Thursday, March 22, 2018

Gear Closet: Fjällräven Bergtagen Woolmesh Sweater Review

On my recent trip to Arctic Europe I was outfitted for the journey by Swedish brand Fjällräven, who hooked me up with some incredible gear to keep me warm, dry, and comfortable in the cold conditions. Over the course to this entire week, I'll be sharing my thoughts and reviews of the majority of that gear and letting you know why it should be in your gear closet as well. Most of the products I tested fell into the company's new Bergtagen line, which is a complete system built specifically with mountaineers in mind. That makes this gear a bit on the pricy side for the average consumer, but for the mountain professional, the guide, the avid adventurer, or explorer, this is the equipment you're going to want to have at your disposal, as it delivers amazing performance in the absolute worst of conditions.

If you asked any of my friends and family, they'd probably tell you that they seldom see me in a weather. For the most part, I'm not a big fan of those types of garments, and I usually don't need the extra layers during a regular cool or cold weather day. But, amongst the gear that I took with me to the Arctic was the Fjällräven Bergtagen Woolmesh Sweater, which I soon discovered was not only warm and comfortable, but incredibly well made too. By the time I had worn it on a few outdoor excursions in Lapland, I was already a convert.

At its heart, the Woolmesh Sweater is a technical baselayer made from a blend of merino wools and synthetic fibers to create a mesh that offers all of the amazing properties that wool has to offer with a touch of added durability. For those that don't know by now, merino is warm, breathable, and wicking, while also having antimicrobial properties that help to keep it from collecting odors, even after wearing it for prolonged periods of time without washing.

When creating this sweater, Fjällräven used a body-mapping technique to get the perfect fit to wrap the body comfortably in this warm garment. The fit is not he athletic side, but the materials are so soft, stretch, and flexible that you barely even know that you have it on. It also plays nicely with an insulating and shell layer as part of a much larger layering system. Indeed, when paired with the Bergtagen Insulation Parka or Eco-Shell Jacket, having this sweater next to the skin certainly paid dividends when traveling above the Arctic Circle. When inside, the sweater was comfortable enough to wear on its own, even in drafty lodges, and when outdoors it proved to be an undeniable asset in frigid temperatures.

As with all of the Bergtagen line of gear, the primary focus of the Woolmesh Sweater is for mountaineering in extreme places. But, this garment is so comfortable and stylish that I think it makes a great addition to any adventure travelers wardrobe, whether you're venturing into high places or not. It is versatile enough to be worn on a cold weather hike, walking around town, or out to dinner, and since it has all of those great merino properties, it is something that can be worn over and over again on a single trip, and still look – and smell – fresh.

Unlike some of the other items in the Bargtagen line-up, the Sweater isn't so expensive that it is completely out of the realm of possibility for the average consumer. Priced at $160, this article of clothing is a steal compared to some other sweaters I've seen that don't offer half the performance. As a technical baselayer, it performs above and beyond what much thinner baselayers offer, with extra warmth and moisture control when you need it most. It is also highly durable, making it a go-to item in your gear closet for a long time to come.

That said, just like the other Bergtagen products I've reviewed this week, the Woolmesh Sweater is probably overkill for most outdoor activities, and some will find it too warm for use during vigorous aerobic activity. But, for those who need to stay warm in the harshest of conditions and environments, this is yet another Fjällräven product that can't be beat. I know that it will find a place in my wardrobe  in the future when traveling to places where damp, cold weather is the norm. But more than that, my friends and family will be seeing me in this sweater far more than they ever thought.

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