Owning a big down parka is in many ways like owning a 4×4 truck: it’s big, ungainly, and awkward most of the time but when you really need it, there is no substitute.
The Fjorm Parka from UK brand Jottnar fits that description well. It’s burly and awesomely warm. Packed into the stuff sack it’s still rather big — about the size of a 64-oz beer growler. Even though it’s quite a large jacket, my Men’s Medium weighs just 628 grams, including the stuff sack.
However despite its low weight (relatively) the size and bulk of the Fjorm preclude it from being an item you just pack along on a whim. But on those bone-chillingly cold days there aren’t many jackets that can match its warmth, and this is my current go-to mid-winter parka.
Stuffed with 275 grams of 850-fill-power goose down, this parka has one of the highest amounts of down fill on the market (the other big belay parkas I have info for have around 220-240 grams of fill; mid-weight everyday jackets are around 130-150 grams). With that much down this is a seriously warm piece and I’ve worn it on chilly -20C mornings over just my base layer and have been comfortable. Worn over regular climbing kit I often keep it partway unzipped even at -30C as it’s just so damn warm.
Though it isn’t often wet at the temperatures that I’d use the Fjorm, it does utilize hydrophobic DownTek treated down to minimize moisture absorption. The DownTek treatment doesn’t add any significant weight to down but it does work extremely well — I’ve yet to manage to completely wet out properly treated down, be it in a sleeping bag or a jacket. To further combat moisture, the Fjorm uses synthetic fill in the cuffs, hem and in the collar.
Fit is generous but not bulky, and the parka easily fits over my regular climbing layers and has enough room to accommodate a harness full of gear. The hood in particular is massive and slides over every helmet I’ve tried without binding or restricting head movement. The collar is extremely high and creates just a narrow slit for your eyes when fully done up. This is a fortress of warmth for those cold windy days.
As befits any proper belay parka, the Fjorm has a dual-slider zipper so you can keep your butt warm while still being able to access the belay loop. The hem snap keeps the jacket from flapping around.
There’s a large mesh stash pocket on the left side, and a zippered pocket on the other. The two hand-warmer pockets have easy-sliding zippers and are fleece lined — a wonderful place for cold hands.
The outer shell fabric is a no-frills 30-denier ripstop nylon, with no fancy names or labels professing its waterproofness or wind resistance. But you know what, it works perfectly well and the DWR finish is excellent, readily shedding snow and water and keeping the wind out.
With all these features, the Fjorm also retails for an incredible $495 USD or $595 CAD. With so much down stuffed into it and given how warm that makes it, the Fjorm is a bargain in a market full of thousand-plus jackets.
Very, very, highly recommended.
You can get the Fjorm online on Jottnar’s website.