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#204826 - 09/22/20 06:05 PM Why a wind breaker?
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 895
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
It seems that light jackets or wind breakers/shirts are very popular, especially of the breathable water resistant variety. Nevertheless, these are not water proof and will soak through sooner or later. It seems to me the role of wind breaker and outer shell can be filled just as easily by a waterproof rain jacket (as well as for rain protection), so I've never really understood why someone would carry the extra weight of this very specialized piece of gear. Can someone explain this to me? Do people only carry this type of jacket when they're sure there won't be rain and thus don't have to carry rain gear too?
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#204827 - 09/22/20 06:34 PM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: 4evrplan]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3188
Loc: Portland, OR
I own a 4 oz. windbreaker from Montbell that is one of my favorite pieces of gear/clothes. It was a replacement for a worn out 3.5 oz. Montbell windbreaker I wore to death. They altered the design between my first one and this one, adding pockets and a half ounce. Both have hoods. I gave my wife one and she was immediately hooked, too.

For such a tiny weight it provides far more warmth than you'd expect, but its breathability makes it better choice than a raincoat to wear while actively hiking. It's bugproof, which is another excellent feature, since I hate deet.

It is the first layer to go on as the sun gets low and the nighttime chill begins to creep into the mountain air. In cold rain I've layered it under my rain jacket for added warmth and a bit more protection from seepage. Last, it packs small enough to shove in my pocket when I'm exploring the environs away from my campsite.

I even use it sometimes when it's windy. laugh

Maybe it wouldn't be quite so useful in Texas as here in Oregon, though.

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#204829 - 09/22/20 08:00 PM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: aimless]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 2017
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I have one, and don’t carry it during summer in Ohio, but in spring and fall I find the same advantages aimless does.

You’re right, a rain jacket can double as a windbreaker (but not vice-versa.) However, when you wear the rain jacket under a pack, the pack’s belt and straps will abrade the DWR coating and, eventually, the WPB fabric. I prefer to wear out a cheaper windbreaker, and think of it as expendable.

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#204830 - 09/23/20 12:48 AM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: Glenn Roberts]
balzaccom Online   content
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2107
Loc: Napa, CA
If I have to wear a rain jacket, I am going to get wet---either from the rain or the condensation inside the jacket. Either way, I am soaked.

A windbreaker would allow me to hike without that condensation. Wouldn't protect me from rain, but would be another layer without adding that waterproof condensation.

But when I am hiking, I generate heat. I don't take a wind breaker because I never need warmth when hiking---only when I stop. And by then, if it's cool out, I go straight for the puffy.
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#204831 - 09/23/20 11:38 AM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: 4evrplan]
JustWalking Offline
member

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 267
Loc: PNW
Like balzaccom, if I'm hiking, I'm generating heat. There does not exist a rain jacket that's breathable enough to keep me from getting soaked inside it if I'm hiking, even if I'm hiking slow. Unless it's cold, I prefer a windbreaker, even in the rain, to a dedicated rain jacket.

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#204832 - 09/23/20 11:56 AM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: balzaccom]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1115
Loc: Madison, AL
Yup, I'm with Balz... In the evening I need something warmer so I bring a down puffy. If its raining I need something that will keep me dryer so I bring either a rain coat or poncho. When I am hiking I generate enough heat to stay warm. There are some situations where a windbreaker would be nice but not enough to bring an extra piece of gear.

...they do seem popular though. To those who bring them, do you not bring rain gear or a puffy/warmer jacket?

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#204833 - 09/23/20 02:29 PM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: 4evrplan]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2930
Loc: NorCal
An integral component to a layering system, it's primarily for increased warmth over a base layer or base+breathable insulating layer. Today's DWR finishes are generally effective against mist and drizzle but not full-on rain and while in theory a WPB jacket does the same thing in practice I have yet to use one that doesn't become a sweatbox while hiking.

As the name implies, they're especially effective preventing (convective) heatloss from wind. e.g., cycling over a mountain pass you generally arrive hot and sweaty then face miles of downhill at much higher speeds and a much lower work rate, perfect conditions for hypothermia. Donning a shell at the top is SOP.

Hiking doesn't have such dramatic transitions unless you're popping out of treeline into a windy alpine zone. But a simple rest stop can also bring a fast chill and 3 oz in you exterior pack pocket can make a huge difference.

My $0.02.


Edited by Rick_D (09/24/20 12:22 AM)
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#204835 - 09/23/20 04:48 PM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: Rick_D]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 895
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Thank you all for your input.

Originally Posted By Rick_D
An integral component to a layering system, it's primarily for increase warmth over a base layer or base+breathable insulating layer. Today's DWR finishes are generally effective against mist and drizzle but not full-on rain and while in theory a WPB jacket does the same thing in practice I have yet to use one that doesn't become a sweatbox while hiking.

As the name implies, they're especially effective preventing (convective) heatloss from wind. e.g., cycling over a mountain pass you generally arrive hot and sweaty then face miles of downhill at much higher speeds and a much lower work rate, perfect conditions for hypothermia. Donning a shell at the top is SOP.

Hiking doesn't have such dramatic transitions unless you're popping out of treeline into a windy alpine zone. But a simple rest stop can also bring a fast chill and 3 oz in you exterior pack pocket can make a huge difference.

My $0.02.

Rick, you mention 3 specific scenarios where a light DWR wind jacket is appropriate.

1. transitioning from uphill to downhill while cycling
2. popping out of a treeline into a windy alpine zone
3. taking a rest stop

In each of these scenarios, wouldn't a true waterproof jacket also perform the same function with minimal risk of getting soaked from sweat? I could see maybe #2 still being problematic, since you're still hiking, but #1 and #3 are much lower output activities.
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#204836 - 09/23/20 05:03 PM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: aimless]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 895
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Aimless,

It sounds like you don't consider wearing either a raincoat or a wind shirt, rather possibly both (depending on scenario). So, they're really separate layers in the same system, not alternates of the same layer. (1)base (2)insulation(s) (3)wind-shell (4)rain-shell versus ...(3)shell-opt-A/shell-opt-B.
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#204837 - 09/23/20 05:13 PM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: balzaccom]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 895
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Originally Posted By balzaccom
If I have to wear a rain jacket, I am going to get wet---either from the rain or the condensation inside the jacket. Either way, I am soaked.

A windbreaker would allow me to hike without that condensation. Wouldn't protect me from rain, but would be another layer without adding that waterproof condensation.

But when I am hiking, I generate heat. I don't take a wind breaker because I never need warmth when hiking---only when I stop. And by then, if it's cool out, I go straight for the puffy.
I can see how this could be a really challenging situation if it's pouring and you have to wear a rain jacket and yet it's too cool to be wet when you stop. Do you have to carry a spare base and/or insulation layer(s) to change into when you stop?
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#204838 - 09/23/20 05:20 PM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: BZH]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 2017
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I bring one in early spring and late fall because I tend to hike in a tee-shirt regardless of season, and add a light wool sweater when it drops into the 30s. If it's windy, I sometimes find that the sweater needs a little "boost" while I'm walking. By blocking the wind, but still being fairly breathable, the windbreaker works pretty well. If I don't need it walking, and it's windy in camp, the windbreaker is nice, too. It's not nearly as "stiff" as the WPB rain gear I always carry, so it's more comfortable when sitting around in camp. As it gets colder, I also carry down pants, booties, and hooded jacket for camp warmth and to bolster my down quilt. They're made of light polyester material, so the windbreaker again serves its anti-abrasion role if I happen to be wearing the jacket while hiking (almost never, but there is that occasional day when the mercury is reluctant to climb up the thermometer wall.)

For four ounces, it's just a handy thing to have around sometimes.

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#204839 - 09/23/20 05:21 PM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: BZH]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 895
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Originally Posted By BZH
...they do seem popular though. To those who bring them, do you not bring rain gear or a puffy/warmer jacket?
I'm curious about the same.

JustWalking, you said you prefer the windbreaker when it's not cold, even in the rain. For warmer weather, do you not bother bringing rain gear?
_________________________
The journey is more important than the destination.

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#204840 - 09/23/20 05:51 PM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: 4evrplan]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3188
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By 4evrplan
Aimless,

It sounds like you don't consider wearing either a raincoat or a wind shirt, rather possibly both (depending on scenario). So, they're really separate layers in the same system, not alternates of the same layer. (1)base (2)insulation(s) (3)wind-shell (4)rain-shell versus ...(3)shell-opt-A/shell-opt-B.


I will simply say that I am happy and satisfied with my system because it covers my needs and desires well and I do not intend to change it. Because you seem to be happy and satisfied with your present clothing system, I recommend you do not change it. That makes the most sense to me.

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#204841 - 09/23/20 09:08 PM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: 4evrplan]
JustWalking Offline
member

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 267
Loc: PNW
Originally Posted By 4evrplan
JustWalking, you said you prefer the windbreaker when it's not cold, even in the rain. For warmer weather, do you not bother bringing rain gear?


That's correct. I don't carry rain gear if it's going to be 60 degrees or better during the day. I simply generate too much heat when hiking. I do carry sleep clothes on all my trips so I always have something dry to put on at camp and to sleep in.

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#205087 - 12/15/20 11:35 AM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: 4evrplan]
DustinV Offline
member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 78
Loc: Lakewood, CO
In dry CO where I hike, a windbreaker does a lot to trap heat and/or cut down on wind-burn if it's very cold. With such low humidity, there's not a lot of water to transmit your heat away, so convective loss is a bigger deal.

I have a few wind jackets with varying degrees of breathability and weather resistance, so I usually go for the most breathability that I think I can get away with. If I'm running, I'll go with the most breathable, since I'm never very far from home or a car. For backpacking, I usually bring the more weather resistant since my actual rain gear is a poncho/tarp.

The poncho setup is a great weight saver, until you get trapped under it during a rain and you need to water the bushes or some other camp chore. A fairly weather resistant wind jacket can keep you dry for only a few minutes, so I choreograph in my mind what I need to get done while I'm in the rain.

Yes, I get a little wet, but having a jacket in an easily accessible pocket that I can ball up to the size of an orange when it gets too warm is worth the ounces. That's another thing about CO; the weather changes within minutes so being able to don/doff a jacket on the move is very nice.

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#205318 - 03/06/21 09:54 PM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: 4evrplan]
Jim M Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 366
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
There were a number of times when hiking this winter I got cool and needed something. Not cold so I didn't need my down jacket. My rain coat would have worked, but would have felt clammy when I warmed up.
My Marmott UL windbreaker worked perfectly. There are many situations where this turns out to be just the ticket. In winter when it is cold and windy it fits nicely over my light weight down jacket. Around camp a fleece under a wind jacket seem ideal, warm enough and keeps the mosquitoes out.
In a very light sprinkle may not be worth putting on a rain jacket, but the Marmott UL windbreaker resists a surprising amount of rain. (I maintain the DWR and keep it clean by washing with Nikwax TX Direct.)
I also found it ideal for attaching it (stuffs into its own pocket) to my harness when rock climbing where it may get cool up higher on the rock. It is just so light, compressible, and flexible I feel there is rarely any reason to leave it at home.
When there is a choice, always think "layering."
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Jim M

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#205321 - 03/07/21 08:47 PM Re: Why a wind breaker? [Re: 4evrplan]
Arizona Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/02
Posts: 193
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
Patagonia Houdini is a piece I won’t ever leave behind. It’s a recent 4 oz pullover that does an okay job of repelling precipitation and turns my Montbell down vest into a very warm, protecting system that is very light and compact to carry. Many times in cold temps I’ll wear the Houdini for the first half hour during the warmup. Then it goes back in the pack for backup, a 10 essentials thing.

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