When the weather gets gnarly and people are smug sat indoors as rain lashes against closed windows, its time to put on something heavier duty.
Jottnar are relatively new to the outdoor industry, but created by two former Royal Marine Commandos, their knowledge of mountaineering and cold weather survival are widely acknowledged.
Though not aimed at the trail running market, the Hymair is a NeoShell® waterproof, designed to be minimal in features, but striking a large punch for every gram.
I’ve been a fan of NeoShell® since testing it a few years ago. The soft touch from the inner fabric and breathability are great for aerobic activities, whilst it keeps the wind and rain out with ease.
The Hymair is a stripped back pull-on. A long chest zip allows for some ventilation when the weather backs off and uncompromised running begins. Weighing in at 330g for a large, it provides winter protection without weighing you or your pack down.
Available in Digital Blue, the Hymir is constructed from Polartec’s 3 layer NeoShell® fabric. The version used is Polartec’s lightest weight Neoshell and is claimed to be the lightest Neoshell mountain jacket in the world.
I first wore this in the Lake District when the weather was less than ideal. Having both a lighter jacket and the Hymir in hand before I set off on a run, I wasn’t sure which to take. Would I run too hot? In the meantime, I had a lent a friend another NeoShell® jacket for the same run. Stepping out, both wearing similar jackets, our choice soon paid off, as high winds and a constant deluge, warranted the extra protection provided by the thicker shell.
NeoShell® claims to be more breathable then its rivals, exceling in all conditions and creating a balance between windproof, waterproof and true breathability. Even on the steepest climbs, it wasn’t like wearing a plastic bag and I was able to maintain a relatively stable temperature. If anything, I wished I was wearing a single base layer beneath. Sometimes you have to go a little heavier to achieve your goals, the pursuit of cutting weight isn’t safe. This is one such choice.
Despite the conditions, the jacket didn’t wet out and I was wet through water ingress when I had the hood down, rather than the sealed seams giving way.
So the material is mega. But what about features?
Although the Hymir is stripped back, it has enough features to satisfy the most loyal of gear geeks. First off, the cut. It hugs the body and is definitely athletic. I opted for a small (I’m 5ft 7”) and it was perfect for those high wind days when the last thing you want it excess material flapping like you’re a sail ship. The rear hem has a drop scoop added for extra protection when leaning forward and given you are dynamically moving constantly, this adds a well received level of extra protection to your posterior. It also means when you’re wearing a pack, there is less chance of the jacket riding up and leaving you exposed.Arms are articulated and don’t ride up when you fancy a scramble or attack a descent, flailing your arms for balance. The cuffs have Hypalon® adjusters, built to withstand cold hands wrenching them on bitter days. They keep the sleeves in place and seal out the rain well.As mentioned previously, there is a generous half zip for ventilation as well as a map pocket on the left breast. Jottnar have chosen to use YKK® Aquaguard® Coil zips with internal storm shields. Both worked well, they were easy to adjust and didn’t let any water through.One advantage of having a mountain jacket for winter trail running is the hood. Rather than being head hugging, it is helmet compatible which serves two purposes. Firstly, you have full adjustability via drawcords at the front and rear to fine tune your fit, which works really well with hats, headbands and a helmet if you so need. Secondly, the wired brim and deep chin guard mean you get greater protection then a lot of running specific offerings. More than one time, I found myself pulling it in tight and leaving just my eyes exposed when running into the wind and rain. Given the longevity of bad weather through a British winter, this is one feature that stands out to me and has made the Hymir a firm favourite for winter exploits.At the bottom of the jacket, the hem has a single adjustment cord, designed for use with one hand, which proved great when needed to pull things in a little tighter without having to slow down.
Finally, for those who like a super clean organised pack when not wearing the Hymir, it comes with a handy mesh stuff sack.
At £230 it isn’t cheap. With a lot of trail jackets coming in at between £100-150 it is a marked step up in spending. But, and I truly do mean this, if you are taking on the likes of the Spine Race, Tour De Helvellyn and other winter epics, what price do you personally put on comfort and above all safety.
Many could argue this isn’t a trail running jacket, but I say this is one of the best kept secrets until you have read thus far. For people looking at taking on more extreme style races, where the conditions look, excuse me for this, shit, and you know you will be exposed for hours, I would have no issues picking the Jottnar Hymir over something that weighed 50% less, knowing the protection and comfort it offers easily outweigh the weight penalty. In an age of the lighter the better, go against the grain and open your eyes to what else is on offer. Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised.