- Feb 19, 2020 at 9:28 am #3632107
Just did my first solo winter backpacking trip at Shenandoah this weekend with Temps in the low-20s. I’ve been scouring used gear sites recently and ended up with a MassDrop Veil wind shell and a killer deal on a used Patagonia Super Pluma Hardshell ($45!) with a few stains that I mostly got out with a couple washes.
Anyway, my plan was to have my puffy and then cover it with the Wind Shell and stay around 11-12 oz of jacket weight. When I hopped out of the truck and felt how cold it was, I got scared that I would freeze myself solid with the light fabric of just the windshell and frantically grabbed my Hardshell. When I got to camp, I realized I also had my light rain coat, too. So, in all around 35 oz of jacket weight.
Feeling like I definitely packed my fears; with 1 puffy and 3 wind/rain jackets I felt pretty foolish.
Anyway, my question is since the ‘shell’ was only needed to block wind and the puffy provides the warmth is there an appreciable difference in a windshell or a hardshell in cold weather when it comes to staying warm?Feb 19, 2020 at 9:30 am #3632108
Sorry for the double topic post, the webpage never refreshed. Feel free to take down the other if needed.Feb 19, 2020 at 9:46 am #3632111Tipi WalterMember
I see no advantage to bringing a wind shell or wind breaker on any trip whether summer or winter—since I carry a rain jacket all 4 seasons.
A good rain jacket’s primary purpose is to provide warmth in either cold conditions or wet conditions—but only when moving and not in camp. I have other layers to use to stay warm in camp.
I look at my rain jacket as being a survival item, i.e. keeps me alive when hiking in terrible weather—and it gives me a Warm Wet torso instead of a Cold Wet torso without it. Common knowledge and you know the drill.
As a footnote—I always know winter backpackers are underequipped when I see them standing around a cold camp wearing their rain jackets over everything else they have because they didn’t bring a sufficiently warm down parka—so they use their top shell as a last resort warmth layer.
Here’s an example pic—girl on left and guy in red using shells for in camp warmth—Feb 19, 2020 at 10:08 am #3632114Brad RogersMember
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Technically a rain jacket is more “windproof” than a wind jacket, which is why people tend to overheat hiking in a rain shell but can hike without overheating in a wind shell. I’m not sure if you would notice any difference in warmth over an insulated jacket or not.
To me a wind shell’s value is on the move. I was out last weekend in the upper 20’s hiking with a light wool baselayer longsleeve crew (Patagonia Wool 1) and a windshirt on top (’11 Patagonia Houdini). I was wearing it with a 100wt fleece beanie (Mountain Hardwear Microdome) and liner gloves (Defeet Wool Duragloves) and nylon hiking pants (Rail Riders Eco Mesh Pants) and was comfortable. My hands were a little cool at times, but the Defeet gloves don’t offer a ton of warmth and I tend to have cold hands.Feb 19, 2020 at 10:52 am #3632117
Thanks, I did notice that once I got moving, I quickly heated up with a Smartwool tee, neothermo hoody, puffy and hard shell. I shed the puffy and was still warm but not sweating. That’s the point I think I realized that the hard shell was overkill for an outer layer. The technical cut of it did make the pictures as the peak a lot cooler though. Like I was a real alpinist, lol.
Thanks for the help, I’m just getting back into backpacking after a 25 year hiatus, so new to the lightweight layering methodology. I’m still not sure how I made it through Philmont in 1994 before I ‘grew.’ I think I was 5’4” and maybe 110lbs with a 45-50lb pack. It’s crazy how much outdoor technology has changedFeb 19, 2020 at 1:20 pm #3632139Todd TMember
@texasbbLocale: Pacific Northwest
My wind jacket is one of my favorite pieces of gear. It goes on every trip regardless of the season or weather, in addition to my rain shell. As mentioned above, it’s valuable while on the move, while the rain gear is often miserable.. I also sometimes don it *under* my puffy in camp, to keep my own sweat from getting into the insulation when I’ve stopped to set up camp, for example. (After the tent is up, I’ll change out of wet clothes and it’s no longer necessary, but it’s nice for the 10 minutes of setup.) On cold nights it helps more than you might think to wear it in the sleeping bag. It’s sort of a mild vapor retarder. It’s far, far smaller and more packable than the rain shell, so it can fit in a tiny pack pocket to be readily deployed for short breaks on a pass or other windy spot.Feb 19, 2020 at 2:02 pm #3632149Matt DirksenMember
@namelesswayLocale: Mid Atlantic
+1 to what Todd said.
As far as I’m concerned, they’re called wind shirts for a good reason. But since I think of it as a shirt, I treat it as such. Even though It’s great to use while on the move in light precipitation, is definitely not outerwear in the traditional sense. In sub zero weather, it ain’t worth the risk to leave the jacket (or poncho) at home. But as Richard Nisley has eloquently postulated, traditional outerwear in mixed climate may be overrated most of the time anyway.
And like Todd, I’ve used it quite well as a layering piece UNDER my puffy or my quilt. Quite simply: a good windshirt takes the “edge” off of the weather , no matter what it is.Feb 19, 2020 at 2:08 pm #3632151
Wow, that’s an epic thread, I’ll have to read through his article. I love the science behind clothes that a lot of people take for granted.
Never thought of wearing it under my puffy, but that makes sense. I’ll have to try it next time.Feb 19, 2020 at 2:51 pm #3632160Jerry AdamsMember
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
if you’re sweating, rather than putting another layer under your mid layer insulation, just remove the mid layer insulation. Just wear jacket and base layer.
If you’re sweating with jacket and base layer, just wear a base layer.
Maybe there’s some intermediate level of coldness when base layer is too cold, base layer + jacket is too warm.
And maybe there’s another intermediate level of coldness where it’s too cold for just base layer + jacket, but adding a mid layer insulation will make you sweat.
Unzipping the front of your jacket should vent enough to eliminate these intermediate levels. And having a really light mid insulation like fleece or 2.5 oz synthetic.Feb 19, 2020 at 3:27 pm #3632167jscottMember
@bookLocale: Northern California
I’m with Jerry: my rain shell is my wind shell. And I adjust layers under it. But I almost never hike with it on. When I do want to block wind, it’s cold and I really want to block wind. A shell is better than a Houdini for this.
And simple zipper adjustments work for venting. So in the spirit of ultralight I leave the Houdini at home. Too redundant!
I thought my Houdini would be perfect for Nordic skiing but you move pretty fast and the Houdini let far too much air/wind in to keep me warm. That was a surprise. But I don’t wear a shell Nordic skiing either unless it’s super cold. I wear a wind blocker vest.Feb 19, 2020 at 5:11 pm #3632171Terry WMember
We were out at Shenandoah this last weekend as well…started every day wearing my hardshell, wore a puff once at camp… Sunday was warmer…40 or so, really glad I brought my BD Alpine Start for the climb up hawksbill…this over my r1 with a light bl under it all is near perfect for me when moving in temps between freezing and 45…I run hot and start sweating just lacing up, wearing a wind shirt not only keeps me comfortable, but my layers stay dry. My wife is just the opposite, she’ll never wear or need my setup…test what you have and experiment as you can….part of the challengeFeb 19, 2020 at 5:29 pm #3632174JCHMember
“test what you have and experiment as you can….part of the challenge”
You ask a very good question, one that is very naturally asked when starting out. What everyone provided was their own experience, personally hard won. Hopefully you will find some of the opinions helpful but ultimately, since everyone is different, you will need to discover what works best for you. Best of luck and enjoy the journey.Feb 19, 2020 at 7:16 pm #3632185
Yeah, I appreciate all of the good advice. Looks like I was in the ballpark with my thinking. I actually was really happy with my setup and wasn’t cold hiking nor in camp. I do see that the best way to find out what works is to try it out. That means more trips :)
The weather was definitely weird this weekend at SNP. The cloud cover moving in Saturday night really insulated everything. I woke up sweating and realized the temp went up seemingly 15 degrees. Anyway, I did Old Rag for the first time. Definitely will be doing that again.Feb 19, 2020 at 9:52 pm #3632214Jerry AdamsMember
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
Yeah, experiment with what you have
Lots of hood ideas here to help identify experiments to tryFeb 20, 2020 at 7:46 am #3632243Jeffs ElevenMember
You mean the internet wont give me all the answers???Feb 20, 2020 at 10:15 am #3632261
A couple months ago, my kids asked Alexa what was being served at their elementary school for lunch. When it replied that it couldn’t answer the question they looked at me confused and said they thought it could answer any question.
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