Friday, March 23, 2018

Gear Closet: Fjällräven Polar Expedition Fleece Review

All week long I've been reviewing the latest gear from Fjällräven, with everything I've looked at so far falling into the company's new Bergtagen line of mountaineering gear. Today however, I'm going to take a look at an entirely different piece of gear that was still incredibly useful and welcome on my recent trip to Arctic Europe, where staying warm directly came down to the clothes you were wearing. In addition to the amazing other outdoor apparel I packed for that journey, I also took the Fjällräven Polar Expedition Fleece, and it proved to be worth its weight in gold in a number of situations.

It is important to point out that most of my travels across Norway, Finland, and Sweden were conducted above the Arctic Circle, often in windchills that dropped the temperature down to as low as -40ºF/C. So of course we needed warm clothing to keep us comfortable, whether we were dogsledding, snowshoeing, or just walking across town to dinner. The Polar Expedition Fleece worked well in all of those conditions, offering up a surprising amount of warmth for a relatively lightweight jacket. On top of that, this garment looks great, giving it enough versatility to allow it to fit in when you're on an active excursion or simply walking around town.

The Polar Expedition Fleece features a rugged, durable knitted outer layer that resists wear and tear, allowing the jacket to maintain its good looks even when its been put through the wringer. On the inside, the coat is lined with a super-soft teddy wool blend that feels great against the skin. The tough outer-facing materials do a good job of preventing too much wind from penetrating the jacket, while the inner lining traps heat and keeps it close to the body. The result is an incredibly comfortable piece of gear that can be worn on its own or as part of a larger layering system, to keep the wearer well protected from the elements, even in extreme conditions.

Other nice features of this jacket include a two-way zipper for temperature and moisture regulation, a drawcord adjustment in the hem, and an extremely warm and adjustable hood. Fjällräven has also reinforced sections of the jacket with its proprietary G-1000 Eco fabrics, which are popular in its line of trekking pants. Here, they serve to add an extra layer of durability where it s needed, such as in the elbows and shoulders. Two zippered hand pockets are also highly useful for stuffing small items like a smartphone, or for keep gloveless hands well protected from the wind and cold.

As with everything from Fjällräven, the first thing you're likely to notice about the Polar Expedition Fleece is just how high quality everything is. From the intricate stitching on the jacket itself, to the rugged zippers, and over-built drawcords, this is a jacket that is built to last. That makes easy to recommend to adventure travelers, winter campers, and polar explorers alike, as it is just head and shoulder above any other hooded fleece that I've come across so far.

I've used the world "comfortable" a number of times already in this review, but there simply isn't any better word to describe how this fleece jacket feels. After putting it to the test in Arctic, I can safely say that it is the perfect jacket for cold weather active pursuits. It's athletic cut hugs the body nicely, helping to keep cold winds from penetrating the interior. At the same time however, it doesn't inhibit your motion in anyway, which comes in handy when you're running with the huskies or snowshoeing through a frozen forest. The best part is, when you transition back to town, you can hit the local restaurant or pub without missing a beat, which is the level of versatility that travelers really appreciate.

Priced at $280, this is another Fjällräven product that isn't aimed at the mainstream consumer, unless that person happens to live in cold climates. But for those of us who require outstanding performance from our gear, it is once again well worth the asking price. Anyone who has to spend a great deal of time outdoors during the winter months will appreciate what it brings to the table, and will probably find themselves reaching for it often. As with all outdoor gear, you tend to get what you pay for. In the case of the Polar Expedition Fleece, what you're getting is a jacket that will protect you from the elements, while keeping you looking good at the same time.

Find out more on the Fjällräven website.

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