We found that while most of the windbreaker jackets in this review will perform better for one or two specific outdoor activities, they are nevertheless seemingly designed to appeal to as many different genres of athletes and individuals as possible. Not so for the Fast Wing Hoodie. Salomon is well known for designing every product they make with incredible attention to detail while listening to their stable of world-class athletes to make the most technically advanced products on the market. This jacket is no exception. If you are looking for the ultimate lightweight, running specific windbreaker, then seriously, check this one out. But, from the fashion all the way down to each of the specific design features, if you aren't a competitive runner type, we would recommend something else for you.
The very tightly woven nylon of the Fast Wing Hoodie is reminiscent of the Patagonia Houdini in that it is very thin and therefore light, provides good wind protection and not so awesome breathability while featuring a fantastic DWR repellant that works impressively well. To save weight this jacket has elastic cuffs on the wrists, hood, and waist, with no drawcords to be cinched anywhere. That said, it manages to seal out the wind and weather better than some that do employ drawcords, a testament to the fine-tuned design.
Testing the Fast Wing Hoodie in a cold autumn wind along a high ridge in the San Juans, it is obvious from this picture that this jacket is very thin. Its simple nylon construction weighed in at a mere 3.0 ounces.
The very thin nylon construction of this jacket is perhaps the least air permeable layer in this test. Trying to blow air through it is not at all easy, and one quickly realizes that Salomon takes the idea of "windbreaker" seriously. That said, in our field testing, we found that this jacket is not sufficient to keep a person very warm in a serious cold wind, and furthermore, the taught nylon flaps and rips about very noisily. Basically, we thought that for what it is, it did a very good job, but compared head-to-head to the performance of the Marmot Ether DriClime or the Patagonia Alpine Houdini, it was not as wind protective. 7 out of 10 points.
Standing on the summit of San Luis Peak, a 14er in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, the winds were ripping so hard you could lean into them without falling over. The Fast Wing Hoodie was one of the most windproof that we tested, and also breathed well enough for highly aerobic running.
Breathability and Venting
Due to the very tight weave of the fabric, it is perhaps the least air permeable layer, as mentioned above. For us, this translated directly into not breathing very well, and indeed we were able to work up quite a sweat all bundled up in this jacket. But the makers seem to recognize that fact and include many venting options that are applicable to running, such as the chest button, that allows you to have the entire front zip undone without letting the jacket fall off. It also includes open armpit vents, intended to release heat and moisture from the hottest and most moist area inside a jacket. But we found that these didn't work quite as well because the fabric tended to overlap too tightly. The net effect was a poorly breathing jacket that made some concessions for venting, although they weren't as effective as they could have been. Six out of 10.
Designed specifically with running and trail running in mind, this wind breaker includes a chest snap button that allows you to vent out heat and moisture via the front zipper, while still keeping the jacket in place on the body.
Fit and Functionality
The fit of this jacket is without doubt athletic, and there is little room beneath for extra layers. If you're using it for running up and down mountains, like it's designed for, we don't think you would want any warmth layers on anyway. Its targeted fit is very effective.
Saving ounces at all cost, this Fast Wing Hoodie was the only wind breaker that we tested that did not have a waist cinch cord. Instead it simply has an elastic band in the hem, that nevertheless worked well.
The features are designed to save weight, first and foremost. To that end it doesn't have any hand pockets, instead sporting only the small chest pocket for a phone or whatnot, and that the jacket stuffs into. For some reason there is no clip-in loop on the stuffed jacket, meaning you will need to throw it into your running pack, and eliminating it as a choice for climbing. While the elastic waist and wrist enclosures felt slightly loose to us, the elastic usage on the hood kept it snug and firmly in place during insane winds, much better than the similarly minimalist Mountain Hardwear Ghost Lite Jacket. The theme here is, of course, running specific functionality, and to that end, it does quite well. Seven out of 10 points.
The hood on the Fast Wing Hoodie does not have any adjustable pull cords like most others we tested. Instead it has a band of elastic inside the hood that does a great job of comfortably and snuggly hugging the forehead, keeping the hood in place in all intensities of wind.
The wrist cuffs of the Fast Wing Hoodie are not adjustable; they include elastic in them only half way around.
Water resistance is a strength of this jacket, and it performed surprisingly well given how light duty it is. If you have ever watched footage online of the Zegama Marathon, a popular and famous trail race in northern Spain, you will see what this jacket was designed for. Oddly enough, it seems to pour down buckets on race day nearly every year, turning the course into a muddy slop fest, and rendering the runners soggy and soaked to the bone. You will see lots of Fast Wing Hoodie's in those videos, effectively doing their job. In our testing, we found that water immediately beaded up and ran off the jacket, with not the slightest hint of absorption or soak through. The only reason that we couldn't give it a perfect score was due to the wrist enclosures being a bit too wide open for water tightness, but we are serious when we say we aren't sure we have ever seen a DWR coating perform better. While we didn't choose it as our Top Pick for Running because we liked the versatility and portability of the Outdoor Research Tantrum II better, we would certainly go with this one instead if you regularly need rain protection while running.
Weight and Packability
At 3.0 ounces, this was the lightest jacket in our test. An impressive feat to beat out all the other extremely light designs, and so we awarded it a perfect 10 out of 10 points. There was no way to go higher with an already perfect score, but if were possible we would have happily awarded an extra bonus point for how small and compact this jacket packs down when stuffed into its tiny chest pocket. Only the Patagonia Houdini was smaller, although we were slightly surprised to see that the Fast Wing had no clip-in loop like every other jacket.
The ten wind breakers in this review stuffed into their pockets', from left to right: Sierra Designs Exhale Windhirt (green) does not fit into a pocket, Marmot Ether DriClime Hoody (orange), Mountain Hardwear Ghost Lite Pro (light orange), Patagonia Alpine Houdini (navy, discontinued), Mountain Hardwear Ghost Lite Jacket (glossy black), Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie (neon green, discontinued) Patagonia Houdini (black), Rab Windveil (white mesh), Arc'teryx Squamish Hoody (brown), Outdoor Research Tantrum (neon yellow).
This jacket is designed specifically for trail and mountain running and will excel for that purpose. The lack of clip-in loop means that if you are not wearing it, you will need to stuff it into your running vest. While it would also work great for road running, we find that few road runners regularly carry a running vest, and so the Outdoor Research Tantrum is probably a lot easier to bring along. We think this jacket is also a great choice for hiking, and even lightweight backpacking or thru-hiking due to its incredibly light weight and superb water resistance. There is really no way to bring it with you on a long climb, and frankly, it looks a bit Euro-techy for wearing around town.
A warm July sun above 13,000 feet combined with screaming winds meant that a light and breathable yet totally windproof jacket was the perfect layering system for this run.
The Fast Wing Hoodie retails for a mere $110, tied with the Outdoor Research Tantrum, slightly more expensive than the most affordable in the review. If you need a windbreaker for running and want only the lightest and most water resistant, then this is a good bet. It is hard to go wrong for the price, but we also recommend that you test out the Tantrum and Patagonia Houdini before making your running jacket selection. If you want a windbreaker for other purposes besides running, we doubt you will be happy spending $110 on this jacket.
This is one of the higher rated jackets in this review and is an affordable and very well made windbreaker for use while trail running. It offers great wind protection, decent venting, an exemplary water resistance for being the lightest jacket in the review. We encourage all serious runners to check this jacket out, especially if you often need protection from the rain. Few jackets are so well targeted to their exact market, and those who need an item like this one are sure to benefit.
Trail running with the dog following in the La Garita Wilderness area in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. On this day the winds above treeline were howling to at least 50 mph, and we were happy to have a wind breaker designed for running, the Fast Wing Hoodie.