Chris Townsend reviews a new jacket for warmer weather
Fjällräven’s latest jacket, the Abisko Lite Trekking, is designed for warmer spring and summer weather. Fjällräven says if offers “an ideal balance of weather protection, ventilation and mobility”. The main fabric is G1000 Lite Eco 65/35 polyester/cotton, which is windproof and rain resistant and has good environmental credentials. However, there are stretchy fabric panels on the back, under the arms and down the sides. These materials aren’t windproof or rain resistant, but they are very breathable and the stretch means the jacket can be quite close-fitting and still not restrict movement.
To add to the breathability there are long zipped vents on the sides. I like these as they are much easier to use than zips that curve under the armpits. They are at the same angle and close to the pocket zips however and you do need to be careful not to mistake them for the pockets. If you’re wearing a hipbelt it will stop items falling through – until you undo it. Of course, this never happened to me but after it didn’t I did attach lengths of cord to the vent zips so I can distinguish them by touch from the pocket zips, which have identical pullers. Now I just must remember which zips I’ve attached the cords to.
The Abisko Lite Trekking Jacket is well-designed. The hood is excellent, with a wired brim and front and rear drawcords. It’s easy to adjust, moves with the head and gives good protection, better in fact than on some waterproof jackets I’ve tried recently. The pockets are good too. They’re big enough for maps and set high enough that you can use them when wearing a hipbelt. The very wide bottom of the jacket is made from one piece of G1000 so there are no seams to be rubbed by a hipbelt.
This jacket resists showers and moderate winds but isn’t fully water or windproof. You can improve the water-resistance of the G1000 fabric with G-Wax but not the stretch fabric. Given the cold spring and late snow in the Scottish Highlands I’ve tested the jacket in rather more severe conditions than it’s intended for, and it has performed pretty well. Only in heavy rain have I swapped it for a waterproof and whilst I could feel cold winds cutting through the stretch fabric at times it was never enough to really chill me. The breathability is particularly good and with the vents open I stayed dry in some fairly warm and humid weather.
Despite the Lite in the name the jacket is quite heavy for something that’s essentially a more rain resistant than most windproof, so a waterproof jacket is needed as well except on short walks in good weather. I wouldn’t take it on a multi-day backpacking trip due to the weight, but I’ve found it fine on day walks and overnight trips. The fabrics are tough, and I expect the jacket to last well.