A durable and super versatile mid-layer that works well for the approach, on rock and for winter climbing.
Jöttnar have been steadily carving out a niche for themselves as a purveyor of high end mountain clothing. We’ve reviewed a number of their shells and down products here at CGR and without fail they have impressed us. The Jöttnar Magni is the first mid-layer garment that we have received and a new entry into the Jöttnar range being a purely fleece based mid-layer.
The Jöttnar Magni is a mid-weight hooded fleece, constructed from Polartec Power Stretch® Pro™. It is luxuriously soft with a four-way stretch and a smooth surface finish. It is by no means windproof but the surface finish increases durability (helping to resist pilling) and also lets snow brush off more easily. Weight wise it is heavier that my usual Polartec 100 fleeces coming in at over 500grams (heavier than Jöttnar’s own Alfar) and is correspondingly somewhat bulkier – something to bear in mind if you plan to stash it in a pack on approaches. Design wise it has a number of nice touches. Firstly the hood; this is generous fit, I know Jöttnar refer to it as close fitting but it has sufficient room to go over a high volume helmet like a Petzl Scirocco without problem and yet can be worn without or under a helmet equally comfortably. I really liked the hood design, I often find that when winter climbing in more benign conditions I’ll want a warm hood up as I set off on a pitch but then get a bit overheated as things get more physical – with the Magni it is simplicity itself o drop the hood, something not really possible en-route if your fleece hood is under the helmet. Like wise it is easy to don the hood when you reach a belay or as I found at Cogne this year when you feel your ears getting sunburnt!
The sleeves are another great feature being both properly long and having well executed thumb hole cuffs. Again these increase the versatility of the Magni meaning you can do without lightweight gloves more often and when deployed under your leading gloves they really seal in the heat at the wrist where the blood flow is close to the surface and easily chilled. The cuff design covers your hand to the second knuckle and doesn’t pull or dig in on the web between thumb and index finger (a problem I’ve had with some similar designs).
Cut wise the size small was a generous fit on my 5’8″ 36″ chest frame. The longer length was appreciated around my backside but at the front it tended to ruck up a little – for me personally a more scalloped design, shorter at the front with a ‘butt flap’ would improve matters but this might just reflect differences in torso length. Pockets comprise of a single left chest pocket that easily swallows a smartphone/wallet and some trail mix and two hand-warmer pockets. The bottom edge of the hand-warmer pockets tended to get covered by the waist belt of my harness, I could still access them but not as easily as I would have liked, I’d like prefer them a an inch or so higher.
For most of the early winter season the Magni was getting more use gritstone bouldering or dry tooling at White Goods or The Works. Throughout this period it stood up to the abuses of rough rock and shouldered axes without problem and worked well at keeping me warm without overheating.
An early season foray onto snowed up Lakeland rock (oh how naively optimistic we were about the coming winter season!) saw the Magni used with just a base layer for approach and then the Hymir over the top on the route. Paired like this they make an excellent combo and the ludicrously lightweight of the new Hymir offsets the slight weight penalty of the Magni. With no #scotwinter action to speak of February found Dave and I in Cogne with a chance to put the Magni through its paces on some proper ice. For most of the week I used the Magni with either a synthetic mesh baselayer or Jottnar’s own yak wool Uler for walk ins with the temperatures around -4C to -6C winds were light to non-existent so there was never a need for a windproof over the top on approach and the breathability of the fleece meant I never overheated.
Once climbing with the new Hymir over the top I stayed comfortable and even in the shade on Cold Couloir had no problems with chilling, only donning a belay jacket for longer stints of inactivity – again winds were light and this wouldn’t be the case in a normal Scottish day but I certainly wouldn’t envisage needing anything other than Uler, Magni, Hymir in normal winter conditions. After nearly four months of regular use the only signs of wear is a tiny area of pilling in the lumber are from the pack rubbing – you’d have to really look to spot it too!
Improvements? Well I’d like to see the the hand-warmer pockets moved up a bit and a scalloped hemline would be a personal preference. Perhaps an XS sizing for us skinny runts? Overall though I loved it – especially the hood and sleeve/cuffs, more versatile than I expected which makes the slight weight penalty forgivable.
Richie is the enthusiastic amateur of the team. Enjoying all aspects of climbing but especially alpine, winter and his local grit . Having managed to survive the vagaries of both fluorescent Koflachs and rainbow tights in the 80s he looks forward to an even more stylish future. A shady past in mountain marathons and adventure races, including the Marathon des Sables, means he’s an advocate of fast and light. Though the former is debatable if you’ve seen him on a tricky lead!