The unisex hooded MontBell Tachyon Anorak (left) weighs just 2.4 ounces (68 g), and the Dynamo Pants (right) weigh 2.8 ounces (79 g).
I have tested other wind shirts, but I strayed away from them because they are often too hot to wear while hiking and because I can save some weight by wearing my lightweight rain jacket and pants if I really need wind protection. Then I had the opportunity to test the new MontBell Tachyon Anorak and Dynamo Wind Pants and rediscovered how useful a wind shirt (and pants) can be. These are super-light, so they have little impact on my pack weight. Is there really a place for a wind shirt and wind pants in an ultralight backpacking kit?
The spring 2010 MontBell Tachyon Anorak is made of their 7-denier Ballistic Airlight ripstop nylon with Polkatex DWR finish, which is the same superb fabric they use for the shell of their X-Light Down Jacket. It has a 7.5-inch (19-cm) lightweight #3 zipper, an attached adjustable hood, elastic cuffs, and a drawcord hem. It’s hard to believe the weight is just 2.4 ounces (68 g, measured for size Large)!
The Dynamo Wind Pants are made of slightly heavier 12-denier Ballistic Airlight ripstop nylon with Polkatex DWR finish. They have an elastic waist with drawstring, a small key pocket inside, and 12-inch (30-cm) ankle zippers.
Both garments have a basic feature set to make them user friendly, while still keeping weight to a minimum.
Front (left) and rear (right) views of the MontBell Tachyon Anorak and Dynamo Wind Pants.
Details of the Tachyon Anorak: The attached hood (top left) has a Velcro adjustment tab on the back. The hood is sculptured to fit the head well (bottom left) and has an extended brim. A lightweight hem drawcord (top right) has one adjustor. The front zipper closes up to the chin (bottom right), and there are two drawcord adjustors to snug the hood around the face.
Details of the Dynamo Wind Pants: The waist (left) has an elastic waist band and drawstring, plus a small inside key pocket. The cuffs (right) have 12-inch (30-cm) high ankle zips, large enough to get my size 12s through.
I tested the wind shirt and pants during the spring and summer of 2010 on numerous backpacking trips and day hikes. The Tachyon Anorak was just the ticket for hiking a 12,000-foot (3,659-m) windy ridge in early summer (left). I love to camp on the alpine tundra, such as this camp (right) at 12,600 feet (3,840 m) where it is typically windy or breezy; the Tachyon Anorak and Dynamo Pants worn over an insulation layer makes life very comfortable.
For me (6 ft/1.83 m, 170 lbs/77 kg), the Tachyon Anorak and Dynamo Pants in size Large are a perfect fit. The sleeves and legs are just the right length, and both garments are roomy enough to wear over a thin insulation layer.
I found both garments to be especially useful. I wore the Anorak a lot during the day whenever the weather turned chilly, breezy, or downright windy. For me, the wind shirt worn over a baselayer while hiking is a dynamite combination, and I wear that combination a lot in the mountains where it is frequently cool and breezy.
Carrying a backpack over the wind shirt (left), did not abrade the wind shirt at all. I wore the pants in camp with my hiking shorts worn over them (right) so I could sit on abrasive rocks and logs without damaging the pants, and my shorts provided pockets. I kneeled on the ground many times with the wind pants on and did not damage the knees at all (of course I was careful not to abuse them).
The main difference between wearing a very lightweight wind shirt while hiking when it’s cool and breezy compared to using a lightweight rain jacket as windwear is that the wind shirt has a much broader comfort range. I can wear the Tachyon while hiking uphill carrying a backpack and stay comfortable much longer than I can with a lightweight polyurethane laminate rain jacket. The Tachyon completely blocks the wind and breathes well enough to stay comfortable, most of the time. However, when the breeze stops and the sun comes out, the anorak gets too warm and I have to take it off.
I did not wear the Dynamo Wind Pants as much as the Tachyon Anorak while hiking during the day. My legs don’t get cold as easily as my torso, so I simply wear them less. However, they really come in handy when I’m wearing hiking shorts and an icy wind suddenly comes up, or a shower. The pants (and anorak) will shed a short duration light rain or shower quite well – MontBell’s Polkatex DWR is excellent – but they will soak through eventually. When kneeling on wet ground, the knee area of the pants will readily wet through.
The anorak’s hood tends to balloon in a strong wind.
As I said at the beginning of this review, I had forgotten how useful and versatile windwear is until I tried these. The Tachyon Anorak, especially, is so lightweight, yet so effective and durable, that I don’t go on a trip anymore without it. Many readers in hot humid climates are probably wondering what I am talking about, so I better qualify that. Most of my hiking and backpacking is in the mountains from spring to fall, and in canyon country in fall to spring. The ideal conditions for a wind shirt are when there is some combination of cloudy, cool, and windy; and that occurs a lot where I hike.
The sweet spot for a wind shirt is to wear it over a baselayer. That combination is remarkably warm and comfortable over a wide range of conditions while hiking. The type and thickness of the wind shirt can be adjusted for the season and expected conditions. I find that a very thin wind shirt, like the Tachyon, is best because it is comfortable to wear over a wider range of conditions. I previously used a Montane Microlight wind shirt, which is a little heavier, and it is simply too hot to wear much of the time.
Overall, I am very pleased with the light weight, minimal and useful features, fit, durability, wind resistance, water resistance, and versatility of the Tachyon Anorak and Dynamo Wind Pants.
Specifications and Features
|Year/Model||2010 Tachyon Anorak and Dynamo Wind Pants|
|Sizes Available>||Unisex anorak S to XL
Men’s pants S to XL
Pullover pants with ankle zippers
|Fabrics||Anorak is 7d Ballistic Airlight ripstop nylon
Pants are 12d Ballistic Airlight ripstop nylon
Both have Polkatex DWR finish
|Features||Anorak: attached hood with front drawcord and rear Velcro adjustment, 7.5-in (19-cm) front YKK 3 zipper, elastic cuffs, hem drawcord, stuff sack included
Pants: elastic waist with drawstring, inside key pocket, 11.8-in (30-cm) 3 zipper, elastic cuffs, hem drawcord, stuff sack included
|Weight||Size men’s Large tested.
Anorak Measured Weight: 2.4 oz (68 g)
Manufacturer Weight: 2.3 oz (65 g) size Medium
Pants Measured Weight: 2.8 oz (79 g)
Manufacturer Weight: 2.8 oz (79 g)
|MSRP||Anorak US$89, Pants US$69|
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.