So we get to the last piece from my winter kit for 2013/14 and it’s the Jottnar Alfar.
Jottnar are a new brand set up by two ex-marines, both climbers. They’ve been active in some pretty interesting places. They’ve tied up with some well known outdoor pros, including Mike Pescod, so the pedigree is excellent. Techy kit designed by climbers, for climbers? Result.
The range is small but perfectly formed. The Alfar is a mid layer and it’s specced nicely for winter use. The sleeves, hood and sides are Powerstretch Pro, which is pretty much my go-to fabric for winter mid layers. You’ve got warmth with stretch and good breathability. The windproof body and top of the hood are insulated with Advansa Thermocool. Targetted insulation is definitely a smart play for winter climbing when you can go from full on trailbreaking steam train to standing around on freezing ledges over the course of the day. There’s a scoop tail to keep your bum warm and thumbloops to stop the sleeves riding up when you’re whacking ice tools in. The hood is slim and fits under a helmet. There are two handwarmer pockets that sit above harness height.
Also, look at that orange. That’s worth an extra point surely?
Attention to detail is excellent. The insulation doesn’t extend directly under your arms to limit the bulk and aid venting. There’s a baffle and garage for the main zip, you wouldn’t want to snag your beard when you’re traversing the icy wastes of Jotunheim would you? The hood fit is snug and it zips up high.
When it comes to how it performs on the hill, it’s nothing short of excellent. I’ve used it for low grade winter climbing in some really shonky conditions, along with winter backpacks and high camps. It’s been used in conditions where the camera doesn’t even come out of the bag, but it’s kept me warm and just as importantly, dry. The keen eyed will have spotted it poking out from under other layers in these pages over the winter months, it’s been getting a lot of use. The weather resistance of the core is good, so wear it on it’s own and you keep warm while you can vent via the sides and arms, the moisture management is excellent. The heat is retained and you don’t chill when you stop either, so you can leave your down jacket in your pack. Once you layer up over the top, you can still pop the hood up like an insulated balaclava and laugh at what the gods send your way.
This is an absolutely cracking opener from Jottnar. These guys know their stuff.
The tagline that Jottnar use is ‘conquer giants’. The branding is great, tying in Norse mythology with the urge we have to climb large frozen lumps of rock. Thor’s hammer Mjolnir is the symbol on the zip pull. If you do travel to the realm of the frost giants in the Alfar, you’ll be well protected. Jottnar may also be sending a message to the larger manufacturers of technical outdoor kit, there are some giants there that could see their market share shift over to these guys if Jottnar continue to produce kit of this standard. Highly recommended.