Wen Times Boreas Winter Jacket Review

This is a product review of the Wen Times Boreas winter jacket.  The sample was provided by its distributor Naturality.

The Boreas is a low bulk, relatively light weight jacket based on a new insulating material, originally developed by NASA for spacesuit insulation.  The filling is called silica aerogel.

Here are some highlights from Wen Times Indiegogo’s crowdfunding campaign website[1]:

  • With extreme temperatures in mind, we brought you the thinnest, warmest, and most fitted winter jacket ever made. This jacket consists of silica aerogel, the highly resistant and lightweight material researched and developed by NASA to insulate spacesuits.
  • No more bulky layers to stay warm! As thin as just two millimeters of foil, the aerogel filling will maintain your core temperature in any weather condition, ensuring complete comfort and protection for your next chilly adventure.
  • Essential safety comes first. From the hood to the ribbed waistband, and down to the cuffs—every inch of the Boreas is 100% resistant to flames and ignition.
  • Coffee spills and grease stains will no longer ruin your day. The Boreas all-round resistance to stains will keep dirt away from your clothes, and from the fun!
  • The Boreas interior is fully covered with a film of the nano-silver coating.

Widely known for their anti-bacterial properties, the silver nanoparticles nested into the fabric can also enable the lining layer to reflect near-infrared wavelengths back toward your skin, maintaining the temperature inside the jacket while preventing the loss of body heat.

  • The two aerogel-filled pockets, spacious and conveniently designed on the sides of your jacket, will keep your hands warm and comfortable even in the coldest winter conditions.
  • MSRP US$499

[1] https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/boreas-the-warmest-jacket-made-with-nasa-tech#/

Quality & Construction Review:

The manufacturing quality and attention to detail in producing the Boreas jacket is excellent.  All the seams line up, stitching is uniform throughout.  The outer material feels very smooth, somewhat slick, and soft.

All zippers function smoothly. Though, perhaps as a result of its newness, getting the main zipper fully engaged in the retainer box is sometimes balky. The main zipper has two pulls, so that you can unzip from either the top or bottom.  Because of this, you need to get the lug through the lower zipper pull and then the retainer box.

The interior shell is as nicely finished as the outer shell.  The sleeves and back have a silver reflective liner.

The four outer pockets are large and properly finished, as is the one zippered inside pocket.  There is an additional open chest pocket on the inside.

There are elastic cuffs on the inside of the sleeves along with Velcro straps to further secure the ends of the sleeves.  Inside, there is an elastic waist band that has a slip catch to ensure both outside air and snow don’t come up under the jacket.  The slip catch is a little difficult to slide together.  At this point it is hard to judge the durability of the slip catch.

They have included a digital thermometer strip on the inside lapel of the jacket.  While the readout appears reasonably accurate, the practicality is questionable.  But it fits with their marketing theme.

The hood is fully adjustable to fit snugly and comfortably around your head.  I would recommend that some sort of storage, for example into a built-in pocket beneath the neck guard, be considered for when the hood is not being used.

Fit:

I was provided a medium sized Boreas jacket.  I normally wear medium in outwear whether a ski jacket, lightweight jacket, or coat.  However, I found the Boreas too tight from an activity point of view.  The jacket fit me snuggly and was fine for just walking about.  However, there was not enough room to comfortably raise or swing my arms.  The arm holes and material across the back of the coat would not comfortably permit movements as you would normally do in outdoor sports.

Even though according to their sizing chart I would expect the M to fit:

My measurements are chest 96 cm, waist 81 cm, weight 64.8 kg.  All well within their chart’s range for M.  The only measurement that I was outside of the chart M was for height at 172.7 cm.

Since the Boreas jacket fit OK for just walking about, it would appear that additional expanding or stretch material be considered around the arm holes and across the back to enable active movement.

Insulation results:

The first test was by nature subjective.  Wearing the Boreas in cold ambient temperatures, felt nicely warm and remained that way for extended walks.  It appears that the combination of reflective lining and the silica aerogel did a good job.

Since comfort is clearly subjective (even with the ability to reference the built-in thermometer), I decided to do a more scientific test of the insulating ability of the Boreas jacket. 

Cold ‘pass-through’ testing

To see how well the Boreas insulated against outside cold temperatures, I used a frozen cooler pack.  To monitor the temperature in the jacket, a wireless Bluetooth digital thermometer was placed on top of a microfiber towel, inside of the jacket, with the jacket closed over the thermometer.   The frozen cooler pack was placed above the location of the thermometer on the outside of the jacket and covered with several microfibers towels and a book to ensure the frozen cooler pack remained in full contact with the coat.  A digital timer was used to indicate 5, 10 and 15 minutes passing for the temperature measurements.

In addition to the Boreas jacket, for comparison purposes, a regular non-insulated but lined jacket, an Omni-Heat vest and a standard ski jacket with Thinsulate™ Lite Loft™ Insulation were all tested.  In each case, one of four identical frozen cooler packs was taken directly from the freezer and placed as noted above the location of the thermometer on the outside of the respective jacket at the start of the test.

Frozen cooler pack results:

As can be seen in the table, the Boreas performed second best of the four jackets in its ability to insulate and reduce cold transfer.

Preliminary Conclusions

The Boreas jacket is a very well made and executed cold weather jacket.  It does a good job reflecting one’s own body heat back and retaining it while blocking the incursion of outside air.

It has great storage, wind, water and dirt rejection capabilities.

As noted, there are a few areas that could be improved: an easier means of securing the waist band, a self-storage area for the hood, and more accurate sizing or the inclusion of flexible material around the arm holes and upper back.

5 out of 5 for quality

5 out of 5 for innovativeness

3 out of 5 for fit.

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