Review - Helikon-Tex Windrunner Windshirt
History of Helikon-Tex
Helikon-Tex was created in 1983 in Poland and initially was a surplus -retailer dealing with military and civilian hiking clothing. In the 90s Helikon-Tex started to look into equipping the modern day soldier with modern day equipment and manufacturing lines took up the challenge to create military kit. In 99, Helikon-Tex took a step into the future and became an established brand catering for the civilian, Law Enforcement and Military end user.
For more info - visit the Helikon-Tex website.
Why the Helikon-Tex WINDRUNNER Windshirt?
A biting wind, light rain, clouds overhead getting darker, and with 5 miles still to go, do you pull out the Gore-Tex jacket buried at the bottom of your pack, or do you throw on the HT Windrunner? Designed for use in the civilian, law enforcement and military market, this lightweight shirt is so lightweight when in your pocket, you won't notice it. Designed in Poland and manufactured in China, the shirt is designed to cut out the wind chill factor and protect the wearer from light rain. The focus of this blog is on this HT Windrunner shirt. When out and about and the weather takes a turn, this simple shirt can make your life instantly more comfortable.
The Windrunner is through personal experience and testing as well as reading others reviews, one of the best and most lightweight shirts out there. If you're working outside throughout the year, one of these shirts should be in your truck, ruck or on your back!
HT Windrunner in detail
The Helikon-Tex Windrunner windshirt is a part of the HT OUTBACK Line with the products designed for short trips.
The HT Windrunner has ten variants;
Alpha Green, Black, Coyote, Desert Night Camo, Shadow Grey, Taiga Green, Flecktarn, Pencott Wildwood, Tiger Stripe and US Woodland.
The wide variety of available patterns means you're likely to find one to suit its use, whether out in the wilderness hiking a trail, training on the range with the other Law Enforcement shooters or shored up on base with the military.
The HT Windrunner purchased was in the Desert Night Camo pattern and was a Small Regular (SR) which is marked to fit;
Height: 67" - 71"
Chest: 33" - 37"
SIZE (CM) S
Chest circumference 114
Bottom opening 106
Sleeve length 77
Full length (back) 74
Marked as a Small the sizing is correct and it doesn't feel too baggy when worn over a t-short or hoodie. The length of the body of the Windrunner means at the front it doesn't go far past the beltline where at the rear it covers more of the pant seat area. The sleeves are comfortably the right length as well.
The HT Windrunner was purchased in the DNC (Desert Night Camouflage) disruptive pattern. DNC is simplistically a two-colour grid pattern. It was issued to a number of United States military units during the Gulf War. The design and implementation was to thwart crude Soviet-based night vision devices that utilised a grid style viewing lens. The DNC pattern was designed for adaption to a parka jacket, trousers and a boonie hat. These items were further designed to be worn over existing combat clothing (US 'choc chip' pattern). Thorough testing proved that DNC actually made the wearer easier to identify and therefore the pattern was quickly phased out.
The HT Windrunner is manufactured using 100% tightly woven Nylon and due to it's lightweight design consists of either one single thickness of material (such as arms and back) or double thickness of material (elbows and central pocket). In addition to noting the material used, the shirt comes with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating which was applied at the factory and provides water resistance to the shirt. Whilst it does appear due to the design to look like ripstop, the product does not use ripstop material.
The below images break down the key features of the HT Windrunner and these features are covered in further detail in the below sections.
HT Windrunner Front exterior
The front of the shirt has a vertical main zip approx 29.5 cm in length using an olive YKK zip which further has a material flap at the top to prevent the zip getting caught on comms equipment or other clothing.
The front of the shirt boasts 1 pocket;
1x horizontal chest pocket (accessed via 2x zips)
The large horizontal chest pocket can be accessed by either the zip of the left or right hand side of the shirt. These zips have an opening of 21cm. This is by standard used for map cases and other equipment. The olive YKK zip is sealed at the top and bottom ensuring water does not leak into the pocket. The interior pocket is meshed enabling ventilation and ensuring the shirt is lightweight. The pocket interior measures approx 42 x 30 cm (W x H - measured across the largest distance).
The pocket is designed to be able to house a map case, small items such as a compass, phone etc or the operators hands during inclement weather. The pocket also features 2x further interior pockets made using the DNC material measuring approx 8.5 x 12.5 cm (comfortably fitting a Samsung Galaxy A20). One pocket is located on the left hand side, the other on the right hand side.
HT Windrunner Rear exterior
The rear of the jacket is plain and other than the shoulder panels of material visible at the top, there is nothing else of note.
HT Windrunner Arms exterior
Both arms are identical in relation to materials. In the elbow area, the shirt has an additional layer of material added to provide resistance against wear and tear such as when in the prone position firing. Of note is that this elbow area is not padded.
The wrists feature an elasticated cuff which enables the shirt to cling tightly to the operators wrist and prevent air flowing up through the wrist area.
Mesh ventilation panels are located underneath each armpit and are triangular in shape measuring approx 11 x 14 x 14 cm (W x H x H). This mesh material enables airflow directly to the armpit area but also stops items entering the open gap, such as leaves or debris.
HT Windrunner Interior
The interior of the Windrunner is fairly featureless. The main zip on the interior has additional material covering it to ensure the zip doesn't snag on clothing worn underneath. The mesh main pocket is clearly visible and the integral stuff sack / pocket which is stitched on the left hip can also be seen. The interior finally visibly features the three draw cords (hood draw string vertical) and the waist adjustment draw cord.
HT Windrunner Hood
The hood is designed to remain unfolded. However as shown below, it can actually be rolled up and rolled into the neck collar enabling it to not catch on other clothing, packs etc. The hood features two adjustable toggles on the front that enable the operator to tighten the hood vertically around the face. The hood further has a small non stable laminated visor designed to keep rain off of the face. At the rear of the hood is another adjustable toggle which is to tighten the hood horizontally around the head.
HT Windrunner Storage
The Windrunner is lightweight and when packed can be made into a small package weighing in at only 226g when compressed. The Windrunner is designed with an integral stuff sack located on the interior of the jacket on the left hip. To store the shirt, find the pocket and start compressing the shirt into it. The entire shirt then packs away into a small package that enables it to be easily stored in your pocket, side pouch, top of your pack or in your glovebox for example. The sack further has a loop at one end which when unpacking can be held onto whilst the shirt is gently pulled out. The pouch additionally has the product details on the material detailing product name, washing instructions and sizing.
Of note, when storing the shirt, it's advisable to ensure that the all zips are fully closed, and that the draw string toggles are carefully folded into the interior of the shirt bundle. This ensures that when removing the shirt, a toggle doesn't catch on the shirt itself or the integral stuff sack and rip it / cause damage to it.
HT Windrunner Testing
The HT Windrunner was purchased to provide some protection against the elements. Whilst the Windrunner was new out of the packaging, there was a need to conduct a couple of water based tests to ensure that it did in fact stand up to and meet the standards. There was yet again at the time of testing, no shortage of rain...
The jacket was worn whilst walking for approx 2 hours in an urban environment, for over 1.5 hours the light rain fell intermittently, during this time, after approx 1.5 hours the water did start to seep through. On a second walk on another day in wooded terrain for approx 1 hour in the rain, no water seeped through.
The shirt was worn whilst outside during 50mph winds and heavy rain for approx 1.5 hours in an open environment, during which, the rain fell for the entire time. The shirt as expected after 15 minutes did start to leak through, however it's primary design is against light rain. Of note was that even though the shirt was wet it did still reduce the wind chill factor.
Thoughts and opinion
The taught priority order is; rifle, equipment, self. Complete maintenance, patching and sorting of these three things will ensure that you stay in the fight. Discipline to adhere to these and stick by them is also critical. To undertake the first two you need to be in the correct state of mind which is helped when warm and dry. The Helikon-Tex Windrunner shirt is an ideal lightweight companion to throw in your kitbag when out and about. Designed to protect you from the debilitating wind-chill factor and keep light rain off of you this shirt will help to keep you comfortable for longer.
The lightweight factor is a huge bonus in my opinion, as is its' ability to pack down small. The design feature of cutting wind chill and stopping light rain has been tested and I can confirm that it does as advertised in even extreme conditions. The EDP (Environmental Disruptive Pattern) that I chose, DNC (Desert Night Camo) was to stand out from the crowd, and if you wanted to blend in with the crowd, the 10 EDP variants available provide you with a good choice.
Can I suggest that you buy this and is it worth adding to your kit collection? Yes. But there are several things to take into consideration. Due to the lightweight and thin 1 layer of Nylon material used, it will wear through quickly if not looked after. Can this be worn over a combat shirt and under a plate carrier? Yes. Will the plate carrier shoulder straps over time likely wear through the material? Yes. Could constant rubbing from the back plate on the base of the back wear through the material? Yes. On the range or during ad hoc training the shirt will likely hold up, but if used day in day out for prolonged periods it'll likely wear much faster. I've used this several times on the range worn in conjunction with my 1st Line gear and no plate carrier and it suits me to the ground. For the times when hiking in good weather that you never can trust, it's never wrong to pack this shirt to help stave off the elements. Treated with further DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coatings etc this can become further water resistant. This is now one piece of kit that is thrown into my kitbag wherever I go should I need it or not.
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I am not paid for my blogs by the manufacturers or companies that I purchase my items from. I am not offered freebies to promote a product. These blogs are purely written from my own experience in truth to help advise and inform others who may wish to purchase the items or understand more about them. If I am sent a freebie to review this will be stated at the beginning to make you aware.