I’ve been using the Stretch Terre Planing hoody almost daily, and almost exclusively, for 18 months. It has proved to be as ideal a windshirt as I can imagine, without falling into hyperbolic hopes concerning future fabrics.
As I detailed in the post last year, my windshirt quest has over the past decade consisted in trying to find something that was light, enough, durable, enough, and provided an excellent mix of breathability and weather protection while also being exceptionally fast drying. This last characteristic being the single most important for backcountry clothing systems. A strong example is the old Rab Zephyr, which was burly and breathable and wore great, but took ages to dry when it really got damp. Even the Alpine Start hoody, class defining in its performance balance, was not ideal when it came to dry times.
Since this pseudo-study I’ve given dry times in field conditions a lot of thought, and a decent amount of experimentation. While in static conditions most windshirts gain, and then loose, moisture weight in a roughly similar manner, the thinner, textured fabric of the STP hoody responds to internal heat significantly quicker than the Alpine Start. My attempts to quantify that have not been consistent, or I’ve failed to either have enough instances or well controlled enough instances to make for significant or even demonstative findings. So you’ll have to take my word for it; the thinner, but marginally heavier (10 grams/meter difference) STP fabric consistently dries faster under field conditions. And because it also moves moisture along a bit better, it gets less wet less easily.
Breathable, what I called soft shell windshirts (not just light soft shells) have become commonplace in the past six years or so, with CFM ratings a common talking point. Patagonia has the Houdini, Houdini Air, and Airshed Pro; Rab has a good half dozen jackets and pullovers that would class as windshirts. It’s an immensely functional trend, one that has established itself in the face of the undereducated user complaints of “but it doesn’t even block the wind!” I put this down as a major instance when consumers drove a trend that was practical and somewhat hard for marketing divisions to articulate, especially given that the best of these light, breathable, no lycra fabrics are quite expensive. The key is to look as them as shirts, not jackets, that provide incremental but incisive gains in warmth and functionality and can be left on almost all the time, most importantly, as a breathable part of layering system under a hardshell that both provides a bit of warmth and doesn’t adversely impact moisture transport.
As far as the STP hoody itself goes, I’d change very little. Make a version with a different torso fit and pocket arrangement to be backpacking specific, and change nothing else. I’m glad I have the light-black camo, as oppossed to the current versions. Durability has been excellent, with a few microabrasions on the sleeves from crawling through slot canyons, and no pilling or abrasion from backpack straps. It gets almost daily use year round, which is as economical as it is utilitarian.
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