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MassDrop Veil Wind Shell Review

Wind Shirt on a beach

The Massdrop Veil is an ultralight breathable wind shirt which provides active insulation even in high winds. Wind shirts are very lightweight and usually weigh between 2 and 3 ounces. While they’re not waterproof, many experienced hikers carry and use a wind shirt to prevent heat loss in windy exposed or above-timberline terrain.

Specs at a Glance

Insulation

Wind shirts are designed to trap your body heat even though they don’t have any insulation of their own. They do this by trapping the warmth that your body generates, especially when you’re being very active, and preventing wind from stripping it away. Have you ever climbed a mountain on a hot day in a T-shirt, only to freeze at the summit when you break above the timberline and a cold wind chills you? A wind shirt can keep you warm in exactly that circumstance while a fleece sweater would still be subject to heat loss from the wind.

Wind shirts can also be used to protect you from biting insects, like mosquitos and black flies. They’re good to wear on cool evenings around a campfire when a fleece would be too warm to wear, and to help you stay warm on a cool spring morning before you generate enough body heat (from hiking) to stay warm.

At 11 CFM the Veil lies near the more insulating end of the wind shirt spectrum while still maintaining breathability. It will keep you cozy down to 40F in 35 mph winds while wearing only a thin button-up underneath, provided you’re moving, of course.

While the Veil is coated with an exterior DWR, it is not designed to be waterproof and cannot replace the function of a rain jacket.

Material

The ultra-thin nylon used in many wind shirts can leave them feeling and sounding like a plastic garbage bag. The 15D ripstop nylon used in the Veil is incredibly soft and silent and feels great against your skin.

Features

The Veil is decidedly light on features. On the front, there’s a full-length YKK zipper and a single 4″ x 6” zippered chest pocket which also doubles as a stuff sack. On the back a pair of Velcro tabs allow you to roll up the hood when not in use. More expensive wind shells often have drawstring adjustable hoods, which can help eliminate flapping in high wind as well as hook and loop wrist straps to prevent heat loss at your wrists. If you decide to buy the Veil, it’s important to understand what features are missing from it in order to keep its cost down.

Fit

The Veil is accurately billed as a slim fit, so consider sizing up. The rear hem, hood, and cuffs all rely on elastic to secure their openings. Although this saves weight over drawcords, it does make it difficult to create a perfect seal. In practice, this is usually a non-issue but above 30 mph the wind can catch the sides of the hood and cause it to flap madly.

Comparable Wind Shirts

Make / ModelWeightHoodZipperPrice
Arc'Teryx Incendo Hoodie4.6 ozYesFull$139
Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell1.6 ozYesFull$129
Black Diamond Deploy Wind Shell1.7 ozNp2/3$159
Marmot Air Lite3.7 ozYesFull$100
Montbell Ex Light Wind Jacket1.7 ozNoFull$89
Monbell Tachyon Parka2.6 ozYesFull$99
Montane Featherlite Smock4.0 ozNo1/3$100
Outdoor Research Tantrum II4.7 ozYesFull$109
Patagonia Houdini3.7 ozYesFull$99
Rab Vital Windshell4.4 ozNoFull$89

Recommendation

At a scant 2.7 ounces, the Massdrop Veil is an ultralight, affordable, and comfortable wind shell garment. It straddles the line between too little and too much wind protection, increasing versatility. If you find yourself getting the chills when the wind cuts through your active layers, then consider adding the Veil to your ensemble. Experienced backpackers swear by wind shirts and they’re an essential piece of kit for walking in windy hills and mountainous terrain.

Disclosure: The author owns this product.

About the author

Michael Montgomery is a Washington State native who has been exploring the wilds of the Pacific Northwest for almost 20 years. He’s a backpacking mentor and trip leader for the Mountaineers who also dabbles in photography, scrambling, kayaking, and caving. His noteworthy international trips include the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu as well as the last third of the Camino de Santiago (because there’s only so much vacation time to go around). He enjoys helping new folks get the most out of their outdoor experiences.
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4 comments

  1. I’m thinking of getting a wind breaker and don’t mind spending a little extra money. Of all the products listed, which one do you recommend?

    • I like the Patagonia Houdini and the Montbell Tachyon the best because I like an adjustable volume hood and I have a small sized head. The Montane Featherlite Smock is also quite nice but unfeatured. I like it because it’s available in a bright orange and fits me well but has no hood. Sometimes you feel like a hood, and sometimes you don’t…

    • I’ve been enjoying a Mountain Hardwear Ghost Lite. The women’s one weighs 3 oz. I think they’ve stopped making it, but there are still some out there on various sites. Before that I had something I picked up at TJ Maxx for $20 which was fine until the zipper broke.

  2. I’ve been happy with my Veil. Cost/performance have been spot on for me. Base layer/fleece/Veil give me lots of flexibility for little money and weight.

    Potential shoppers should heed the advice about the slim fit. The easiest way to describe the fit is that your normal size will fit like a shirt, while sizing up will fit like a jacket. I tend to bounce between M or L depending on cut. I tried the M and it has a glove-like fit over a fleece. It’s good, no extra air to insulate but many would probably prefer a little extra room.

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