in the other thread about this topic seem to indicate that a windshirt worn over varying amounts of insulation is a big winner when measured by insulation value per weight.

    I'll wear a tightly woven nylon shirt if I need bug protection.
    I'm pretty sure Richard N would also say that is, in effect, a windshirt. (he did so regarding one of Skurka's 13 items).

    Ben C
    BPL Member


    Locale: Kentucky

    You wear a tightly woven nylon shirt for bug protection? That's a wind shirt. Why wouldn't you use your bug shirt as a wind shirt too?

    Justin Baker
    BPL Member


    Locale: Santa Rosa, CA

    Ben, he is talking about those nylon button up hiking shirts. They are more breathable and less wind resistant than a windshirt but still tight woven enough for bugs. The weave on windshirts is tighter than it needs to be for bugs.

    Eric, windshirts are more breathable than an event rain jacket. So less sweating them up. More important for colder weather use.
    If you are going to be in a very windy environments for long periods of time I think a windshirt is worth it. For the occasional stiff breeze, not as important.

    Ben C
    BPL Member


    Locale: Kentucky

    My point was that a single garment can work as both windshirt and bug shirt.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    We are one people, divided by windshirts. I'm with Eric. If I stop at a pass for lunch with views and it's windy, out comes my Event. Often, it's so windy on a pass that a windshirt wouldn't really cut it–but I run cold. If it's raining and I'm hiking, a windshirt will quickly wet out. If I'm not hiking and it's raining, I want my Event jacket. If it's windy and I'm hiking, I still have never needed a windshirt: I'm on the go and my body heat is keeping me warm,or I'll put on a second capilene layer. So when do I need a windshirt?

    Finally, I've hiked over passes in sleet for six hours in a Rab Demand three ply event and it kept me dry; a windshirt would have been useless. People claim that event will always eventually wet out; in my experience it's the best of available options in rain or sleet, except possibly a poncho–but I hate the flapping.

    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern Indiana

    Sure, the wind shirt is more breathable, it's also added weight. I'm already carrying a rain jacket, so why not let it be wind shirt too?
    I compromise with the OR Helium 2. It doesn't provide very good rain protection in sustained downpours, but the 30d is light enough to breathe a little. I also sleep in the Helium….then it becomes triple use.

    So I guess it just depends on whether or not someone is willing to endure a little discomfort in order to get lighter. Personally, I like the idea of 7 oz total for rain and wind protection.

    I don't need no stinking wind shirt!

    Justin Miller
    BPL Member


    Locale: Midwest

    If you are hiking sunrise to sunset, getting by with just your lightweight rain jacket is just fine. Although any time I'm doing trips with shorter days/mileage I find a good windshirt (2012 Houdini) begins to excel in terms of camp comfort. A 5oz windshirt and a 6oz minimal rain jacket is neighboring the weight of many common 3L jackets, including event.

    I find myself taking a lot of tenderfoots on shorter weekend trips with decent time in camp so the windshirt finds it's way into the pack more often than not.

    Tim Skidmore


    Locale: Canadian Atlantic coast

    The meaning behind this statement is that I would be shocked if a person in the Mojave Desert or Phoenix used the same clothing strategy that I use in Eastern Canada.

    I usually wear a t-shirt and put on a wind shirt when the wind comes off the North Atlantic. I also layer a thin sweater under the wind shirt if required, and a puffy over it in camp. Basically my wind shirt is just that, a shirt, I used to use a regular synthetic shirt but I found that the hood was a nice addition. My rain gear goes over if required. If it's not raining it's too warm to wear, if it's raining the extra warmth is usually a good idea because the rain tend to be damn cold here.

    For my climate I find this works well, whether it works in yours or not I have no idea.

    Randy Martin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado

    I would almost never encounter or choose to hike in all day rain. Wind shirts are perfect for 1-3 day trips where you have a reasonable certainty of the weather forecast and the chance for significant rain. If you are surprised and it rains a lot, I would choose to just stop and make shelter, not continue to hike in it.

    Wind shirts are a beautiful thing where windy conditions are common and where moisture is short lived (Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, New Mexico etc…).

    Richard Nisley
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area


    Please answer this question: What function(s) do you think a wind shirt, like the 2012 Houdini, provides and what do you currently use to address the function(s) including the weight(s)?

    Rather than rant – to speak or declaim extravagantly or violently – I choose to pursue a respectful exchange of evidence.

    "A wise man proportions his beliefs to the evidence. Where evidence is weak, belief should be also; where evidence does not exist at all, there should be no belief." So at least says David Hume.

    Bob Moulder
    BPL Member


    Locale: Westchester County, NY

    I like science, but after science has taken its best shot what always follows is empirical testing in the field… validation.

    Although I was a little skeptical about the utility of a windshirt, I discovered that it was useful to me on a lot more occasions than the light shell, much more so than I would have anticipated.

    This year, I'm going to see how a combo of Dynamo windshirt and eVent Packa works out.

    Tim Skidmore


    Locale: Canadian Atlantic coast

    What Bob said.

    Like everyone else here I spend a lot of time planning, researching (BPL has been one of my favourite resources the last few years), reading the debates, and coming to my own conclusions. Then I go hiking and find out the truth of the matter.

    Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong, but either way I'm in the woods so it's all good.


    My Houdini worked pretty well for me on last Sunday's day trip. Conditions were a steep snow climb / scramble in temps well above freezing. Light intermittent drizzle at the bottom turned to moderate-to-heavy snow midway up the climb. Light-moderate wind on and off the ridge.

    Some combination of sweat, melted snow, and moisture from brushing against vegetation definitely wet out the Houdini – the back and sleeves were pretty soaked by the end, but still warm and comfortable over a simple long-sleeve base layer. It was pretty easy to regulate body heat with the front zip, hood, and rolling/unrolling the sleeves.

    I also had my eVent shell with me in case of more severe rain, but it stayed in the pack. If I had that on during the climb it would have been like being in a sauna.

    I'm curious what the anti-wind-shirt folks would pick for this sort of conditions?

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Hi Richard: I actually do own a Houdini, and really like it for use on local walks and hikes. I especially like the hood. Where I live the weather will change hourly sometimes and the Houdini is great as long as rain isn't involved. also it stands out at night for night walks.

    I just find the Houdini redundant for Backpacking. I've been caught in days long rain storms in the Sierra which weren't in the forecast too many times to not bring a reliable shell. I offset the slight increase in weight of a reliable three ply event shell by leaving the Houdini at home. Then my rain shell functions as a wind shirt. It seems to me that the sole stand alone function and advantage of a windshirt is that it will let you hike without sweating out, like a wp shell might. Other than this, an event shell will outperform a windshirt in every way. On the west coast, it seems that the specific conditions which would be appropriate for a windshirt rarely arise–in the PNW, you have to have solid rain protection; in the Sierra, you're more likely to welcome a cooling wind while you're moving.

    edit: Derek posted while I was writing this last bit. He makes a lot of good points. I certainly respect his experience here. I would have used my Event shell in a drizzle; I don't think that it would have sweated out in cool conditions, but it probably would have here; I find that I can regulate the inner temp of my shell by venting through the front zipper. But on a Day climb like Derek's I probably would have brought my Houdini too, and used it instead of my shell. For extended hikes, I prefer to save weight by leaving my Houdini at home.

    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    I have tried my rain jacket as a wind shirt and I overpower it almost immediately. I even tried eVent a few years ago and it was better, but not good enough (and as heavy as my rain jacket and windshirt combined). I am sure that works for some people in some conditions, but it didn't work for me in the conditions that I hike in.

    Admittedly I run hot while hiking. I sweat alot, and I often hike in a very humid enviroment, which is probably the worst possible combimation for a rain shell. If I didn't run as hot hiking or sweat alot, and hiked in more arid conditions, a rain shell might work better for me.

    Aaron Sorensen
    BPL Member


    Locale: South of Forester Pass

    I have a homemade 2.2oz M90 windshirt.

    It breathes well enough to wear over my base layer and does an amazing job at holding my body heat in without breaking me out in a sweat.

    I'm sorry, but no sub 8 ounce rain jacket is breathable enough to keep it from wetting out in a good storm.
    This is why I use my homemade 8.5 ounce synthetic jacket as my rain jacket.
    The synthetic material doesn't compress and keeps my nice and warm even in sub 40* rain.
    My wind jacket is warm enough that I don't worry about bringing a warm down jacket and blocks enough heat that I don't need a secondary mid layer anymore.

    My layers are a 3.5oz short sleeve shirt, 6oz nylon long sleeve layer, 2.2oz wind jacket and 8.5oz synthetic jacket.

    Total of 20.2 ounces. A .8oz beanie brings it up to 21oz.

    I did add 1.5 ounces of down to my homemade quilt (now at 19oz).

    The layering system is a little warmer than my old system with my 15oz down jacket and a mid 9oz layer to keep me warm enough.

    Randy Nelson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Rockies

    I really don't know anything about event rain jackets. How much do they weigh? My Houdini and Driducks jacket weigh 10 oz combined. At that weight, I'm not going to compromise. The Houdini is one of my favorite pieces of gear. It's great for hiking in and I use it in the winter over a base layer when travelling by skis or snowshoes. It's always in my pack year round. When it does more than drizzle, I put on the Driducks jacket. And slow my pace way down.

    Houdini and Driduck jacket

    Adam Kilpatrick
    BPL Member


    Locale: South Australia

    There are a lot of threads now with a lot of information that is relevant to this debate.

    However, from what I remember, including actual data from Richard,

    CFM of most rain jackets ~0. CFM of the best, eg Event is around 1CFM.

    35CFM is Richard's determination of the upper limit of desired breathability in a wind jacket; any higher and you aren't really transferring any more meaningful moisture content out, while you are starting to allow a lot of heat out instead. (Another way of thinking about this, is insect mesh has extremely high CFM. It will allow huge moisture transfer, but also provide very little resistance to incoming wind and thus lose lots of heat).

    Knowing what the CFM is, is difficult without testing equipment (eg what Richard has and can do), however the "Darth Vader" test (hold fabric to mouth, try and breath through it) can be a reasonable proxy, with experience.

    No wind jacket is perfectly waterproof against good rain. If you are expecting rain, you need a jacket (or something else eg poncho, umbrella, stay out of the rain, etc).

    So, if you have to take a rain jacket, you want to pick a windshell that is as far away from 1CFM as possible, but not greater than 35CFM. This would maximise the versatility of the two pieces that you are carrying.

    Richard; not sure where your latest most up to date and complete table of fabrics vs CFM vs HH is?

    Also, feel free to provide corrections if I got any of this wrong, I'll post edit it :-)

    Adam Kilpatrick
    BPL Member


    Locale: South Australia

    Many have mentioned that the decision to take a windshirt or not depends on the individual and the conditions. I agree.

    I also wonder whether many people's experiences with windshirts and their subsequent decision making is a result of the CFM of the fabric in the windshirts they have used.

    Someone who just so happens to pick a windshirt with a CFM that approaches that of a rain shell (eg 0-2 range) probably doesn't notice a significant increase in breathability over their rain shell, and thus wonders what all the hype is about, and leaves windshell at home in the future. Good choice!

    Someone who was lucky and happened to pick a windshirt that has a good CFM, eg 30-35, would have a different experience of course, as in dry windy conditions where they are active their windshell is adequately breathing doing exactly what the whole windshirt paradigm is meant to achieve.

    I formerly belonged right in the what the hell are they for camp.

    But, in Japan in 2013 I was pretty lucky, in the absence of data, I picked up a Montbell Tachyon Anorak. CFM of this is I think ~9.5, so much more than a rainshell (though probably not perfect). I have had awesome experiences with it. If I had happened to get one made of pertex GL, which seems to be in the 0.5CFM range, my experience would have almost definitely sucked. To be honest I still would have used it sometimes (eg training runs at night, just coz I had bought it and it was light and I could stuff it in a running short pocket) but for hiking I would have said no.

    So, I wonder if a pilot study is worthwhile. If you are in the "I dont see the point, in my experience it didn't work" camp and actually did have a windshirt that you tried, what was it?

    Also, if you have had success with windshirts, what was it?

    There are multiple complicating factors (and I can't be bothered running multivariate statistics on this, I have other more important research issues to contend with), but I hypothesise that there could be a correlation here.

    r m


    Sure I'd heard of wind shirts the rare time before, but before reading BPL I had never thought perhaps I should own one (I don't own one, yet).

    I've been getting by with my event jacket. I'd like to move to neoshell. The jacket doesn't get too sweaty for me, its not zipped up, and if I get too hot it comes off until I get too cold again.

    Owen McMurrey


    Locale: SE US

    I'm interested in a windshirt that has a lot of breathability and relatively low wind resistance, so maybe those with what is generally an undesirably high CFM are worth a look for me.
    I'd like to try one if it can breathe and move moisture as well as an OR Ferrosi, but that seems like a really big if. The old Marmot Ion that I have is certainly nowhere close, and every windproof garment(shells, Windstopper fleece vest and jackets) I've tried has left me wet with sweat, so there's been some reluctance on my part.
    I seem to be running hotter and hotter the last couple of years(take EN ratings/clo results and subtract 15-20F), though, and that 13oz Ferrosi hoody is spending more and more time in my pack instead of on my body. I suppose knocking off up to half a pound of pack weight on trips where I stay on-trail is realistic, and provides some motivation to explore the possibilities.

    rm: "Sure I'd heard of wind shirts the rare time before, but before reading BPL I had never thought perhaps I should own one (I don't own one, yet)."

    I see so much talk about windshirts here that you'd think everyone everywhere was using them for everything, but they seem rather foreign to me.
    Admittedly, I don't see that many people when I'm out, but since I started backpacking again in 2009, I've done about a year's worth of hiking in 10 states.
    Except for the Marmot Ion I mentioned before, I have never actually seen a windshirt outside of a store.

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