Fjern Orkan on test

So after  couple of years and a very wet winter last year on Ben Nevis’ Tower Ridge it became clear my Rab Polartec Neoshell just wasn’t cutting the mustard as a true winter waterproof shell.

Before I start .. I love Neoshell to wear. Its the softest, most flexible hard-shell I’ve ever come across that claims the levels of waterproofing and breath-ability it does. For climbing its a dream. But.. its not “truly” waterproof when it really comes down to it. The membrane is very good but with sustained wetting eventually that uber soft, uber flexible and breathable membrane has to give…

I note this season at least one large brand has now stopped using it while some still do so it still has its place.. mostly in cold, “dry” snow and ice conditions.. ideal for apline or icy dry Scottish winter climbing.. but not if its going to be wet…

So… I need a new shell.

My criteria isn’t simple so its hard to find .

1 – I don’t ideally want the rhino hide, rustling paper of some fabrics (typically in my experience the Gore Tex ones)

2 – It needs to be waterproof, ideally to about 20,000mm head

3 – It needs to be  breathable, I run hot on walk ins so need it to vent well

4 – Pockets I can actually get to with a harness and pack on.. ideally napolean pockets

5 – a good helmet compatible hood, wired if possible and one i can shape to fit my wee head and velcro cuffs for keeping snow out

6 – A good colour… no affect on performance but hey I hate black or dark gear

7 – robust enough to cope with a Scottish winter but cost less than £300.

So after much hunting around, trying on and almost giving up I stumbled across the Fjern Orkan shell on the outdoor discount eTailer SportsPursuit.

If never heard of Fjern but it immediately caught my eye for its climbing look and the fact it was eVent fabric which I’d heard might be the balance I was looking for. It didnt have the chest pockets I usually crave but the pockets were listed as set high enouhg to clear a harness. At a heavily discounted price down from £300 it was also perfect price wise!! I figured if it sucked I could take the hit so I pressed buy and it arrived a fast few days later.

Fjern as a company first  .. hard to find! If you google them you tend to hit retailers sites, or eVents site.. finding Fjerns own page is a quest ! But find it I did – click here  . Fjern is a UK based company made up of outdoor enthusiasts (Hikers, climbers , skiers) who believe in the “Nordic spirit of adventure”  which I actually really like. Yes its manufactured in China but most kit is these days, with the quality and design set at the domestic base (this case in the UK) If you follow my blog you know I really champion smaller companies and family business – so far so good.

The Jacket now.

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The Below test is taken from the Sports Pursuit website and is the science bit (shortened)

DESCRIPTION

Engineered with the worst alpine conditions in mind, the ORKAN gives you the confidence to strike out into the wilderness, whatever the weather.

Crafted using eVent® fabric with Direct Venting™ technology, the ORKAN keeps precipitation out whilst allowing perspiration to escape. Packed with technical features including a fully adjustable helmet compatible hood, internal taped seams and an anatomical fit.

Waterproof rating 20,000mm

Breathability JIS 1099 B1 26,000 g/m2 24hrs

Features:

  • Waterproof, Windproof, Breathable, Lightweight and durable 3-layer fabric with Nylon face
  • Unique eVent® membrane with Direct Venting™ technology
  • DWR finish (Durable Water Repellent) helps repel water from fabric surface
  • Taped seams and seamless shoulders for added waterproofness
  • Anatomical shaping for fit and comfort, designed for technical layering
  • Articulated elbows for freedom of movement
  • No-lift gusseted underarms
  • Fully adjustable helmet compatible hood with laminated & wired brim
  • Laminated centre front zip guard with soft tricot trim zip garage
  • Extended high collar for extra face protection
  • YKK water repellent zippers
  • 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
  • Moulded zipper garages to protect closure from snow and rain
  • Hypalon Velcro cuff adjusters
  • Adjustable drawcord hem with drop back for extra coverage
  • Fabric weight 138gsm / Garment weight (size M) 540gm
20171228_113408.jpg
Label highlighting the Direct Venting technology that eVent employ.

So – how did it do?

As a test the conditions were pretty good – a winters day in the high Cairngorms, winter climbing with my buddy and gear test expert Davy Wright (part of the MyOutdoors Test team).

We arrived at the Cairngorm ski centre around 8am, the wind strong already and the temperature around -5c so layers and shell straight on. First thing I notice? Hood works well.. cinches down as needed and my chin is covered with the collar well. No ballooning like some other shells. The cut is athletic meaning its neat where you don’t want too much volume but (as in this case) is cut to allow movement of the arms etc when climbing.

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Rear hood cinch, there are also two pull cords at the front, very easy to access even with large gloves.

Next think I notice that I like is the high side pockets, easily accessible above harness or rucksack straps and great for warming hands which is what I need right now as we prep to head off up into the Coire.

20171228_113445.jpg
eVent branding on arm and cuff velcro’s. Notice the articulation seams.

Off we set to wards Coire an t-Sneachda and to see whats in nick (if anything). The wind is howling straight at us making the walk to the lochain tougher and colder but again the hood sits well, shielding my eyes from the worst of spin drift being blown at us alike white sandblast.

With the 30-40mph headwind the going is slower than usual and its about an hour and a half walk in but the eVent works its magic and I’m not sweating at all despite the thin baselayer and mid layer (result!) , in fact in terms of comfort i am very pleased! No faffing to add/drop layers as I usually have to do.

And if I had found the going too warm there are 2 zipped pit vents (with decent pull cords)

20171228_113352.jpg
High hand warmer pockets and pit zips

 

To be honest, by this point I’d forgotten all about the jacket.. which is actually the sign of superb kit.Iit just works when you need it to.

We get to the crag base, gear up and head up to the start of the route.

20171229_133239.jpg
Alladin’s Butress in Coire an t-Sneachda, North Cairngorms

The route itself was a steep snow ramp , followed by iced up rocky couloir and then a step rock and ice section before topping out over snowy broken ground onto the arctic summit plateau of the Cairgorms. The point of telling you this? At no point in all my movement, climbing, grabbing gear, standing at belays or anything else did i get annoyed with a flapping hood, tricky to access pocket or the jacket riding up as I climbed on my axes. basically it was perfect! The dropped back and clever articulation throughout the cut of the jacket means movement is totally unhindered, no matter how gymnastic.

20171230_110148.jpg
Testing in full conditions (thanks to Davy for the pic). Notice pockets still accessible and helmet fitting well under the adjustable hood. 

The cuffs can be cinched as much as wanted d off via the Velcro tabs and the chin guard is layered in soft fabric so wont rub your face red raw.  A helmet fits under the hood perfectly with draw cords allowing for individual fit.

The wind as mentioned was ferocious when out of the lee of the hill but while I could feel its edge I wasn’t cold. Tired and elated yes.. but very comfortable !

Its here that eVent and GoreTex differ I believe (and I’m open to say don’t have any science to back this up – if any GoreTex Brands out there want to,  just get in touch and I can happily test one ) .

If you tend when climbing or walking, to feel the cold the windstopping properties of Gore will work better for you , bit you sacrifice comfort and potentially breath-ability for it. For eVent you may feel the wind a smidge more but you can breathe well and dont get such a stiff fabric so if you tend not to run cold its ideal.

Weather wise the Orkan didnt get the full deluge test yet , snow and ice made no ingress on the membrane and it beaded perfectly and retained a dry top feel, but back home it was bucketing with rain and it seemed to stand up to it fine, beading well, not wetting out (as I live in Glasgow this test will continue often! )

My verdict overall on my heavily discounted, “unknown brand” eVent Shell?

Its a keeper!

So much so that within 24hrs I had sold on my Rab NeoShell and look forward to more mountain days in the Fjern.

Whether you are walking, scrambling or winter climbing I genuinely recommend this shell. It feels great and looks pretty smart too (I know less important but still a decision point for some).

You can connect with Fjern on Instagram here . They stock a small but focused range of both mens and womens clothing and I will certainly be checking out other items.

Their site can be reached here .

For completeness I didn’t receive this jacket as a test “freebie” but purchased it so I hope you read my test as genuine. All feedback welcome! And if any brands would like me to do an honest test and review please do get in touch,

 

20171228_113434.jpg
Subtle rear detailing.

24 responses to Fjern Orkan on test

  1. FJERN says:

    We’ve stumbled across your review of our ORKAN shell and wanted to say how pleased we are that you like it! We hope it continues to keep you warm & dry for many years to come. Thanks for all your positive feedback

    Liked by 1 person

    • coachmacca says:

      Cheers guys . Range looks great , focused and well designed. Looking forward to trying others – good luck with the brand !

      Like

  2. Matt says:

    I’m really pleased to read this as I too have taken the plunge on the unknown brand Orkan shell! I want to use it for mtb touring and walking so am hoping it is as breathable and vent-able as the spec and your review suggests.
    Good review. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • coachmacca says:

      Hi Matt let me know how you get on ans we could do a follow up test. Got to say I found the eVent as breathable as neoshell but feel far more robust !

      Like

      • Matt says:

        Hi Macca, I gave the jacket a good go at the weekend. Great fit and material feels much nicer than GT (softer, more comfortable). Vents work well and I never overheated. Didn’t get too sweaty either. Had a bit of rain but not enough to really test the jacket. I forgot I was wearing it which is a good sign. The only problem I had was that the main zip grip came off about 3rd pull!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Stephen Walsh says:

    Thanks to this review and following you on Instagram I think I’ll pull the trigger on the Fjern Arktis jacket, my Mammut has served me well. I do like a none mainstream brand and Fjern looks ideal.
    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rory says:

    Thanks for the review. What size did you buy & what height /weight/build are you?

    Like

    • coachmacca says:

      Hi I’m 6’1 , about 83kg .. 42″ chest.. guess athletic build. I chose Large and its got some room for layers but pretty ideal

      Like

  5. Aileen says:

    I was also wondering about this brand on sportpursuit so was delighted when I came across your review and a link to the site as I couldn’t find any reviews through google or any gear junkie sites.
    One strange thing – do you see that the sales link leads straight back to sportpursuit and the discounted price and a 404 error page. I wonder why? Is sportpursuit the only place you can buy this product?

    Like

  6. JM says:

    Good to read your review Macca – I picked up one of these jackets recently as I wanted to try an event membrane shell and the price seemed ok. It looks good, and i’m looking forward to putting it through the paces in the Pyrenees in the next couple of weeks.

    I did also notice, though, like the commenter above, that it appears to be a Sportpursuit product, and I wondered how much you knew about that? I mean, it seems like a cool brand, I love the designs and logo and colours and all, but it’s a bit hard to know where it really comes from. Maybe that doesn’t matter so much, since you do refer to it as an “unknown brand”, but it may throw the notion of the heavy discount into a different perspective.

    Anyway, I might check out your mate’s reviews of the other items. I’d be interested to check out the Fjern mid-layers if this Orkan jacket proves itself as worthy as you suggest.Cheers!

    Like

    • coachmacca says:

      Hi JM , Fjern is actual a small UK company, not part of Sportpuruit (which is a resell site) – tight portfolio of quality products IMHO (which I think is a positive) their main site is here http://fjern.equipment/#/ – Davy also really likde the mid and gillet , i m thinking of buying one myself (i have too much gear) . I was out in a pretty horrible Scottish winter day yesterday and again the Orkan did very well!

      Like

  7. Charles Rodriguez says:

    I have the teal/orange version. I wore it for a weeks skiing in the Alps including 2 days of solid downpour. It kept me totally dry with a great hood (over a helmet) and collar. Fab styling and function.

    Like

  8. Gam says:

    Has any one tasted Fjern
    Mens Arktis Down Hooded Jacket yet? Im doing Everest Marathon in 2019 (29th of May), but prior to the Marathon, we have to trek 9-10 days up to the base camp where the Marathon starts. So Im looking for a descent down jacket!!

    Like

  9. Tom says:

    Really really appreciate the time taken to write this and am buying my own.

    Like

    • coachmacca says:

      Great to hear! Would be great to hear your feedback, I’m looking forward to another Scottish winter of testing 🙂

      Like

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