My “wind shirt” rant…

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Viewing 13 posts - 76 through 88 (of 88 total)
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    Albert M


    This is my very first post (just joined today).  I did an AT thru hike last year and never had the need for a windshirt.  I’ve also done a lot of hiking in the northern Rockies where I used to live.  I never saw a need for one there either.  I’ve always just used a nylon button-down shirt or a rain jacket.

    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    what kind of rain jacket?

    Lester Moore
    BPL Member


    Locale: Olympic Peninsula, WA

    Albert – until last summer I never saw a need for a wind jacket either. While I still don’t see a “need” for one, I now carry a wind jacket on almost all 3 season trips. It breathes better than a rain jacket, cuts wind beautifully, and is super light, making it a perfect outer layer for hiking on cold mornings or on cool windy days. It’s more comfortably for hiking in dry moderate conditions than fleece or a rain jacket IMHO. A wind shirt adds a lot of versatility and noticeable insulation for just a 3 ounce penalty.

    For added functionality, I also sleep in a windshirt because it glides smoothly under the STS Nano Mosquito Net, making it much easier to move around under the net. In contrast, fleece and most other fabrics stick to and catch against the mosquito net material. Another benefit is that the wind shirt seems to keep body odor out of the quilt better than more breathable clothing does.

    As someone mentioned earlier in the thread, wind shirts may be less useful on rainy trips, or on winter trips (a rainproof jacket makes more sense here). And if you’re really pinching the ounces, a light rain jacket performs the same basic function and is more multipurpose.

    Justin Baker
    BPL Member


    Locale: Santa Rosa, CA

    Unless it’s very windy, I find that maintaining a level of air permeability is important when you are exerting yourself. A high level of air permeability in your shell layer (lets say 35cfm) is about 75 times more air permeability than the most breathable shell (neoshell 0.5 cfm). Sometimes when hiking I am not really exerting myself that hard, like walking on flat ground or downhill, and if it’s really windy and cold I will cut off air permeability with my rain jacket.

    If it is not warm out and super windy, like so windy that it takes extra effort to walk into the wind, then I can unzip my rain jacket and let the cool air blow in. On a quick overnighter in Joshua Tree this year, I wore my neoshell all day long both days, never took it off. The windstorms were intense, sometimes blowing sand in my face sitting down. This is an example where a hardshell was more appropriate than a breathable windshirt for hiking in the wind.

    My point is that being able to adjust the air permeability of your shell layer based on a wind speeds and exertion levels is useful. Carrying both a breathable windshirt and rain jacket allows that. For those of you hiking in climates where you rarely get cold hiking during the day, even in the wind, unless a rain storm rolls in (High Sierra in July/August is like this) then only carrying a rain jacket makes sense.

    brian H
    BPL Member


    Locale: Siskiyou Mtns

    i have worn windbreakers & windshirts for 40+ years, and for their weight and volume factor, no other garments have provided such versatility & convenience.

    Edward John M
    BPL Member


    @Adam Kilpatrick

    You’re not walking where I walk then, almost everybody I walk and ski with either wears or carries a windshirt.

    My biggest complain is the fragility not the weight [ Montane Featherweight 130 grams in XXL] as I only seem to get 3 or 4 seasons from one. Mine goes over my thermals and under my midlayers and it needs to be pretty cold to need more than my thermals + windshirt when skiing hard.

    The downside to any of the UL windshirts I have seen locally is the slim cut, too tightly fitting to wear over anything other than the next to skin layer, the next fit and size up you may as well incorporate some UL insulation and Patagonia sell a lot of NanoPuff here for this reason. But if the wind is really blowing then adding a fleece layer under the windshirt would be advantageous and I see a DIY project here to try and keep that layer lower than 250 grams.

    Go back 2 or 3 decades tho and what is a “MountainParka” but a heavy duty wind layer? No-one experienced would have ventured out without one in the pack or on their back

    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Pretty much what jscott said on page 1. He summed up my experiences persactly.

    I’ve found eVent breathes a lot better than Gore-Tex, sometimes too well on a very cold day when I’m alpine skiing with the eVent parka over a sweater and light fleece jacket.


    Dustin V
    BPL Member


    Wind shirts and rain jackets are the ends of a wide spectrum. They may look similar, but they do different things well. They’re like a sledgehammer and a claw hammer.  You can pound a splitting wedge into a log with a claw hammer, but it’s going to take a lot more strikes. And you can tap a nail into drywall with a sledge, but you’ll have to be gentle or you’ll break something. Similarly, you can block wind with a rain jacket and shed some rain with a wind shirt.

    I think what makes us all argue is that marketing descriptions tell us every jacket is perfect for every situation. If I had a nickel for every time I read, “fully waterproof” or, “resists light rain” I’d have …a lot of nickels. They’re meaningless. Hydrostatic head numbers don’t tell you how much time you’ve got before the fabric soaks through. They’d have to plot it on a graph between Mist and Gullywasher.

    Breathability numbers are similarly vague because things work differently between Death Valley and Seattle.

    I do bring a wind layer, but not as my rain gear. I bring rain gear for that. Weather generally places in the middle of the spectrum and we find ways to deal with the downsides of what we brought. But if someone finds ‘the one jacket to rule them all’ I’m sure we’ll hear about it here. I just hope I have enough nickels to buy it.

    Steve H


    On that note, I’ve read some convincing reports that Montbell’s Versalite (new model) gets pretty close to dual duty here.  My rain shell is 12 oz (ugh) with no pit zips – don’t like the idea of adding a wind shirt to that ensemble.  And I’ve upgraded / downweighted most of my gear recently, so replacing a decent Arc Teryx rain jacket w a $200 MB isn’t very attractive right now.

    Bill in Roswell
    BPL Member


    Locale: Roswell, GA, USA

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Being a long time wind shirt advocate (ever since I hiked Mt. Washington on Father’s Day in a whiteout storm) I can easily state that the 3-4 ounces will give you pounds of versatility. In Peru, my windshirt was out every afternoon in 25-30 mph winds, despite 60F temps in a bright, high altitude sun. In such conditions, no rain jacket can compare. I live in N GA, subtropical rains and my 6.6 oz Montbell rain jacket does great in rain. But no rain jacket can compare to a good breathable wind shirt. FWIW, Timmer makes custom wind shirts to fit your measurements of very breathable Argon 90, 35 CFM. Comes in at 2.5 oz w/ hood, velcro cuffs and full zip for about $110. When cycling, esp downhill, I want less breathable and more block, around 5 CFM. Different tools for different conditions. Great for day long actives, less so for long hikers. </p>

    Dustin V
    BPL Member


    The wind jacket I wear running couldn’t stop a squirtgun, but it breathes and vents well, and is easy to don/doff/carry while I’m loping along. I don’t run much faster than I hike, but I work a lot harder and generate more heat.

    For backpacking, I keep going back to a cheap, old 4oz supposedly wp/b shell that fits over my puffy. I believed the marketing when I picked it up, but now I know how it actually functions. Even so, it’ll hold off rain for a bit, until I get under my poncho.

    Luke Schmidt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Alaska

    I like a wind shirt because it saves wear and tear on my raincoat.



    I’m curious to know where BPL folks are concerning windshirts these days. Presumably many miracles of fabric have occurred since 2015.

    I wear one day-to-day in 30-40deg weather over either baselayer-and-light-sweater or a fleece jacket, and it does a heck of a job keeping heat in – but I’m a carpenter and I’ll admit my primary delight in it is that it keeps sawdust out. It’s always in my pack on hikes, generally to put on when I stop. I have a fancy rain jacket these days that only weighs a few ounces more than the windshirt, so sometimes I bring that instead, but I don’t think it does as well keeping wind out.

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