- Buyer's Guide
Relwen Windzip Jacket Review
You might be surprised to learn that Relwen was started 14 years ago, in Ohio. Like the founders, I spent my summers around the Great Lakes, visiting my aunt and uncle in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. Nestled between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, it wasn’t unusual to see some chilly nights, even in July and August. I wish I had a jacket like the Windzip back then.
Despite starting out with a military parka, I still consider the Relwen Windzip Jacket to be the brand’s signature top. Available in eight colorways, there’s something to fit every person’s unique tastes. I went for the admittedly safe choice of Midnight but the Chalk and Dark Orange really have my attention.
The Windzip’s exterior is semi-water-resistant, comprised of mostly nylon with a bit of spandex for that stretch, and is very breathable. It’s lined again with a similar mix of polyester and spandex and boasts a 60-gram fill of 100% recycled polyester insulation, with 1″ horizontal quilting. What does all this mean? From a practical standpoint, it means it:
– Will keep you pretty dry in a light drizzle or morning fog but you probably don’t want to stand in a rainstorm with it.
– Has good stretch so you can move about on your hikes, dog walks, or rock scramble up the side of a hill.
– Features light fill; enough to keep you warm and puffy enough for some nice padding, but does not resemble a technical and large puffy jacket.
Rounding out the features are hand pockets lined with a soft brushed tricot, a stand-up collar to stave off crisp winds and a dual closure system consisting of quick closure snaps with a two-way zipper giving you flexibility and reinforcement.
Who It Suits
This is an ideal jacket for someone who needs a grab-and-go, do-anything jacket. This person lives in an area with cold weather but not freezing temperatures. The Relwen Windzip Jacket would best serve someone who cares about how a jacket fits on them and how it looks and is attracted by design elements like complementary colors. Lastly, the jacket is suited for someone who yearns for a garment that is a jack of all trades.
Who It Doesn’t
The Windzip Jacket is not ideal for the consumer who is perhaps price-sensitive or seeking the best value for money. At $258, some might consider it pricey, especially if performance as a ratio of cost is a goal. The jacket, as mentioned, comes in many colors. But even the most muted color could be too much for a conservative dresser. The jacket is also not ideal for someone who needs true waterproofing or performance in extremely cold conditions.
Grab a tall boy and sit back because there’s a lot to love here. Relwen’s own copy focuses a lot on the material choice and that’s for good reason. Your experience with the jacket is largely dependent on how it feels on you; what it’s made of and how it’s constructed. The polyester + spandex combination has become fairly popular for modern technical clothing. But the Windzip has a small secret up its sleeves. It uses spandex jersey for the lining to give a slightly softer touch against your skin.
I usually lean towards jackets with a full or partial zip or closure in front, rather than pullovers which oddly feel a little restrictive and stuffy to me. Luckily the Windzip Jacket has both a two-way zipper and snap closures. The zipper features a large coil for smoother operation. I appreciate the two-way feature as well since it allows me to open the waist area a little bit for some after-dinner breathing room! Finally, the snaps give flexibility. You can either use them to reinforce the front closure or in lieu of the zipper when you need to get things closed up ASAP when stepping out of the car or home.
Aesthetically I’d consider the Relwen one of the best-looking jackets in my closet right now. They are not afraid of bold colors but it’s done in a very tasteful way. I would describe it as adventurous but not enough to spook anyone who dresses a little conservatively. In other words, it gives a hint of adventure and intrigue while being totally passable for a restaurant meal or slightly dressier outing. I think the elements that add to this are the color and texture differences between the lining and the outer, a bolder shade of color around the 5/8″ wide cuffs and along the center length of the jacket, by the zipper.
The stand-up collar, a favorite feature of mine in any jacket, is double-layer quilted and lined with a soft brushed tricot. This simply translates to keeping the wind and cold out of your neck! I also really enjoy the athletic fit. This just means it’s slightly slimmer and shorter, which makes the silhouette a little sleeker. However, this is all really body-dependent. More on that later.
Not So Good
There isn’t much to dislike about the Relwen Windzip Jacket. First on the shortlist is perhaps the price. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for the quality and performance you receive, not to mention a unique and attractive design. I view this as an investment piece that I would save up for.
Despite having the beefy zippers and snap option, I do find that engaging the zipper can be cumbersome. I am not sure if it has to do with alignment or perhaps (lack of) lubrication but it sometimes takes me a few tries for things to get going. This could be just needing more experience with the jacket as well.
As you can tell from the photos, the Windzip is not constructed like other “puffy” or filled jackets. Many of these are also constructed with polyester but are often a ripstop shell material that steers towards more technical performance (and looks the part as well). They also often have less soft lining materials and are designed to offer maximum warmth while packing down very small. This is not the case with the Windzip Jacket. It does not compress well. I don’t think this is really a con but you just need to be aware of what you’re buying.
Lastly, I touched on this before: I love the fit of the jacket but I do think it’s really body-dependent. I have the jacket in a Size Medium and I am 5 feet 8 inches tall. I like this size to accommodate my waist/chest but as a result, the jacket is a little long for me in the length and the arms. But this is a common problem with many tops I wear. It doesn’t bother me but depending on posture or stance, the Windzip can look a little bunched up when fully zipped.
It’s probably no surprise that I am a huge fan of the Relwen Windzip Jacket. I wanted to add one to my wardrobe ever since I saw it introduced. The choice of attractive colorways, dual closure, light but warm fill, athletic fit, and stretch capabilities really add up to a total package. I find myself grabbing this jacket more and more any time I go out. And I see that frequency increasing as we start entering fall and winter months.