Windproof or lightweight softshell (hillwalking)
My latest trip to the Highlands has made me think I may need a new addition to my gear selection.
I already have a pretty burly Mammut Windstopper softshell but thinking for summer use that a lighter windproof layer may be more versatile. Something to wear over a baselayer or light fleece.
The options seem to be either a windproof, circa 120g such as the Mountain Equipment Aerofoil or various Montane offerings, or a lightweight softshell such as the Rab borealis, ME Echo at around 300g.
Anyone using anything similar with any good advice as to what may be more useful?Posted 6 months ago
Maybe a little more minimal than you’re thinking but I’ve an OMM Sonic Smock that’s perfect for “over a baselayer or light fleece.” The only problem I have with it is misplacing it as it’s properly tiny when packed. Weight is 48g.
With a lighter softshell (a light, stretchy woven softshell like a Mountain Hardwear Super Chockstone) I like to wear them most of the time. They’re not heavy but they don’t pack down tiny. They’re usually good at being layered though
With a windshirt (montane lite speed) I like wearing them as they make a big difference to wind chill, but I’m more willing to switch them out for a waterproof or nothing at all depending on the conditions, as they pack down so small (i.e. fit in a waist pack)
So I tend to pick based on the conditionsPosted 6 months ago
Think I’m looking for something a bit more robust than that OMM. Something that is durable enough to be worn all day if necessary but still light and with a small pack size so it’s different enough from what I already have.Posted 6 months ago
Montane Featherlight is excellent – I live in mine on the MTB. It takes any chill out of the wind, and I wear it with a fleece under for cooler weather, and on breezier days in the summer it’s fine over a T-shirt. Good breathability too.Posted 6 months ago
Could see whether they have any bargains at the Montane outlet: https://mountain-kit.co.uk/
You want a Buffalo windshirt but they ain’t cheapPosted 6 months ago
pertex wind shirt thingy (got a mountain equipment and montane one too) are the best bits of hillwalking gear I’ve ever bought.Posted 6 months ago
Weighed my existing sofshell – 520g.
The Montane Alpine Edge in the outlet store is tempting but wondering whether a windproof may better serve my purpose.Posted 6 months ago
Lightweight and minimalist, not a softshell then.
I use a Rab Vital, but most brands have similar offering, super light but really keeps the wind off. Stuff into a pocket, great addition to your kit.Posted 6 months ago
Think you’re right. Was looking at windproofs but saw a Rab Borealis in a shop which seemed a lot thinner than my existing jacket.Posted 6 months ago
They’re basically like super light pac a Mac type things, waterproofs you had as a kid, I recall getting it delivered and thought wtf is this? Brilliant though, will take a wee shower too.Posted 6 months ago
You want a Buffalo windshirt but they ain’t cheap
True, but they do last forever, their simple construction helps – come the nuclear Armageddon, all that will be left are cockroaches and Keef Richards, wearing Buffalo Windshirts…Posted 6 months ago
I’ve still got my original Buffalo MTB Windshirt, with the yellow and reflective bands across the front and back and around the cuffs, but I had the dropped hem with the crotch strap removed and re-hemmed, because the buckle, being fine for mountain climbing, becomes a world of hurt on a bike saddle… 😣
I’ve got a Special Six as well, and that’s my everyday work jacket, with a thin Peter Storm nylon jacket over the top as a barrier against heavy rain, and a Smelly Helly underneath, it’s so much more comfortable for all day wear outdoors compared to the normal industrial heavy nylon hi-viz gear we get issued, I turn into a boil-in-the-bag human.
I’m not really a fan of softshells, I think a windproof that can be worn over a variety of layers is far more versatile.
Think I’m looking for something a bit more robust than that OMM. Something that is durable enough to be worn all day if necessary but still light and with a small pack size
The OMM thing will be plenty robust for hillwalking duties.Posted 6 months ago
Pertex shell.Posted 6 months ago
I recently bought a Mountain Equipment Frontier softshell and have been pretty impressed with it. Similar ideas to the op’s post was looking for something that could go over a base layer or thin fleece for summer use.Posted 6 months ago
Pertex shell + layers any day. Softshell bulky and potentially too warm. BUT assuming you’re also carrying a waterproof why not just stick that on on the descents, stops, tops? When you’re exerting yourself you’ll be fine in a normal base / mid layers.Posted 6 months ago
I have a Montane Hydrogen which is a Pertex outer and alpha pile insulation on the inside. It’s brilliant and my go-to jacket on big days in the hills with my dog.Posted 6 months ago
It’s been drenched through in heavy rain but still feels dry and warm. Worn direct with no under layers so dumps heat quickly when vented.
I also have the Montane Extreme as pile and Pertex is the best compromise for me and far better for me than Gore/laminates
Mrs_oab refuses to be separated from hers. Warm, cosy, fits really well.
But it is an insulated jacket, not just windproof.
I now need a remade Krypton – the perfect ‘allround’ jacket. I’ll take one exactly the same apart from a few more reflective bits and +4cm on rear hem.Posted 6 months ago
What about a Rab VR Alpine Light? I think it is somewhere in the middle of the Rab VR range – it’s got a kind of very light brushed fleece lining which wicks moisture away but also acts as a bit of an insulator.Posted 6 months ago
I really like my Alpkit Morphosis smock, maybe a bit heavier than you’re after but worth a look.Posted 6 months ago
Alpkit Morphosis is what I thought too, reading your requirements.Posted 6 months ago
Good call on Buffalo Special 6.
Think I will get one for hiking etc.Posted 6 months ago
Have a look at the Paramo windproofs too. I’m a huge fan of Montane Featherlite smock and LiteSpeed jackets (had them since they came out) but they are for spring & summer conditions. The Paramo windproofs are heavier and more heavy duty but half the weight of your softshell and much better suited for the changes in seasons when you’re not sure if it will be glorious or a bit shitePosted 6 months ago
Thanks all for the info and suggestions in the thread.
On the basis of what has been suggested I think I’m definitely going to go for a windproof rather than a lightweight softshell.
I may just order a couple of options and see what fits best.
The Paramo Ostro windproof looks decent but I’m a bit concerned about the fit as I’m very tall and slim and Paramo stuff can be a bit boxy.
Generally Montane and Mountain Equipment stuff fits me well whereas I’ve never had much success with Rab.
I think the Alpkit one will be a bit warmer than I’m after – not really looking for anything lined or insulated.
Buffalo looks good but obviously a spendy option.Posted 6 months ago
Every couple of years we get something that combines all the layers into one… Buffalo did this and softshell is a more modern take.
In our (UK) climate, the flexibility of layers is a real plus on the hills. I carry a Pertex windproof, some sort of insulation (mid weight fleece, Primaloft etc) and a hardshell (Gore-Tex or Event). I do have a Buffalo and a selection of softshell but I still come back to separating the layers for flexibility.
The old issue is steaming up hill, freezing whilst stopped then steaming off again so either too hot or too cold. The Buffalo evangelists had us wearing them next to the skin to try and avoid overheating. Dint work for me. Great for sitting on a winter belay/standing in a field. Rubbish during high output activity.
I’m using Montane flavoured Pertex windproofs ATM. They all UV degrade and fall to bits after a few years then I buy some more.Posted 6 months ago
100% what Boblo says.Posted 6 months ago
I’m using Montane flavoured Pertex windproofs ATM. They all UV degrade and fall to bits after a few years then I buy some more.
What are you doing in them? Krypton Factor assault course?
I’ve never had one fall apart. I’ve ripped one on barbed wire, I’ve had one chewed inside a holdall at Changi airport by the luggage belts but they are pretty robust. The early Quantum was less ripstop than newer stuff but the standard Microlight is tough enough for general outdoors activityPosted 6 months ago
I guess when he said about degrading in UV, that’s what he meant?.Posted 6 months ago
Fwiw the difference between double-weave softshells and windshells in terms of performance beyond the stuff about weight, pack size and sometimes stretch, is breathability or moisture vapour transfer. Anything that’s 100% windproof even without a membrane – eg: classic Pertex – is also relatively sweaty because to exclude wind it has to be very, very tightly woven.
If you don’t run hot or prioritise wind protection over breathability / comfort, a windshell or a 100% windproof ‘softshell’ fabric like Gore Windstopper is an option. The advantage of double-weave softshells like the Rab Borealis is that they breathe better at the expense of some wind protection, but also wick moisture outwards because of the structure of the fabric which has a different weave on the inside compared to the exterior, hence double weave.
You also tend to find that soft shells are more featured with hoods, pockets, adjusters than most lightweight windshells which tend to be more minimalist. Personally I use both according to conditions, activity and terrain, but probably use a softshell more often because it copes with most stuff and when it doesn’t, I’m usually carrying a very light waterproof and don’t really see the point of carrying both a windshell and a waterproof. YMMV etc.Posted 6 months ago
Mountain Equipment Ultrafleece from the 80s and 90s.Posted 6 months ago
Truly a thing of wonder. A bit warm for summer thoughPosted 6 months ago
I’ve had a Rab borealis for years and it is just a fantastic piece of kit for being out and about the hills in Scotland. Mines the first version and the new one has been tweaked so is even better.
I also love my 7mesh Northwoods windproof jacket and use it a lot on the bike. Road, gravel and mountain bike. I got it pretty cheap about 5 years ago but would still think hard about paying full price for another as it is just perfect for weather and temperature we have in the central belt of Scotland.
I’d go as far as to say that a lightweight windproof is almost an essential piece of clothing for being in the outdoors in Scotland.Posted 6 months ago
Agree re breathability, The super light Rab is a sweaty affair if you’re working hard, I’ll unzip it on the way up and working hard, comes into it’s own on summit ridges, when the HR goes down a bit.Posted 6 months ago
I guess when he said about degrading in UV, that’s what he meant
Yeah UV makes them prone to splitting. The elastics goes floppy over time and you’ll have caught it on a fence or something too by then…
Off on a bit of a tangent…
I use Windstopper (softshell) on the bikes and it’s fantastic. I vary the inner layers by temperature and use a pertex gilet as an extra layer when it gets really cold.
For winter wet n cold, I move from Windstopper to Neoshell which is a properly waterproof softshell. This combined with a gridded type fleece (e.g. Patagonia R1) and a pertex gilet had me covered for the lowest temps this winter (-8°C). That for me is the perfect combo and I can add another base layer if things were to get a bit more serious temp wise.Posted 6 months ago
Think I’m going to order a Montane Litespeed windproof and see how I get on with that. Tempted by their Alpine Edge softshell too though.Posted 6 months ago
Have a look at mountain kit website too OP (Montane’s outlet) 👍🏻Posted 6 months ago
Boblo appears to be confusing Buffalo DP pertex/pile clothing with their pertex windshirts that others are recommending.Posted 6 months ago
Thanks Nobeerinthefridge, I had spotted that – someone linked to it above. The lightweight softshell they do is a good price on there, hence me wondering whether I should get that and the windproof!Posted 6 months ago
As with most on this thread, I’m a big fan of pertex type windshells . So light and really help keep the chill off, easy to modulate temperature with layers underneath. I’ve had a few montane ones but I’ve just treated myself to this Patagonia Houdini, just over 100g and the fit and finish is lovely.
Boblo appears to be confusing Buffalo DP pertex/pile clothing with their pertex windshirts that others are recommending.
Yeah, sorry. Read ‘Buffalo’ and then went all auto. Their Windshirts were rubbish BITD. If Paramo have a shitty cut, Buffalo easily trump it… 🙃
<edit> I can’t believe how expensive Patagonia kit is. I bought a gridded fleece recently and it was 3x anyone elses. I wanted the specific Polarwhatsit material and that was the only one I could find in my size/colour/in stock. Rab do a cheaper version so I’ll do a back to back contrast and compare next winter to see where the 3x comes from…Posted 6 months ago
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