Review: Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds JacketGear
ITEM: Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds Jacket
STYLE: Hardshell waterproof jacket
ACTIVITY: Hiking, camping, trekking, mountaineering, ski touring
WHAT THEY SAY: An updated version of our award-winning men’s hardshell jacket. This durable jacket will keep you protected in extreme conditions and during intense activities.
It feels magical and ethereal, as if I’m in a fantasy land where the sun never sets and the views are so impossibly beautiful they can’t be real. It is the middle of the night, almost 1.00am, but it is as bright as day, time standing still in a pre-dusk glow. This is the island of Senja in northern Norway, deep within the Arctic Circle, and I’m experiencing the never-ending summer daylight of the midnight sun. It might not be quite as mesmerising as winter’s Northern Lights, but it is still pretty captivating.
Usually at this hour I’d be succumbing to the inevitable onset of sleep, but instead the light is making me alert and wired – and I’m grateful, because I want to drink in every view and savour every moment. This is not a place to forget. My girlfriend Nic and I are in a red, two-person kayak, floating around on a remote fjord near the fishing village of Hamn. I dip my paddle into the clear turquoise waters, careful not to disturb a pulsating bell-shaped jellyfish next to the kayak. The sky is filled with a cacophony of seabirds. A gentle breeze cools my face, and I skim my hands over the surface of the translucent waters, feeling an instant, physical, intimate connection to the place I’m exploring.
I look around, entranced by Norway’s landscapes. Lofty, snow-sprinkled mountain ranges encircle the bay; sheer cliffs, topped with spikes of rock and blade-like crests, rise straight out of the water; and families of tiny islands, blessed with pristine white coral beaches, pierce the fjord. This might be the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen. Back at home, I’d been feeling agitated and frustrated, but out here in wild Arctic Norway I’m happy and free. It’s as if I’m tapping into something intrinsic, an ancestral yearning to be connected to landscape and nature. I find the process of exercising in the great outdoors both therapeutic and healing. It clears my head, helps me de-stress, and puts life’s little problems into perspective.
And, thankfully, the rain that is falling from a grey sky is not spoiling the experience. I’m wearing the 2019 version of Helly Hansen’s award-winning Odin 9 Worlds Jacket. Named after Odin – the Norse god of gods, who undertook grand, long-term quests across the nine worlds – it is a durable, hardshell waterproof jacket designed for the foulest of foul weather. This is far from the worst of Arctic conditions, but the jacket is protecting me without fault. Water is beading on it like a dream; perfect droplets are forming on the surface, like some mystical Norse force magically repelling the H20. Of course, it isn’t supernatural – it’s simply Helly Hansen’s own Helly Tech Professional waterproof fabric, its highest grade of waterproof and breathable membrane, with an impressive hydrostatic head of 20,000mm (that’s its waterproofing classification). As I continue paddling, while ogling the verdant scenery, I’m glad for the protection.
The following morning Nic and I trade the kayak for hiking boots. Our goal? To climb Segla, perhaps Senja’s most iconic and dramatic mountain. Like a gigantic iceberg of bare rock penetrating the fjord – resplendent and awe inspiring, yet also dark and intimidating – Segla is a classic mountain ascent. Cliffs topped with rocky pinnacles plunge 600m into the blue waters of Mefjorden, surrounded by a panorama of towering mountain ranges as far as the horizon. It is a mountain that makes Buachaille Etive Mor look boring.
Sadly, I can’t see it at all as I slip and slide on loose scree towards the 639m summit. Segla is cloaked in fog, cloud is eddying over ridges, and a heavy rain is falling, while the sun attempts – unsuccessfully – to burn off the clag. I find these unpredictable days in the outdoors life-affirming. It’s such a contrast to the routine and control of everyday life. I love how one minute there’s sunshine, the next there’s snow; one minute you’re on the path, the next you’re hopelessly lost; one minute everything is going well, the next you’re staring danger in the face. It’s exhilarating.
I am working hard as I descend off the summit over rugged terrain towards the col between Segla and its neighbouring peak Barden. The underarm vents of the Odin 9 Worlds Jacket are improving my ventilation, ensuring I don’t get too sweaty, while the tough, 70-denier fabric with reinforced elbow and hem sections is proving absolutely bombproof. The heavy-duty jacket has kept my mid and base layers bone dry. But, unfortunately, the jacket can’t do anything for my mood. An inevitable sadness is descending over me. The cloud is denying me the views I so crave. Am I destined to never gaze over the majestic Segla?
I open a pocket, using the smooth, two-way zips of the Odin 9 Worlds (no annoying sticky zips here) and take out my smartphone from the secret inner phone slot housed within the larger main pocket. I load up my Norwegian navigation app and ogle the seductive contours on the map. But then, suddenly, a faint patch of brightness appears in the cloud. It grows and intensifies. We urge it on, hopeful. And, finally, gloriously, the fog dissipates. Segla is unveiled in all her glory. I sit, quietly, taking in the scene. I feel happy and content – and find myself thinking that this is a mountain worth travelling across nine worlds for.