CGR dons armour and tests the Neoshell jacket from newcomer Jöttnar – the hardshell with a soft side.
Constructed in a grade of Polartec® NeoShell® especially selected and tested by Jöttnar for hand feel and durability, it delivers true breathability, stretch and robustness in a lightweight and fully waterproof package. Streamlined, uncluttered, durable and athletically cut, Bergelmir is a modern day suit of armour.
Last season I tested out one of the first jackets to feature the new Neoshell, the Marmot Nabu used Polartec Neoshell as a softshell fabric pretty effectively and I found it a good shell fabric, breathable and waterproof.
Since then many brands have been adopting the Polartec Neoshell as a hardshell material and I’m seeing more and more of it around in both jackets and pants.
New kid on the block Jöttnar (pronounced Yot-nar) sent us both a jacket and a pair of bibs for test this winter. Based in Cardiff Jöttnar have quickly established themselves as a premium brand that specialises in clothing for extreme mountaineering. Jöttnar specialise in small volume garments made with high quality materials and are designed to be used in extreme conditions.
Now I’m a sucker for all things Scandinavian, I must own some equipment or clothing from most known Scandinavian brands so with a name like Jöttnar I was immediately hooked, with a jacket named Bergelmir (who in Norse mythology is a ‘frost giant) and a tagline Conquer Giants I was positively frothing.
The Jöttnar Bergelmir oozes quality, that the first thing to say. It is extremely well made which is not surprising looking at a price tag of £450. The attention to detail is amazing, the stitch count is high . The laser cutting is precise and all the fittings are well thought out and high quality. The Neoshell fabric had a nice soft feel to it, more like a softshell than the usual hardshell fabric and the whole jacket felt ‘soft’ to the touch. The Bergelmir was not a lightweight ‘leave in the pack until needed’ type of hardshell – it’s designed for extreme conditions and to be worn all day. Saying that it’s not overly heavy weighing in at 510g and packed down reasonably well.
The sample size sent was a size Medium, I’m a 38-40” chest and the jacket fitted over everything I wore for a winter day out – baselayer, fleece and insulated vest. Some days I wore an insulated jacket instead of the fleece. It went over everything well yet didn’t seem to be bulky and I could climb all day once I had it on. I never once felt the jacket impeded my climbing even though it would fit over everything.
The cut is great for winter climbing mountaineering and a lot of thought has gone into how the jacket will work with a harness on. The pockets are situated high on the torso and work with opposing hands. The large right hand pocket was big enough for an OS map and accessed with the left hand. The left hand pocket as smaller and accessed with the right hand. There was also an inside pocket which was beautifully patterned with the Jöttnar logo and big enough for valuables, a phone or a small camera. The pocket zips were YKK Aquacoil and worked well even in heavy rain. There was a zip garage to keep the zip tidy when climbing or when it was really windy, it was finished off with a nice rubber zip tag which was shaped in the Jöttnar logo.
The main zip was YKK Vislon. This worked really well, every time even with bulky gloves on. It was easy to locate and worked very smoothly. It was finished off with a large zip pull which again worked well. There was a comfortable chin guard that was finished with laminated microfleece and the beard guard was stiffened. The zip didn’t seem to leak even when I wore it in driving snow and hail as the storm flap worked effectively due to the slight stiffening.
All the drawcords were made from 3mm shockcord and the toggles worked well first time, every time. The hood drawcord was just a single cord and was very easy to use – I did find, however, that I had to be very careful to make sure the ends were very well tucked inside the jacket because they hurt like crazy when flapping about in the wind. This happened often as it’s not something you think instinctively when the wind begins to blow hard.
The all important hood was excellent, big enough to go over any helmet but adjustable enough to cinch down without one. The rear adjuster was easy to get hold of and adjust both ways, something that has let down very expensive hardshells in past reviews. So easy to find with nice big toggle that worked with gloves on – perfect! There was also a big, chunky feeling wire to the peak that, again, worked well with gloves. A very thin piece of padding made for an effective enough peak.
The Jöttnar Bergelmir was very waterproof and although I wear a hardshell for a variety of reasons (not just because it’s raining) it did a good job of keeping the rain out. The beauty of the Polartec Neoshell fabric is the speed at which it dries out and allows your baselayers to dry out – very rapidly. As I’ve stated in previous reviews it’s very difficult to stay completely dry in any clothing as moisture is leaking out of you as well as trying to leak in. But what I am looking for is that dampness to dry out when I’m climbing so I can begin to get warm. I found that once I’d thrown a belay jacket on it didn’t take long for me to dry out. All the seams were fully taped with a variety of tape widths, the tape being thicker where the jacket if more likely to be taking on water.
So in conclusion the Jöttnar Bergelmir has been a great hardshell jacket. I have no hesitation in awarding it the rare 5 stars for performance. I’ve worn the jacket in some pretty atrocious weather this season and for plenty of winter climbing and mountaineering. It really has done a great job of keeping me warm and dry and I feel I’ve been donning armour to do battle. It feels like a hardshell with a soft side and most of all it’s a great jacket to get out there and conquer giants. I’m pretty sure they’ll become a great, niche brand and hopefully Jöttnar will keep up the Scandinavian theme, even if they are based in Cardiff!
SRP: £450 – the Jöttnar Bergelmir comes in two colours Red and Black and three sizes S,M and L.
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