- Posts: 1250
- Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:31 am
- Ski style: Nordic backcountry touring with lots of turns
- Favorite Skis: Fisher E99, Åsnes Ingstad & Cecilie, K2 Wayback 88
- Favorite boots: Crispi Sydpolen, Alico Teletour & Alfa Polar
Summer, spring, fall and… now winter, never leave home without your MEC RD Windshell jacket!
Like many, I purchased my first membrane jacket over a decade ago in the hopes that I would be investing in a solution that could protect me and keep me confortable all year long. Unfortunately, while most membranes jackets are essentially water- and windproof, I have yet to come across a product that can “breathe” as quickly as I sweat when I am on the move. In the end, relegating my membrane jacket to the wetter and rainier days (hiking, canoeing, ice climbing) has probably been the most significant improvement I have made to my outdoor gear collection in years, all this thanks to the very affordable MEC RD windshell!
I first purchased this windshell as a lightweight (only 153gr in size medium) outer shell for high exertion winter activities. On your back, it is so light you can hardly feel it’s on: your limbs will be thanking you for their newfound freedom of movement! On most days nordic skiing, a long-sleeved liner and breathable softshell combo does a great job of keeping your upper body warm and dry. On windy and colder days, the RD windshell can be layered over these for extra protection. Zipped up, the hood also excels at keeping your head and neck warm and you can easily wear goggles over or under it. The Toray stretch fabric also efficiently releases perspiration, particularly when it’s windy. Combined with the appropriate down jacket to be worn overtop when at rest, these are the only layers I ever really need when nordic ski camping in and around the forested mountains of eastern Canada.
When preparing for our 50-day nordic ski traverse in Laponia, we had to select our gear keeping in mind we would be above tree line and constantly exposed to high winds and very cold weather. While my softshell was swapped for a bombproof cotton anorak, my MEC RD windshell tagged along as an alternative for warmer, windier and rainy days. Often, it was worn alone over my long-sleeved wool liner. This combo kept me warm at -5°C and above in winds up to 60 Km/hr! Even though the fabric sheds snow fantastically, it does end up absorbing moisture when it rains (You just can’t get away from this when you are expecting an outer shell to breathe better than a membrane jacket). Nonetheless, I never felt soaked inside and it really does dry in a jiffy.
If winter is not your thing, don’t worry, I have found other fantastic uses for this jacket! As can be expected, the RD windshell really does shine in windy three-season conditions. Having it attached to your belt or on your pack also allows for instant gratification whenever the temperatures dips or it starts to rain. It’s just so light there are no excuses not to bring it along rock climbing, hiking, running, cycling, etc.
And when the bug season kicks in full swing, the elasticized binding tape around the hood and arms and the bottom cinch provide near bombproof protection. You will literary hear the buggers, whether they be mosquitos, black flies or no-see-ums, hit and fall off your shell as you go about your daily activities! The thread density of the fabric is so tight mosquitos can’t even sting through it! If they are still getting at your face, swap the hood for a brimmed hat and a mosquito head net and your troubles will be over for good.
As with all gear, there are some limitations to this shell. As mentioned earlier, it does eventually get wet when it rains so I would suggest a classic rain or membrane jacket under those conditions. However, regularly applying a spray-on DWR treatment really does help it go a long way in wet environments! Also keep in mind that the lightweight ripstop fabric used is relatively fragile. I would be careful bushwalking with it but then again I have owned mine for nearly two years and have only torn it once and that was due to a nail sticking out of a wall. Also, even though the cut is spot on, this jacket still only comes in two colors, this year being bright orange or black but heck, being outdoors shouldn’t be about looks anyways, right? Finally, the RD windshell’s most significant downfall is its ridiculously low price, at only 78$ a pop, this beauty probably get’s past too many people’s radars when looking for a multifunctional jacket. Get one, seriously, you will not be disappointed!