Standing in our shop last week I had an epiphany whilst examining two different windshirts, a thought came into my mind which stunned me that wind proof clothing is even more versatile than I thought! Now in my defence I know Waterproof Jackets are 100% windproof, but what I was thinking about was the other windproof and wind resistant products that are on the market. The kind of clothing designed especially for summer or active use, as you don’t really want to wear your waterproof on a lovely bright BREEZY day do you? Or a fleece that as soon as the wind gusts is as much protection as a chocolate fireguard?
I thought not! Which is the reason why we have Softshells and other windproofs, and it is the great job they do in protecting us which I had never really considered, until that moment last week staring at wind shirts!
The Science Bit!
The basic premise of a traditional windproof fabric is simple, the weave is so small it allows moisture out without allowing wind to permeate the weave. This means that the body is not being chilled by the wind and will not cool through convection. However some companies, most notably Gore, have created laminated windproofs where an artificial membrane does the job rather than a fabric!
Manufacturers generally show wind resistance by the cubic feet per minute (CFM) measure where fabric is tested by seeing how much air is passed through the fabric in a given time. For us end users, what is important is that the lower the CFM number the higher the level of resistance there is to wind. Hardshells such as Waterproof Jackets have a rating of 0 CFM which means they are totally wind proof, which is great! However, if you’re really active a waterproof may not wick enough moisture away from your body, which then has the potential to cool your core. Hence the need for softshell fabrics, which are ideal in dry weather.
Softshell fabrics are generally around 1-5 CFM, meaning that they are functionally windproof (which means you cannot feel any wind that comes through) but they have excellent breathability allowing moisture created when being active to be wicked away from your body.
Some soft shell fabrics are for really active pursuits and have a CFM rating of 10-15, this means that the fabric is only highly wind resistant but has much better breathability.
Looking more closely at some of the softshell and wind proof jackets we have in stock for this summer season I was surprised at how subtly different they were and ideally designed by the manufacturers to fulfil their specific purposes, giving maximum comfort and confidence to their users.
Berghaus Ultar Windshirt
The Ultar is an ultra lightweight full zip windshirt/jacket with a CFM rating of less than 5, designed by Berghaus to be used by anyone, however the Ultar is ideal for active pursuits such as running or cycling. Berghaus have designed the Ultar to be longer in the back, a feature which runners and cyclists will no doubt appreciate.
The Berghaus Ultar has a DWR finish and adjustable hood which gives protection in showers as well as have a UPF30+ rating, Berghaus have also made the Ultar lightweight and provide a tiny stuff sack to pack it in if you don’t need it meaning you can take it on and off easily.
What I think
The Ultar is so small and light it can be packed into your bag and brought out when you need it. I find it difficult to believe that something so light can stop the wind, but it does!
The North Face Alpine Project Wind Jacket
Like the Berghaus Ultar the Alpine Project is a windshirt/jacket, however there are major differences in their design and purpose. The Alpine Project is part of The North Face’s Summit Series and is designed to keep the user warm when doing activities in the mountains, as a result the Alpine Project Wind Jacket has an insulating layer. Insulation means that at ground level the Alpine Project can be used as a leisure piece for those such as my self who like Summit Series clothing but who do not climb.
The Alpine Project has as with the Ultar a DWR coating and an adjustable hood, in the case of the Alpine Project this hood is designed for the user and a helmet so there is lots of adjust-ability and a stiffened peak.
What I think
The Alpine Project is ideal for colder windy days and is an excellent addition to The North Face Summit Series!
Berghaus Faroe Windstopper Gilet
The Faroe is a combination piece of apparel, ideal as an outer on its own or as a mid-layer with a waterproof outer. Made with 100% Windproof Gore Wind Stopper Softshell fabric at the front, the Faroe has wind resistant stretch fabric sides which increase comfort and breathability, making this an ideal piece to be used as leisure wear or as running or cycling vest.
The Faroe Gillet unlike the other items in this post is made wind-proof not from the weave of fabric but from its laminate construction which includes a Gore Windstopper Membrane. This membrane is made up of 1.4 billion pores per square inch, which stops wind but allows moisture out. You will have to take Gore’s word on the 1.4 billion holes because I’m not counting them!
What I think
The Faroe is an ideal item of clothing to have in your wardrobe, it looks really stylish and is really versatile as an outer or mid layer, the absence of sleeves and stretch side panels gives even more freedom of movement when being active.
The North Face Apex Elixir Softshell Top
The Apex Elixir is a highly wind resistant (CFM 10) soft shell from the Summit Series and has a much more casual look than the Ultar and Alpine Project Windshirts. Made from stretch wind resistant Apex Aerobic fabric the Apex Elixir is an excellent piece of clothing for biking, climbing and walking or any intense activity.
The TNF Apex Elixir looks good no matter what combination of clothes you wear with it, from jeans and trekking pants to shorts.
What I think
The Elixir just looks a million dollars and can be worn with anything, factor in it’s part of The North Face Summit Series so it is designed to perform and you have an item of clothing that you can’t go wrong with!
So a five minute mooch in our shop unveils four very different excellent windproof pieces of clothing which show how extremely versatile and useful wind proofs are!