Jöttnar’s über lightweight Hymir is a minimalist’s dream – a superb specialist mountain hardshell.
The Jöttnar Hymir has been in their line up now for three years, when it debuted it was the lightweight alternative to the bombproof Bergelmir. Last year it was joined by the full zip Asmund which used the same lighter weight Neoshell.
We reviewed the Asmund last year and found it a great mountain hard shell, it was tough enough to cope with the abuses of Scottish mixed climbing but light enough to disappear into your pack at a mere 330g. One minor downside we found was the Asmund’s ‘boxey’ cut meant that there was excess material around the abdomen which could overhang gear loops and obscure your feet at times. I’ve continued to use the Asmund including an Alpine summer trip and it’s still going strong proving surprisingly durable for such a lightweight jacket
The Hymir is the lightest of Jöttnar’s hard shells, in fact with an all up weight of only 279g (for my size small) the Hymir is an insanely light mountain shell. It’s not that long ago that this sort of weight would have been more than respectable for breathable waterproof running jackets for mountain marathons the fact that we are now getting mountain shells at this weight is incredible. We all have our own prejudices and preferences so I had better confess early on I like smocks. The pros and cons of jackets vs smocks can be boiled down to the ease of getting on and off and potentially greater ventilation for jackets against lighter weight and reduced bulk for the smocks of (and you’ll never have an issue trying to connect the zip in a gale with stiff fingers – not that that has ever happened to me. Honest!) A minimalist feature set consists of a deep front zipper, and single large chest pocket, just what you need for climbing and no extraneous features: perfect!
Jöttnar’s usual great hood design and generous sleeve length mean that vision and reach are not impeded in any way and they have clearly listened to feedback regarding the cut around the lower torso which is now trimmer whilst still providing room for layers and easy donning of the jacket. Besides the cut Jöttnar have also updated the cuffs and nylon face fabric. I continue to be impressed by the Neoshell fabric – the Asmund was my first experience of Neoshell and in my (admittedly anecdotal and non scientific) experience it feels more breathable than the alternatives especially in this lightweight configuration. The original face fabric had the added bonus of high friction on snow so you got less of a bivi bag toboggan effect – handy if you’re trying to self arrest 😉 For 2017 the face fabric is a more densely woven micro ripstop which should improve durability still further. The cuffs remain largely the same, easily adjusting to fit over or under gloves/gauntlets, but instead of the thin strip of velcro there is now a double width strip and the tab has curved profile (but it’s lost the funky Jöttnar logo) and if anything this makes them easier to adjust especially with gloves on.
I’ve used the Hymir winter climbing in the UK, running on the moors (a reflection on the poor Sottish season this year!) and cascade climbing in Italy. Again I’ve been struck be the breathability of the Neoshell and to be honest I can’t see me going back to a softshell for winter climbing. With a smock like the Hymir you have more than enough breathability to cope with the normal exertions of ice or mixed climbing and the added bonus that you can be fully waterproof and weathertight should conditions demand. Despite the lightweight fabric the Hymir has not been damaged the usual thrutching about or shouldering axes etc. but it is lightweight kit and if you have a penchant gabbro off-widths and the like then there are better choices out there. As I mentioned in the review of the Magni with the Hymir over the Magni and Uller I remained comfortable across a range of conditions in Italy from -6C starts to +4C descents and this pairing really does make an excellent combination for winter climbs.
The single large chest pocket easily held food en route as well as sunglasses, you could even get a small camera in there but with just the one pocket there is always the risk of fumbling stuff if it’s overloaded so I just tended to use it for food and sunnies. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the Hymir is the improved fit, the notable reduction in bulk around the midrift makes for a much more agile feeling jacket with no reduction in mobility and the hem stays firmly in place under a harness. A possible downside to the reduced bulk is the narrower body could be an issue when pulling the smock over your head if you tend toward the more muscular ‘broad shouldered’ physique – the Hymir has plenty of shoulder room when on but the lower torso/waist must by necessity be pulled over your shoulders.
For me the Hymir is a 5 star hardshell, the minimalist feature set and smock configuration suits my winter climbing and alpine usage (it’ll be accompanying me to Chamonix in the Spring) but be aware that these features (or lack thereof) also make it a bit of a specialist piece that may not suit more general usage compared to other options like the Asmund etc.
Richie is the enthusiastic amateur of the team. Enjoying all aspects of climbing but especially alpine, winter and his local grit . Having managed to survive the vagaries of both fluorescent Koflachs and rainbow tights in the 80s he looks forward to an even more stylish future. A shady past in mountain marathons and adventure races, including the Marathon des Sables, means he’s an advocate of fast and light. Though the former is debatable if you’ve seen him on a tricky lead!