Modern day suits of mountain armour. That’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? What does the modern day mountaineer need from their armour? Protection from the elements, maximum dexterity, ruggedness and compatibility with their arsenal of kit, I’d wager.
Well, gear designed by a couple of ex Royal Marines who specialised in mountain-leading is probably as good as it’s going to get in terms of appreciation for those key ingredients, and the end result in the form of Jöttnar’s Bergelmir Jacket is a bloody good bit of kit.
I was discussing the jacket yesterday with a friend who bought one for use in all-weather climbing (his job). He’s the kind of bloke who can spend all day outdoors in bitter wind without donning a pair of gloves whilst I’m stood next to him watching the tips of my fingers fall off. I was bemoaning the one small point that I don’t like about the Bergelmir – the lack of hand-warmer pockets – and my friend reminded me that if you do indeed spend all day outdoors, or you’re a seasoned mountaineer, then you don’t use hand-warmers as much as a soft desk-dwelling weekend-warrior like me. Fair point.
Hand-pockets (or lack thereof) aside, the Bergelmir is a super high-end piece of kit which really does create a seal between you and the elements. They’ve used Polartec’s flagship Neoshell fabric, which is a waterproof and breathable slightly stretchy fabric that I happen to think is the best thing since sliced bread. To stand at the top of a hill in driving rain and gales, wearing a softshell jacket, and to be completely dry and comfortable is a wonderful thing. I think the abrasion resistant, slightly stretchy softshell is infinitely better for outdoor activities than an unweilding hard-shell fabric because it allows a freedom of movement and reduces stress on stitching over time.
To fully appreciate the Bergelmir you have to turn it inside out and look at the quality of the finish. The seam-seal taping, the sewing and the detailing are excellent, and easily on a par with the highest-end brands in the outdoor industry, so you’re not paying that £450 just because they’re a small manufacturer.
In practice, the Bergelmir is designed with some nice features to keep the rain and wind at bay. It has a water-repellent YKK front zip which features chunky teeth and is easily engaged when wearing gloves. And the bungees at the waist and chin work well to seal any gaps top and bottom.
If the weather is particularly wet or windy, the hood’s wired peak is really stiff (that’s a good thing) and can be shaped to give you bespoke protection from above.
There are two large pockets on the outside of the jacket which sit high on the chest. They’re big enough for an OS map, and if all else fails you can pull a double Napoleon to keep your hands warm. The location of the pockets means that they’re well above the level of any waist harness and accessible when climbing.
There’s a third small pocket inside which is zippered, and good for a phone or something small.
The material of the jacket has been cut to offer a little more protection, with scooped cuffs that cover the wrists, and a scooped tail to cover any gapes in your trousers if you’re bent over.
And that’s pretty much it. They haven’t added any bells and whistles, and instead concentrated on ensuring a well-fitting and well-made piece which feels great to wear during activities of all kinds. I’d go so far as to say that the Bergelmir is one of the nicest waterproof jackets I’ve ever tested, and if it had hand-pockets I’d probably wear it all the time.