Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fjallraven Greenland Winter Jacket Review

Winter jackets are not cheap with all their extra padding and special design features related to warmth or water resistance. At the same time, they endure some of the worst weather and abuse. Salt, snow, dirty snow from passing cars, and maybe rain at the end of the season. And because they're thick and used when interiors are usually heated, they get taken off and stowed anywhere one can find. How does one get over buying an expensive item that almost can't be babied?

I used to just buy the cheapest coats I could find with little thought given to how they looked. That changed a few years ago when I started collecting more expensive winter coats. First, though, maybe I should start throwing some figures around to define "expensive". I would consider anything over CA$ 300 to be on the more expensive side when it comes to winter jackets. So, back to when things changed: I decided to splurge on a pea coat, topcoat, and a sportier water resistant coat within a few months. That sportier coat was a Fjallraven Greenland that was around CA$ 300 despite being on sale at the store I bought it at.

It has since been worn for at least two to three winters before being replaced by a Cantwell. This is one of those longer lasting styles so I thought I'd do a longer, more proper review than the small blurb I did in the past. Note that this jacket was purchased in 2009 so features may have changed since. The jacket is shown below and is an XS.

2009-ish Fjallraven Greenland Winter Jacket
Fjallraven Men's Greenland Winter Jacket
Paid: ~CA$ 300

Fjallraven Greenland Winter Jacket Overview
Infrared: Fjallraven Greenland Winter Jacket in Color

How the Greenland looked was one of the main things that drew me to it initially. The jacket had a simple design without anything too flashy. The arm patch was a nice detail too. What I never cared for was the Sherpa lining that stuck out at the hood. If it terminated at the neckline, it wouldn't have bothered me much. The problem was that the white interior stood out against the green shell when the hood was off. However, I recently saw someone wearing a Greenland winter jacket on public transit with the hood off and it looked okay.

Fjallraven is a European company. From my experience, European garments like those from H&M and Top Shop were much more fitted than the American brands that I was used to. Being a short and relatively fit person, this was good news on some fronts and bad news on others. The jacket's length and sleeves fit me fairly well, but the waist was clearly designed for someone slimmer in mind. I had to suck in a bit to do the zipper when wearing this jacket. Luckily, the double-zipper meant that I could unzip the bottom a bit to loosen it around the waist and make things more comfortable. The only other minor issue that bugged me was that the arms were a bit on the wide side for me. There was a bit more extra material than I would have preferred, even when I was wearing a sweater inside.

This was a very comfortable jacket for me. It didn't feel bone cold when I put it on and the Sherpa lining felt nice. The inside of the sleeves were not lined with Sherpa, so they were a bit cooler to the touch when I wore a t-shirt. And it was also relatively light and easy to move around in. I didn't feel my movement was restricted even when bending over.

Those two front, lower pockets with the flaps became the places where I kept everything from keys to cards to gloves. They were conveniently placed, easy to open, and fairly big. I usually kept them unbuttoned and only buttoned one of two buttons on each side when I wanted to make sure I didn't lose anything.

As for the other pockets, I rarely used the upper chest pockets or the interior "secret" pockets. Note in the picture above that the sleeves are tucked into a side-pocket behind the two lower front pockets. I only used those when the weather got really bad to keep my hands warm. Otherwise, they were placed a bit too far back for me.

I found the hood to be very warm in cold weather but a bit on the small side. The hood just about ended at my forehead and didn't hang over much to provide additional protection. Because of its relatively small size, it stayed on quite well even in windy weather. It did not have a draw string which would have been nice to help secure the hood a bit better.

An interior drawstring near the bottom of the jacket was also provided. I initially used it but left it at a relaxed, loose position after a while due to the aforementioned fit issues.

Water Resistance
Without ever adding any additional wax to the shell, the jacket held up quite well against snow even after being washed at least once. However, being a winter coat, I usually stopped wearing it before it saw heavy rain. I don't remember ever feeling water penetrating through the jacket -- I could be wrong though.

One winter, it got to the point where I completely stopped caring about how I looked. The temperature was so cold, around -10 C or lower, that I was probably ready to wear a garbage bag over my body for additional warmth. I was dying wearing just a pea coat because the wind just went straight through. That was when I took out the Greenland. It held up very well and the difference was huge. I found that the shell was pretty wind resistant and the jacket was plain warm. However, wind did get through in spots like the zipper or the waist. To be fair, I had the zipper slightly unzipped at the bottom to help with fit. It probably would have done better fully closed. In warmer weather, the jacket felt quite good a bit above freezing. I just took some layers off on the inside.

At least one wash in the machine, worn regularly over about 3 years, and no major durability issues were noted. Nothing broke and even the shell was still working well against snow. The only signs of wear were on the zipper. I do tend to baby my stuff though.

This jacket served me well for a few years. It held up in cold weather, and stood firm against wind and snow. For about CA$ 300, I found it to be a good value. And being a more toned down design, it would still look fine if I wore it today or probably even years later. It wasn't perfect though. I didn't care for the Sherpa lining peeking up past the hood. There were also some fit issues, but I could have probably avoided them by sizing up a size.

Score: 8/10

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