New Balance Windblocker ½ Zip Jacket Review
Now that winter is fully upon us, we all must reach for our cold-weather apparel. I have been wearing New Balance’s Windblocker ½ Zip Jacket through our recent stretch of record cold temps. I am happy to report that the jacket, while being relatively lightweight, kept me warm into the single digits with just a long-sleeve tech tee underneath. As an added bonus, the jacket is extremely visible from far distances, with reflective accents all over.
The Windblocker ½ Zip (as well as several other New Balance items) utilizes NB Heat® technology, which the company claims can increase the temperature of the skin by 2 degrees. I did notice that this technology only works when the body is generating heat. The jacket kept me warm on runs down to 5 degrees with only a long-sleeve tee underneath; however, it did not provide the same warmth while playing paintball in 30 degree weather (keeping in mind that paintball is 5 minutes movement followed by 5 minutes of inactivity over a several hour period). I also wore the jacket in some good old East Coast wintry mix, without having to worry about the wind or rain/snow getting through the seams.
The New Balance Windblocker ½ Zip has reflective highlights on the zipper, trim, back, and arms to make one visible to oncoming traffic. I tested the blue/green jacket, and noticed that the green fabric glows in the early morning light. Almost the entire back of the jacket, as well as parts of the sleeves, wrists, and neck are made with this reflective layer, which gives the runner an otherworldly feel just before sunrise. I cannot speak to the ‘glow’ of the blue/black or red/black versions.
Fabric and Other Aspects of the New Balance Windblocker 1/2 Zip Jacket
The jacket is made with an outer shell that is 100% polyester, which has a brushed interior to block the wind. Under this shell is a stretchy thermal fleece made of 88% polyester and 12% spandex. This fleece is where New Balance has incorporated the NB Heat® technology. I found that this semi-fitted jacket runs true to size, but does not leave a lot of extra room for multiple layers underneath. Fortunately, as I mentioned above, additional layers are not really necessary if you are staying active.
New Balance has also incorporated UV protection and Polygiene® technology into the exterior. In a prior review, I discussed my positive experience with Polygiene®. I was determined to give this technology a more rigorous test this time around, so I washed my dogs while wearing the jacket. I can honestly say that Polygiene® successfully repelled all odors from this, as well as all other activities I have performed in the Windblocker ½ Zip. I am open to suggestions on how to invalidate Polygiene® in the future.
The New Balance Windblocker ½ Zip Jacket has one zippered pocket, which is located on the back right. The location is great as you can keep the headphone cord out of the way along your back, but it does make for more difficult access while running. The relatively small pocket is only large enough for an iPod and some gels. I could not manage to fit my phone inside.
The only gripe I have with this jacket is that when fully zipped, it has a tendency to poke into your neck. I am hoping that this goes away as the fabric is broken in, but I have not noticed it yet.
All in all, New Balance did a great job of taking a lightweight jacket and making it work through some of the tougher conditions that runners face. And at a price point of under $100, it is budget friendly for a performance winter jacket.
For more information, please visit NewBalance.com.