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Wind Shell Guide

They are not water proof.


They are not air tight.


They do not have “bomber” construction.


So why are they essential when trying to add performance to a layering system?

With the addition of a 2 to 5 ounce wind shirt you can easily expand the comfort range of your clothing in high winds, cool temperatures, and light precipitation. A wind shell and a quality base layer can help active trail users more effectively manage body heat. In doing so, most individuals can now deal with 75% of daytime summer weather conditions in the lower 48 states.

These ultra light layers excel when counted on to prevent convective heat loss by shielding you from chilly gusts and light precipitation. Wind shells also offer a measure of shelter from sun and pesky insects in warmer surroundings. Additionally, by utilizing air permeable fabrics wind gear can offer a small amount of “breathability” to assist in bleeding excess heat. Finally, by being simple in construction and on the fragile side these highly compressible garments fit in the palm of your hand, making them easy to include in your trail kit and ideal for most any activity.

Back when wind shells were just called ‘jackets’ (ie. a long time ago), Montbell used 45-denier fabric for our wind shells because we wanted to design our wind shells to be as lightweight and compact as possible. Though 45-denier nylon was considered fine and cutting-edge back then, by today’s standards the material is quite heavy, though it is still used for some wind shells today. On the other hand, “nylon 66” is a nylon polymer that is commonly used in industrial applications, though Montbell found out that highly technical processing of the polymer can produce super fine 15-denier threads.

When nylon 66 came on our radar, it was pitched as being “stronger than steel, but finer than a spider’s silk”. Some examples of nylon 66's applications include the fabric of the airbag in your car, the cords found in radial tires, and printer ribbons. Noticing the revolutionary potential of nylon 66, we immediately set about developing a new fabric based on this material, with the goal of creating a windproof, ultra lightweight, and durable wind shell.

After many trials, the UL Wind Jacket was finally born in 2004. It utilized an ultra thin material we called Ballistic Airlight, made using super fine 15-denier threads of nylon 66 polymer. By using Ballistic Airlight, we were successfully able to develop a wind shell that weighs 2.5oz (70g), less than half the weight of our previous wind shells.

Further work lead to the development of the Tachyon series, which debuted in the spring of 2013. The Tachyon series is made with an even finer 7-denier ultra-super thin thread, and as a result the Tachyon Jacket weighs a mere 1.6oz (45g). Not only is it ultralight, but it also features world-class water resistance thanks to its Polkatex® treatment. During the design process we considered many comfort-enhancing features, such as the built-in ventilation that releases heat during high output activity. We have created a new kind of wind shell by including essential features for comfort and safety, while at the same time making it as ultra lightweight as possible.

The Tachyon series received high praise for innovation and was recognized at the OutDoor Show in 2012. This international outdoor trade show is Europe’s largest, and was held in July, 2012. After strict evaluation, the jacket was chosen as one of 48 entries for the OutDoor Industry Award, out of a total of 322. Furthermore, it won the Gold Award, which is only given out to the ten most outstanding products. It earned the name “world’s lightest”.
Compact and lightweight are extremely essential components in the outdoor market. The Tachyon series are the epitome of Montbell’s “Light & Fast” philosophy. Winning these awards is also proof that our philosophy is being recognized by the world.

Designed for the extreme temperature changes encountered during trekking, the compact and lightweight nature of the Tachyon series makes it also great for trail running. This also makes it great for a wide variety of uses, such as the commute to work or to ward off the chill of the office air conditioner.

7-denier Ballistic Airlight Nylon : ultralight yet excellent abrasion resistance



We utilize some of the smallest fibers and thinnest fabrics available in the Tachyon Jacket and Anorak to achieve a highly compressible ultra-light garment. This silky 7-denier shell has the feel of cotton, and can withstand the rigors of normal use for a wind shell. Weighing in at a spartan 21 grams per square meter this highly wind resistant fabric is one of the lightest used in the outdoor industry.

Fabric weight : 21 g/m²

POLKATEX:World class water repellent



Compared to standard water repellents, POLKATEX is world class water repellent due to its lasting durability. POLKATEX not only repells light rain easily, it also has oil repelling properties making it resistant to staining as well. Montbell's original application technique prevents POLKATEX from peeling off due to abrasion or washing, two of the most common reasons a standard water repellent will wear down over time.

Heather "ANISH" Anderson


Tachyon Jacket Women's
In combination with the Thermawrap Sport Jacket, the Tachyon completes my backcountry layering kit on most days. This windproof layer is almost weightless (only 1.4oz!) and traps body heat like a much heavier insulated layer would.
In summer this is a staple in my pack for inclement emergencies.
Unlike other wind shirts the Tachyon has underarm ventilation which makes it far more comfortable to hike in on days where the weather changes rapidly. The hidden pocket with closure on the side is the perfect place to stash my UL Shell Gloves which complete my emergency layer system.

Cam “Swami” Honan


Tachyon Anorak
Over the past seven years, the Montbell Tachyon Anorak wind shirt has been a mainstay of my backpacking kit. Indeed, rarely does a day in the backcountry go by when I don’t wear it at some time or another. Considering that it weighs about the same as a Snickers bar and packs down smaller than a tennis ball, I find it hard to justify not bringing along this versatile item on most backpacking trips.
I’m now on my third model of the Anorak. The first two incarnations each lasted me at least 8,000 hiking miles (12,875 km). The current edition has around half of that and is still going strong. Suffice to say I’m a fan of this wind shirt.

Whitney "Allgood" LaRuffa


Tachyon Anorak
This one top is by and large the most well used clothing item in my pack. At just 2oz it's light and easy to pack. I often put it on during a break to conserve my body heat and energy. It also was the perfect layer on a windy day or sitting atop a high peak in Colorado when eating a snack.

If the goal of designing the Tachyon series was creating an ultra compact, ultra lightweight wind shell, then our design goal with the U.L. Stretch series was to create a lightweight wind shell focused on creature comforts. Features like hand pockets, a relaxed fit, and bias stretch, make the U.L. Stretch series a good choice for outdoor enthusiasts when comfort are preferred in a lightweight, compact shell.

12-denier Ballistic Airlight Nylon:ultralight yet excellent abrasion resistance



Ballistic Airlight is a nylon that is ultra thin and ultra lightweight, yet has incredible abrasion resistance. Each individual fiber is tightly woven to create a fine, supple fabric. In addition, the fibers used to make the U.L.Stretch series are crimped to provide excellent stretch and feel comfortable against the skin.

POLKATEX: World class water repellent



Compared to standard water repellents, POLKATEX is world class water repellent due to its lasting durability. POLKATEX not only repells light rain easily, it also has oil repelling properties making it resistant to staining as well. Montbell's original application technique prevents POLKATEX from peeling off due to abrasion or washing, two of the most common reasons a standard water repellent will wear down over time.

Weight


(Men's) 4.1oz./116g (Women's) 3.6oz./101g

Liz "Snorkel" Thomas


UL Stretch Wind Parka Women's
I was lucky enough to test this new jacket and it may be the most functional piece of outdoor clothing for most people. At only 3.6oz, it warms you up like a jacket many times its size. It has the features of a bigger jacket without the weight: a zip, hood, and hand warmer pockets. It takes the chill off when the wind picks up, in light rain, or as the sun sets. It layers well over a t-shirt or under a puffy jacket or fleece. The durable stretchy fabric makes movement easy. Lastly, it looks good when wearing it in town or on the trail.

One of Montbell's longest selling wind shells, the Wind Blast series hasn't changed much since its original inception. There isn't much to improve upon either! The fabric is made using a densely woven nylon giving it great wind blocking capabilities. The use of 40-denier nylon also means that the Wind Blast is extremely durable and has an excellent feel. Although 40-denier nylon is a heavier material than Ballistic Airlight, the Wind Blast is light and compact, making it an extremely versatile wind shell.

Material


40-denier nylon taffeta

POLKATEX: World class water repellent



Compared to standard water repellents, POLKATEX is world class water repellent due to its lasting durability. POLKATEX not only repells light rain easily, it also has oil repelling properties making it resistant to staining as well. Montbell's original application technique prevents POLKATEX from peeling off due to abrasion or washing, two of the most common reasons a standard water repellent will wear down over time.

Micro vents in arm pit

Weight


(Men's) 6.4oz./181g (Women's) 5.5oz./155g

The concept behind the Light Shell series came about by adding a fleece lining to the insides of our wind shells. By adding a fleece lining, it creates pockets of unmoving air that trap heat. It also provides a surface for perspiration to wick away from the skin and acts as a soft, comfortable layer between the wind shell's nylon fabric and the skin. The Light series are perfect for use during cooler weather as an outer layer for blocking wind, but is also versatile enough to be used as a middle layer. The Ultra Light Shell series pairs Ballistic Airlight (same as the Tachyon and U.L. Stretch series) with a fleece lining and the Light Shell series pairs 40-denier nylon (same as the Wind Blast) with a fleece lining.

Ultra Light Shell : Material


15-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon (Standard DWR treatment), Polyester Mesh Lining

Light Shell : Material


40-denier nylon taffeta (POLKATEX DWR treatment), CLIMAPLUS™ MESH lining

Material


Tachyon Pants: 7-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon
Dynamo Wind Pants: 12-denier rip-stop Ballistic Airlight nylon

Function

Weight


Tachyon: 1.9oz./53g
Dynamo: 2.6oz./75g

Whitney "Allgood" LaRuffa


Dynamo Wind Pants
These 1.9 oz pants are one of my favorite leggings of all time. The fabric cut the wind perfectly, were a welcomed extra layer on rainy days, and virtually replaced rain pants for me most of the trip. After 5 months, they held up well with minimal wear and from now on will always be in my pack.