The Arctic Fox on the shoulder speaks volumes. When I meet a traveler, and they are wearing Fjallraven, I know a few things off the bat. Either the person is:
- a) Scandinavian
- b) Well-traveled
- c) Well-heeled
- d) All of the above
I am merely a (b) and have been yearning for a Fjallraven jacket ever since I was freezing in Patagonia, and my Scandinavian companion was not. Well, in late October 2021, I took receipt of a Skogso Padded Jacket in Black XXL (as I am built like an aging Viking) and slid the jacket on with a broad smile. The problem with finally owning gear you have coveted for years is that the risk of disappointment is real. Would I be disappointed? Is the Skogso the new Land Rover Defender? Let’s find out.
My first impressions were excellent. The Skogso is a hip-length, lightly padded winter jacket in G-1000 material with a fixed, adjustable hood. G-1000 is the Fjallraven’s “cornerstone material,” used in everything from backpacks to jackets and trousers. It is a densely woven fabric made from 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton, and when treated with Greenland Wax, it’s adaptable to various climatic conditions. So with the proper care, it will last for ages and join you on all kinds of adventures. The Skogso is marketed as an ideal outdoor garment for the colder months; wind resistant and water resistant, the jacket ventilates out body moisture that builds up during activity. The synthetic padding G-Loft Supreme gives extra warmth, even in damp conditions, and the jacket is easy to move about in, with or without a backpack. The sleeves are pre-shaped, and the cuffs are adjusted with Velcro. The zipper is two-way covered with a protective flap with press buttons at the chin, chest, and hem. Practical storage abounds in several pockets: two vertical ones on the chest and two at the sides— all with zippers that have oversized pullers so they can easily be opened and closed with gloves on. In addition, there are two spacious mesh pockets on the inside, perfect for storing gloves or a hat. A drawcord can be used to adjust the bottom hem.
Slipping on the jacket, I was immediately impressed by the silky smooth 100 percent polyamide inner lining, and the fit was just right, with ample space for layering. According to the experts, layering is the key to dressing for extreme cold, and I soon found the jacket alone to be snug and comfortable for a brisk walk in light snow. The true test of the jacket would be a camp on top of a mountain in deep snow with minus temperatures; I set out to find such an environment. Getting a tad lost in the hills north of Boise, Idaho, provided the perfect opportunity after a late-evening drive on a virgin snow path, avoiding a road closed by a small avalanche. I layered up with a T-shirt, cotton hoodie, and the Skogso and set about getting camp ready while enjoying the frigid air on my face and snowflakes falling gently around me. Was I cold? No, I certainly was not.
Over the next six winter months, exploring the Pacific Northwest and multiple icy passes and camps, the Skogso jacket became my go-to winter jacket, with layering for cold, windy nights and without layering for clear, blue-sky days. The jacket was also tough enough to handle the abuse of day-to-day use around camp and on the road. Chopping wood for the campfire or cabin wood burner, the Skogso sat well on my frame, allowing freedom of movement, wicking moisture away from the body. Hiking, long walks, and general activity was a pleasure, and often I would stop and unzip the jacket to cool down. Wearing goat-leather gloves, the wrists of the sleeves would Velcro fasten to seal in warmth. The G-1000 material (unwaxed for the purpose of this review) resisted moisture and dirt while drying quickly when wet. The length of the jacket is just right, and the tail ensures that your lower back is not exposed to inclement weather when bending and being generally active. Some reviewers of this jacket (and other Fjallraven garments) have suggested that a buyer should size down when selecting a garment as Fjallraven’s clothing tends to be a tad on the larger size. I found that the jacket’s volume made it more comfortable and practical for everyday use. The black jacket is jet black and stays jet black even after a few washes to remove the smoky campfire Eau de Overlander.
My only single negative is (surprisingly, not the price; $350 is very reasonable considering the overall quality of the jacket) that the main torso zip is fiddly and the tag too small for practical use with thick winter gloves. Often, when impatient and layered up, wearing gloves, it was a struggle to zip the jacket. A larger, broader zip and zip tags may be more suitable for this type of winter jacket.
Overall I am very impressed with the Skogso jacket and look forward to this being my go-to winter jacket for many years to come, given the performance of the materials and the apparent manufacturing quality. With the addition of Greenland Wax, I expect that the jacket will perform even better in extreme weather and might seriously be considering a journey to the Arctic in winter to test this assumption.
$350 | fjallraven.com