With autumn quickly moving into position, it’s time we serve you with a “season appropriate” garment review. This one will be soft, warm and comfy, since we’ll be taking a closer look at the new Wolfhound light insulated jacket, made by a company we all know and love, Helikon from Poland.
This review was made possible by our friends at Hwesta.eu.
The wolfhound jacket is part of the Helikon’s “outback line”. This is their way of categorising the common usage of the item at hand. In this line of products, they placed items like the Outdoor Tactical Shorts (OTS) and their Windrunner Lightweight Windshirt. These are just some of the items that every serious outdoorsy person needs to take a look at, since the designers know their stuff. Helikon produced some amazing garments over the years with designs based on actual operator/user feedback and the jacket in this review is no different.
First, like always, some numbers. The jacket weighs 490 grams and can be packed in a 15 x 15 x 10 cm package. With its super packable insulation material and smooth outer shell material it really deserves some serious consideration, when buying a new mid-layer jacket.
It comes packed in it’s own colour matching stuff sack, which is closed with some cordage and a plastic cord lock. Unfortunately this sack does not have a compression strap on it, so the full packing potential of the jacket is not used. The stuff bag sports a carry handle on the bottom, which can be used to attach it to a backpack for fast access to the jacket.
When the jacket is in the bag, it tends to fill all available space. Since the bag is purposely oversized to make packing easier, this leaves quite a bit of extra space for it to fill. So when using the bag for storage, we suggest using a separate compression strap to fully use its packing potential. We used a Nite Ize Gear Tie.
The sizing is what you would expect. If you normally wear size L t-shirts, then you need to get yourself an L sized jacket. It might seem like a tight fit, but if you plan to use it as intended, this is fine.
If you plan to wear it casually as a stand alone jacket over a hoodie or something similar, we suggest you go for one size bigger than your normal sizes. The sizing chart is also available on Helikon’s web site, you you can be sure you got the right one. The jacket is available in five colours. Black, Coyote, Camogrom (Multicam), Shadow Grey and Alpha Green. The colours are true, so if you buy Coyote, you get Coyote. Not Khaki, Shit Brown or some nonsense shade of brown.
This is the part, where stuff gets even better. The jacket features some of the best materials out there with some awesome details, which make this one stand out from the crowd.
Helikon uses only the best materials on the market to produce their items. This jacket is no exception, as the materials used are not some cheap knockoffs.
The main materials are 100% nylon and Climashield® Apex™ insulation (67 g/m2). Climashield® insulation lasts throughout the lifetime of the product – it’s what they call durable warmth. No matter how many times the garment is stretched, compressed or washed, the insulation is resilient under harsh conditions, holding its original shape after multiple uses or launderings.
It’s super packable and does not loose its insulation properties after being stuffed in its bag or in a cargo pocket. It works its magic even in wet conditions. If it gets wet, it pushes all of the moisture away from the body to the outer layer. There it dries quickly and efficiently, while keeping the user warm through the whole time.
These features were tested extensively over a 30 day period and we must say it has outperformed every garment in its category. It has done more than its job while sleeping outdoors in a hammock and served its purpose as a mid layer garment on 12 hour long night shifts.
Rip-stop nylon outer shell provides durability, secures insulation material and provides crucial wind and water resistance without blocking the breathability. It’s smooth and does not get caught on other materials when layering.
The inner shell material is also 100% rip-stop nylon, but does not feel like a plastic bag when wearing over a t-shirt. Combined with the fore mentioned insulation material, it does not become “clammy” during physical activities.
The zippers are all made by YKK, which means you have nothing to worry about if/when rough handling them. If they catch some fabric, just unzip and re-zip. If you are in a hurry, no problem, the zippers will withstand almost anything.
The collar is lined with micro fleece for ultimate cold protection in harsher environments. At temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius, it’s still comfortable, even when performing physical tasks. In combination with a fleece cap, it completely protects the back of the neck from wind chill.
The sleeve cuffs are made of thin, elastic and breathable nylon material. They are designed for a minimal profile to allow for easier layering. They are not adjustable, but this is good, since the adjustment tabs would only widen the overall profile. They are elastic enough to be pulled on and off over bigger/fatter watches.
On the lower end you can find an almost traditional pull cord. Why almost you ask? Well because this is the only jacket i have seen so far, that has the cord inserted only on the sides. Some 15 centimetres of it on each side. This is an outstanding feature, as i always tighten only the back part on other jackets.
This is where user feedback is evident, as it not only saves some weight, but also makes the jacket more comfortable. While wearing the jacket on a security job and using a fanny pack, i could stuff the front part under the pack, leave the back out and tightened the elastic cord. Perfect thermal insulation in combination with other gear.
The elastic cord tension is regulated by one plastic mug style cord lock on each side. I did not notice any markings, but i think it’s safe to assume they are made by Duraflex or equivalent as the quality is evident right away. The mug shape allows the lock to be fixed to the jacket, so one handed manipulation is possible.
Under the armpits, there is no venting zipper. Again, with layering in mind, this is a good thing. A zipper would only make a potential pressure point. To avoid this, Helikon has put the same material as on the sleeve cuffs, under the armpits which allow excess heat to dissipate. With the combination of the upper layer jacket vent hole, it reduces sweating greatly.
One more detail needs to be mentioned, before we leave you with your thoughts. On the left upper sleeve, they placed a 8,5 x 10,5 centimetre “loop” panel. Unit, ID, morale and other patches are welcome. The base material is unique to Helikon items and is much softer that the rest.
When packing, you don’t even feel it’s there, if there are no patches present. If you place a patch on there, it will hold firmly. The loops are soft and plentiful, so any “hook” side of the patch will be held in place tightly.
As i’m writing this, i get a warm fuzzy feeling inside as i remember the testing period of the jacket. Everyone else was either cold or over dressed. With the temperatures swaying from 5 degrees at night to 25 during the day, it was really difficult to prepare for all occasions. You could pack a separate bag for the clothes, or you could just stuff this jacket in there. On minimum 12 hour shifts, it was not like you could just go back to your hammock and change, so you had to carry everything you need with you. This jacket was a life saver which took up no space at all. When it rained, it rained for at least three days straight. This is where the jacket stood out again. When it got wet, all it needed was a rough hour of drying under some kind of roof and it back to normal. While it was wet, it still held its form and functions. Supremely comfortable to sleep in and perfectly adjustable for any situation. It passed all tests with flying colours and has earned its place in my heart and my backpack.
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