Saturday, July 11, 2015

Review: Propper - Packable Full Zip Windshirt

Just in time for the Antarctic Vortex, first published in BreachBangClear: 

[EDIT] Now on the front page of Propper's website as "in the news"!
In my recent bundle from Propper, there was a lightweight shirt that caught my eye, and I've had some time to give it a good trial and can report back on it. Winter has rolled around here in Melbourne, and we get a fair share of wet and windy days. It rarely drops below freezing, due to the local geography, but we do get some cold weather from the Southern Ocean which can roll in unpredictably. Melbourne has a reputation for having Four Seasons in One Day, Crowded House even wrote a song about it. I hate umbrellas. Really, with a passion. Being as tall as I am, I'm forever being jabbed in the eye by them when the scurrying masses are running for shelter. 

So when I'm not restraining myself from throat-punching the perpetrators, I prefer to feel superior by wearing and carrying wet-weather gear for the occasional flurry.

Propper have catered to this nicely with their Packable Windshirt, which offers offers lightweight wind protection whenever you need it. This lightweight garment has to look of a jacket, but feels like a light shirt, due in no small part to the silky 100% polyester it is constructed from. With a Durable Water Repellant (DWR) surface finish, partially due to a surface coating, and partially due to the material and weave of e surface layer, I found that light to medium sprinkles were shrugged right off. Better yet, that weave stopped medium to strong gusts of wind dead. I was pretty impressed with that, given how lightweight it was.

Usually with this kind of wind stopping you either end up with a plastic-bag feel, or a Siege of Stalingrad feeling heavy coat. Amazingly, this had neither, I was hen suspicious that it would be a steam-trap, but somehow they've found that magic balance of permeability and breathability. This is helped along with the honeycomb-mesh pattern inner liner. This liner runs throughout the windshirt, and adds no appreciable bulk. 

Twin hand pockets with reverse sewn zippers grace the sides, with rubber-covers toggles and are silent operating, and a single pectoral pocket big enough for a phone, note book or in a pinch a STANAG magazine, but the heavier the load, the more it sags. A pretty spacious hood is stored in the neck seam, and is elasticised in a couple of spots to ensure a snug fit. I mostly kept the hood stored, and found that bulk added a nice snug seal around my neck, trapping heat in and keeping dribbles out. 

The sleeves have elasticised cuffs, to shut out the elements, which aren't my preference, but certainly work well enough. With arms as long as mine, I found that the Medium wasn't quite long enough, although the body-fit was good, so it meant that to feel comfortable I had to push the sleeves up. That or have half my wrists dangling free, and the shoulders dragging. For longer wearers, opt for a bigger fit.
The main front zipper is likewise a reverse zipper design, with the same rubber toggled zipper-pull, and has a overlap panel running its length to eliminate any wind chill through that seam. That's something that makes a lot of difference to me, and is also carries over into the design of the bottom seam of the windshirt, which is generously long, especially useful for us long-bodied types, and much like a cyclists shirt, ensures good coverage when you're crouched over. No more chilled kidneys! The main zipper is also double-headed, so you can upon the windshirt from top or bottom, meaning you can access belt-worn gear without exposing your chest to the elements, or from the top down.

One nice feature is that the windshirt comes up with its own storage pouch, accessible via a quite unobtrusive zippered pocket in the small of the back on the outside, you could also use this as an extra storage compartment for paperwork or what have you, as lon as you don't mind it being out of line of sight. The whole windshirt folds in on itself easily enough into that pocket, although I think I would have preferred it to have done so from the inside out, rather than outside in. Once packed up, it is a fairly small, and springy bundle, which I've used as an impromptu pillow and gear-rest and the whole thing fits into a cargo pocket easily enough, or jammed into the bottom of a pack. 

The cut and look of the windshirt is pretty neutral, no loop fields on shoulders or chest, no pen holders, or any external features other than the single pectoral pocket and two hand pockets, is is a pretty innocuous looking garment, perfect for being they grey-man in the crowd, albeit in black, coyote or olive.


  1. As always, great review! Thanks!
    Gotta say, I've picked up a few pieces of Propper clothing - and I have been impressed with all of it. I first thought that they were a knock off company, but I got respect for them! I'm probably gonna pick up this shirt!

  2. I have one how to replace my Scottevest discontinued packable jacket. Both had stayed forever with me in my backpack. So far, I love it.


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