Very occasionally a bit of kit comes in to GWA HQ and it makes you a bit nervous, a little bit on edge. The Jottnar Alfar mid layer is such a piece of kit. Why? Well first off the tag line is ‘Conquer Giants’ and secondly Jottnar is a company set-up and founded by not one, but two former Royal Marines, who are clearly rufty types who know a thing or seven about staying alive in some pretty inhospitable conditions.
So enter one almost middle-aged reviewer whose terrain mostly consists of the terrifying aisles of the local supermarket followed by some dog walking in the local forestry land with the occasional weekend hike chucked in. When GWA’s Ed said ‘here, test this’ I did briefly think he’d lost his mind… as mine wibbled in fear.
Anyhow, once I’d pulled myself together a little bit, the Alfar graced my back and there it has stayed for many weeks, in fact I’ve only just washed it as I was starting to feel a bit guilty about not looking after it.
It has been with me down those supermarket aisles, it’s been on countless dog walks, both up hill and down dale, and on some seriously good stomps, it’s kept the chill off in our un-centrally heated house and I even slept in it during an end of season camping session. Oh and it’s been to the pub once or twice…never let it be said that I’m not hospitable!
It’s labelled as a mid layer, but is also perfectly suitable to be worn as a outer layer during some of these unseasonably warm winter days as the main body is insulated with a breathable ‘Neutron’ synthetic padding, which is then wrapped in a windproof and water-resistant rip stop nylon.
However when layered under a jacket, you do rather notice the Alfar’s USP – it is super flexible and moveable. Gone are the days where you feel like the Michelin man thanks to the super stretchy sleeves and side panels – these are constructed of Polartec’s Power Stretch Pro.
Now I do like to get a serious pace on when I’m out walking and can often end up feeling a bit claggy when layered up, not so with the Alfar – it is really breathable alongside being windproof etc… clearly there is some dark Commando magic in play! So I think this would be an excellent choice for those engaged in much more physical activities, such a mountain biking and climbing – indeed the pockets & hood have been designed with a helmet and harness in mind.
Now onto that hood. As you can see from the video on GWA’s Facebook page, it really does work in some seriously blustery conditions and that’s what you want when super exposed. The design bods have really thought about the use of materials as the Polartec power stretch pro is around the neck and sides meaning that once again movement is not compromised, nor is visibility thanks to the cut, the Neutron padding comes up and over your head keeping the heat in. The inside is lined with a lovely soft fleece and the zip has also been carefully covered at the top, protecting our little faces.
However, and I appreciate that this is vanity, bit I did rather feel a bit like a deep sea diver when worn up huddled around the fire at our last camping trip and indeed various ‘humorous’ comments were thrown my way. However when pulled down that high front does make a rather handy in-built neck gaiter.
For further wind resistance the bottom on the Alfar has a toggle system allowing you to cinch it in a bit, although I must confess to not using this.
Styling wise my test version was discreet, with just a subtle touch of femininity in the addition of a purple zip. A glance at the Jottnar website reveals that it is also available is some pretty bright and cheerful colour-ways. It’s also available in a mens version, although I have to say that the womens’ fit does feel like it’s been designed specifically for us girls and our various curves – and not just a ‘shrink it and pink it’ version of the mens.
One thing I did find a bit annoying at times is that the inside of the sleeves and the side panel are also lined in soft fleece (like the hood) when wearing a synthetic base layer this was not a issue, but as soon as I wore anything more wooly I found it caught, making getting the Alfar on a bit of a faff. Definately not a biggie, but something I noticed.
As mentioned I have worn this almost every day now for 3 months and it has come out of the washing machine looking as good as new. No loose fibres, no bobbling and the loft remains good.
Now it is a pricey addition to your outdoor wardrobe, so would have to be described as a ‘considered purchase’ but if you are the super outdoorsy – mountain tackling type this would be a sound long term investment.
And my verdict, well it’s just superb, I simply love it. It’s warm, waterproof, shower-resistant and is super lightweight and not once has it let me down, and you know what that tagline it’s not just spurious marketing shizzniz, you really do feel like you can tackle a bigger challenge when wearing the right kit, I even found myself planning a Scottish hill walking trip with this on my back!