This Patagonia Airshed Pullover Review features a wind shirt made with fabric that is more breathable (i.e., higher air permeability) than traditional wind shirt fabrics. The shirt represents a shift in wind shirt design. It moves away from weather protection (e.g., resistance to light rain or snow). Also, it signifies a move towards maximizing breathability during high levels of exertion.
This review describes the design and feature set of the Patagonia Airshed Pullover. In addition, it compares the garment to a few other wind shirts on the market. It also provides some commentary about how it fits into an ultralight layering system, and summarizes my field experience to date.
Listen to this 3-minute audio Gear Brief for an overview of the Patagonia Airshed that discusses its most important feature: the breathability of the fabric.
Note: In the audio recording, I said that my sample of the Patagonia Airshed Pullover weighs 3.7 oz. This is an error – its actual weight is 3.4 oz (size M).
- 100% nylon ripstop with stretch;
- DWR (durable water repellent) finish;
- Stretch fabric at cuffs and hem;
- Zippered chest pocket converts to stuff sack;
- 1/4-length chest zipper.
- Body fabric: 1.3-oz 20-denier 100% nylon mechanical stretch ripstop with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish;
- Hem and cuff panels: 4.2-oz 79% nylon/21% spandex jersey;
- Weight: 3.7 oz (104 g) (as reported by the manufacturer).
Field Use and Review Context
My field use of the Patagonia Airshed Pullover is limited to approximately 30 days of daily wear that includes snowshoeing and hiking in mountains of Southern Wyoming and the Medicine Bow National Forest. I’ve been a faithful wind shirt user for several years and I can’t recall any backpacking trips during the last decade where I haven’t taken and used a wind shirt.
My primary wind shirt of choice for the past three years has been the Patagonia Houdini Jacket (hooded). However, I’ve been experimenting recently with both the Patagonia Airshed Pullover and the ZPacks Ventum Jacket, so the latter two constitute my frames of reference for this review.
That said, without long term experience using the Patagonia Airshed Pullover, I’m unable to comment authoritatively on its durability and fabric wear nuances. In addition, my use has been limited to the dry weather (little to no precipitation), cool temperatures (20 to 45 degrees F), and the reliably breezy winter winds of southern Wyoming. Without long term testing and use in other seasons and environments, this review has thus been classified as a Flash Review (i.e., a gear review meant to introduce the reader to new or otherwise untested gear).
I compared the Patagonia Airshed Pullover to the following:
- Patagonia Houdini Jacket – a full-featured (full-zip, hooded) wind shirt from Patagonia;
- Patagonia Houdini Pullover – a similar (pull-over style) wind shirt from Patagonia, as well;
- ZPacks Ventum Wind Shell Jacket – a full-zip, hooded wind shirt that represents one of the lightest available.
Patagonia Airshed Pullover vs. Patagonia Houdini Jacket
- 1.2 oz, 15 denier nylon fabric comprises the Patagonia Houdini Jacket, while 1.3-oz, 20-denier nylon makes up the Patagonia Airshed Pullover.
- Both fabrics have a similar DWR treatment (C6 DWR finish).
- The higher air permeability of the Airshed’s fabric (50-60 CFM; Source: email exchange between author and C. Simpson, Patagonia Inc.) makes it more breathable. It’s perhaps, less wind- and water-resistant. It has a faster dry time than the fabric of the Houdini (1-2 CFM; Source: ibid).
- There should be little if any noticeable difference in durability between these two fabrics.
- When I compared the fit of the Patagonia Airshed Pullover to the Houdini Jacket, I found that the fit of the Airshed Pullover to be slightly more trim.
- The slightly stretchier fabric seemed to accommodate movement in the Airshed as well as in the Houdini Jacket.
- There is no meaningful difference in the center back length of the jackets for the size medium that I compared.
- The Patagonia Houdini Jacket has a full zipper and a hood. It should offer both better protection from the elements and more flexible ventilation options.
- The Patagonia Houdini Jacket features elasticized fabric cuffs and a drawcord-adjustable hem. The Patagonia Airshed Pullover, however, uses stretch woven fabric panels at the cuff and hem. Neither of which is adjustable.
- The Houdini Jacket has a manufacturer-claimed weight of 3.6 oz vs. the Airshed’s claimed weight of 3.7 oz (note: the actual weight of my size M sample of the Airshed is 3.4 oz and the actual weight of my size M Houdini Jacket is 3.6 oz).
Patagonia Airshed Pullover vs. Patagonia Houdini Pullover
- The Patagonia Houdini Pullover and Jacket are made from the same 1.3-oz 20-denier nylon fabric (see comments above).
- The Patagonia Houdini Pullover and Jacket have a comparable fit and center back length (see comments above).
- The Patagonia Houdini Pullover features a kangaroo-style hand pocket. The Patagonia Airshed Pullover, however, features a zippered chest pocket.
- While the Patagonia Houdini Pullover features half-elastic cuffs, the Patagonia Airshed Pullover features stretch-woven fabric cuffs. The Patagonia Houdini Pullover features a snap-up neck opening. On the other hand, the Patagonia Airshed Pullover features a zippered opening.
- The Patagonia Houdini Pullover features half-elastic cuffs, while the Patagonia Airshed Pullover features stretch-woven fabric cuffs.
- It also features an elastic drawcord adjustable hem. The Patagonia Airshed Pullover, however, features stretch-woven panels in the hem and no drawcord.
- The Houdini Pullover has a manufacturer-claimed weight of 3.5 oz vs. the Airshed’s claimed weight of 3.7 oz (note: the actual weight of my size M sample of the Airshed is 3.4 oz).
Shown: Patagonia Airshed Pullover vs. ZPacks Ventum Wind Shell Jacket
- The ZPacks Ventum Wind Shell Jacket is made from 0.7 oz ripstop nylon with air permeability in the range of 6-7 CFM (source: email exchange between author and J. Valesko, ZPacks LLC). It is less breathable than the fabric used in the Patagonia Airshed Pullover (50-60 CFM).
- I can easily draw a breath through the Airshed fabric. However, I cannot do so without great difficulty through either the Houdini or Ventum fabric. I don’t notice much difference in the effort required to draw air through the Houdini vs. Ventum. The Ventum is a lighter and thinner material than used on the Airshed. It will likely be less durable in long term use and perhaps in seam strength.
- Both fabrics are DWR-finished. They resist moisture penetration well enough. The long-term durability of the DWR for both fabrics, however, is unknown.
- The ZPacks Ventum Wind Shell Jacket has a significantly roomier fit (by at least one full size) and longer back length (by more than 1.5 in/3.8 cm) than the Patagonia Airshed Pullover.
- The ZPacks Ventum Wind Shell Jacket does not have a pocket, whereas the Patagonia Airshed Pullover features a zippered chest pocket.
- The ZPacks Ventum Wind Shell Jacket has a full zipper and a hood. It should offer both better protection from the elements and more flexible ventilation options.
- While the ZPacks Ventum Wind Shell Jacket features elastic cuffs, the Patagonia Airshed Pullover features stretch-woven fabric cuffs.
- The ZPacks Ventum Wind Shell Jacket features an elastic hem. The Patagonia Airshed Pullover, however, features stretch-woven panels in the hem.
- While the ZPacks Ventum Wind Shell Jacket has a manufacturer-claimed weight of 1.9 oz, the Airshed’s claimed weight is 3.7 oz. (Note: My size S sample of the Ventum weighs 1.8 oz, and my size M sample of the Airshed weighs 3.4 oz.)
Comparison Summary Table
This table features horizontal scrolling to view additional columns.
|Fabric Breathability (Air Permeability)||Front Ventilation||Hood||Resistance to Precipitation||Weight||MSRP|
|Patagonia Houdini Jacket||Lowest (1-2 CFM)||Full zipper||Yes||Medium||3.6 oz (102.1 g)||$99|
|Patagonia Houdini Pullover||Lowest (1-2 CFM)||Partial (snaps)||No||Medium||3.5 oz (99.2 g)||$89|
|ZPacks Ventum Wind Shell Jacket||Medium (6-7 CFM)||Full zipper||Yes||Highest||1.9 oz (53.9 g)||$115|
|Patagonia Airshed Pullover||Highest (50-60 CFM)||Partial (zipper)||No||Lowest||3.7 oz (104.9 g)||$119|
CFM values are reported by each manufacturer.
The Patagonia Airshed Pullover is not the first wind shirt to use so-called ultra-breathable “air-permeable” fabrics. The Arc’Teryx Squamish and the Rab Windveil also come to mind. However, the Squamish and Windveil are both full zip hooded jackets that weigh 5-6 oz. The Airshed is a simpler pullover style that weighs 4 oz and may be a better option for those who are on the fence about asking the questions:
- Should I carry a wind shirt?
- Can’t I just use my rain jacket?
Let’s discuss both of these questions in some detail and see where the Patagonia Airshed Pullover fits in.
Should I carry a wind shirt?
A wind shirt offers the following advantages:
- It can be layered over a base/mid layer to provide wind-(and perhaps, intermittent rain/snow) resistance with more comfort (better breathability) than what a rain jacket offers.
- It can be layered under a mid layer to provide some evaporative cooling resistance (i.e., it behaves like a semi-permeable vapor barrier) in very cold conditions. This type of use mitigates the “flash-off” cooling effect (the use of body heat to evaporate accumulated perspiration in your clothing system) when you stop after a period of high output.
- It provides sun and biting insect protection.
Many lightweight backpackers believe that a wind shirt offers significant versatility to the layering system. Considering that a wind shirt usually weighs less than 4 oz, it’s hard to argue that point.
Others believe that a wind shirt is better off replaced by a light fleece layer, which provides more breathability while hiking. While true, it comes at a weight penalty. For example, my lightest fleece is a 100-weight pullover that weighs about 8 oz. There is also a loss of versatility. Fleece is so permeable to the wind. It’s not a great option for sun or insect protection in warm temperatures.
To Breathe or to Repel Weather?
The Achilles’ heel of a wind shirt has always been low fabric breathability. It has most often been made of ultralight fabrics that are heavily calendared to improve strength, water-resistance, and/or aggressive DWR treatments. In fact, many wind shirt proponents will do their best to wash out the DWR treatment to improve breathability using aggressive detergents. While this does help, it doesn’t solve the fundamental problem of increasing the air permeability of the fabrics.
That’s where the Patagonia Airshed Pullover comes in. It’s more air-permeable fabric should improve the comfort and versatility of the wind shirt not only for active wear but also for warmer temperatures. The wind shirt provides for protection from the sun and/or biting insects.
Of course, the increase in air permeability may come at a cost as well, for both wind and weather resistance.
Perhaps asking a wind shirt to perform the function of a rain jacket is asking too much.
Can’t I just use my rain jacket?
If a wind shirt provided a very high level of resistance to wind and rain, then its functionality might overlap some with that of your rain jacket. Of course, this violates one of the core tenets of ultralight backpacking philosophy (“don’t take more than one item that can perform the same function”).
Thus, for a wind shirt to provide unique functionality in your clothing system, it must be differentiated from your rain jacket in a meaningful way:
- A rain jacket provides extreme inclement weather protection (i.e., it’s impermeable to wind and precipitation) at the cost of breathability. The wind shirt, however, is there to provide extreme breathability (at the cost of weather resistance).
- A (waterproof!) rain jacket should keep outside moisture from penetrating your clothing system. The wind shirt, on the other hand, should maximize the transport of internally accumulated moisture (perspiration) to the outside.
Therefore, it makes sense, perhaps, that a wind shirt should be made of fabrics that are as breathable as possible while still providing the minimum possible protection from sun, wind, and bugs – especially for active conditions.
That said, I would personally welcome the trend for a wind shirt to be as breathable as possible, rather than as light as possible. The Patagonia Airshed Pullover is a step in the right direction. Now, if it only had a hood and a full zipper…
Where to Buy the Patagonia Airshed Pullover
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Patagonia Airshed Pullover Review: Disclosure
The manufacturer provided a complimentary sample of this product to Backpacking Light with no expectation for a review.