Apparently, that’s not meant to come off?
With the temperature dropping and the good old British weather being as temperamental as ever, staying dry can be just as important as eating and drinking. A staple of a the never ending task of staying dry is your shell jacket. Whether you’re a technical layering kind of person, or happy to throw on the latest 3-in-1 at the first sign of rain, our jackets often amount to the most technically advanced and expensive pieces of equipment we carry.
Myself? I go for the layering approach; I tend to run pretty hot when I’m out and about but can struggle with the finer temperature control when I’m in the heights. The layering approach allows for this finer control of your temperature and, in turn, your comfort (I’ll write up a little guide as to approaching layering systems for all budgets soon!).
As a result of my 8-year-old Jack Wolfskin starting to show some pretty blatant signs of abuse, I was in the market for a new technical shell; Something light on weight, heavy on performance and midweight on price. I follow a site many of you will probably be familiar with, SportPursuit, who do pretty much the best deals on any outdoor clothing you’ll ever come across.
*Stage is set, enter Fjern Orkan eVent Waterproof Jacket*
Despite the pretty Nordic sounding name and roots of Fjern, the origin of the brand is in fact a group of UK based outdoor enthusiasts with a strong belief in the Nordic approach to the outdoors. The Orkan is their flagship shell jacket, incorporating an eVent membrane in 3 layers and some pretty colour schemes, ensuring you stay 100% dry from rain or sweat. For those of you that haven’t heard of eVent before, just know that it is on par, if not better, than the equivalent GoreTex membrane.
Now, first thing first, this jacket is nothing short of the most comfortable waterproof I’ve ever worn. The cut is slightly athletic, going as far as being pretty flattering and specifically designed for layering; the colour is deep but not loud; and the inner layer is soft enough against your skin you’d be forgiven for wanting to wear it all day, every day.
In regard to features, it’d be easier to write-up what it didn’t have. The lack of an exterior chest pocket is annoying, if a little trivial; it could be said the interior phone and separate meshed map pockets make up for this. Proper, hip-belt-compatible pockets adorn the front and some subtle branding can be found to the rear.
The quality of the jacket could have been perfect; despite the lightweight nature, everything appears to be well put together. Sealed seems, toggled zips, expensive feeling Velcro and a relatively effective drawcord system all make for a definite feeling of confidence when facing down some of the grey sky stuff. That said, this jacket did fail; not catastrophically, but enough for it to put a damper on the purchase.
The lower drawcord system fell apart where it attaches to the inside of the jacket. This meant that a gentle pull ripped it clean out, while I was in the clouds on Moel Hebog; not ideal. Having a good look at how and where it came apart, it appears to have been poorly attached to the inside of the jacket in the first place, so a manufacturing error more than a design flaw.
A quick discussion with the original retailer and a replacement was sent my way; much better attachment on the drawcord. It’s important to look after these high-tech jackets in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations; the eVent membrane in this jacket wants to be regularly washed with a tech wash to unblock the pores. As a result, the DWR treatment (the treatment that makes the water bead on the surface and prevents it ‘wetting out’) will need re-applying and re-activating with heat just as regularly. Don’t let this put you off though, in the same manner we clean, wax and treat our boots to give them a chance in protecting us, this jacket does need a little TLC occasionally.
All in all, this jacket is ace. After a good few outings in some pretty harsh conditions and it hasn’t leaked a single drop, while evaporating all of the sweat. It’s comfortable, lightweight and packs down tight, proving that you apparently can have your cake and eat it! In fact, it’s so good, Polly immediately picked up one of the women’s ones!
Edit – So it’s been close to 1 year of having this coat, having used it in everything from a quick dash to the shops in the rain, to a vicious downpour on the summit of Moel Hebog, and I’ve been left somewhat disappointed! Despite having followed the care instruction to the absolute letter, while using the very products Fjern themselves suggest using; the waterproof ability of this coat has drastically reduced through use. After only 12 months using it, the coat will completely wet-out in less than 30 mins worth of rain, rendering the eVent membrane all but useless. This results in a huge increase in condensation build up inside the coat, which leaves you just as wet as you would have been without it! I’m also not convinced the eVent membrane is actually stopping water passing through.
I’ve demoted this coat to pretty lightweight use – it’s very lightweight and very packable, so maybe I was hoping for too much; but considering the insistence that eVent is just as good as GoreTex, I was hopeful it would come up to standard! Unfortunately not. I’m now on the hunt for a GoreTex coat that is a little heavier.
- Unique eVent® membrane with Direct Venting™ technology
- DWR finish (Durable Water Repellent) helps repel water from fabric surface
- Anatomical shaping for fit and comfort, designed for technical layering
- Two large zipped hand warmer pockets, positioned high enough to avoid harnesses/backpack straps
- Internal stretch mesh pocket, large enough for storing gloves, map, goggles etc
- Underarm pit zips with water repellent zippers
- Corded zipper pulls are easy to grab, even whilst wearing gloves
- Hypalon Velcro cuff adjusters
- Adjustable drawcord hem with drop back for extra coverage
- Internal zip chest pocket with earphone cable port
Recommendation Rating: 55%