'Nicely-made, light and packable jacket using top-notch water-resistant down hits a nice sweet-spot between weight and warmth'
Outdoors Magic: Light, small packing, warm for the weight, nicely made, water-resistant 800 fill power down, neat detailing.
Outdoors Tragic: No hood, not the toughest option, fleece under-arms?
Outdoors Grabbit? Haglöfs LIM - Less Is More - collection is all about minimalism and the Essens III delivers nicely. Distinctive staggered baffling, top-notch water-resistant down and lightweight fabrics and bits deliver deceptive levels of warmth , though we're not sure about the underarm fleece panels. A great little bundle of packable warmth, there's also a Hood version that adds built-on head insulation at the cost of approximately 50g more weight. Ideal for lightweight use and end of day packable comfort in the hut or tent. Less suited for more active use.
LIM Essens III Jacket Ratings
Outright Warmth [rating score="3"]
Packability [rating score="4.5"]
Damp-proofing [rating score="3.5"]
Overall: [rating score="4"]
Lightweight down jacket / 800 CUIN follower down filling with fluorocarbon free DWR / Pertex®Quantum, 100% Polyamide, 20D fabric / Polartec® Powerstretch® shoulder inserts / stitch-through construction with varied baffle size / fluorocarbon free DWR treated down and surfaces / two hand-warmer and one chest-pocket with micro zippers / elasticated sleeve and hem / front-zip with internal storm-flap / folds into own pocket for stowage.
Full Review Below
Haglöfs Essens III Down Jacket - The Fill
The Haglöfs LIM - Less Is More - ethos is all about maximum performance from minimal weight and the Essens III is no exception. It uses high-lofting, 800 fill power goose down which is certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), so you know it's been ethically produced.
In addition, the down's treated with a fluorocarbon free DWR water repellent treatment to both reduce the impact of water on the down's loft and speed up drying times and improve recovery if it does get wet.
Haglöfs Essens III Down Jacket - Performance
The Essens III is a classic lightweight down jacket with a few left field twists. The combination of around 86 grammes of that high-lofting 800 fill power down with soft and light Pertex Quantum fabrics and mini zips, pulls and fasteners boils down to a 280-gramme jacket that's deceptively warm.
You can, of course, go lighter, but we reckon the balance between warmth and weight is - as with the Arc'teryx Cerium LT - about right. In other words, light when you're carrying it, but still warm enough to make it worthwhile packing in the first place.
Where it is a bit different is the distinctive baffling - down compartment - layout, which uses wide-ish, medium-sized baffles high up which then slim down progressively until at hem level, they're properly narrow. It looks great, but we're not convinced it adds anything in performance terms.
In fact, it probably reduces efficiency slightly by adding stitch-lines, which are potential cold-spots, but in practice it doesn't seem to be a problem, no 'warm shoulders, but a cold waist' issues anyway.
The other oddity are the underarm Power Stretch fleece panels. These are claimed to improve mobility, but in cold, windy conditions, you can feel the wind cut straight through them. To be fair, we've tended to use the jacket mainly in more sheltered situations and indoors or in a tent, where that's not an issue, but we're not convinced they add much functionality.
We'd look at the water-resistant down as an insurance policy rather than something that makes the jacket damp conditions friendly by the way. The double layer of windproof fabric means it's not very breathable and quickly feels clammy if you do use it on the move.
Haglöfs Essens III Down Jacket - Verdict
The Essens III has a couple of quirks, but at heart, it's a top-quality, stylish, light and very packable down jacket that punches above its weight and makes an ideal bundle of portable warmth. It's particularly good for use under cover - it would be ideal for hut-to-hut mountain trekking for example. Or lightweight backpacking. Or more general cold weather static use.
The water-resistant down adds a little insurance if you do get caught out in the rain, but the jacket's best in cold, dry conditions. Our one slight quibble is over those fleece shoulder inserts, mostly they're unobtrusive, but they do compromise wind-proofing in that area in some conditions.
There's no hood, but if you want the same basics with added head protection, check out the Essens III Down Hood - same spec, but with a hood.