Words and photos by Coalatree Ambassador Eric Bennett. Follow along on his adventures on Instagram @bennettfilm.

It didn’t take long for me to learn the importance of having good, solid equipment while on multi day trips out in the backcountry. Whether you are in the desert, mountains, rainforest, or on the coast, having reliable, durable clothing is paramount if you want to be comfortable, efficient, and most of all, safe. These are the standards I judge all of my gear by, and the new Self-Healing Whistler Windbreaker does not disappoint.

When I first received this new windbreaker, it was all bundled up into its zipper pocket, no bigger than my fist. My immediate thought was that it would be great to toss in my backpack while traveling abroad or going hiking since it would take up hardly any extra room or weight, and indeed it is. Since I’ve had this windbreaker, it has come along on every trip, and has been super useful in a variety of different environments.

For me, the summer season is for backpacking in the mountains; long, warm days, cool nights, beautiful wildflowers, and exciting thunderstorms. However, as most of us know, the summer is also notorious for relentless, buzzing clouds of mosquitoes. I can handle 20 mile days with a 50 pound pack, lying in a freezing alpine lake, or even getting sunburned on every part of my body, but I cannot stand the mosquitoes.

This summer I have been doing a lot of backpacking into my favorite mountain range, not too far from home. On every trip I have been glad to have this windbreaker with me as an extra layer to block the mosquitoes. While they can easily bite me through my thick merino wool shirt, if I have the windbreaker on top my mosquito problem is virtually solved. Because of the lightweight fabric, even on hot, sunny days, I feel comfortable with the Whistler Windbreaker on, while my down jacket or rain shell are way too warm. I don’t know if it was made to be a mosquito shield, but I sure use it as one. That alone makes it worthy of packing along.

While all of my travels are focused around being in nature, sometimes during layovers or at the end of the trip I find myself wandering around the city, looking for a bite to eat. Sometimes there is just a slight chill to the air, but you don't feel like walking around in a bulky jacket that will probably get too hot and you won't want to have to carry around when you take it off. The windbreaker is great to pack along as an extra layer you can quickly throw on or take off with any drop or rise in temperature. It’s also a great layer to throw on while skating if you just need a little bit of extra insulation while you are getting warmed up.

Another great thing about this windbreaker is that it has zipper pockets all over it, so you can easily stash your keys, money, or passport, and not worry about it sliding out while you are out exploring or running after a bus. For me, reliable, safe pockets are a big must, that way I don't have to keep slipping my hand in to feel around to make sure my cash is still in there. The way this jacket is designed, I never have to worry about any of my valuables getting stolen or lost.

Something crazy about this windbreaker is the fabric that it’s made with. With such thin, lightweight material, I was worried about poking holes in it or getting it caught on sharp edges and tearing it apart. When I read on the label that it is a “self repairing” fabric I didn’t believe it, thinking it must just be some new gimmick in the outdoor industry. I asked them what was up with it and they just said, “Give it a try. Stab it with something then just rub it between your fingers.” I grabbed a pen and made several holes, and low and behold, after rubbing the fabric for a minute it was just like new. Bushwacking, sliding against rough boulders, this thing can handle it all. 

The Whistler Windbreaker also layers great with the Camper Hooded Jacket. I get scared wearing my down puffies around campfires or while romping through sharp, pokey foliage, since they tend to burn or rip so easily. The windbreaker works great as another layer on top to protect your puffy jacket and also keep in a bit more warmth.

Overall I’m glad to see this new product join the frontline of Coalatree’s outdoor clothing line. It’s one of those things that once you buy it, you won’t know how you ever got along without it.

You can see more of Eric Bennett’s photography, tutorials, articles, and workshops on his website: www.bennettfilm.com

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