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Insulated Jackets

Jöttnar Fjorm Down Jacket

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MSRP: $590

BEST FOR: Ice and alpine climbing

F(j)orm definitely follows function in the Jöttnar Fjorm Hydrophobic Down Jacket. The second you put this thing on you feel a bit like the Michelin Man—bulky, covered in downy goodness, and ready to crush.

Jöttnar is a British company (though the name is Norwegian) that specializes in high-end ski and mountaineering apparel, and the Fjorm is one of their showpiece items.The insulation factor with this jacket has proven second-to-none. I wore it throughout an entire minus 15 degree day in Rocky Mountain National Park and was comfortable the whole time (except for being too hot while on the sharp end!). I’d feel confident relying on this thing in temps another ten or twenty degrees colder—at least.

With 850-fill goose down, the Fjorm packs down super efficiently. After you cram it into its stuff sack, it’s probably about the size of a corner- and edge-less shoebox, and easily compresses to half that again if desired. It weighs a grand total of 22 ounces.

The construction of the jacket aids in its superior insulation. The torso has box baffling, meaning that none of the seams are sewn straight through; instead there are interior walls in the baffles to keep the down filling segmented, yet still ensure that there are always feathers between your body and the elements, at every spot. The outer material is a ripstop fabric that held up to newly sharpened ice picks as I draped my tools over my shoulder and was unaffected by clawing branches as I bushwhacked on wooded approaches.

I’ve found the Fjorm to be the perfect belay jacket. The zipper can be opened from the bottom, so you can make room for your belay device without getting everything all bunched up.The hood is designed to go over a helmet, so you can be fully kitted up after a pitch, throw this over your shell and all, and get warm fast. The hood has a semi-stiff brim to keep spindrift and falling ice out of your face. The draw cords at the hem are easy to operate with heavy gloves on and cinch up the bottom nice and evenly.

The fleece-lined elastic cuffs are gentle on the skin and easy to get on and off over other layers. One small gripe: the elastic band within the cuff does seem to fold and twist in weird ways and occasionally bunches up strangely under the gaiters of larger gloves or mittens.

Another welcome feature is a big internal mesh pocket that is handy for shoving your climbing gloves into to get warm and dry while belaying in your bigger mittens.

The Fjorm shines on the coldest days here in Colorado, whether ice climbing or skiing. While we consider it the ideal heavy item for anything from day-trips to alpine ascents, it is probably a couple features shy of being the single, be-all-end-all high-altitude expedition jacket you’d take to the Himalayas or Denali. The seams on the sleeves are sewn straight through, so you’re sacrificing some insulation there, and this piece is probably not quite long enough for the coverage you’d want in those extreme conditions.

But for literally any other ice climbing or alpine climbing endeavor, particularly in extreme cold, this thing is likely to be the warmest, best jacket you’ve ever had.

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Rock and Ice vigorously tests all gear it reviews for either 50 days or 50 pitches. This is a time-consuming process and limits the amount of new equipment we can present to our readers. Every year hundreds of new products hit store shelves, and most of these aren’t reviewed due to our stringent selection and review process. To better keep you more up to date on what is new, we present First Look. Gear in First Look has not always been field tested, but is gear we think you’d like to know about as soon as it is available. Some of the gear will be reviewed using our 50 days/50 pitches criteria, in future print and online editions of Rock and Ice. We have opted to use affiliate links in our gear reviews. Every time you buy something after clicking on links in our gear articles you’re helping support our magazine.