Helly Hansen Odin Jacket Collection | Field Test - Outdoors Magic

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Waterproof Jackets

Helly Hansen Odin Jacket Collection | Field Test

The Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds Jacket and Odin Stretch Hooded Insulator get put to the sword within the Arctic Circle

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

Price: £350

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.

The Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds Jacket

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.

As I scrambled up a steep gully and negotiated rugged terrain towards the summit of Barden, another breathtaking Senja mountain, I tramped through thick cloud and lashing rain. I was struck by how durable and protective the Odin 9 Worlds Jacket was. It kept me bone dry and it felt heavy duty, ready for whatever the Arctic weather would throw at me. That sensation came from the tough, 70-denier fabric used throughout, as well as the reinforced elbow and hem sections. Other features I liked included the smooth, two-way zips (no annoying stuck zips here); the underarm vents for improved breathability when required; and the secret, inner pocket (housed within the main larger pocket) for my phone. I was less impressed with the hood, which I felt could’ve had a sturdier visor with more structure; I found the pockets way to cavernous for my liking; and I disliked the fact the jacket was pretty heavy for carrying in a pack, (550g) if you never have to use it. But that’s being a little over-critical. All in all, the Odin 9 Worlds Jacket was a top-performing, extremely durable jacket that coped with the most extreme, wettest conditions going. I wasn’t sure whether a deity like Odin, the one-eyed god of gods, would’ve worn it travelling across the nine worlds – but, for exploring this one, it felt like a top-notch choice.


Helly Hansen Odin Stretch Hooded Insulator

Price: £180

The second product I put through its paces, deep within the Arctic Circle, was the Odin Stretch Hooded Insulator, a super-lightweight, warm jacket made from Primaloft Gold Active+ insulation. I wore it pretty much constantly, whether I was climbing gnarly mountains, kayaking on an open fjord, or relaxing around Senja post-adventure – and it was always very comfortable, no matter what I was doing. Perhaps that was because the jacket has been designed to be light, breathable and – as its name suggests – stretchy for any active pursuits. I, for one, found the jacket moved with me, as if moulding to my body, and the feel and mobility were great. I never once felt bulky or restrained, unlike other jackets which have almost transformed me into a bloated, constricted Michelin man.

But, despite this excellent flexibility and lightness, the Odin Stretch Hooded Insulator still felt toasty warm when the Arctic chill kicked in. I didn’t test it in any ridiculously low temperatures, but it always had a thick, warm, cosy feel at night and during cold winds – courtesy of its 80g fill of Primaloft’s Gold Active+ insulation, which serves up superb warmth-to-weight thermal efficiency. Similarly, adding to the jacket’s top notch balancing act, it was also extremely breathable despite being so warm. When I really started working hard out in the wild places of northern Norway, I didn’t overheat massively nor suffer from sweat build-ups. The thin DWR coating and soft, non-plastic interior (it felt more fleece like) seemed to aid this breathability, while the jacket, courtesy of being synthetic, also remained warm during light showers.

Were there any negatives? Well, the jacket didn’t repel water as well as other insulated jackets I’ve tried (although that’s not a major problem if you wear it under a hardshell); and I found myself thinking the warmth might be over-bearing for some during intense activity (I tend to feel colder than most people outdoors so, whilst I loved the toasty sensation, others might find it too hot and sweaty). However, again, I’m stretching (see what I did there) to find something negative to say for balance. Overall, I was very impressed with the Odin Stretch Hooded Insulator: it was warm enough, breathable enough and flexible enough for a series of active, epic adventures in the Arctic Circle. And if it’s good enough for there, it’s certainly good enough for any and all expeditions in the wild places of Britain.

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