This summer, I went on adventures in the French Alps, where I took along a jacket from the new Helly Hansen Odin range. Because this softshell jacket was designed for mountaineering, hiking, camping and trekking, it seemed like a perfect match with my activities. I will give the details of my experience below and summarize my conclusion at the bottom of this page.
Helly Hansen is a Nordic enterprise known for its clothing developed for sailing. They have a broad collection of outdoor clothing for, among other activities, hiking, trail running, mountaineering and skiing. Recently they brought a new line of hard- and softshell jackets to the market called ‘Odin’. During one month of trekking and other activities in the mountains, I tested the Odin Pro Shield Fleece Jacket, a softshell jacket with a fleece layer inside.
The jacket features a hood, a drawstring at the bottom to adjust the fit, deep pockets with a zipper and a smaller chest pocket with a zipper. The hood has a brim and is extra wide to fit over a helmet. The bottom of the sleeves is partly elastic to facilitate putting the jacket on and off. The jacket weighs 575 grams and can be folded up to approximately 20 by 20 by 7.5 cm (3L).
The jacket is available in light yellow, dark green and black. Helly Hansen puts a lot of effort into producing sustainably, which is a great asset. It is a member of bluesign®, which means the production is monitored to have a reduced overall footprint with a particular focus on the used chemicals. To illustrate, the water-repellent formula of the Odin Pro Shield Fleece jacket is PFC-free. On their website, you can read more about Helly Hansen’s sustainability focal points.
I was pleasantly surprised when the jacket arrived: it is not like the stiff softshell jackets I am familiar with, but it is very souple instead and feels more like a sweater. The fleece layer on the inside is thin but very comfortable. The combination of windproof material on the outside and fleece on the inside makes that this jacket can keep you warm during cooler evenings and mornings (10-15 degrees). I brought the jacket in my 20-liter backpack during a fastpack trip with daily outings between 5 and 8 hours. It served me well when arriving in a hut so I had something to wear in the cooler evenings, but also when it was too cool in the mornings for a t-shirt and when there was a sudden change in weather.
I was curious about its water-shielding abilities because the jacket feels like a sweater. Also, for this matter, I was pleasantly surprised as the jacket could keep me dry during short, light periods of rain. However, I have yet to test it in hefty rain simply because it was dry and sunny throughout the month. The jacket is marketed as water resistant and not as waterproof, so I assume that some light rain is the most it can shield you from.
In terms of comfort, the Odin Pro Shield fleece jacket is super: it breaths very well, fits well and combines well with a backpack. It is unlike traditional softshells, which can feel stiff and sweaty. This makes it a good choice for activities with a bit higher intensity than just your average evening stroll. Nevertheless, it is not designed for sports activities and gets too warm when used.
The fit was not quite right, as the body seemed too large compared to the sleeves. This made it feel like I had too much fabric beneath my backpack. Nevertheless, the women’s style is fitted at the waist, which looks nice. The back is a bit longer on purpose, so it does not creep up your back or make the rain seep into your pants. The pockets are too large, making the content bounce around when you move more actively.
I was wearing a light yellow colour, which is not an excellent choice for any outdoor person, and, as expected, it got very quickly (and visibly) dirty. I recommend one of the darker colours. Although the jacket can be machine washed at 40 degrees, I did this successfully at 30 degrees.
Pros & Cons
- Pros: warm but breathable, good-looking, comfortable, details like helmet fitting hood with stiff brim, elastic sleeves and front chest pocket
- Cons: narrow sleeves for wide body, light colour, somewhat heavy and big to pack
- Best match for: active hikers or mountaineers going for outings in the spring and autumn
This jacket is an excellent match if you are looking for a breathable but relatively warm jacket for active outings in the spring or autumn that will also keep you dry in light periods of rain. Because the jacket protects you against weather conditions, it is perfect for taking along in the mountains, where you cannot always predict the weather and where it cools off at night.
On the other hand, the jacket is less of a match when looking for something fully waterproof that shields you from more extreme weather conditions, like snow or cold. It is also less suitable when you are quickly warm and sweating during active outings and aiming to use a jacket in temperatures around 18 degrees. Also, there will be enough space for this jacket in most one-day and trekking backpacks, but if you are looking to pack minimally and light, this jacket is relatively heavy and oversized. Overall I can conclude that Helly Hansen came with a very comfortable, good-looking and practical jacket with their new Odin Pro Shield Fleece jacket.