A friend of mine in high school had something that he called a ‘jack-shirt.’ It was an insulated jacket that looked for all the world like an oddly bulky flannel shirt. I hadn’t really seen one since then until I was introduced to the Winter Bullwheel jacket from Outdoor Research, but boy was this a different beast: OR’s jack-shift was techy and stylish, not the bulky flannel quasimodo that I knew from high school. To find out just how different it was, though, would need nothing less than a Feed the Habit review.
OR Winter Bullwheel Jacket Features:
- Wind and Water Resistant
- Movement-Mirroring Stretch
- Internal Front-Zip Stormflap
- Zippered Chest Pocket
- Chest Snap Pocket
- Snap Cuff Closures
- Curved Hem
- Price: $175
Classic style meets outdoor tech
Outdoor Research calls the Winter Bullwheel jacket one of their ‘staff favorites.’ It’s easy to imagined the team of wizened skiier-cum-designers that OR employs lounging around a rustic office space as they compare wrinkles and sun spots with one another. As I picture it, they’re all feeling comfortably relaxed and sporting the Winter Bullwheel jacket. It’s built for comfort and style, but OR wasn’t afraid to include some technical touches.
The most obvious techy bit is the stretch that comes from the 5% spandex that is incorporated into the Winter Bullwheel’s mostly polyester weave. The fabric moves with you easily and would almost be just at home shooting a game of pool as reaching up for a crimp. It’s perfect for maintaining a sleek look that doesn’t restrict your movements at all.
I live in the Northwest and, since moving up from Nevada three years ago, I have learned that rain comes like a thief in the night; it might simply appear, drench your worldly belongings and leave; or it might settle in and linger over the earth for days at a time. As such, I basically expect that every piece of my clothing should be able to survive a severe drenching. While some might say that waterproofing my underwear, socks and copy of Freedom of the Hills was overkill (what do they know!), jackets like the Winter Bullwheel make me feel completely vindicated – sure, it’s a stylish jacket, but it’s also treated with a DWR to keep the rain off. It works great, and the fabric is also windproof. And no, I haven’t windproofed my underwear yet. That would be silly.
The inside of the jacket is a nice checkerboard which holds the polyester Thermore insulation in place. The jacket is warm enough to wear by itself in fall temperatures down into the 50’s or so, but it’s definitely not a ‘warm’ jacket per se. That comfortable fit makes it possible to layer pretty creatively beneath it, but the jacket itself is only meant as a lightly insulated outer layer.
There are a couple of really classy touches that round the jacket off nicely; I’m a fan of the button closures on the cuffs and the zipper, which has an internal stormflap, pulls very easily. The jacket has three pockets (two hand pockets, one zippered chest and one buttoned chest) and the hand pockets are fleece-lined for warmth. At times, the way these pockets are built cause them to puff out and look a little odd, but if you pull the hem down they’ll go back to looking sleek. My only criticism is that this jacket had a few more pulled threads than what I’m used to seeing from OR’s quality control department. It doesn’t affect the function of the jacket but as an aesthetic point it’s worth noting.
- Subtle flannel pattern is nicely executed
- Stretchy, water- and wind-resistant fabric is excellent for around town
- The zipper pulls very easily and has never snagged
- Fleece-lined pockets are especially nice
- Slight QC issues with pulled threads
- Pockets are large and tend to puff out awkwardly
The Bottom Line: OR Winter Bullwheel Jacket
The Winter Bullwheel is sleek and its clever use of technology really complements its appearance. The combination of looks and tech makes it perfect for around-the-town pursuits when the weather is unpredictable.
Buy Now: Available at REI.com