Jottnar is a new British company producing a small range of clothing ‘with the most savage conditions in mind’. Not for summer strolls then but some of the items certainly look good for hillwalking including the Hymir which is the lightest of two waterproof tops, the other being the Bergelmir jacket, a ‘technical mountain shell’ weighing 510 grams and costing a hefty £450. Both are made from different weights of Polartec Neoshell, my favourite 100% waterproof material as it is the most breathable I’ve tried and also soft and comfortable. The Hymir is made from the lightest version of Neoshell, which has a weight of 96 grams per metre square. It still feels quite robust and certainly suitable for year round use.
The smock design of the Hymir helps keep the weight down (no full length zip) and to this end there are also few features. The hood has a wired brim and is helmet compatible though it isn’t as gigantic as some and can easily be cinched down for a close fit with the rear volume adjuster and the two front drawcords. It moves with the head too, combining excellent protection with good visibility. There’s just one pocket on the chest. It’s very roomy and easily takes a map. The pocket zip is water-resistant, which could leak in very heavy rain. However the pocket is made of Neoshell so even if it does no rain would get inside the jacket. The half-length front zip is a water-resistant one too but this has a stiffened flap inside it to repel any slight leaks. In heavy rain I’ve had no ingress here. There are Velcro tabs at the cuffs that can be easily adjusted when wearing gloves. The length is quite short at the front but there is an extended back that just covers my backside. The hem has a drawcord.
The cut is described as ‘athletic, streamlined, articulated’. I decided that meant I should try a Large size rather than my usual Medium (‘athletic’ and ‘streamlined’ often mean tight for the stated size) and that has proved the right decision as it means I can wear the Hymir over a thick fleece or light insulated top if necessary. I prefer a larger fit for smocks anyway as it makes getting them on and off easier. The fabric does have a little stretch so a close fit shouldn’t be restrictive if you prefer it. There are four sizes in total – S-XL.
I like smocks as they do away with the lower section of the main zip, which I rarely use except when taking the jacket on and off as it’s covered by a hipbelt, and are always lighter than a jacket made from the same fabric. I don’t miss lower pockets either as these are also covered by a hipbelt. A second chest pocket would be nice but that would add weight. Smocks are slightly more difficult to get on and off than a jacket but I’ve never found this too much of a hassle as long as the smock is roomy enough.
The wet spring and early summer has given me ample opportunity to test the Hymir and it has stood up to everything from torrential rain to steady daylong drizzle. It’s certainly waterproof and, as expected with Neoshell, very breathable. It’s not condensation free of course, nothing is, but at present this is as good as it gets with any 100% waterproof fabric. It’s also windproof of course (Polartec says 99.9% windproof – I defy anyone to notice that 0.1%).
Overall I’m impressed with the Hymir. It reminds me of a favourite from some years ago, the Rab Demand Pull-On smock, made from eVent, that I used on the Pacific Northwest Trail in 2010. The Hymir weighs a bit more but it is slightly longer and has adjustable cuffs (the Demand Pull-On has elasticated ones). Neoshell also needs less care than eVent. The Demand hasn’t been available for some time anyway. The Hymir is an excellent replacement. The price and weight of £230 and 350 grams are both on the low side for a Neoshell top and I think for backpacking and hillwalking in wet conditions the Hymir makes a very good choice. You have to like blue though, as that’s the only colour.