Sep 1, 2013 at 4:50 am #1307168
Folks please be patient with me here – I have read several books now
and am still exasperated and confused over wind shells vs rain shells.
I am wanting to buy the best gear for my needs and something that will last
for more than a couple of hikes.
I would like to use a single article for wind and rain ie; wind/rain pants and wind/rain jacket. (Edit- if this concept is workable, not sure it is).
I own (for pants) the O2 "3flow" supposedly waterproof and windproof breathable, and a pair of Marmot Driclime stretch pants.
For jackets I have a Marmot Mica(rain) and MH Ghost Whisperer hooded wind shell.
None of those items are particularly durable although I am happy with the weights.
I have been looking at reviews of the Arcteryx Alpha FL, SL, and Beta AR (maybe too heavy)outerwear and those look tempting (and yes pricey).
My goal is to find something light and durable that I can carry always, excluding desert hikes which are not in my future as I know it.
My hiking aside from areas of Florida will most likely be in the North Cascades and I want to be ready for any weather. I would also like to hike the JMT someday soon.
Seeing as how I will miss this years Cascades season I will have time to carefully choose gear, unlike the last time I strolled into the Seattle REI not knowing what I wanted, and left with all the wrong stuff. My budget is around 3-400 for a jacket and 2-300 for the pants, but I could go higher if the logic is there.
So the question are 1) if you wanted the best gear to cover wind and rain, light and durable, what would you buy ?
2) If you think it is wrong to try to deal with wind and rain with a single article of outerwear, please explain, and tell me what you would do instead.
Although I was born and raised in Wash State, most of my adult life has been spent in the South Pacific, and all of my hiking has been heavy jungle bushwacking, so I need to reacquaint myself with the alpine thing. Guidance is appreciated.
ThanksSep 1, 2013 at 9:47 am #2020664
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Waterproof breathable clothing is neither. Eventually it leaks and you will get soaked from sweat.
Wind and rain gear should be be separate items, forget the multi-use mantra here.
For more of my thoughts The Seaarch for the Holy GrailSep 1, 2013 at 9:51 am #2020666
Agree with Nick. Separate wind and waterproof clothing nirvana search.Sep 1, 2013 at 10:31 am #2020677
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
REI Sahara shirts and pants
Kimtah eVent rain suit (not UL)
Merrill Moab Ventilator shoes
Much lighter and reasonable durablity is lost.Sep 1, 2013 at 11:59 am #2020699
"Waterproof breathable clothing is neither. Eventually it leaks and you will get soaked from sweat. "
I find this statement an exaggeration. Ves eventually every rain jacket will leak. But that doesn't tell you anything about the durability which can very considerably. Is the cause of the leak is caused by heavy use with caused tears or holes? Or is it because the membrane has aged and pealed or turned brittle?
From my experience polyurethane coated fabrics all tend to get age related failures which includes membrane pealing, flaking off within about 5 years. Sometimes you will get one that will last longer but eventually the polyurethane will fail, even if the packet sits in the closet most of the time. So a Event or Gortex jacket will typically only fail when you wear through the fabric or tear or puncture the fabric.
Getting wet from sweat is not a durability issue. If you get wet from sweat it simply means you chose a material that cannot keep up with your sweat output. Unfortunately manufacturers frequently don't tell you when the breathability spec is and if they do they use a test method that will show the best possible number. In my opinion Event is the most breathable.
As to DWR it is not and essential feature of the fabric. The DWR does not make the fabric waterproof, the membrane does. The DWR is only there to help maintain breathability. If the fabric gets wet breathability drops. However once the rain stops the jacket starts to dry out the breathability will return to normal. If the DWR fails you can reapply it using a wash in or spray on product.
Fabrics with PTFE membranes (Gortex, Event) in my experience doesn't suffer age related failures. If the membrane does fail it is often due to a defect and in many cases will be replaced under warranty.
When I was growing up in the PNW I saw a lot of bad weather. My first rain gear was a poncho which didn't work well in wind blowing rain. Later i got a rain jacket and rain pants (none breathable polyurethane fabric) which kept me dry in rain although sometimes you would have to take shelter to allow any sweat to evaporate. later I moved to california and got a gortex jacket. It breathed better then my old rain jacket (which delaminated while I was going to collage in arizona). Bit in the worst conditions sweat was still an issue with Gortex. Now I have a Event jacket (with no pit zips or vents) which is noticeably more breathable than Gortex. While I can work hard enough to get some sweat accumulation inside the jacket, I cannot maintain that pace for very long. When I slow down to a sustainable pace I can feel the sweat slowly evaporate. My older Gortex jacket is still waterproof but now the DWR needs to be reapplied regularly and by todays standards is very heavy.
Note wind shirts are not waterproof and will not keep you dray and safe in long rain storm. I consider windshirts and optional item since all rain jackets will block the wind even though they don't breath as well as a windshirt.Sep 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm #2020704
I have an Arcterryx Squamish windshirt. I've used an Event rain jacket. The rain jacket is only preferable when it rains or it's pretty cold and windy. The only nirvana to gain by not bringing a windshirt, is in a spreadsheet calculation.
This has been discussed multiple times. I think the consensus is pretty clear.
Sorry for being so direct ;-)Sep 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm #2020706
@bookLocale: Northern California
The op is going to be hiking in the PNW. He wants one piece to handle all conditions. No way a windshirt will cut it as a do-all piece in the pnw. Having grown up hiking and doing trail work in the pnw, I'd suggest full on 3 ply event.
As for "all wp pieces will eventually wet out", do you mean over the life span of the piece or 'after 8 hours of heavy rain'? Look, shoes will eventually wear out; it doesn't follow that everyone should go barefoot. And so on. A wind shirt will "eventually" wet out too–in about four minutes of pnw rain. Three ply event will keep you dry much, much longer than that.
My Rab Demand did not wet out over 10 hours of heavy rain and sleet earlier this season. I didn't even have condensation problems. I would have gone hypothermic in a windshirt.Sep 1, 2013 at 12:46 pm #2020709
Just to be clear. I'm not advocating to only bring a windshirt.
That's been discussed multiple times too.
Bring a windshirt and a waterproof jacket. End of discussion. ;-)Sep 1, 2013 at 12:55 pm #2020710
@bookLocale: Northern California
oops, sorry Peter if I sounded like you meant something else…my bad.Sep 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm #2020712
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
"This has been discussed multiple times. I think the consensus is pretty clear."
discussed multiple times
consensus is that some people like windshirts, some don't, depends on conditions,…
for me, wind shirt is redundant, no need for it, rains too much in PNW so I need better rain jacket. For any conditions, I can either wear just base layer shirt or add WPB jacket.Sep 1, 2013 at 1:13 pm #2020716
remember that if its REALLY windy enough for you to use a windshirt … youre already getting quite a lot of cooling even with a rain jacket … you can simply use the zip to vary the amount of "cooling" in good wind
nor are all windshirts very "breathable" … some dont breath well at all IMO
windshirts are optional, no one is going to die without one
as to WPB being "waterproof" after the DWR has totally worn off … i suspect not for 2.5 layers … look at what happened to the great skurka's UL WPB golite jacket during his great alaskan trek
;)Sep 1, 2013 at 1:19 pm #2020717
@sgiachettiLocale: Boulder, CO
I'd agree with jerry that in the PNW its worth having a nice 3 layer wp/b like event or neoshell. I've worn my rab demand in all day rain, up over passes etc. & stayed dry. I will add that renewing the dwr is crucial to tje functioning of these shells.
I'd get a demand or a westcomb shift (very high quality jacket) regardless. Test it out as a windshirt, & if you're not happy, add a nice breathable windshirt. Either way, when it rains hard, you'll be happy to have the quality rain shell. There's something to be said for the simplicity of just having one shell even though I'd agree that the functionality of a windshirt is nice for long days above treeline, or early starts.Sep 1, 2013 at 1:51 pm #2020724
Jeffrey, no worries at all :-)Sep 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm #2020726
I agree, that on some trips you can foresee, that a waterproof shell is all you need, but I read the post as he wants to have something that covers a broad spectrum of weather. Hence a windshirt is needed. And a good one of course that's nice to wear when it's hot.Sep 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm #2020727
Rab Boreas for a windshirt – not quite as effective as a full-on windshirt but effective enough and much more breathable. A favorite piece for cool/cold weather trekking.
Rab Demand smock or Westcomb Focus LT hoody – great rain jackets, IMO. I own both, and always have difficulty in choosing one or the other when I go out. For the PNW I'd probably opt for the Rab Demand.Sep 1, 2013 at 8:35 pm #2020820
I have been reading the replies with gusto and appreciate the help.
I have an engineering mind and the problem with that is we get obsessed with theory.
All of the theory and calculations cannot stand up to your own field experience,
thus this post ….
Nick Gatel – That was a very informative read, my mind is open to using a poncho but I'm still soaking this up …..no pun.
To many others – I got a bargain on the MH ghost whisperer hooded wind shirt, and it's like 2 ounces, so it will not be too terrible to have on hand for the extra weight.
I will look at better ones too, so keep the brand/model suggestions coming.
As I understand so far, I would NEVER be using it at the same time as rain wear. Correct me here if needed. Wind shirt for warmth in dry, cold, windy conditions.
The arcteryx gear I referenced is Goretex active and goretex pro, depending on the model chosen. huge weight differences. Good reviews but I am skeptical of how thorough those reviews are.
To clarify my OP – I am not hell bent on one piece of gear, it was a philosophical goal and not necessarily well informed. That's why I made the post, needing input.
I will look at the RAB gear as I recall reading about it in Townsend's book also.
Keep it coming please.Sep 2, 2013 at 12:49 am #2020862
Hi Daniel, if the windshirt is breathable and comfortable enough against bare skin, you can easily wear it as a middle layer under a waterproof shell.Sep 2, 2013 at 3:05 am #2020868
Quote: " if the windshirt is breathable and comfortable enough against bare skin, you can easily wear it as a middle layer under a waterproof shell"
OK I'm a noob but wouldn't that make it a NTS layer instead of a middle layer ?
I have not tried out the Ghost Whisperer yet – it is being shipped to me now.
I am unsure of its breathability at this point.
You are the first to suggest this (wind shell under rain shell). One thing I've heard is the Whisperer is delicate , so protecting it from pack straps by hiding it under a rain shell would be Ok.
But there I go with theory again, haven't seen seen the wind shirt yet ….
So, I gather thus far that I should invest in a better rain shell than the MICA (09 or 10 model) and get a membrane style, lots of good recommendations for E-Vent so far …
I checked out RAB and it looks like they have not only discontinued the models that have been suggested, but that they no longer offer E-Vent at all. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Unrelated but I'm wondering if GORE forces clothing makers to exclude competing membranes if they are using goretex. The reason I ask is that as I recall everything offered by Arcteryx was some form of goretex.
My clothing plan so far:
Base: merino top and bottoms, lightweight, on hand.
Walking pants: Railriders adventure pants, regular, not the extreme version, on hand.
Walking shorts: Nylon light surf trunks.
Walking shirt: ExOfficio nylon long sleeve.
Warm synthetic insulation jacket – I have a MH pullover half zip, model unknown but looks too light, will be looking for something else. Maybe fleece instead.
Walking hat: Tilley airflo, on hand.
Warm hat: Integral Designs Primalid
Socks: Smartwool Med cushion Hiker or light Hiker, season depending.On hand
Gloves and rain gloves – undecided.
Shoes : undecided, perhaps Merril Moab ventilators.Sep 2, 2013 at 6:00 am #2020885
"Getting wet from sweat is not a durability issue. If you get wet from sweat it simply means you chose a material that cannot keep up with your sweat output."
In my experience the list of garments that can't keep up with my sweat output would include all garments listed as waterproof whether they are supposed to be breathable or not.Sep 2, 2013 at 6:56 am #2020894
Well for what it's worth I am planning on "downgrading" to a Patagonia M10 for my shell (lightest non-cuben 3-layer shell I believe) and a Houdini for a wind shell. Total weight for both is something stupid like 350g. I've heard great things about both so that's my next gear experiment.Sep 2, 2013 at 6:58 am #2020896
Daniel, you're ½ right… as i'm always wearing a merino t-shirt as my first layer, it will never touch my torso, but maximally just the most of my arms.Sep 2, 2013 at 6:58 am #2020897
if yr wearing a windshirt UNDER your rain jacket … you just sacrificed a good part of any "breathability" of your rain jacket
in high output activities youll sweat out the windshirt at that point …
if yr going to wear something under your rain jacket for something more serious than walking around …. wear something thats highly breathable and wicking … like a light fleece … or just a base layer
the trick with not "sweating" out your rain jacket is to wear as little as possible under it when moving … and use the zippers to regulate the temperature
remember that the MORE you wear under your rain jacket, the hotter youll be, which is why youll sweat … and the more items that will get soaked in sweat, the more that needs to be dried out, and the more chilled youll get afterwards when you stop
the next time there a cold ~ 40F rain for hours, go out for a strenerous walk for hours around the city park with your packweight … and youll find this out every quickly … no cheating by stopping at the sbucks ;)
remember if yr sweating out everything in cooler temps … unless yr a marathon runner, it means yr doing something wrong !!!Sep 2, 2013 at 7:05 am #2020900
Eric, i promise you, it will not be more cool to wear a light fleece instead of my Arcterryx squamish under a shell…Sep 2, 2013 at 7:16 am #2020902
I've never said that it's good to always wear a windshirt under a shell. My step down in garments used under a shell when on a trip, would just be my merino t-shirt.Sep 2, 2013 at 7:21 am #2020904
Eric, i promise you, it will not be more cool to wear a light fleece instead of my Arcterryx squamish under a shell…
it will more BREATHABLE to wear something like a light base layer or a light R1 vest, which are infinately more breathable than ANY windshirt … i "promise" you that
its useless to go worry about the "brethability" of a rain jacket when yr adding on a windshirt underneath …
if you want to be "cool" dont wear anything under yr rain jacket other than very thin long sleeve base layer
im not saying all these fancy fabric dont make a bit of difference … but at the end its the SKILLs that matter
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