The Jöttnar Bergelmir was one of the first Jöttnar products we reviewed on CGR back in 2013/14. Dave referred to it as his suite of armour against the winter weather. So is the Bergelmir still our weapon of choice against the Scottish winter?
I’ve been lucky enough to review two of Jöttnar’s range of hard-shells over the last few years and now with the Bergelmir I can complete the set. Check out the reviews of the Asmund and Hymir for comparison both of which share the same lighter weight Polartec NeoShell® fabric. The Bergelmir is their big brother being both Jöttnar’s original hardshell and using 168g/m² NeoShell® as opposed to the lighter 98g/m² NeoShell®. If you’re going to abuse your hard-shell day in day out then the Bergelmir is your choice but this obviously comes at a weight penalty 490g for the Bergelmir as opposed to 332g for the Hymir and 390g for the Asmund. Jöttnar have championed the use of NeoShell® from the outset, its chief advantage being significantly higher breathability compared to other shell fabrics available. As with other highly breathable shell fabrics like eVent there is a trade off with ultimate waterproofing. NeoShell® has a hydrostatic head of 10,000mm + which easily takes it into the fully waterproof category however that is toward the lower end of the specification and fabrics like GoreTex Pro hit 28,000mm+. So if you want to stand around in the pouring, wind driven rain all day then NeoShell® may not be the ultimate choice. However if you want to move and be active generating moisture vapour (sweat), especially in the stop start manner of winter climbing, in a cold and at times wet mountain environment then NeoShell® is perfect and will likely keep you drier and more comfortable than anything else available. The more specialised target market for NeoShell® is also reflected by the manufacturers who use it and the garments they produce. From what I have seen there are no ‘generalist’ companies using NeoShell® they all tend to be specialist, high end, even bordering on the niche – basically people who know about the mountains. Personally I have never been disappointed.
So NeoShell® is a great fabric for active mountain use how have Jöttnar utilised it? The Bergelmir is a similar design to the Asmund I reviewed back in 2016 or rather it’s the other way round as the Bergelmir came first. It’s a full zip jacket sporting a helmet compatible hood and four pockets. Two external ‘Napoleon’ pockets and two smaller internal chest pockets for valuables (phone, wallet etc). The build quality is exceptional and Jöttnar seem (excuse the pun) to have refined their cut over the years with it being more fitted than before and less ‘boxy’ making it easier to climb in with no excess fabric obscuring gear loops. If you’ve never used a NeoShell® jacket before one of the nice things about it besides the breathability is the soft and quiet ‘hand’ of the fabric – the Bergelmir is definitely a very nice jacket to climb in. The hood fits easily over a variety of helmets without fuss and moves well so as not to obscure your vision, a rear volume adjuster allows for a snug fit on a helmet-less head too. The external Napoleon pockets are excellent they will easily swallow an OS map, topos, light leading gloves, snacks or a compact camera. These pockets are also fully harness compatible, there is absolutley no overlap between their zips, rucksack straps or climbing harnesses making them always accessible. The use of YKK® AquaGuard® water repellent zips enhances their weather resistance but like most pockets don’t consider them waterproof – not a place for your unprotected smartphone! My iPhone lived for much of the winter in one of the internal pockets without incident though when it was really cold I tended to bury it a bit deeper to preserve the battery life. A generous sleeve length coupled with the active cut meant there were no issues with the jacket riding up or pulling out of a harness and you could always move without restriction. The cuffs are generous enough to fasten over gloves (excepting those with a full on bulky gauntlet cuff) and yet neat enough that they don’t get in your way.
I’ve used the Bergelmir as my only shell jacket since it arrived this winter. In comparison to the Hymir (my more usual choice) there were three main differences. Firstly packing the jacket for walk-ins there was a noticeable increase in bulk (and a little weight) – nothing too significant but if I were trying to shave grams for an ultralight alpine mission then I’d go for the Hymir (or Asmund). Secondly I’d have to echo Dave’s sentiments from his review back in 2013 – zipping yourself into the Bergelmir really does give you a reassuring sense of protection mainly down to the heavier denier fabric. Finally the Bergelmir really feels up for abuse, this is the jacket that if you love thrutching up off-widths and chimneys you should really be wearing. In many situations in Scotland the extra weight penalty is more than compensated for by the rugged reliability that the Bergelmir provides, I really didn’t bother or worry about abrasion or snagging – looking at the jacket now after two months of use I can not see a single hole. Top quality shell jackets like the Bergelmir are not cheap and though we are big fans of the ultralight kit being produced there is always a trade off in durability (both Kev and I have ‘holed’ another company’s lightweight alpine jacket within a few uses) in many ways jackets like the Bergelmir represent the best return on your investment if you can live with the slight weight penalty.
- Great Cut
- Slight weight penalty
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!