The result is a windproof and highly weather-resistant fleece that works well not just as a midlayer but also as a warm outer layer in chilly, gusty and drizzly weather. It’d be well suited to weekend walks from spring through to autumn, but perhaps not – despite the name – the ideal piece of outerwear in an actual blizzard.
Still, this is a versatile layer that combines stylish looks with functional practicality and a sustainable ethos. We reckon it’ll appeal to eco-conscious outdoorsy millennials with a taste for retro fashion.
According to Jack Wolfskin, Polartec Windbloc is the first ever fully recycled, three-layer fabric. Co-developed by the two brands, it’s the latest collaboration in a partnership between the two firms that was first established back in 1988 (when Polartec was known by its original name, Malden Mills). Various initiatives followed in subsequent years, including the launch of a recycled range of Jack Wolfskin Polartec clothing in 1999. In fact, to date Polartec has recycled more than 1.8 billion plastic bottles, turning them into technical fabrics.
“A versatile layer that combines stylish looks with functional practicality and a sustainable ethos.”
Polartec Windbloc is the latest example: a three-layer fabric with a polyester face and lining, both of which are made from 100% recycled content. Sandwiched in between is Jack Wolfskin’s own Texapore Ecosphere waterproof-breathable membrane, which is also made entirely from reused/recycled materials.
Construction and Performance
The Blizzard is basically a membraned ‘hard face’ fleece, which ensures it is windproof and water repellent. But it’s also warm and reasonably breathable too, as well as being soft and comfortable thanks to a brushed inner lining. Pit zips under the arms also help you to dump heat fast.
On the outside of the jacket, the shoulders and lower sleeves are reinforced with an extra-robust 500-denier Oxford polyamide (nylon) fabric, which should be very resistant to abrasion from pack straps as well as general wear and tear. Unusually, the jacket is also equipped with a rollaway lightweight hood that stows neatly in the jacket collar. Other features include 2 hand pockets, a chest pocket and an inner pocket as well as an adjustable hem.
Overall then, we’d say that the Blizzard delivers similar levels of weather protection to a softshell jacket, but with added warmth. It’s not particularly lightweight or packable, but then it is primarily intended as a layer to wear all-day rather than stash in a pack. It’s probably not a piece you’ll bring backpacking or on lightweight hikes, but for day walks and weekend adventures in changeable weather, we can see this being a very useful grab and go piece.
Will Renwick, editor of Outdoors Magic
“I’m a big fan of fleece and this is a prime example of a very good one. It’s so snug and the weatherproofing really is impressive. I also liked the retro styling and laudable eco credentials. What’s more, I was particularly impressed by the durability – I do a lot of backpacking and I like the fact this has that ruggedness around the shoulders to prevent a heavy pack from causing any degradation.”
“It might be a little on the heavy side for the kind of summer long-distance hiking I do, but I can see it really coming into its own in wet, windy and cold winter conditions.”