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.
The Below test is taken from the Sports Pursuit website and is the science bit (shortened)
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
- 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
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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,
55 responses to Fjern Orkan on test
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
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Cheers guys . Range looks great , focused and well designed. Looking forward to trying others – good luck with the brand !
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.
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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 !
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!
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Great review, my criteria for a new shell matched yours perfectly too. I was tempted by the Orkan but wasn’t certain it would be suitable for the Scottish winter. Given that my questions were answered in your review and confirmed by the updates in the comment section I have now purchased the jacket and have been very impressed. Thanks!
That great to hear – I am so impressed with their kit at the price point !
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.
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Great Stephen, be great to hear your feedback after use. Thanks for reading .
Thanks for the review. What size did you buy & what height /weight/build are you?
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
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?
Hi Aileen they are a very new UK company but am sure their website is working try http://www.fjern.equipmemt.com it should work 🙂 a friend.also review other items for myoutdoors.co.uk its very good
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!
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!
Ok, thanks for the prompt response, Macca. Good to hear.
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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.
Great to hear!
Hi, do you have an update on this jacket after a years use?
Hi Philip have to say I’m impressed , will be using agIn this winter .
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!!
Really really appreciate the time taken to write this and am buying my own.
Great to hear! Would be great to hear your feedback, I’m looking forward to another Scottish winter of testing 🙂
Would the pockets fit a folded os map?
Hi Steven yep no probs
I just bought a Fern baselayer….. also my first exposure to the brand. Instant success: warm, we’ll made and exceptionally stylish in a way that most outdoor gear isn’t and I definitely never expected from what is basically underwear. I’ll be looking out for them from now on.
I’m currently thinking about buying the jacket. Do you still like it after a year? Any unusual wear? Thanks for your help!
Hi Joe – still my go to shell in fact just had another Scot winter outing just before Christmas – cannot fault it whatsoever – very very happy with it
Thanks a lot for your quick reply… very much appreciated!
I’ll give the jacket a shot. Hope you’ll have many more great outings with it.
I have been trying out the Aktiv light down as well – basically living in it now !
And to you ! Maybe see you on a hill sometime 🙂
Hi, Interested in Fjern jacket but worried this is an an own-brand label belonging to SportPursuit. There is a post in the above thread relating to an attempt to buy directly from their website redirecting you to SportPursuit and I can confirm this is still happening: I like to buy from small UK-based manufacturers too but this seems to be a bit dodge IMO
Not really sure what to tell you Scotty – when I bought it the team were UK based , may now be a sub sid – it’s my standard winter shell – if you follow my IG you’ll see it a a lot – I didn’t get it free to review I bought it – and love it – now have their down (Aktiv) and basically love in it – the material is eVent which is same as many “big”brands so don’t see why I’d pay 3 times the price for same shell 🙂
Kann mir jemand was zur wasserdichte der Orkan sagen? Hat jemand jetzt mal einen Dauerregens damit durch gemacht? Nach dem meine zweite Gore Jacke undicht ist will ich die Fjern Orkan ausprobieren, benötige aber dringend eine absolut Dichte und robuste Jacke. Seit einem Jahr nutze ich auch die Daunenjacke von Fjern und bin absolut begeistert
Hi sorry it took me so long to respond. I don’t personally have experience of the Hurricane jacket I am sorry but thanks for reading and commenting.
This sounds like a jacket I need. How small can it be packed down?
Hi it’s a pretty robust jacket so isn’t designs to pack down super small as say a Haglogs LiM jacket – but I tend to roll it up into its hood for packing
Hi I have just recieved the Orkan jacket (women’s version) and I’m so disappointed in the bulk under the arms caused by the stiff pit zips and taping. Do you not find the material bunches up and pushed in to the armpits? I love the jacket othewise but I think it’s going to have to go back, it just seems so uncomfortable under the arms which appears to conflict with your review. As I cannot go to shops at the moment I can’t compare it to other jackets so this odd armpit discomfort may be normal?
Hi Lee , I wear it in winter so over layers – so it’s not something I’ve ever noticed . Most winter hard wheels have a stiffness in my experience and GoreTex can be even stiffer , I also wear it quite fitting based in body shape but of course we are all different ( I’m quite wide backed / shouldered ) sorry that was your experience – hope you can make it work but of not can you send it back ?
Thank you for your reply which was helpful.
Hi. Been reading the reviews and like the look of the Orkan Jacket. I think it’ll be a size Large for me but I have long arms. I’m 6’4″ with long arms/legs. I saw in an older review that you’re 6’1″. Do you feel you still have a good length of material in the arm? Thanks
Hi Andy – always a tricky one as we are all unique lol – I would say if 3” taller you may want to go a size up or contact Fjern to discuss
I bought one of these in orange so I’m visible when walking on roads etc. Love it so far. I’m 6ft 3 and have long arms. For once the arms fit great. The body is also long enough.
First of all, thanks for taking the time to review, came in handy when pondering buying one of these jackets. Took the plunge and thought I’d provide my tuppenceworth for anyone else a bit like myself.
Main issue for me is always whether to go L or XL as I generally sit right on the cusp. Pretty standard body and arm length so rarely do I find a problem there. After years I’ve got used to certain brands sizing, for example, Arc’teryx I’m always large, Haglofs always XL and so on.
I’m 185cm height (smidge under 6’1″), weighing in at 189kg (14 stone) and a 110cm chest (43inch).
Based on the comments above and the jacket description (athletic cut) I thought I better err on the side of caution and go for XL. Bit of spare material around the chest and underarm but not excessive and required for movement.
The main issues for me were twofold. The first being the size of the hood. In fact the size from neck to top of the hood. Even with cinching down it was still loose and flappy even with a helmet. I could have probably lived with it but not great.
The main issue however, was arm length. I have never come across a jacket with such long arms. I could barely see the tips of my fingers! Never had a jacket like this. All I can assume is the XL is designed for tall slim guys 6’3″ or taller.
Now pondering whether to send back and take my changes with a large or cut my losses and stick to a brand I’ve had more experience with.
In summary, for this who sit on the cusp of sizing, I’d say only go for the XL if you’re 192cm+ (6’3″) with fairly long arms.
NB: Should add, I’m absolutely gutted as the jacket looks and feel fantastic and for the money, it’s hard to go wrong ……. if it fits you!
Hope this is of use to someone …..
Hey, thanks for the great review. Looking to get one myself but hoping for it to double up as a waterproof cycling jacket as well. How packable would you say it is and is there much in the way of reflective detailing?
Hi, I’ve just ordered the Orkan and am gutted that the arms are so long. Really nice jacket and ticks all the boxes for me but in a size Medium the arms hang about 2cm longer than my outstretched hands. If I tie them around my wrist they scrunch up the arms and looks and feels ridiculous. Such as shame as got so excited after hours and hours of research. Back to the drawing board.
Hi Tom – sorry to hear that – I’ll avoid any short arm jokes 🙂 can only say it doesn’t happen to me
I want to buy myself a jacket, in size L, how long are the sleeves and how long are the jackets on the back?
Hi Andrii – always best to contact the manufacturer to get exact measurements – mine is currently packed away for winter so can’t measure it sorry .
Hi, I am Frank. Reading this quite some time after your post. Just fould a tempting offer by Sportpursuite. The measures and some of the comments are a but off putting though.
Is the cut of the jacket really for people with a very slim waist? Long arms would not be helpful either if I had to pull up the sleaves. Thanks for a comment in this regard.
Sorry Frank I totally missed your question ! It’s very hard to advise others on their fit/ body type etc as we are all unique – and lockdown means few of us have slim tummies lol – the arms are long enough for me ( I’m 6’1) , but no it’s not slim fit I’d say – I find very few are . Can always try and send back ? Good luck with the hunt
For sure like everyone is saying. This is a mark by a VERY bad company. Was about to buy a ‘green’ version jacket of theirs but suspicious about their site that says it’s made from sports enthusiasts bla bla. But no names, no personal profiles. So did the research. This is not some great ethical company of die hard hikers, it’s indeed as others say bloody Sports Direct, a huge unethical chain in the UK. Who have been in the news for ‘Victorian workhouse conditions’ in their factories. No wonder they have to create faux ethical/good vibe companies. Here is the proof it’s their’s https://opencorporates.com/statements/1042654400. Cheers.
Hi Andrea first thanks for taking the time to comment , like you over the years I have incredibly become keener on sourcing ethical product alternatives where able . This jacket has been with me now about 3 or 4 years , at the time it was a lot less obvious it was owned by SportPursuit ( not sports director at that time ) – but represented a superb quality jacket at a very keen price point – something I’m also keen to explore . Since then it seems SP has been acquired by Sports Direct . It’s sad indeed – for me smaller companies , run by “real” outdoor folks are the best to buy from – wherever it makes sense . Sadly my time machine is broken so I can’t go back and change that 😉 abs once bought I’m using until it needs replaced to get as much mileage out it abs reduce waste .
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