More on windshirts (Rab Boreas first and second look)

A few weeks ago I did something I thought I’d never do; I sold my Patagonia Houdini. It and my Traverse pullover funded the purchase of an on-sale Rab Boreas pull-on, their replacement.

Nice hood on the Boreas,  That odd peak on the forehead seals very well over a hat with a brim, like a baseball cap or the excellent Arc’teryx Phaser Toque.

I hadn’t used the Houdini hardly at all in the last year.  In Utah and Arizona, where wind was common but rain was rare, it came along on every trip.  Here in Montana, a proper hard shell is almost always a necessity.  The Houdini overlapped with the hard shell too often, and these two when layered impeded breathability a great deal.  There just wasn’t a place left in the common quiver for the Houdini.

As I wrote about last year, balancing wind resistance and breathability is a tricky thing, especially in colder weather where the margins with both become more exacting.  A few fabrics bend the curve a bit, but wind resistance and breathability have a direct and inverse relationship to each other.  The art of picking a windshirt is finding a garment with the right balance for your conditions and exertion levels, most of the time.  For me, in Montana, I found that the Houdini and Traverse were either too much of one or not enough of the other.

The Boreas is more breathable than either, and will I hope hit the right spot of cutting the wind a bit while breathing enough to wear while hiking or skinning uphill hard.  My medium weighs 9 oz exactly, after cutting off all the tags.  Like the Traverse, it should function akin to a heavier baselayer, being about as warm as a capilene 3 shirt.  I am particularly excited about the nice hood, and fantastic use of a beefy #5 main zip.









The fit is good, snug but not tight, long in the torso, plenty of room to flap the arms.  The arms are baggy, due to my T-Rex physique no doubt, and extraordinarily long.  Long enough that I had enough room to add thumb loops, a feature the Boreas cries out for in any case.  It does not have a factory DWR, which enhances breathability at the expense of water resistance.  It dries reasonably well, especially given the fairly high lycra content.

Thus far I’m quite hopeful it will hit a sweat spot in my clothing system which has thus far proved elusive.

22 responses to “More on windshirts (Rab Boreas first and second look)”

  1. Did you mean to say or sweat as a pun? Or did you mean sweet?

    Interesting that you rarely use a windshirt. I’ve used mine every time I’ve been in Montana and I know Ryan J. rarely goes without his.

  2. I haven’t ever had a real good windshirt so I’m not sure if I’d need one. Instead I’ve been thinking about buying the Boreas for some time now. It could maybe replace my midlayer in many cases and maybe work even as a single layer in warmer weather… Apparently it isn’t water resistant at all? I was thinking that I might want to add an after market DWR treatment on it. What do you think? Would it interfere the breathability too much? Oh, is the Boreas bugproof?

    And it seems that most Rab tops have very long sleeves, which I appreciate a lot. Sleeves long enough to cover the knuckles are great. Thumb loops are great idea.

    • I imagine the Boreas would be pretty bugproof. Adding a DWR could be useful, I’ve only had it out in heavy rain which quickly overwhelmed any DWR which is or is not present.

      DWR treatments do inhibit breathability. Like with windproofing (calendering, etc) there is no free lunch. I’m planning on leaving it DWRless for the first bit of winter, assuming I’ll chuck my Essenshell (Epic) pullover over it during wet snow. Want to maximize breathing and still have a bit to cut the wind during those boggy skins.

  3. So the Boreas material is an unspecified stretch woven? Is it kinda Equilibrium-ish?

    I like those long sleeves on Rab tops, especially when XC skiing.

    • The Boreas material is a lighter version of the Traverse material. It’s not denier-gradient like Equilibrium. So a bit softer with the inside and outside of identical appearance.

  4. Hey,

    Do you still carry a midlayer for cold and wet rain or does the boreas also replace a fleece or grid fleece for you? (just talking about 3 season)

    • The Boreas replaces a second baselayer for colder conditions. In the warmer part of the year around here I’d bring a fleece also.

    • I’ve got an older R3 pullover vest from Patagonia, and a new full zip hoody I made by getting a women’s XL R3 and taking in the sides. The Boreas is good under a hardshell (unlike traditional windshirts, it doesn’t seem to inhibit breathability.

  5. Alright. Thx. Sounds like a good garment, I will probably trade my Houdini for it. I kinda face similar conditions here in NZ. When it rains it pours and the windshell gets overwhelmed with that (light drizzle becomes heavier and never stops).
    And if it is just windy something more breathable does the job better (probably).
    Another advantage of the Boreas is, that one doesn’t have to take care of the DWR which wears of anyway.


    PS: good blog btw

  6. Excellent blog great stuff all around. I’m liking the sound of the boreas. I have been using a light base layer, FA bat hang hoody(very similar to R1 hoody), and houdini for skiing. While this combo is better than most I’ve tried it is still not good enough for my unfortunate amounts of perspiration. The houdini almost always wets out from sweat or precipitation which sucks especially on the occasion of overnights. I like that the boreas is so breathable. How does it wick? I am looking for the lightest( insulation wise) , most breathable, hooded, wind resistant, two layer(for moisture movement) system I can find. It seems like this might be the missing link at this point in time.

    • It wicks decently well and dries fairly fast. I’ve been using a base layer t shirt and the Boreas quite a bit when skinning thus far this winter, and it’s a good combo for dealing with sweat in the cold.

  7. A bit off topic, but does the Phaser Toque cover your ears? I’m having a bit of a time finding something light with a bill and some ear coverage. Non-billed toques, bomber hats, and baseball caps all get me two of the three… I was thinking of going with a winter cycling cap but then came upon this item.

    Thanks in advance for any help!

    • I got the large size, and it does a pretty good job covering the ears. I wish it was a bit contoured to totally cover even the bottom of my ear lobes, but overall its pretty good. Fabric is fantastic, very quick wicking and drying.

      • So it sounds much better than my winter weight cadet hat but still less than perfect. Even so, there’s always the option of giving one a try and dabbing a little Vaseline on my ear lobes if need be.

        Thanks for the info!

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