Words and pics: Rich Norman
Not everything Crye makes is best in breed, but as a bare minimum you know it’s going to be a highly competent execution.
The Windliner is certainly competent, but where it trumps best in breed commercial wind shirts like the Arc’teryx Squamish or Patagonia Houdini is that it’s available in Multicam and has loop Velcro on the biceps. For the tacticool market, that – or the Crye name – would obviously be enough. But it has a few more interesting details as well.
One thing I really like is actually an omission: there are no cinch cords at the hem, hood or at the collar – and this makes complete sense if you wear this item as a liner.
There are two ways to wear a wind shirt. Either as a shell, over a base or mid-layer; or – as the name of Crye’s product suggests – underneath your mid layer. Worn as a liner, you avoid damaging what is quite a fragile nylon shell – albeit with a ripstop weave.
Worn as a shell – over your base or mid-layer – the Windliner is treated with a durable water repellant (DWR). This is a spray-on surface modifier which encourages precipitation to bead on the surface of the item and shed. However, in a downpour the Windliner will wet-out rapidly. This could find you reaching for your hardshell (which is also wind proof – more so, in fact) and perhaps wondering why you packed the Windliner in the first place. That said, Crye’s Windliner is extremely light, bulk-free, and incredibly packable. You could carry it in a trouser pocket.
The hardshell/wind shirt debate should not ignore breathability. Moving fast in Goretex isn’t recommended for those of us who heat up rapidly and perspire profusely, because even the modern stuff doesn’t breath well enough. For me, it’s actually better to wear something which may get soaked but which will dry out fast. So for my uses, wind shirts are a pretty good choice. I class my hard shells as snivel gear.
Let’s look at the Windliner’s feature-set.
The main zip is full length. It’s backed by a baffle and is reversed to cut wind and light precip. It terminates with a chin guard.
This is composed of the same kitten-soft wicking fabric as the inside collar. It’s a really comfortable feature which you don’t often find in commercial wind shirts, because it adds bulk – but very little bulk.
Shoulders are raglan for mobility and the cuffs and hem are elasticated.
The cuffs include thumb stirrups, which are really useful when layering over the Windliner.
The bicep Velcro is the classic Crye bifurcated affair, which is less bulky than a massive swatch and makes the Windliner more packable.
On the right bicep, there’s a mesh lined zip pocket which the Windliner packs into.
The underarms are ventilated with the same mesh used for the pocket lining. This is a nice touch which I’ve not seen on the commercial wind shirts I’ve owned.
Like the Crye Halfjak (which I reviewed here) I’m not keen on the way the Windliner’s hood stows. There’s some Velcro bullshit going on where there ought to be a micro zip or – the next best thing – some nylon poppers. It won’t ruin your life, though.
The hood seems to be of a standard size rather than helmet compatible and its rim is elasticated.
And, because the stand-up collar and hood are separate items, it’s a lot less messy at the neck than a jacket where the hood is part of the collar. Just aesthetics but who doesn’t like nice clothes?
As for sizing, this review sample (from Tactical Optician – thanks again, Andy!) is a medium, which isn’t my usual size. The fit is fine, however, if a little on the athletic side. I’d be hard pushed to choose between medium or my usual large.
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