Review: Jöttnar Asmund Polartec NeoShell JacketGear
ITEM: Men’s Asmund Polartec NeoShell Jacket
STYLE: Waterproof hardshell
WEIGHT: 385g (men’s medium)
WHAT THEY SAY: Using the world’s lightest grade of micro rip-stop Polartec NeoShell and featuring a full-length zip and large twin chest pockets, Asmund is a highly versatile, lightweight and packable mountaineering jacket.
As I edged my way around a large boulder, I expected to see the back of my friend and mentor in front of me, instead I had clear view of a 300ft drop just a few feet ahead. My body instantly reacted: my pulse pounded hard and my vision narrowed. I was losing the feel of secure footing and balance. I closed my eyes and held on tight, it was a feeling I knew only too well and I was aware that I had to fight it to avoid putting myself in jeopardy. I took a deep breath and yelled ¨Ed it’s kicking in and it’s bad, very bad¨. In a very calm and convincing voice, my mate and hill partner for the day, the adventurer Ed Wardle, yelled back: “Face the wall and slowly come up here, you can’t fall even if you jump.” For me it might as well have been K2 that day, the fear so deeply embedded in me – a bad case of acrophobia. We continued the ascent and, after a short scramble, I was on the top of my first Munro: Beinn Narnain.
A weight was lifted off my shoulders that day. I’d accomplished it. I knew I had the mountain bug and I had to do something drastic to beat my acrophobia. Starting to conquer deep-set fears and climbing a first Munro would have accounted for a busy day in most people’s books, but I’d actually set out to test the Jöttnar Asmund Polartec NeoShell Jacket. I’m afraid it was not paid as much attention as I danced with demons, but it held dry and kept me warm in bad weather. And that perhaps is the sign of a good garment: it should be unnoticeable. The small things that go wrong, the annoyances, the ill-fitting parts, are all amplified on a mountain in poor weather; they are the last things you need to be worrying about. That my Asmund went unnoticed is testament to its quality in my hyper-aware state. I was also sweating a lot, which says something for its breathability, but more of that later.
Just a few months earlier Camilla and I had been on vacation for the first time in Scotland and, shortly after, we decided to leave our careers in London behind and move to the Highlands in pursuit of amazing outdoor experiences and to give my dream of making an adventure and outdoor film a much needed a push. Soon after we arrived north of the border, I was spending more time outdoors than in our house. Trekking across Knoydart solo was the first trip, and I was hooked. I had a dream of not only walking among the giants, but to climb them – but only if I could beat my irrational fear of heights. My plan was to get up to speed with navigation and get a Summer Mountain Leader qualification. Every day I looked at the mountains. I started pushing myself to climb small obstacles, walls, climb on small boulders and just keeping the focus on the dream of getting rid of the fear.
Fast forward, and a few weeks after I had embarrassed myself in front of Sidetracked editor John Summerton on a small grass slope in Scotland by hanging on in pure panic, I was meeting him again at Kendal Mountain Festival for the annual dose of big screen mountain adventure and adrenalin. He suggested that I should put the new Jöttnar Asmund Polartec NeoShell Jacket through its paces on my days out training in the mountains. I warned him that there are two places on earth where nothing is waterproof: under water and in Scotland.
Jöttnar’s incredible success, despite only launching in 2013, comes from making solid mountaineering clothing with impressive attention to detail. The Asmund is a pared back lightweight and packable mountaineering jacket. It’s made from Polartec NeoShell, a waterproof membrane that allows air to pass through it, allowing the release of heat and vapour by convection and diffusion. It’s the air-permeability that sets NeoShell (and eVent) apart from Gore-Tex that relies on tiny pores allowing condensed vapour to pass through the polyurethane coating as a liquid and then allowing it to evaporate. But what does this mean for the user. Well, it’s certainly waterproof, and I found it impressively breathable. In fact, Jöttnar are so confident in NeoShell’s breathability, they’ve not used any pit-zips. It’s also softer feeling than Gore-Tex shells. Only in the strongest winds will you feel the air permeability – a good thing in my books. It’s worth saying that Jöttnar have used the lightest grade of micro rip-stop face fabric meaning the weight for a men’s medium is a very impressive 385g.
The Asmund has a simple design. There are two chest pockets that happily swallow maps, plus an iPhone-sized inside pocket. The pocket and main opening zip use water repellent YKK Aquaguard. The helmet compatible hood draws in well, even with gloves on, and it has a good wired peak. The overall cut is athletic, and it lifts well with the arms. The back hem is scooped and there are anti-snag draw cords around the hem. Over the next couple of months the Asmund was with me daily, on the hill while climbing and carrying loads, by the sea running in rain and even on a fashion shoot. Misuse or abusive use of a jacket can often cause abrasions and discoloration, but after three months, the Asmund proved to be durable and untainted.
In mid May we’re filming a ‘fear of heights’ course and after that the quest of Don’t Fear Your Mountains continues. Hopefully many more mountain adventures will follow, but one thing is for sure, I will give it all I have, and, when you’re new to climbing and especially with acrophobia, you find great comfort in knowing you can trust your equipment and the Jöttnar Asmund is a very trustworthy companion.
Photography: Camilla Brogaard // Words: Anders Brogaard
For more details visit: jottnar.com