TRC Outdoors Cierzo Lighweight Windproof Shirt Review
Ultralight windproof layer in subdued colours
I’ve been aware of UK veteran-owned brand TRC Outdoors for a while, so when Brian from surveillance and fieldcraft specialists Kamouflage Ltd offered to send me the TRC Outdoors Cierzo shirt and Timmy hat to try out over the summer I was happy to help out.
I had the opportunity to try them both out over the last few weeks on some of our Outdoor Professional courses and a few mountain trips. This review is based on that use in the mountains and forests of North and Mid Wales and a few Scottish excursions.
I suppose the focus of this review should be on the Cierzo windshirt. The supplied review sample was in a brown/dark khaki colour they call ‘Earth-Tone’, and in the standard length. As I am 6’2″ I should have gone for the new, longer option they offer but the regular length wasn’t noticeably short. The overall fit is quite generous, but if worn with a chest-rig or rucksack then no flapping or bagginess is noticed.
It’s about as simple as a hooded shirt gets – made from a 30D ripstop nylon with chainstitched seams for extra strength, and without zips, adjustments or pockets. It’s just a shirt with a hood and elasticated cuffs and waist. The fabric is not waterproof, although it can be made slightly water-repellent by washing in Nikwax TX Direct or similar to add a bit of a DWR effect.
The TRC Outdoors Cierzo comes with a stuffsack in matching fabric, again with no adjuster or drawstring toggle. There is a small logo tab on the edge of the shirt near the waistband and on the stuffsack and that’s about it – which is probably exactly what the likely user for a windshirt like this will want.
Putting it to use in the field
I have a pile of ‘windshirts’ in my gear room. Most are made from a nylon, Pertex-like material that is meant to be breathable, but in reality act as a slightly porous vapour-barrier and become uncomfortably hot and moist after a bit of energetic uphill movement. So why would the TRC Outdoors Cierzo be any different? Well, anyone who served in the UK military and remembers a ‘Zoot suit’ will probably know how useful this kind of windshirt can be…
That loose fit is part of the reason I quickly came to love this shirt. It allows for complete freedom of movement either as a standalone garment or under another layer. I can pull it on top of any of my midlayers, or add any shell or block-insulation layer on top of it and not really notice. It keeps out enough wind and traps enough warm air against the body to work as a quick insulation option for sitting on a mountain summit in the summer, or stopping by the side of a path and waiting for someone to catch up (or to finish faffing about).
The lack of features (zips, toggles, velcro etc) is another reason to like it – it’s simple and easy to use and packs down to a tiny size (and weighs 150g in the standard length). The hood is enough to pull on over a hat or helmet, but low=profile and can be equally used UNDER a hat or helmet without causing pressure points or restriction.
The Earth-Tone colour works for me and most of my work, and the photos below are from a M.I.L.E.S Tracking course where I was the only person not wearing camo/MTP and I did not feel out of place. There is also a ‘Night Camo’ option (the same as the Timmy hat pictured in this review) and a generic ‘multi-camo’ pattern that would fit in with lots of camouflage styles currently in service around the world.
As this is a very lightweight garment (although made from 30D Ripstop) I wouldn’t expect it to be the perfect outer layer for scraping over rocks, but I have been mildly surprised with how well it has performed when pushing through branches and vegetation.
It dries quickly, and I have not really had to give much thought to care or maintenance other than just unpacking it and putting it bag in the gear store after every trip.
TRC Outdoors Timmy Hat
My name is Richard, and I have a massive head.
Not comically huge (well, I don’t think so) but big enough that I cannot assume that a hat is going to fit me. I have tried to get on with baseball caps for use in the outdoors, but so far they have all made me look like I should be called Cleetus and have a complicated relationship with my immediate family members. But the TRC Outdoors Timmy hat is the first one that not only comfortably fits me, it actually looks good AND is suitable for outdoor work. Result!
As well as being ‘sensibly’ sized (63cm for my noggin, plenty of adjustment left for either smaller or larger heads) it is low-profile in both thickness and features. There is a mesh rear and it will fold down to little less than the thickness of an OS map for easy stowage in gear or pockets.
Again there are several colour options, a ‘day’ and a ‘night’ camo. My review sample was the night camo, which is a nice, subdued grid pattern with irregular splodges.
I have repeatedly soaked this hat with sweat, rain and even seawater and it still looks fine. I like the mesh and the ventilation, and the dark underside of the brim that prevents glare. It didn’t take long or this hat to feel ‘worn-in’ and be comfortable for pretty much every day at work.
And why is it called the Timmy? Because apparently that’s the name of the spider on the TRC Outdoors logo.
Layering for the outdoor environment can be tricky business. Equipment choice is the key, but you also have to know when you are likely to need to use it. It can be all too easy to just keep adding gear to your rucksack until you’ve got the biggest pack in the group, and that’s just going to slow you down and make you sweat some more.
Thin, lightweight and unobtrusive layers like the TRC Outdoors Cierzo windshirt help take some of that decision away from you – when there is little penalty for carrying it, why not ALWAYS carry it? That’s what the Cierzo has become for me – an item to always have in the pack that can be worn by myself or a client, one that doesn’t take up much space nor weigh more than it has to. It isn’t a substitute for a waterproof shell layer, but it does become useful in that weird transition period where it’s a bit too cold for just a base layer, but not wet or windy enough to bring out the hard shell layer.
The hat is just a hat – except the Timmy is the first baseball cap for the outdoors that I have actually chosen to wear repeatedly. Considering that I have been doing some kind of outdoor work in the mountains for the past 15 years and it has taken until now to actually find something that works for me it makes it worth taking a second look at. If you need a low-profile cap with subtle branding and sensible sizing then head over to the Kamouflage site and take a look.