Fenrir Down Jacket | jottnar.com | $250 |
The U.K. company Jottnar bills its Fenrir as a hydrophobic down jacket.
That is not a typo, even though down insulation and water have historically mixed like oil and vinegar. I wore the Fenrir as an outer jacket in driving rain and sleet in Iceland, and early season ice climbing in Colorado, where I was blasted with ice water and wrung half a cup of water from my gloves between pitches. The Fenrir got wet but it didn’t become the clumped, useless sponge I would have expected. It became instead what I’d describe as heavily damp but still insulating, and it dried overnight at room temperature, a bit of a miracle for feathers.
To achieve its wet-weather performance, the Fenrir uses DownTek down and has synthetic insulation in the areas apt to take on the most water: the cuffs, hem and collar. A healthy durable-water-repellent (DWR) treatment sheds water.
The DownTek down is the real key, though. DownTek is down treated with a water repellent. The treatment is environmentally friendly, and the down conforms to the Responsible Down Standard: No live plucking or force feeding, and this makes the jacket feel a bit warmer, at least for your heart. DownTek claims to absorb 30 percent less water than untreated down and to dry 60 percent faster. Those numbers seem conservative unless you are dunking the jacket in a pool, but I won’t argue.
The Fenrir is what I consider an “active” jacket, with roughly .-inch of insulation and a total weight of 15 ounces. In sub-freezing temps to around 0 degrees, it is warm by itself if you are moving, yet not so hot that you have to strip off to lead. Stand still and you will desire another layer, as this isn’t a belay parka. Easily enough done, as the Fenrir is so form fitting I often pulled the sleeves inside out while peeling it off.
Features are spare. The Fenir has two hand-warming pockets and an inside zip pocket. A contouring hood extends the jacket’s usefulness and fits nicely over a helmet. The hood lacks a drawcord but contours so well even when you are bareheaded it doesn’t need one.
Who could use the Fenrir? Just about anyone. Craggers will like that it stows easily in the top lid of a pack. Ice and alpine climbers will appreciate
that it delivers the warmth-to-weight ratio of down while taking sloppy conditions like water off a goose’s back.
This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 233 (April 2016).