Wind Jackets, Take 2
So a few weeks ago, on February 18, 2015, I published an article entitled ‘Wind Jackets: Montbell Tachyon, Patagonia Houdini, ZPacks Wind Shell‘ and it appears it caused a bit of ruckus around the world.
It seems to have done so for for a few reasons:
- because the results where not what people wanted to hear about their favorite wind jacket
- because some of the results did not make sense
- because some of the data used was, at best, guesses due to incomplete testing
- because I am a horrible writer and cannot properly explain things
Now which of these issues people seemed to have issues with, or heck, all of them, the facts are the facts:
- Yes, some of the fabrics were not tested (specific this mysterious ‘Ventum’ fabric that zpacks is using – and I have no idea if zpacks make up that name or if the manufacturer did)
- Yes, some of what I explained did not make sense (and I suspect some of it will continue to not make sense – except for those who understand the crazy ways and terms that fabrics are tested – I will admit, some of it still makes me go “huh?!”)
But, as my long time readers know, I strive to make things right.
Since that initial article, ZPacks sent Richard Nisley (the awesome guy behind all this crazy testing and data and reporting) some samples of both of the fabrics that they use for their wind jackets.
Now, you having just spent the last hour reading through all of those different posts I just linked to… if all those numbers and odd sounding terms make NO sense to you, well, no worries, as I am going to break down the results to the simplest possible way that I can think of, by going back to the same basic questions I asked in my last article and which Richard was kind enough to provide answers to.
The Updated Results:
So with Richard, having now tested the fabrics from zpacks, let us once again answer my “lets dumb it down questions“:
Patagonia Houdini (2015)
ZPacks Wind Shell (Blue Ventum)
ZPacks Wind Shell (Green Pertex GL)
(both montbell tachyon wind jackets use the same 7d fabric)
The Questions & Answers:
Taking on the issue of breathability:
Question: Can you please place, in order of best to worst, these jackets when it comes to breathability.
Answer: Montbell Tachyon, Montbell Tachyon Anorak, ZPacks Ventum, ZPacks Green Pertex, Patagonia Houdini
Taking on the issue of waterproofness:
Question: Can you please place, in order of best to worst, these jackets when it comes to the waterproofness.
Answer: Patagonia Houdini, ZPacks Ventum & Montbell Tachyon & Montbell Tachyon Anorak (nearly identical), ZPacks Green Pertex
Taking on the issue of wind resistance:
Question: Can you please place, in order of best to worst, these jackets when it comes to wind resistance.
Answer: Patagonia Houdini, ZPacks Ventum, ZPacks Green Pertex, Montbell Tachyon & Montbell Tachyon Anorak (identical)
The best ‘middle of the road’ option:
Question: Can you please place, in order of best to worse, the jackets when it comes to the “middle of the road”.
Answer: (Based on assumed rank order objectives: MET <7, CFM, HH, Weight): Montbell Tachyon & Montbell Tachyon Anorak (identical), ZPacks Ventum, ZPacks Green Pertex, Patagonia Houdini
So, there you have it folks. This is the most recent data that is available to us when it comes to these wind jackets rank and how they rank.
Now, I want to be open and honest about something, you can take these four questions and pretty much throw three of them right out – yes, I said that, and yes you read that right.
The reality here, folks, is that we are comparing WIND JACKETS!!!
A wind jacket is NOT a rain jacket.
A wind jacket is NOT a highly breathable garment.
A wind jacket IS DESIGNED TO BLOCK WIND.
So if your goal in buying a wind jacket is to actually block wind (what a great concept) then the only real question you should be asking is the third question, “taking on the issue of wind resistance“.
At the end of it all, what we have to remember is that all of these jackets are so relatively close together that buying any one works – it just does not really matter all that much which one you pick(ed). I know folks are going to huff-and-puff about me saying this, but let us just be open, honest, and clear about all of this. A wind jacket exists to BLOCK WIND and ALL of these wind jackets will get that job done.
If you really want to know which one you should buy, well, here is my response to you:
- If you want a hoodless wind jacket go with the Montbell Tachyon, or:
- If you want a hooded wind jacket, well, here are your options, in order of the highest (best) to least (worst) amount of wind resistance:
It really all does come down to that one basic question.
Everything else, is just a whole bunch of specs and numbers. The reality is, a wind jacket is designed to BLOCK THE WIND. They are ALL going to eventually cause you to build up heat and sweat. They are ALL going to eventually get saturated if you wear them as the outermost layer when it is raining. A WIND JACKET is designed to be a WIND JACKET.
So all that said, I want to again thank Richard Nisley for the insane amount of work he put into helping me with this article, and the greater and global hiking community. The data Richard has tested and provided gives us the data we need to really answer that one important question. If you need those numbers for yourself, well, reference the bunch of links I already linked to at the top of this article.
At some point, we just have to call a given topic, “answered”. Richard Nisley has given us that answer. Case closed in my book.
For those wondering: I bought a Montbell Tachyon many years ago, before I become a sponsored hiker of montbell, and it is what I still use. That said, if I were to buy one today I would go with either a Montbell Tachyon Anorak or the ZPacks Wind Shell (Blue Ventum). The wind blocking ability of the Patagonia Houdini might make it be the best at blocking wind, but at twice the weight of every other wind jacket listed — and you all know how I feel about that :-D
In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that at the time this article is published that I am a sponsored hiker of Black Rock Gear, Montbell US, Suluk46, Sun Precautions, Suntactics.
ps: if any of the information within this article is incorrect, the blame rests fully on me.