Jöttnar Asmund Hardshell Jacket | Review
British brand's lightweight alpine hardshell jacket is one of the most breathable waterproofs out there.
'The Brit' brand with the Scandi-Noir name has come up with a light, functional alpine jacket with class-leading breathability albeit at a less than lightweight price'
Outdoors Magic: Super breathable, soft-feel, NeoShell fabric, improved cut for 2017, capable hood, great weight and packability.
Outdoors Tragic: Not as outright waterproof as some rival fabrics, longterm durability question-marks.
Outdoors Grabbit? The latest Asmund gets a slimmer cut and 'upgraded nylon face', but its trump card remains the superbly breathable and lightweight Polartec NeoShell fabric making it a good call if you run hot. Question marks remain over the long-term durability and waterproofness of the lightweight fabric, but as a second call, lightweight alpine shell, it rocks.
Lightweight mountaineering jacket / stretch Polartec® NeoShell® fabric weight: 96g/m²/ twin Napoleon chest pockets with YKK® Aquaguard® water repellent zips / adjustable, helmet-compatible hood / wire-stiffened hood brim with moldable laminate peak / Corded, glove compatible zip pulls / anti-snag split hem draw cords / scooped drop back hem
Full Review Below
Jöttnar Asmund Hardshell Jacket - The Tech
Here's what it's all about - the Asmund uses the world's lightest Polartec NeoShell fabric to give an overall weight of 350 grammes for a medium. NeoShell is arguably the most breathable waterproof fabric out there.
There are various lab figures that claim to prove this one way or another, but the reality is that in real world use, we've simply found it better than anything else for minimising the build-up of a horrible, sweaty, hot fug inside your jacket when you're going hard. That makes it an ideal fabric for anyone who runs hot and sweaty and/or moves fast.
It's not without a downside. NeoShell may be very breathable, but in lab tests at least, its measured 'waterproofness' or 'hydrostatic head' of 10,000mm is around 50% or less of other branded waterproofs.
That's not an issue when it's relatively new or in snow, but some users say that with sustained use, it can fail in really heavy rain. It hasn't happened to us, but it's something we'll be keeping an eye on going forward.
Otherwise the Asmund looks to be a classically-specced mountain shell with all the features and adjustability you'd expect. The only lower spec components are the basic YKK water-resistant zips rather than the Vislon moulded-teeth versions as used on the brand's own Bergelmir jacket for example.
Jöttnar Asmund Hardshell Jacket - Performance
If breathability matters to you, then NeoShell should be high up on your tick-list of shell essentials. It's simply the waterproof material that, in our experience, comes closest to working like a windproof, to the point where you can often use it as one.
In real life it means you can go harder and hotter without drowning in a horrible, sweaty, hot jungle-style fug inside your jacket. That doesn't mean you can't overwhelm it working hard, but it takes longer and when you do get warm and wet, your layers dry out faster afterwards.
It's great stuff and it feels nice too, getting progressively softer as you use and wash it. The down side to that is that psychologically it feels less reassuringly protective than a stiffer, heavier fabric.
And while we haven't damaged our test jacket, it's common sense that a lightweight fabric is ultimately less durable than one with a heavier face.
The Asmund's not really about that though. It's more a 'throw over your softshell when the weather gets gnarly' sort of jacket, than a go thrutching up chimneys one. The cut is significantly slimmer and neater than the original oversized effort, but there's stiff plenty of room in there for a mid-layer and some lightweight puffy insulation.
'The cut is more functional than slick compared to, say, Arc'teryx or Mountain Equipment's more tailored fit, but it's a definite improvement on last year's version'
It packs small enough not to be burden on the move too, but it's still fully featured. We love the big, easy to access, Napoleon-style chest pockets - no interference from harness or pack straps.
The hood works well without a lid and still gives plenty of facial coverage even with a helmet in place. No complaints there. Plus hem and cuffs have full and easy adjustment.
The cut is more functional than slick compared to, say, Arc'teryx or Mountain Equipment's more tailored fit - there's quite a lot of spare fabric in the upper arms for example - but it's a definite improvement on last year's version.
Oh, one last thing. The welded inside pocket, sized to fit an iPhone 6 no less, gets a funky snowflake pattern just to make things feels a little bit special. Nice.
Jöttnar Asmund Hardshell Jacket - Verdict
Don't be taken in by the Scandinavian-sounding name, Jöttnar is a relatively young British company founded by two ex-marines on a mission. The brand's focussed on the technical mountaineering end of the market, where competition's tough, but to their credit, they've produced some interesting stuff.
In the case of the Asmund, that means a decently light and capable technical shell that has class-leading breathability and is around 100g lighter than its nearest NeoShell competitor. It's not a jacket we'd buy with a view to giving it consistent hammer, but if you're more concerned with a combination of decently light weight allied to impressive comfort than outright durability it's pretty much in a class of its own.[If you like the idea of NeoShell breathability in a tougher package, watch out for our review of the Jöttnar Bergelmir coming soon.]