Why we chose it: Sustainable, stylish, high quality membrane
There’s a real trend for vintage and throwback outdoorwear right now. We’re not entirely sure what’s behind this recent retro revival – but we’re guessing it probably isn’t because all those East London hipsters are huge fans of what Chris Bonington and Al Hinkes got up to in the Himalayas back in the late ’80s. And while there is a certain rose-tinted nostalgia that comes with revisiting the past, it doesn’t always make for great outdoor gear. After all, what was cutting-edge in 1989 has (by and large) long been surpassed now, so to intentionally go back to that kit is one step short of dressing up like George Mallory and heading up Snowdon in nailed boots.
However, the Kria jacket from cult Icelandic brand 66° North is a little different. Admittedly, it’s a lifestyle piece rather than a technical mountain layer. But there’s substance as well as style here, for two main reasons. Firstly, it isn’t made from delicate first-generation Gore-Tex with a heavy and clingy mesh drop liner. No, it’s made from an ultra-modern electrospun waterproof-breathable membrane. Polartec NeoShell to be precise – a tech that we’re reviewed on numerous occasions in the past here at Outdoors Magic, and one that has left us highly impressed. This results in a soft and supple 3-layer waterproof shell that is far lighter and more breathable than a genuine 90s-era jacket would have been.
Secondly, and arguably even more impressively, it’s made from leftover pieces of fabric. Yep, every element of the Kria Neoshell is made from surplus remnants that would otherwise be unusable. But it just so happens that these leftover bits are perfect for the panelled construction that defined the design of 66° North’s original Kria jacket from 1991. It’s a bit like when your granny used to get out the sewing machine and run up a new frock from a set of old curtains. After all, waste not, want not, eh?