Fjern Breen Insulated Jacket on (long) test

I received my sample Fjern Breen jacket very late 2019 and have been using it ever since both casually and in the mountains so have had ample time to really “get to know it” well so time to post my thoughts which I hope will help others make decisions when choosing outdoor gear.

The Breen is a part of the now pretty extensive but still “boutique” sized collection at Fjern – and can be viewed on their site here (will open in a new tab so you can still read this review). Its designed (based on Fjerns positioning) to act as a great outer insulated layer when its cold and dry or as a warm mid layer under a waterproof shell for when the wet stuff falls (or comes in horizontally as it does here in Scotland!).

One thing I think Fjern are consistently doing well is bringing good quality outdoor gear at prices real people can afford… I shy away from “cheap” gear and some brands I’m sorry to say i just wont tough for fear they will fail but Fjern bucks that trend 100% in my humble.

Designed with GEO-THERM synthetic insulation by Thermolite (not a name I know but turns out after much googling they make high performance outdoor insulated fabrics for many brands and are part of the Lycra group of companies (more info here ) – the technology mimics natural fibres like polar bear fur to trap heat and act a great insulator but be light at the same time.
With better wet weather performance and lower cost than down this meets many people’s needs for a high warmth to weight ratio insulation which is anti-bacterial and kind to ducks!

The Breen comes in around 485G (M) so isnt heavy by any means but not quite as light as some featherweight down’s I have but then again they are different approaches and synthetic has its use cases (it performs better when wet typically for example).

The main body of the Breen is a pretty lofty amount of Thermolite under a DWR treated shell material (so will deal with light rain, snow or mist but not the full monty) which is soft and light to the touch, very comfy and flexible to wear and not heavy on the body in the slightest. Not as light as some super light down options but apples to oranges and all that when it comes to cost, materials etc

Running from waist to cuff under the arms is a panel of stretch breathable fabric that for me not only regulates heat pretty well while on the move but also provides extra flex and stops the jacket riding up when you lift your arms etc . The hood has a part Thermolite fill and is designed by Fjern to be relatively snug (without being tight) to go under a helmet if used in a climbing scenario (not tested yet). There is a lovely soft fabric chin guard inside and 2 generous side pockets as well as a very generous mesh pocket inside.

bit hard to see but the underarms down to waist have a flexible and breathable fabric panel

The inside pocket is great and roomy and made of a thin stretchy mesh so doesn’t add weight or irritate and is ideal for storing things like gloves or even a map and the jacket can be rolled up into it for storage . The side pockets again are handy and quite roomy and I think Fjern have put some thought into their design as they are accessed by a long zip which should get round some common belt issues but I have a pet hate around side pockets – if you are wearing a harness or rucksack belt they tend to be hard to get into albeit easier on the Breen – for me EVERY outdoor jacket should have a napoleon/chest pocket (or even 2!) for easy access on the move.

Cuffs are elasticated for a decent seal against the elements but not too tight (for me anyway) to restrict getting on or off or too tight on your wrists . The hood also has a stretch binding and once fully zipped up and with its well shaped /profile did tend to stay up and snug in wind as it doesn’t “balloon” but it does lack drawstrings if these are a deal breaker for you (not for me.. adds weight). Zips are ubiquitous but robust YKK and internally covered by that chin guard to avoid irritation. The hem does have a drawstring for closing in tight against wind if needed.

I’m 6’1 and have quite broad shoulders and lengthy arms and found the Breen was great in the arm length and offered enough room around chest and shoulders for ease of movement and comfort, even over a shell. If you prefer a snugger fit and are about or below my size id suggest going for a Medium (I have Large )

As the winter climbing season 19/20 really didn’t happen much for me due to work commitments and travel (remember travel?) i wore it around Glasgow often but the first real chance I got to put the Breen through it paces was a ski trip to Valdisere. Packs down small, light to carry and very comfy to wear with decent insulating properties was my finding. Roomy enough to wear over a mid layer but not too bulky so as to be uncomfortable under a shell if needed (again its coated in DWR not fully waterproorf ) so cold/dry days or on the piste are ideal use cases and its flexibility and room would make a great ski jacket (albeit lacking arm pocket for passes) . I used it every night for mooching around Val and one day on the slopes and basically never gave it a second thought – which really is the aim ! It just works well .

More recently I have used the Breen out on the Scottish hills where as we all know conditions can be .. well.. “variable” . At the risk of repeating myself again it’s not heavy to pack, very comfy to wear and with the combination of Thermolite and fabric I found I could move it very well and not get too hot when the wind got up and temperature dropped somewhat.

That internal pocket proving hand for a map as mentioned and the hood with its soft inner lining sitting well and not obscuring my vision at all. In the photos I’m wearing it as I would mostly when its not raining – i.e. over a light shell – for me this is its ideal use case – on the move or sitting for a bite, over a light shell or midlayer in Autumn/Winter/Early Spring when you need that extra layer.

The hood is nice and neat without being too tight (over a shell here – the orange bit) and with an elasticated cuff and soft chin guard behind the zip. Not the collar comes up well but isn’t too tight as to be uncomfortable.

For me its a little bulky to act as a real mid layer in my system , I tend to use much lighter items / fleece for that. My key takeaway is this jacket just does its job well, comes in a very attractive price point and is a real challenger to some big brands ! – and I’m looking forward to getting a lot more use out it heading into Winter 20/21 !

Last point – price … the best deals for Fjern are on Sport Pursuit and right now the Breen is going for a STEAL !

For  ore info see Fjerns website , below are specs as published

Features:

  • Synthetic ‘GEO-THERM Powered by Thermolite’ Eco-recycled insulation
  • Matt finish, wind repellent Nylon ripstop outer fabric with DWR (Durable Water Repellent)
  • Underarm & side panels made from breathable fabric to aid temperature regulation
  • No-lift gusseted underarms
  • Partly insulated ‘under helmet’ hood with stretch binding
  • Soft Tricot panels inside hood, for added warmth and comfort
  • YKK front zip & internal insulated zip baffle with Tricot chin guard
  • YKK zipped hand pockets with warm Tricot lining
  • Corded zipper pulls are easy to grab, even whilst wearing gloves
  • Internal mesh pocket that doubles as a stuff sack
  • Stretch elastic bound cuffs for a flexible fit
  • Reflective logo
  • Adjustable drawcord hem
  • Hanging loop
  • Packable into internal mesh pocket
  • Garment weight (size M) 485gm
Nice roomy, soft mesh inside pocket , great for a map or gloves!

…. as a Final, last point….A few readers have asked if my blog is Fjern funded as I tend to review their kit but let me be clear for those at the back – it’s not.

I bought my first bit of Fjern kit (the Orkan jacket) off Sport Pursuit (a great place to get superb gear at good prices) as I needed a winter shell and it was a great price having had shells of various big name brands and in many an exotic fabrics – and it performed (still does) from there my blog and the Orkan got a lot of views as did my Instagram account , and Fjern kindly offered me 2 jackets to test for feedback for them in their designs – and this is one of them. Trust me if it didn’t work I wouldn’t be putting myself in situations deep in winter in the Cairngorms climbing in it.. that’s just insane !

The Breen is also available in Navy / Rust and is on my Highly recommended list as much for the price vs performance factor .. you will struggle to beat that combo elsewhere!

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