The Elvar is Jöttnar’s first fully synthetic fill jacket as opposed to the Alfar ‘hybrid’ primaloft and powerstretch midlayer and their established range of down insulation. It is aimed as a versatile mid/outer layer capable of dealing with potentially damp conditions.
The Elvar uses Thermolite, a hollow core polyester fill which was originally developed by Dupont and is now in the hands of Advansa or Invista. Whatever the background Jöttnar have used a fairly ‘thin’ iteration more like Thinsulate than Primaloft. This is protected by a 20 denier stretch nylon shell which provides wind-proofing and will shed snow and a bit of drizzle. The Elvar has Jöttnar’s usual generous fit which is also aided by the stretch of the shell fabric. There are actually five(!) pockets available; an inside chest pocket which will accept a smart phone, two generous ‘Napoleon’ chest pockets and two hand-warmer pockets. The later sit a bit too low for use with a harness but are great for apres climb/ski or if you use the Elvar as a light belay jacket.
The usual Jöttnar’s attention to detail is evident throughout the design with a well shaped hood that although designed to fit under a helmet as per the mid-layer designation I found it could be persuaded over both Grivel and Petzl lightweight helmets. Perhaps my favourite feature of the Elvar were it’s cuffs – a simple stretch design that allowed donning or removal of the jacket whilst wearing leading gloves and yet still sealed sufficiently around the wrist whilst wearing a light glove on the walk out. Warmth wise the Elvar is toward the lightweight end of the scale, good for a mid-layer but not really sufficient as a belay jacket for miserable Scottish and winter Alpine conditions although it will suffice as a light belay jacket if you are unlikely to be still for too long. I found I could wear the Elvar both as a mid-layer beneath a shell and as a light belay jacket over the top of a shell or just on it’s own over a base layer or fleece.
With the poor Scottish winter season we’ve had so far the Elvar has only had half a dozen outings in the Scottish hills but it has found use in on our local Yorkshire fells as well as unseasonably warm February cragging! First up I found the Elvar great as a very warm mid-layer but a little bulky in Scotland for technical climbing. Underneath my Berglemir shell it was ok but it was a bit too restrictive around the shoulders under my Hymir smock and to be honest as pure mid-layer there are better options – Jöttnar’s own Alfar would make a better choice in my opinion. I think there are a number of factors that detract from the Elvar here. The cut is generous, there are as I’ve mentioned a lot of pockets (not something a mid-layer really needs) and the Thermolite is not as compressible compared to something like Primaloft or down. Now in a way this may be an advantage – I’ve been told Thermolite is often used in skydiving suites partly because warm air isn’t squeezed out so easily and affords better insulation in very windy environments. As outer-wear it makes for a good dry weather layer – it would probably work well cascade climbing somewhere like Cogne as there is plenty of mobility. However the face fabric is fairly light and I felt nervous whilst ‘shouldering’ an axe mixed climbing incase it snagged. One genuine niggle I did have was with the twin Napoleon pockets as the external zip guards were too soft and snagged especially when damp, much too my annoyance on a belay one day when I was trying to get food out whilst bringing up John! As a light belay jacket the Elvar doesn’t compress as well as Primaloft filled jackets comparing weight for warmth but feels like it performs better in the wind. For my own use the Elvar would find it’s way into my pack for fast moving ‘mountaineering’ type days but it lacked sufficient warmth for long duties on belay when mixed climbing. As a mid-layer it felt too bulky for me personally (I tend to climb with a stretch R1 type fleece or Alpha Direct type mid-layer with perhaps with an extra gillet type layer when very cold). Overall for me the Elvar falls between two stools – it has a number of strong points but I found it didn’t fit perfectly into either the mid-layer or belay jacket/outerwear role for my typical winter climbing. The Elvar is a nice all-round jacket but it’s a jack of all trades master of none.
- Relatively warm for thickness
- Great cuffs and hood design
- Neither one thing nor the other
- Too many pockets for a mid layer
- Not warm enough for full on belay duty
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!
Disclaimer – CGR reviewers are never paid to provide a review and the website does not take advertising. We are a bunch of keen climbers and travellers that accept sample products and offer an honest and independent review of the item. The reviewer will often keep the sample after reviewing it for both hygiene reasons and more often they’re in no fit state to return!