Thanks for your feedback, jrista. I did a quick search on the Kimwipes and they seem to have quite a mixed reputation with some swearing by them while others swear at them!
While I was searching for them, I came across Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Cloths Wipes which have got some excellent reviews and are reasonably priced.
I wonder if anyone here has used those?
To be very honest I had never given much thought to the whole microfiber issue. I am concerned that these wipes may not work well when I am working in the rain and the lens gets covered with water droplets - amazing how that happens, but you just need a big storm and rain at an angle I guess, and it must bounce off the inside bottom of the hood and up onto the lens. Last time that happened both I and the guy next to me were totally amazed at just how much rain had got to the lens, and a 400 /2.8 ii does not have a small hood!
Kimwipes are like tissue paper...very thin. They won't really "wipe" in the rain...however, they are superior for absorbing water droplets without leaving any residue or spots of their own behind. So you can dab a lens to pick up water droplets, and that works quite well (assuming the wipe didn't get obliterated by the rain before you got it to the front of the lens).
I'd like to see some of the negative comments you found about Kimwipes. It's pretty rare that you find anything negative about them. They have almost universally positive reviews at Amazon (i.e. there are 75 four and five star reviews, and only 2 three, two, and one star reviews each; as far as positive vs. neutral/negative review ratios go at Amazon, that is stellar!) Everyone I know in any industry that requires high quality wipes has only ever had good things to say about them. My eye doctor uses them (they have kimwipe boxes everywhere), a jeweler friend uses them religiously, I know a few product photographers who photograph valuable jewelry and coins, they swear by kimwipes.
They are some of the most loved microfiber wipes I know of. The next best runner up would probably be Pec*Pads, which are more specifically targeted at lens cleaning (specifically for photography). Pec*Pads cost anywhere from three to five times as much for half as many wipes (i.e. you can usually find 280 kimwipes for about $4.50, where as 100 pecpads are usually $12-14.) PecPads are different, structurally...where as a kimwipe actually feels rough (it doesn't damage the lens, the rough feel is actually what makes them work so well...it's a flat surface with pits), pecpads feel very soft. Pecpads do live up to their lint-free name, however they are not the same as a microfiber cloth...they don't pick up and lift off oily residues nearly as well as kimwipes. If you use a solution, pecpads work fine...but you already seem to know the potential downsides of using cleaning solutions. Without solutions, you'll often find that the more expensive and supposedly purpose-designed photographic wipes don't actually clean...all they really do is smear oily residues around.
I really, honestly do highly recommend kimwipes. I went through a lot of cleaning wipes and solutions when I first got into photography. It blew my mind how easy it was for oily crap to get on my lenses, and I could never get it off, or if I did, I eventually found out that the solutions I used to clean my lenses ended up just making it easier for more oils and dust to get stuck to the lens because of the residues left behind. (I eventually did fine one organic solvent that works superbly and does not leave behind any residue, but I haven;t used it since I found kimwipes.) Kimwipes are an odd thing...they don't feel smooth or soft, they have the faintest rough feel, and that often scares people off. That's the irony about them, though, as the pitted surface is exactly what you want for a lens cleaning wipe...the surface itself is smooth, the pits create a grabbing edge that picks up oil, and the pits collect it. You don't need any solutions, just the lightest amount of elbow grease and steady, broad circular motions, and you can pretty much eliminate every last bit of sticky, oily crap from your lenses.
I'm honestly not a sales man for KimTech...kimwipes are just the best lens cleaning product I've ever used, by a very big margin.