We've all experienced the affects of 'wind chill' and it doesn't need to be particularly windy before we feel them ... just think how much colder you are at the bottom of a long descent than you were at the top.
A windproof top can make the ideal 'extra layer' to stuff in your pocket or bag. They usually weigh very little, generally pack down to nothing and can make all the difference, even on those summery rides. Most manufactures have their own take on how best to produce a windproof, while they all strive to fulfill the same role they do come in numerous guises ... here's 3 to get you started.
|Ooh get you.|
The OMM Sonic smock is about as basic as a windproof can get. There's no pockets, no hood and only half a zip. It's made from something OMM call Point Zero, a very light, highly breathable fabric that weighs pretty much nothing. The wrists are elasticated and also feature thumb loops which do help seal out any unwanted draughts. Around the bottom there's a simple drawcord arrangement, which I have to say broke very quickly on mine although I can also say that I haven't missed it. The zip finishes just below your moobs and adds just enough venting for the climbs. The outer face has a DWR coating which I'm sure must help repel a certain amount of moisture but certainly doesn't make the smock even remotely waterproof ... just resistant.
If you're interested in carrying as little weight as possible, then you'll be interested to know that a medium weighs just 68g on the scales of truth and can literally be stuffed into the smallest space. Although the Sonic uses a very light material I've not managed to tear, rip or generally damage it yet (apart from the drawcord but that might have been a manufacturing fault, which I'm sure would have been remedied under warranty if I'd been bothered) after 18 months and some less than careful treatment.
Ideal if you want minimum weight without the whistles and bells.
|Paramo ... no nonsense.|
Paramo tend to do things a little differently ... while their Fuera smock is without doubt the heaviest of the 3 and certainly has the biggest pack size, it's the one that feels like it'll outlive cockroaches in a nuclear strike. It's made from Nikwax Windproof which just like the others has a DWR coating but the water repellency of Nikwax material can increased with the use of Nikwax products like TX Direct, which is always handy. All the features you'd usually associate with a heavier jacket are present - full hood with a wired peak and rear volume adjuster - large 'Kangaroo' front pocket which is big enough for an OS map or baby marsupial - adjustable velcro cuffs and an elasticated, drawcord hem. The zip is 240mm long but feels shorter mainly because it finishes higher up, which gives you the option to really seal the elements out if need be.
A small (yes Paramo sizing is generous) tips the scales at 282g but if you want something to wear year in year out, that offers maximum protection and maybe can leave to the grandkids, this is probably it.
|Half way to becoming a tea pot.|
Haglofs Shield Pro is a windproof with a bonus or maybe an identity crisis depending on your point of view. The shell fabric feels similar to that used on the Sonic, however it does feel slightly thicker and has a minuscule rip-stop weave and the obligatory DWR coating. This is a jacket not a smock, so there's obviously a full zip which is nicely backed with an internal baffle. A fairly basic and lightly elasticated hood takes care of upstairs and yes, it does fit easily under a helmet. Pockets are limited to a single hand warmer that's placed quite high on the right hand side ... big enough for your keys but certainly not a map. The hem shares the same part elasticated structure as the hood as do the cuffs, which also benefit from thumb loops. So what's the bonus? Insulation. The front of the jacket contains 40g synthetic insulation ... nothing in the arms, nothing round the back, just the front where you'll get maximum benefit. When you pick the Shield up you can tell the front's that bit thicker but it's not until you put it on that you really feel it. 40g/m isn't a lot of insulation but it does make a huge difference, so much so that I've taken to using the Shield as an 'evening camp' jacket through summer.
Adding insulation obviously pushes the weight up and increases the pack size but only slightly, a medium weighs 122g and still packs down to the size of a Granny Smith. While the Shield might not be as light as the Sonic or as tough as the Fuera it does offer a level of versatility that's ideal for the colder months.
All 3 tops are easily sourced on-line but shop about as often the rrp doesn't reflect the price they can be bought for.