Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report – Part 1: What is a Windshirt?

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Windshirts: 2012 State of the Market Report – Part 1: What is a Windshirt?

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    Stephanie Jordan


    Locale: Rocky Mountains
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    This is what works for me currently, there are other perfectly good ways that work for others, blah, blah, blah,…

    If it's warmer than about 40 F, if I wear any shirt I'll sweat, so I wear nothing. If it's raining it won't matter that I get wet. I just ignore any comments about the old guy not wearing a shirt : )

    If I get cold and/or it starts raining I'll put on my hooded WPB jacket. Sometimes I'll put hood over head and don't put arms into sleaves. If it's not raining too hard/windy I'll unzip the front.

    Sometimes it'll stop raining and I get a little warm, so I'll take off WPB jacket, then I'll get cold or it will start raining a little more and I'll have to put WPB jacket back on. Maybe I walk a little faster or slower. Maybe it would be a little more convenient to have a windshirt in this situation.

    If I'm hiking and above 20 F, just shirt and WPB jacket is sufficient. May have to walk briskly to stay warm. I never go below 20 F.

    When I stop hiking and I need warmth, I put on synthetic or down vest. The warmth per ounce is better for synthetic or down than having extra layers of windshirt, mid layer, or fleece. I have a lighter vest for warmer weather and a heavier vest for colder weather.

    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    Long sleeve tight weave nylon like Supplex provides sun and bug protection.

    But, if you have an extra 2.4 ounces of shirt that's not really necesary, who cares.

    Evan McCarthy
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid-Atlantic

    What a great State of the Market Report. Thank you. This was written precisely the way I wanted, giving me the right amount of testing and narrative.

    Dave Chenault, you are a must-read writer/contributor with a great sense of gear, the outdoors, and life (not necessarily in that order).

    Mike M
    BPL Member


    Locale: Montana

    nice review Dave! :)

    like others I too have concluded that the windshirt is the most versatile 4 oz of clothing I own, mine is used all four seasons

    I was looking into the MH Ghost due to it's extreme low weight (and deck of cards volume), the lack of hood and some reviews pointing towards less breathability, made me decide to stick w/ my tried and true Houdini

    to the one comment that the Houdini isn't very hardy, I have to strongly disagree- mine has survived numerous rock scrambles and off trail excursions (mountain goat patrols)- no 4 oz garment is going to be bombproof, but the Houdini is plenty stout for it's diminutive weight

    Evan McCarthy
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid-Atlantic

    I hike (and sleep, and live) cold, so I find a windshirt to be an incredible piece of gear for me when moving in temps between 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit, usually layered over thin merino. Any heavier of a shell and I overheat. Without, I'm too chilly for comfort and safety.

    It also can be a perfect "insulation" layer for backpacking in the summer, when you flat out don't need anything heavier or warmer for camp or sleeping but your thin shirt just doesn't quite keep you fully warm around the campsite after dark.

    Tad Englund
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    Dave, nice review. I'll be interested in Part 2- to see if there are any changes in your feelings.

    BTW: I also appreciate that I had to go to the dictionary a few times, just to make sure I understood the meaning of some of the words you used.

    Dale Wambaugh
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    He's still too fresh out of grad school —- even for Missoula :p

    Mathieu Fagnan


    Good work David,

    However, I was looking forward to get your insight on (at least one exemple of ) the lightest stuff out there…

    I have a Marmot Ion from 2004 that weights 97gr with a full zip and a hood that works. The jacket still perfom after intensive usage. It's the single piece of gear that I have that I wear the most, all year round, from jogging to hicking to full on expedition (Denali, Everest).

    Is there anything out there that is comparable in the sub 100gr range ???

    Keep up the good work !

    Diego Zurek


    Locale: Bucaramanga

    Páramo Fuera Jacket and Smock, maybe not ultralight but tough.

    Warren Greer


    Locale: SoCal

    And engrossing. Dave, really liking your contributions here. I know when I click on another report by you that you have really thought about it from all angles and you are actively trying to head off missed criteria at the pass. Keep up the good work. It's obvious that you are doing a great job with all of the other comments of praise above.

    -I've wanted to have a wind shirt that could replace a button-front longsleeve shirt for warmer weather where sun and bug protection are the biggest priorities. But I'm not sure that any of them are breathable enough to wear in place of the button-front.

    *edited for spelling and to add the second paragraph.

    Mark Schultz


    I find it odd BPL would even consider a windshirt weighing over 5 oz worthy of a review with all the options on the market, yet half of these windshirts are over 6 oz on up to 13 oz! I have the 3 oz TNF Verto and my wife has the 4 oz Houdini. My waterproof breathable fully hooded Pertex rain jacket weighs 9 oz. I can't imagine carrying a 13oz windshirt in addition to that.

    Removing the pocket on the Houdini is a bizarre way to save 0.2 oz when the pocket doubles as a nice stuff stack. And then compare the custom cut look with a chest pocket destroyed? FYI: the article incorrectly reports the saving as 2 oz (half the weight of the Houdini) by removing a tiny pocket.

    I hope Part 2 refocuses on truly lightweight windshirts < 5 oz and includes Mountain Hardware, more MB, and North Face in the mix. The article gets it right about the value and versatility of a windshirt, they are surprisingly awesome, but not if it weighs more than your bomber storm gear.

    Martin Carpenter


    They're considering them for the perspective they give on the lighter things :) The two (relatively very heavy) 'soft shell' things for an overview of potential options – they're quite different from straight up wind shirts and aren't really meant to be carried, more worn from the outset.

    The lite speed is interesting in terms of the increased durability gained for the (minor) excess weight. That's potentially relevant for windshirts because they do get an awful lot of wear directly under rucksacks etc – much more so than waterproofs – and some of the very light ones aren't all that cheap either. They're definetly one place where I'd happily trade some weight for substantially increased garment lifespan.

    I'm actually somewhat worried about the durability of gl (or even quantum) for windshirts – the abrasion resistance stats from Montane's website for it aren't at all good. 10,000k for GL and 40,000k for microlight at 12.5k PA (BN EN ISO 12947-2). iirc some of the Quantum's they previously used were 20,000k.

    Of course hard to say what this means in the real world. Fabric testing might give some answers.

    Eugene Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: Nuevo Mexico

    Quality article Dave, as always.

    I like the lack of any definitive "winner" in this test group- all are exceptional options with many factors to consider when deciding. The Houdini happens to be my 4oz. piece of magic, love that thing, even though it's in serious need of DWR maintenance and has a few ember holes.

    This photograph is of me wearing my Houdini last weekend on the summit of The Needle. My faithful companion.


    James holden
    BPL Member


    ive generally found light softshells more durable than windshirts … when you get to some of the UL fabric, durability in highly abrasive situations is questionable … i dont use my marmot trail wind too much these days climbing (not scrambling) as its gets pinholes

    whether you use one or not is a personal choice … there is no "right" answer …

    IMO a windshirt should be as breathable as possible or as cheap as possible, or yr better off going with one of those new fangled event like shells ….

    john hansford
    BPL Member


    Surely the key with these garments is in the name – WINDshirts. They cut out the wind, and hence negate the chill factor, without providing unwanted insulation.

    So you can be in a strong cold wind with a very thin and light baselayer, and be working hard uphill, without overheating.

    They will also save wear and tear on your expensive Goretex, Event and so on.

    You will hardly know you're wearing a 3 oz garment, and it takes up no room in your pack.

    Adam Klags
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northeast USA

    How come you guys left TNF verto out of this review? Its really light, and it has been my first foray into windshirts, so far I love it.

    Brian UL


    Locale: New England

    I would like see a review of hood-less windshirts too.
    I never liked the hoods on these things, they never really fit for one, but worse they are very loud in the wind and block your field of vision. A light balaclava fits pretty much perfectly, is warmer than any hood, and when you don't need the hood it isn't laying there blowing around your face.

    David Chenault
    BPL Member


    Locale: Queen City, MT

    The dimensional measurements in the chart are all for a men's medium. Sorry for not making that clear from the beginning.

    I had a recent opportunity to test both the bug-proofness and durability of the Boreas, and was impressed on both counts. Mosquitoes can probably get in when it is worn against the skin, but not easily or often. It stood up to the worst bushwhack I've ever done without significant wear, as well.

    Max Neale
    BPL Member


    Locale: Anchorage, AK

    It uses 10D that's supposedly more wind resistant than the previous 15D. And it's cheaper.

    Theodore Cardos


    Locale: South

    I recently took the plunge and bought a paramo windshirt. I am totally please for the UK climate (chilly with on/off showers). Also if you add a paramo fleece under the windshirt you have a full-blown rain gear system that is truly versatile.

    Jeff M.
    BPL Member


    Very nice article. I second Howie's recommendation for the CAMP Magic jacket. Nice jacket and usually not too expensive.

    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    do these wind shirts offer sun and insect protection?

    Ron Gallant


    Locale: En

    I can attest to the quality of the stoic wraith. Great price of gear.

    folecr r


    @greg Thanks! I bought one.

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