Does anyone make a breathable windbreaker?
November 16, 2004 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone make a breathable windbreaker? (more inside)

I’m looking for something to wear while cycling that will keep me warm down to 25-F, but won’t trap moisture. I wear a wickable shirt underneath a fleece jacket underneath a windbreaker (Pearl Trifecta). But I get totally soaked with sweat within about 30 minutes, even in the coldest temps. Vented windbreakers don’t seem to work for me. Is there a fabric that stops the wind but breathes?
posted by sixpack to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total)
Some options here . I believe Goretex fits your criteria.
posted by split atom at 10:52 AM on November 16, 2004

Anything with goretex. Look at skiing gear; it's pretty much made with the same specs in mind and it'll be waterproof from the outside too.

I live in the PacificNorthWet ... I mean, West, and I wear a North Face Gore Tex parka just about everywhere I go in all seasons. It's acceptable as a summer windbreaker when the gorge winds have really kicked up, and it's acceptible as a raincoat all winter ... if it drops below 40, I'll zip a fleece liner in. I don't sweat at all when I'm wearing it. It's one of the best and most versatile pieces of clothes that I own.
posted by SpecialK at 11:03 AM on November 16, 2004

Your jacket is too thick. I have used the Zephyr in temps as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit (OK I was still pretty damn cold, but not my chest and arms). It blocks the wind well and breathes. It is not water proof like Goretex, but actually breathes better. The fleece jacket is probably too thick also. No wonder you sweat, you are wearing too much clothing. Dress appropriately for when you are warmed up, not for when you start out. You will be cold, sometimes really cold, for the first five or ten minutes and then should be comfortable. At 25 F I wear a wicking long sleeve undershirt, a thin fleece jersey (this is very thin fleece) and the Zephyr. I am plenty warm with this and I am not one who really cares for the cold. Above 35 F I skip the fleece jersey and go with a regular long sleeve jersey. I think if you wear less you will still be warm and sweat less.
posted by caddis at 11:37 AM on November 16, 2004

Goretex is not a cure-all.

It is not permeable enough for high activity demands. You will find that in almost all conditions you simply end up wet and cold from sweat. That really is no improvement over being wet and cold from rain.

Goretex is great if you're standing around looking good. And Goretex is good if you're strolling, working on the garden, or otherwise engaged in low-workout conditions.

I believe you need to look at a more=permeable, less-waterproof alternative. There are jillions of options. Most seem to involve high-breathability, coated, twisted-thread, high-thread-count fabrics.

Also, go hit the MEC and REI websites. They make specialty clothing for cycling. The MEC cycling jacket is da bombe.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:15 PM on November 16, 2004

This one works very well for me as a top layer, with the other layers adjusted for current temp.
posted by NsJen at 12:35 PM on November 16, 2004

I'm entirely with FFF on this issue. I'd consider going with something non-breathable but even more highly vented than what you're using right now. Looks like you're already using one of the waterproof but highly breathable fabrics (Event is supposed to be among the best).

If you're really not that concerned about being waterproof check out polartec Powershield jackets. It's designed to let in 2% of the wind, which is basically what you want.

Check out this MEC jacket.

What kind of riding are we talking about? Hours out in the country? Or minutes on the way to work?

Whacky idea of the day: try a poncho. Seriously It's HIGHLY breathable, and waterproof in all the places that count for cycling. Plus, you could generate advertising revenue by selling the space on the front and back.
posted by daver at 12:56 PM on November 16, 2004

while regular Gore-tex isnt very permeable, like five fresh fish said, Gore (the company) makes a much mire breathable but just as waterproof version called Gore-Tex XCR. it is a little more expensive but it truly is great stuff, very breathable.
on preview,dont go with a just doesnt work, on a bike or anywhere else.

/poncho bias exposed
posted by ShawnString at 2:09 PM on November 16, 2004

Response by poster: Mostly I do commuting, so we're talking about up to an hour each way. But the dampness is especially troublesome on long rides of 3-4 hours. It's hard for me to take a break because, with a sweaty shirt, I get chilled so quickly.

Waterproofing is not an issue. I rarely ride in the rain. It's the wind I'm trying to stop. It cuts right through me.

Caddis: I think you might be onto something, maybe I'm over-dressing. That's partly due to the fact all my rides start down a long descent where I reach 35mph which, in cold temps, absolutely freezes me to the bone.

That MEC jacket sounds like a possibility. But with all due respect, Daver, I ain't wearing a poncho. This 49-year-old body already looks goofy enough in spandex.
posted by sixpack at 2:20 PM on November 16, 2004

I agree with caddis. For example, I don't wear more than a tshirt until its below 50, and I only add a long-sleeve tshirt (both cotton) until it gets below 40. Then I replace the shirt for a wool sweater, or add another shirt or two, which takes me to 25 or so. But, I have to climb a hill immediately no matter the direction I'm heading from home, so I get warmed up on the double.
posted by Utilitaritron at 2:54 PM on November 16, 2004

Cotton is fine without the windbreaker, but I would not recommend cotton under a windbreaker. Something with better wicking capabilities and with almost no ability to absorb and retain liquid is best. Cotton will only exacerbate the wetness problem as it will absorb and hold moisture. When the cotton is on the outside and the wind is blowing over it this is less of an issue, although even here I prefer something with good wicking.

That Trifecta jacket looks pretty nice. You may find that with less insulation underneath it breaths plenty well enough. To avoid the shock of the initial cold I dress in all my layers and stay inside getting perhaps a little too warm while I don my shoes, shoe covers, helmet, gloves etc. By the time I get on the bike that first cold blast actually is a relief. Even so, if you are descending before you get warmed up there is probably no way that descent will be comfortable.
posted by caddis at 3:32 PM on November 16, 2004

That would be "breathes."
posted by caddis at 4:14 PM on November 16, 2004

I just got back from a ride. It's about 50F and damp right now. I have a REI Windpro fleece jacket. It's not specifically for bike riding, but is cut trim so it doesn't flap. I have a thin wicking tshirt under it, and I had to unzip the jacket down to the last 2 inches to cool down when going up the hills. It's just about right when going downhill.

I can feel some air movement thru it even when going about 10mph, so I don't get too sweaty. Around 35F to 45F, I put my wicking longsleeve base layer under it, and still unzip at times.
posted by jjj606 at 6:36 PM on November 16, 2004

I've got one of those MEC jackets, and it works very well. It's also a very ugly shade of blue, but it was marked down significantly!
posted by websavvy at 8:52 PM on November 16, 2004

I've wrestled with this issue cycling back and forth to school in Ottawa. There really isn't a great low cost solution other than changing out of your clothes the first chance you get. (MEC jackets are budget breakers and I was pretty disappointed by the one jacket it did buy from them)

Layer up and take the time to peel and adjust as you ride.
posted by srboisvert at 9:53 AM on November 17, 2004

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