Gear Review: Windproofs for 2024

A lightweight windproof jacket or smock is an incredibly useful addition to your pack. On dry days this will reduce wind chill without the overheating caused by full-on, heavier waterproofs. Sometimes called windshirts or windbreakers, these take almost no space in your pack – usually squashing down extremely small. They are most usually worn by runners, and often mountain bikers, but are actually a great addition to a walkers’ pack too, keeping the wind off whilst you are working hard heading uphill. As usual with Walkhighlands reviews, as we don’t sell gear we give the manufacturer’s recommended retail price – you may well find these items available at below the RRP.

Patagonia Houdini Stash Half-zip

RRP: £130
Weight: 105g (Men’s L)
Fabric: 100% recycled ripstop nylon

Offering excellent wind resistance at an extremely light weight, the Houdini offers exactly what I’m looking for in a windshirt. The half length zip enables great ventilation too, though the fabric breathes well in any case; there’s also vents on both the front and the back. Patagonia’s ethical credentials are to the fore here too, as the ripstop nylon is 100% recycled – it feels very durable and I expect it will last well. The design is kept simple, with a small drawcord at the base, and elasticated cuffs. The Houdini does offer more in the way of pockets that most of the others on test, with a large zipped pocket at the chest, and two velcro side pockets around the hip, both easily big enough to hold a large smartphone if you wanted too, though I’m not sure I’d trust the small velcro fasteners on the side pockets with anything too valuable you might not notice popping out. The one downside is the price, which is comparatively high at the RRP.

Available in 3 colours in both mens and womens, sizes XS – XXL.

Sprayway Charn & Hallin Hoody

RRP: £80
Weight: 260g (W 10)
Fabric: TecWEAVE™ Stretch 135 stretch polyamide with DWR finish

Though it has slightly heavier fabric than the others in this test, this is still very lightweight compared to a waterproof. The fabric is super stretchy and very comfortable. The cut is fitted but still fairly generous (should fit your normal size) and given the amount of stretch it will easily fit over a base layer and fleece but isn’t too bulky with just a thin T-shirt underneath and the back is long enough to cover you while biking. There’s a good range of movement in the arms and the cuffs are half elasticated which means they are not too tight. The hem has elastic at the side sections which works really well. The hood is close fitting, does a good job of keeping the wind out of your ears, and can just be stretched over a climbing helmet. The front zip is one way with a small storm flap behind and there are two large mesh-backed handwarmer pockets that will just fit an OS map although this it’s a bit of struggle to get one in and zipped up. The water repellent coating has coped well with light showers but is not designed for more than this and while breathability is ok, this is a warmer jacket than the others on test (most similar to the Salewa) and it has made me sweat while heading uphill with a pack. The fabric has been durable so far, standing up to a good amount of abrasion and less snag prone than some of the lighter ones on test. In general a versatile bit of kit for warmer windy days when I’d hope to wear this most of the day, good value for money. The men’s version is called the Hallin and is also available in a jacket and gilet version.

Available in Men’s UK S – XXL sizes and Women’s UK sizes 8 to 18 and 3 colours in both.

Keela Cloud Smock

RRP: £49.95
Weight: 118g (men’s L)
Fabric: Flylite (Nylon)

Like the Patagonia, this is a classic, minimal design windshirt. The zip comes down slightly less than half way, but again I’ve found it ventilates as much as I’ve needed with such a lightweight fabric, though it feels a little more plasticky than the others in this test. You unzip it to access the internal chest pocket, which is zipped and has a loop for attaching your keys; the pocket doubles as a stuff sack into which you can pack the jacket down to almost nothing. I’ve found the cut to be excellent; both the hem and the cuffs are secured by gentle elastic. There are reflective panels down both arms and on the back, which will be appreciated by runners. The Cloud smock does a simple job extremely well; at this price it’s hard to think who wouldn’t benefit from having one of these in their pack.

Available in three colours, men’s sizes XS – 2XL; no women’s version.

Salewa: Pedroc Durastretch Light Jacket

RRP: £130
Weight: 260g (women’s UK 10)
Fabric: Durastretch (84% polyamide 16% elastane) & Durastretch light (88% polyamide 12% elastane)

Really stretchy fabric (Salewa’s own Durastretch) and good design give this jacket a wide range of movement and make it comfortable to wear. The fabric is slightly thicker than the 3 men’s jackets on test here although thinner and slightly lighter than the Sprayway. There are panels of lighter fabric with pinprick hole ventilation on the sleeve undersides and down the centre of the back. The fabric is treated with a PFC-free durable water repellent coating. The two zipped handwarmer pockets are really large and given the stretch of the fabric will easily take phone, GPS and with a bit of a squeeze, an OS map. There is a non-adjustable elasticated hem and cuffs with built-in thumb loops that I found a bit too tight for extended wear. The hood is close fitting and really helps to cut out cold winds and the front zip does up to the mouth. Although described as an athletic fit, it’s not overly slim, your normal size should fit over a base and microfleece type midlayer. Warmer than some models due to the more robust fabric this is still a very functional jacket, more suited to mountain walks than running – there is only a small reflective logo on the front.

The men’s version does not have a hood and as a result is approximately 10g lighter.

Available in men’s UK S – XXL sizes and women’s UK sizes 4 to 14 and 5 colours.

Rab Windveil

RRP: £105
Weight: 140g (Men’s L)
Fabric: Pertex® Quantum Air (polyamide with acrylic coasting), with Motiv™ panels (polyester) on back and arms for breathability

The Windveil is the lightest of the jackets tested to have a full length zip. If you have the zip fully undone, there is a press stud fastener below the collar which means you can wear it a bit like a cape. Even without doing this, I’ve found the Windveil to be the most breathable and comfortable of the wind shirts I tested, thanks to the Motiv™ panels which make up the main back panel, pits and the inside of the arms. This fabric is very soft and feels great, but I do suspect it may wear out more quickly – especially if you were wearing the Windveil mostly with a rucksack. The cuffs are lightly elasticated, whilst there is a good drawcord at the hem. There’s one rear facing pocket, secured with a zip.

Available in men’s S – XXL and women’s 8 – 16, in 4 colours.

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