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Ryan Kay puts this tough, super-waterproof shell jacket from Fjällräven to the test and comes away singing its praises
Fjällräven is fast becoming a popular brand in the British shooting scene. And that’s no surprise, as the quality and durability of the products on offer make them hard to overlook for anyone taking part in country pursuits. The company carries a royal warrant from the King of Sweden, and when it comes to designing and wearing the right kit for battling against the elements, the Swedes certainly know what they’re doing!
We’ve tested several Fjällräven garments and they’ve never failed to impress, so when trying on their Varmland Jacket, expectations were high.
At £350 it’s not cheap, and that price tag does open up other options from top competitors. However, Fjällräven seems to differ from the pack, and it’s certainly carved out its own niche with unique jackets and trousers that will perhaps sit in the marketplace as being that little bit more diverse.
For starters, the outer material is Fjällräven’s own unique and very hard-wearing flagship G1000 textile, which, as we’ve mentioned before, features comprehensively across a wide range of its products. It’s a densely woven fabric consisting of 65% polyester and 35% high-quality cotton, which is then treated with Greenland Wax. I kid you not, I have a pair of their G1000 Barents-Pro trousers that have been worn over 100 times and there are barely any signs of wear. This jacket is actually made from an eco-silent version, so there’s less rustle when moving about. All press-studs are also silent – with no ‘pop’, just a soft press! I counted nine pockets (two of which have a small separate net pocket inside), including large bellows pockets, zippered chest and inner pockets and an easily accessed ammunition pocket on the left forearm. One of the bellows pockets also has holders for shotgun cartridges. My favourite feature, which is included on many of its jackets, is the radio attachment tab on the left shoulder; I’ve also found this quite handy for tucking my dog whistle out of the way.
Waterproofing is by way of a Hydratic lining that works very well at keeping rain out and letting body moisture out, too.
If you’re expecting to fork out for an all-in-one winter shooting jacket of a traditional type then it’s fair to say that this jacket is not that. Although it still can be your main jacket if you change your thinking, as it is in fact a shell, and a very good one at that. There is no padding anywhere, but the more generous cut does allow for layering underneath – and I like that. It then gives you more options: you get to wear the jacket more often and simply layer accordingly – it doesn’t become an all-or-nothing big jacket day, if you see what I mean. However, if you’d like to increase the overall warmth then there’s a hidden zip that allows for the Fjällräven Varmland padded jacket to be fastened inside. I also like the Harry Hill-style collar that rides up high and comfortably around your neck, keeping warm air in, but if it does get too warm then there are zippered vents under the arms. The collar hides a neatly tucked-away safety hood too.
This coat is also of considerable length, more befitting of a smock but without that appearance, and I think that comes down to where the hand-warmer pockets are situated. Instead of the usual below-chest hand-warmer pockets that are found on most jackets, these are positioned much lower, snugly located behind the top of the bellows, and here you can also tighten the fit via access to the drawstrings.
I can see this jacket suiting many roles in the shooting arena – shooters, triallers, beaters and especially stalkers, as it’s smart enough for a shoot day and durable enough for ploughing through the undergrowth.
In summary, this is a very tough, versatile wind- and waterproof shell of excellent quality, that will most definitely last!
It’s always worth shopping around online before you purchase to ensure you’re getting the best price.
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