Yes the title is a bit gimmicky but stick with me here. I got a little inspired here to write about the wind shirt both by a recent post Jörgen from fjaderlatt.se wrote as well as from a recent trip I took where I kept getting the damn question “does that thing actually work?” from fellow hikers out on the trail.
The truth is like most Ultralight hikers the wind shirt is by far my favourite piece of gear. It wasn’t always like that of course, I, like most hikers out on the trail would bring a hiking shirt and a thick ass heavy jacket – well I did have a couple of other sweaters and so on, but I was always cold.
Now I wasn’t always cold when I was moving, but eventually my sweat saturated t-shirt and sweater would start chilling down my body when the wind kicked up. This in turn had me reaching for more layers to put on, and the evil circle continued. I can’t really pinpoint were or when or really why I decided to buy my first wind jacket, but I did, and I haven’t gone anywhere without it since. At only 70grams (my windshirt) this really is a secret weapon – granted a terribly hidden secret but considering on my last 6 day outing and passing hundreds of other hikers, I only met one other person that had a wind shirt – it is still quite a long ways from being a mainstream item.
See, the wind jacket or shirt whatever suits you best – I will say shirt from here on out: works mainly as my mid layer in almost all conditions. Most of the time I don’t even bother bringing a mid layer unless I know it’s going to be really cold out at night. My standard hiking gear for most of my hikes year round consist of a light wool Aklima hooded long arm shirt and my wind shirt. This keeps me warm all year round while moving – then I will put a thicker jacket on when in camp during the winter or if it’s suppose to get below 10c then of course I will bring a thicker mid-layer as well.
I’m not going to bother with the technical aspects on why or how the wind shirt is so valuable, but rest assured, it’s the single best piece of gear you can purchase and you will know it’s worth the first hike you go with it. My 70gram wind shirt has enabled me to leave at home (confidently) at least 500grams in extra unneeded layers. Mainly layers I needed simply because wind was blowing on me. Also, don’t be fooled by the marketers – yes most wind shirts are on paper at least waterproof. But this is minimal and while I use my wind shirt in light drizzles, when it starts to rain I reach for the real rain gear. You will get wet in a wind shirt.
You can buy wind shirts from just about any sports store anywhere from 10usd up to 100usd or more. I can’t tell you if there is any difference in them at all – though my first wind shirt was a zip up without a hood and weighed around 100grams. Today I use the Haglöfs LIM Windpull with hood and find the hood to give superior performance compared to wind shirts without.
So there you have it: A quick post that hopefully if you don’t own a wind shirt you will get inspired to buy one. It’s the one piece of gear that I can confidently say is a must have in ANY hikers gear list.