Snaefell jacket from 66 North – a test review

snaefell jacket

Created and flown in directly from Iceland to be distributed around the world, the Snaefell jacket from 66 North had a mission to accomplish. Goal: to insulate, protect and keep the outdoor athlete dry in all sorts of weather and most importantly, give no chance of suffocating confinement! Keep the jacket on!

Not a very easy task, if you ask me. As an active person in the mountains, you will remember your basics to layer your garments using the onion principal. With that in mind, it meant taking off the layers to allow excessive body heat to escape in order to increase performance. So every time you take a layer off or on it takes a few moments it can be a hassle. But that’s what we have learnt from the old school. And sometimes, you are not standing with your two feet on the ground and you very much want to take off the jacket because you overheat. Will this be history with the Snaefell Jacket? Lets take a closer look.

Iceland knocking on my door

It took a while but then suddenly, the Snaefell Jacket stood right in front of the door, in my hands. I couldn’t believe it! Flown in directly from Iceland, I could still feel the rest of the icy cold conditions from Iceland in the package. It’s wonderful red glowed pleasantly in my eyes as I tried the jacket on for the first time. It was soft, yet I could feel how well each detail of the jacket was designed. It has a hoody that fits perfectly well over your head with or without a helmet. Straps at the edges and behind the hoody secures the hoody well over the face and secures it from flying away from any gusts of wind. The seams were all flat seamed taped and gave me the impression that this jacket would stand a good outburst of rain. 2 front zipped pockets, big enough to put a compact camera or bulky gloves in it and inner zippable pockets at the waist and the chest. Not sexy when you do that, but practical. The outer zippers are all laminated and definitely waterproof. The arm cuffs can be tightened with velcro fastenings. Elastic straps at the bottom of the jacket makes sure that the insulation won’t run away when you need more.

snaefell jacket

Our first date out

The first trial with the jacket was in the Austrian Alps on an Outdoor Meet where dates were fix regardless of wind and weather. But as Petrus (the weather Saint) wanted it, he sent us loads of rain. I was happy I had my Snaefell Jacket with me. It kept me insulated and dry. You could see how the water pearls off the jacket instantly from the rain.  When heat builds up inside the jacket, you can feel how it slowly disperses out of the jacket, perhaps sometimes a little too slowly for me . You can help by opening the front zipper pockets. Nevertheless, as a hard shell, this was great! Never before have you felt more comfortable wearing your outer layer and not perspire thoroughly till the skin. Forget the days when you feel like you’re wearing a piece of plastic.

I had the jacket along on different trips and sport activities. I climbed, hiked and yes I even went under a huge 40m waterfall (after a long hunt for the perfect waterfall)  for the extreme rainfall test and came out dry!! The amount of water that gushed over the body is not the amount of rain you would normally expect. It was certainly stronger than usual and I had hope that no stones or tree stumps came down along with the water. But the jacket held what it had promised, and I came out absolutely dry, except for my tummy, where I forgot to close the pocket zippers while taking my waterfall shower. The hood was comfortable and allowed movement while protecting your head from getting wet. The drawstring around and at the back of the head keeps the hood in place and never blocks your view. The visor at the front makes wearing a cap redundant and keeps out rain or snow away from your face. Helmets fits well under the hoody without any problems.  A 2-way laminated YKK Zipper with windprotecting inner-fold keeps wind and water out of the jacket.

I have always asked myself why 66 north designed their jackets with pockets so uncomfortable at the front. These front pockets are placed high up, almost reaching the upper torso. Well, my answer came when I had a backpack on my back and closed the belt of the backpack. Your pockets were still accessible and your stuff  isn’t clamped by the belt. So any bulk caused by the stuff in your pockets is held above the belt. Say goodbye to feeling car keys and smartphones in your hips.

Breatheability

Polartec®s fabric Neoshell® (48% Nylon, 25% Polyester, 27% Polyurethane) used in this jacket, came out in October 2011. And together with the Snaefell jacket, they won the Ispo Outdoor Award in 2011. Since then it has been the answer to many problems regarding breathability in a waterproof jacket. It is almost completely windproof too , yet allows sufficient air permeability so that moist vapor can escape from the jacket. According to the manufacturer the fabric withstands 10.000mm of water pressure, which is sufficient for any downpour. Any number beyond this number is pointless, more likely you will be wetter from sweat instead. However after a few washes, water permiability is likely to increase. The Neoshell was designed to liberate outdoor enthusiasts from the suffocation they have been living with for decades, and thank goodness they did!

snaefell_jacket_6

Features I liked:

  • soft and strechy, almost like a softshell
  • breathable
  • dependable
  • good quality manufacture
  • Light weight
  • Robust
  • many multipurpose pockets (I must confess, as a woman, this is a great feature!!)
  • Helmet friendly
  • Comfortable even in your harness.
  • Loop for hanging the jacket.
  • Not having to put the jacket on and take off all the the time.
  • no rustling like a plastic bag

Features that I didn’t like:

  • the visor was heavy when not in use. I could feel the weight pulling the hoody down, and whenever I put my backpack up my back, it tangles and twists up. I did wish to have it all tucked in when not in use.
  • The zippers were a little too tight. Then again, I’d rather have zippers being too tight than too loose and the hassle of keeping them closed.
  • The breast pocket is a tweak too small for any smartphones or electronic devices. I love keeping them there and this is the perfect access especially when I need them often.

Uff, not much to say there actually. This jacket really has it all.

Summary

The Snaefell jacket made a start and puts a whole new meaning to the future hard shells.  The fabric is soft and stretchy, and feels comfortable even under your harness. On cooler, dry days, I used the jacket even while it was not raining. It served well to protect from wind and insulated the body from the strong, chilly gusts from the mountains. It was hard to believe I was using a hard shell. I have never been happier to know that I have a jacket I can depend on when weather changes for the worse. A great companion in the Alps and suitable for many sport activities in the mountains.

The jacket comes in red, black and yellow, weighs 480 g (womans jacket, size S) and is priced around 348,- EUR – regular price, and is available online and at your local retail stores.

66°NORTH was founded in Iceland in 1926.  They specialize in outdoor clothings thats warm, technical, yet includes all aspects of a comfort wear. Their design is playful, modern, and yet durable. 66°NORTH began with protective-wear designed to shield the Icelandic workforce from the elements. Over the past 10 years the company has grown extensively and is considered an expert in the production of outdoor clothing. The company merges high quality technical fabrics with technical designs and offers a wide selection of protective clothing for all occasions with their slogan at  66°NORTH: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing”.

 

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