Windcaps, or windscreens as they’re sometimes known, are small cap-like devices for your pipe. They fit right over the bowl. They serve two primary purposes. If it’s windy, it keeps the embers from blowing out of your bowl and it slows down the airflow to the bowl, so your smoke doesn’t become very hot and burn fast.
There’s four kinds of windscreens, but you’ll probably only want to know about two of them. The most common type of windcap looks like the image to the right. A round spring holds two clips to the interior of the pipe.
This is another type of windcap. To be honest, I’ve never actually seen one of these in person, but it looks pretty similar. I’d guess that there is a spring that holds the two buttons tight against the interior of the bowl. It would provide the same function as the windcap above.
Butz-Choquin has a Rallye series of capped pipes. To be honest, I know nothing about this pipe other than it’s capped.
Finally, some meerschaums come with decorative caps. I don’t have a picture of one here, but the caps are usually attached to the pipe itself with a small chain.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, it rains enough to put out the tobacco in your pipe, so a regular pipe with a windcap like the first two I discussed here, is handy to keep the water out of your pipe if you smoke in the rain.
This is my windcap story: My wife and I walk the dogs along the beach at Dumas Bay in Washington state. Because it’s so breezy, I usually have to have a windcap or risk embers blown into my face. This is not a good thing. So I have one of those pipe windcaps with the round spring, like the first windcap described here. We go for a walk in January, and when I get home and fish my pipe and lighter out of my pocket, I realize I’ve lost the windcap.
Now, I’ll grant you I’m frugal. Okay, I’m tighter than paint on a wall, but I was upset I lost the windcap. It wasn’t much of a financial loss, about $3-$4, but still I don’t like losing things. With multiple head traumas in the past, I’m worried I’m going senile when I can’t find something. Digging through my pockets and tracking my steps through the driveway and house, I still couldn’t find it.
For the next week, every day I went for a walk on the beach, I’d look for it. It was ridiculous of course. The tides coming in and out would either bury or wash away anything that light. So I gave up on it, and went out and bought a new one.
One day my wife walked the dogs on the beach without me. It was late March, two months after I had lost the windcap. She said, “Guess what I found?” No way, the windcap had washed back onto shore, and as she was walking along, she saw a glint in the sand. She walked over and saw the edge of the windcap and pulled it out.
It was rusty from the saltwater, but it was my windcap alright. I was so amazed, I put away my replacement windcap, and took a sander to take off as much of the rust as I could. I’ve become ridiculously fond of the miracle windcap that I won’t part with it willingly.
Of course, I could always lose it again.