I look around, spellbound by the magic of northern Norway. Towering, snow-speckled mountains encircle the inlet; precipitous cliffs, topped with pinnacles of rock and knife-edge crests, rise straight out of the water; and clusters of tiny islands, blessed with pristine white coral beaches, dot the gossamer, glass-like fjord. This might just be the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen. I am on the island of Senja, deep within the Arctic Circle: a land where the summer sun never sets and the views never cease to take your breath away.
“It’s a range that’s trusted by the volunteers at Norsk Folkehjelp, a not-for-profit group who operate search and rescue missions.”
My goal is Segla, a 689m mountain that makes Tryfan, that popular peak in North Wales, look tame and boring. Like a shark’s fin of naked rock emerging, sheer and imposing, out of the fjord, Segla is a regal, formidable yet beautiful wall of rock. From some angles, it looks utterly un-climbable; from others, remarkably, it’s a relatively straightforward trek over rough terrain to the summit, which serves up expansive views across a backdrop of soaring peaks, sweeping ridges and the blue waters of Mefjorden. It is an ethereal, other-worldly landscape: a hiker’s paradise.
And what better place could there be to put to test a range of outdoor clothing channelling Norse mythology? Odin, a revered God in Norse tradition, was known for his long, solitary wanderings throughout the cosmos on epic quests – and, appropriately therefore, he lends his name to Helly Hansen’s premier range of hiking and mountaineering clothing: the Odin Professional Collection. As a cold, Arctic wind blows over and rain falls in this unforgiving land, it feels like I am exactly where I should be to test out the credentials of the range.
The Oslo-based brand, known most perhaps for its iconic striped baselayers and its sailing and ski apparel, says the Odin range provides the “most purposeful and functional weather protection available to the mortal man”. A big claim – but the Helly Hansen range is trusted by the volunteers at Norsk Folkehjelp, a not-for-profit group who operate search and rescue missions in the mountains of Senja and across Norway. If it’s good enough for these everyday heroes, working in some of the world’s most inhospitable environments, especially in winter, perhaps it can live up to these claims. Or is it all just marketing hype?
Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds Jacket
The first product I put to test in Senja, Norway, was the Odin 9 Worlds Jacket – a hardshell waterproof jacket named after Odin’s grand, long-term travels across the nine worlds. But could it live up to the implication that it’s suitable for long trips in foul weather? In short, yes.
My first impression of the jacket was how well it beaded water; perfect droplets of water formed on the surface, like some mystical Norse force was magically repelling the H20, in a far more impressive manner than many other jackets I’ve tested over the years. Of course, it wasn’t anything supernatural. It was Helly Hansen’s own Helly Tech Professional waterproof fabric, its highest grade of waterproof and breathable membrane, with a 20,000mm waterproofing classification. Not surprising, therefore, that it performed successfully while trekking during heavy downpours, as it’s the same membrane used by Helly Hansen for sailing jackets and workwear products designed for extreme, wetter than wet conditions.