Update oktober 2015: I ended up liking the Vassi jacket so much that I decided to buy both the jacket and the bib pants. Hitting the snow with both this season and very much looking forward to it.
In the end, great gear is supposed to make you happy. Because it shuts out everything that can distract from what you are supposed to be doing. So you get to focus and just enjoy. And that is what the Vassi II Jacket and Pants did for me.
I tested the Vassi II Jacket first in Gargellen, Austria and later on in Riksgränsen, Sweden. Conditions varied from -15 degrees to +2 degrees celsius, sun and blue skies to minimal visibility, snow and high winds. Also, I have been wearing the jacket on an almost daily base in Holland, putting it through wind and rain.
Fit and look
The Vassi is typical of the Haglöfs and with it the more European fit. Whereas many US based brands have a looser, wider, more baggy fit, the Vassi has a tighter, slimmer fit while its still loose enough to enable you to move really easily. A fit I like more and which immediately felt very good. Regardless of this slimmer cut, there is still enough room under the jacket for mid and base layers as well as body armor. Under the pants I wore a crash pant and POC soft-shell knee protectors without having the pants pull or tighten. All through the day the jacket and pants are a joy to wear, so light you can hardly feel you’re wearing it. The fit also makes it just look good. The dark jacket combined really well with the blue pants in my case.
There are number of features to the jacket and pants which are worth mentioning. The snow skirt which attaches quite easily to the pants, the wide pockets on the inside of the jacket, the special pocket for a ski-pass, the smartly chosen fleeced chin guard on the high closing collar and the hood that can easily clear your ski helmet if need be and is easy to tighten and mold to fit.
But really worth mentioning are the ventilation zippers. First of all they are place quite smartly on the jacket; instead of running the zipper along the armpit, obviously a warm and sweaty spot so it would make sense, Haglöfs has placed the zipper diagonally running from the mid-back to the chest. What is so smart about it, is that if you do wear a backpack, the straps would block the zipper if it were run along the armpits. In this case the zipper runs roughly parallel to the line of the bak pack straps and the ventilation is not blocked by the straps. Another thing we noticed was that the zipper itself just opens the jacket wide, no mesh to keep out snow. So if you forget to close the zipper and do a powder run, or just fall, chances are you’ll get snow inside your jacket. But to be honest, it is meant to provide ventilation when your body really has to work for it. In that sense its a real ski-touring feature. The same principle is applied with two ventilation zippers on the outside of the upper legs, opening wide, no mesh.
The cuffs are also worth mentioning. At first I did’t really like the look of them. They’re very wide with a velcro strap which if you strap it tight, tightening the cuff, the fabric creases a lot. But on the mountain, and in comparison with cuffs from other jackets, I understood the use. The wide cuffs make it just so much easier to slip in the cuffs of your glove, and the velcro strap makes it easier to really tighten the glove and provides excellent seal and insulation.
Last but by no means least I have to mention the chest pocket with goggle wipe on elasticated leash. It’s good to wipe your goggle, but also the lens of your GoPro as well. I love this attention to detail.
Fabric and insulation
When I first got my hands on the jacket I had expected a lined jacket. But the Vassi Jacket and pants is real technical apparel. They are not lined and should be used in combination with a good thermal base layer and mid layer fleece. The fabric is a hardshell three layer Gore-Tex which is highly water en wind proof. When you are on the mountain the jacket and pants just work to perfection. When you have to work (during ascents for example) it keeps you cool, and at the same time it provides excellent protection against cold winds or the cold air rushing in your face as you bomb down the mountain.
The pants have a removable bib that I wore, keeping snow out of your pants if you might fall and just providing even better insulation to your lower back. They also include kevlar reinforced insteps and hems to protect against chafing while skiing or skitouring.
The only moments I have noticed that I miss a liner is the times I wore the jacket at home, standing outside watching my kids field hockey game. The jacket is not warm of itself, and if you don’t get the other layers right, it can feel chilly. But nothing you can’t solve by putting on an extra down jacket. So make sure you get the layers right, get your ass into gear and the Vassi will do the rest.
- 3 Layer Gore-Tex: excellent insulation
- Ventilation zippers
- Cit, fit and comfort
- Usability: cuffs prockets, zippers, hood
- Can miss warmth in day to day activities.
Vassi II jacket: between 500-600 euro’s
Vassi II pants: between 400-500 euro’s.