/ PRODUCT NEWS: What's Available: Lightweight Wind-Proof Jackets
Here we give a selection of what is available, with weights and prices so that you can compare the products and find the right jacket for you.
Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/news.php?id=6398
But are any of them any good?
Wot no Montane Featherlite?
Agreed. Am mulling over getting a Houdini and was hoping this review would help.
No Rab Vapour Rise?
Well, there is a DriClime.
But neither the DriClime nor the Vapour Rise count as pure wind resistant layers in my book; they're both shelled micropile soft shells...
Oh, and none of the featured garments are windproof; they're wind resistant to various degrees...
I'll get my [wind resistant] coat...
Finally. HOW MUCH?
I have a Squamish and love it. For three seasons it's the perfect layering piece. The breathabilty and windproofing seem entirely at odds with eachother. And so easy (non-bulky and featherlight) to clip to the harness for that windy belay. Rab Boreas will do a half decent job for only £40, mind, so I often climb in that, not caring if I tear it!!
Wot no Pac-a-Mac?
I can defo recommend a Houdini- very breathable, with a quite serviceable hood and offering a surprising amount of protection from the rain and not much heavier than a Montane Featherlite..
"What's Available..." !? And the technical name for these technical wind jammers is WINDCHEATER!
For the adventurous gentleman-photographer: The Rohan Windshadow. Four pockets, slight stretch to the fabric which has a matt finish, roll away hood, very durable though heavier than most.
Similar fabric on the Salomon Fastwing Hoodie, which has armpit vents and reflectors, lightweight.
Norrona have one of these windbreakers in either shinny fabric or the matt stuff, cuffs are usually serious on their gear.
Edit: 'Shinny' fabric is new. It was developed with child ice hockey players and is only made by one mill in Sarnia, Canada.
I got a windshirt with front zip from Aldi on Saturday for £2:99. It compares well with my elderly Montane windshirt....
Brings us back to reality.
I've got a Rab Cirrus and I use it all the time. It's great any time it's not warm but not raining too much - I layer it over a varying thickness of cheapo fleeces and baselayers depending on how cold it is.
Edit: situations where I've had good use out of it include (but aren't limited to) climbing Cornish sea cliffs in spring, gritstone cragging in winter, Welsh mountain rock on breezy summer days, cold dry winter days walking in Scotland, biking in cold weather...
A windshirt makes for a versatile layering system, since it stops the warm air in your insulation layer being blown away by the wind, so you can get away with a lighter insulation layer for active use.
They are generally much more breathable than waterproof fabrics, so less sweaty. A waterproof will stop the wind, but I find a windshirt preferable for that purpose, and wear a waterproof only when it's actually raining heavily.
That's assuming your insulation layer is fleece; plenty of shelled synthetic mid layers around these days.
My thoughts on layering can be found here:
Sports Pursuit currently has loads of Marmot windshells on sale. They're good!
I carry a waterproof to put on if it starts raining. Unless I'm at a roadside crag in which case I'll just make a run for it (and generally if I'm climbing I'll have checked the forecast and not be expecting rain anyway).
The advantage over a softshell, as far as I can tell, is flexibility - because it has no insulation of its own, I can wear it over anything from a lightweight baselayer to a couple of fleeces depending on how cold I'm expecting to get. It's also probably cheaper, unless you're a true softshell devotee who doesn't even own a hardshell or any fleeces.
Unless you're obsessed with carrying minimal gear, or never want to change your layers once you've started whatever it is you're doing, then a windshirt, weighing less than 150g and packing to the size of an apple is hardly a burden. It's not a choice of taking a windshell instead of a waterproof; it's the choice of taking a windshirt as well as a waterproof, and only wearing the waterproof when it's actually raining.
Softshells, IME, are rather tightly coupled to particular climatic and activity conditions, and aren't as versatile as a layering system including a windshirt. You can't, for instance, remove the wind resistant layer, or the insulation layer, as they're fixed parts of the garment. You can only wear or not wear the softshell, with its properties of wind resistance, water resistance, insulation and breathability. That's why there is such a huge range of things called 'softshells', each addressing a narrow range of climate & and activity, trying to find the 'perfect sweet spot'.
Two others that I would add are:
The paramo wind shirt(forget it's name) as it's far more robust and bridges a gap between wind shirt and soft shell. Sort of thing that you can wear all day comfortably.
The OMM sonic smock. It sounds like a crisp packet but is only 60g, rolls into it's own collar, has thumb loops(hurrah!) and is fitted enough so that you don't feel like a kite.
Hoods are useful but only if they can be tabbed down or held in check while you are not using it. Can be an effing pain otherwise.
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