From the blogs – Windshirt or Fleece. Are they alternatives?

Chris Townsend Rohan Bags and Moving On

A recent post from Chris Townsend asked the question Windshirt or Fleece. Are they alternatives caught our eye. No surprise because Windshirts, over the years, have been an important part of Rohan Heritage.

Chris wore the Moving On, a classic Rohan windshirt, on the Continental Divide Trail in 1985. The super photo of Chris in his Moving On on the trail (above)  is featured in his post…read more

The ensuing Windshirt conversations on Chris’s post and Facebook reminded us there is a lot of interest in this subject.

A quick search for Windshirt references on Rohantime delivers twenty seven different posts. Some of the most popular:

Rohan Jekyll and Hyde – The First Rohan Windshirt System

How many Rohan Pullover smocks are there?

When’s Good for a Windshirt?

The History of Rohan Airlight Fabric

Chris shared a story of his trip on Rohantime

Rohan on the CDT


Rohan Heritage


  1. charles ross says:

    Agree with Peter & Chris on this… Can’t endorse this post enough!

    As someone who first went into the Outdoors wearing cotton & woolen jumpers, with a 2oz Peter Storm as protection against the worst elements (I became converted to Ventile before finding Rohan). It is said that the rise of the technical materials has given birth to too much marketing in the activity that a lot of us use the activity for to escape from the marketed world. Before the rise of Gore-tex & synthetic fleece, they conquered Everest & made it to both poles.

    The wind-shirt is one of the most overlooked garments in my opinion; Rohan did more than any other brand in the 80s to put the category into the market. Since then there has been the rise of the breathable waterproofs, fleece, & base-layers. Too many people buy products from all three categories & wear them every time they go outdoors. Base-layers are great (to keep the layer in contact with your body dry, thus preventing cooling too fast); the fleece is great when you need warmth, but suffers from not being windproof (if you have a membraned fleece then it is not breathable enough & you get build up of perspiration); people will wear breathable waterproofs to thus shield the fleece, but like the membraned insulation layer – this adds to the build up of perspiration. As a general rule membranes are waterproof & semi breathable.

    On the other hand wind-shirts are normally water resistant, but highly breathable. They will windproof a fleece (if that is required), but I tend to wear mine more over a base-layer as I produce enough body heat of my own when I go outdoors. If the weather conditions deteriorate enough to warrant a waterproof, then I put one on. If a wind-shirt gets damp, it dries from your own body heat/ the outside air currents. As far as price goes it is much cheaper than a membraned waterproof & tends to last longer too

  2. Breathability and windproofing are, of course, flipsides of the same coin. The more air gets through, the more breathable, and vice-versa. But while that’s the “lab definition” that’s not always what people *perceive* as breathability, which is often “am I getting clammy in here?” (for proof, try an otherwise identical fabric with a DWR coat and a flash coat, sweat soaks in to the latter and disperses but not in to the former so although air permeability is identical the flash coated fabric is perceived as “more breathable” because the liquid sweat is gone).
    And if you’re in a fleece, with more insulation value, you may well sweat more than in a windshirt with almost no insulation value, so even though it’s technically more breathable it doesn’t necessarily feel more comfortable.

    Another thing is that it’s all a bit contextual to wind conditions and how warm you want to be. A calm, cool walk you may want a fleece, a breezy cool walk you may be better with a windshirt. A cold, windy walk you may well be looking at both, or a combination garment.

    And Karisma fleece is still available, if you look. Quite the most useful UK fleece I’ve come across and I still use an old ME Ultrafleece jacket as my default cragging jacket. Tight enough knit that it keeps the worst of the wind off, and the worst of a shower, and much less prone to ripping in a granite chimney than a windshirt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *