Despite dipping their toe in the water of the mountain bike market with the now discontinued but much missed Ardent shorts, Haglofs are a Scandinavian outdoor company with a long heritage in producing outdoor kit predominantly for walkers, climbers and runners. With the L.I.M. series of gear which is aimed at the multi activity crowd, Haglofs have their sights firmly set on outdoor users who could one day be down their local climbing crag and the next on their bike on an adventure into the great unknown. The Essens Down jacket is one product firmly aimed at those users. So how does it work?
A pound a gram!
Breaking it down, the Essens Down jacket is not exactly what you would call feature packed. Ultralight is very much the overriding theme here. In terms of weight, or lack thereof, the medium as tested weighs below 200 grams. I’ll allow you to reflect on that for a second. UNDER 200 grams! That’s not just light but ridiculously light. Think one and a half yogurts. That takes you into the territory of specialist manufacturers such as PH Designs and their K Series of down clothing.
To achieve this, Haglofs have designed the jacket to provide the barest of essentials in a truly minimalist design. The two hand warming pockets are backed with a thin nylon fabric. No unnecessary fleece or double lined down here. The full length YKK zip looks like something you would more likely find on a trouser fly for Action Man than on an outdoor jacket. There is a narrow but effective inner draught baffle which helps keep the wind out while there is a tiny zip garage that stops the zip from rubbing against your chin. The down employed is 800 fill goose down so it’s not quite up there with the 1000 fill power down used by PH Designs but it is still very warm for the weight.
Pared down minimalist design.
Instead of a hem drawcord, the waist is elasticated. This saves even more weight and is particularly well designed. It’s sufficiently close fitting that it doesn’t let draught in without being unduly restrictive. Instead of adopting a horizontal, stitch through baffle construction which is fine right up to the point that the down starts to migrate leaving cold spots, a box quilt stitch through design is used. It is a very simple but remarkably effective design. While this increases the stitch through area and which could potentially make the jacket colder than when compared to a baffle design, I never found this to be an issue during the test.
Finally, there is a tiny hanging loop on the outside of the collar which could do with being a little bigger to make it of practical use. If you were hoping for a hood, you’ll need to look at other products from Haglofs. If you want a warm noggin, you had best be buying a hat.
Fit and feel.
Fit wise, the medium on my 6 foot 1 frame is pretty much spot on. Fully zipped up, there is zero danger of draughts getting in the neck while the hand pockets are perfectly placed when wearing a hip belt. The outer fabric of the jacket is thin to the point of almost being see thru. It doesn’t feel like it could stand up to much in the way of abrasion. As such, I always treated the jacket with a degree of care and attention which is pretty much true for all ultralight kit. However, other than a loose thread on a tag, the jacket still looks like new despite a lot of wear.
The zip has a slight tendency to snag so a little bit of care is required when zipping up. For mid ride food stops, the tiny pack size (think grapefruit) and lack of weight meant that I could have it with me at all time and pull it out at any time to ward off cooling down. Think of it as a warm hug even when you are on your own in the middle of nowhere. When camping, it proved its worth both when sitting around the stove brewing up and when wanting to give a boost to my sleeping bag.
How warm? More than warm enough.
As the temperature starts to drop towards zero, the jacket begins to find its limitations. It’s not designed for sub-zero stops in biting arctic winds. There is simply not enough down for that and it’s not what it is designed for. However, on an overnight bikepacking trip where the temperature went below zero, I was mightily glad of it when used as a mid-layer. Coupled with Haglofs now discontinued LIM Barrier Pro synthetic jacket, I was toasty warm despite a chilling wind blowing through our camp.
Haglofs treat the jacket with a Blue sign approved PFOA-free DWR treatment. While this no doubt lends a degree of water resistance, I never tested it as water and down do not mix well in my experience and I wasn’t disposed to testing those particular limits. With good gear choice, it’s easy to reduce the likelihood of getting your down jacket wet unless you are unlucky.
Overall, there is an awful lot about the Essens Down jacket. It is feather light, very warm for the weight, looks good, fits well and has no extraneous features. It is stripped down but in a sensible way that doesn’t compromise performance. A hood would be nice and at over a pound a gram, it isn’t a cheap option and I would definitely go for the black version given the choice. However, it offers high performance in a package that packs down incredibly small and which can be taken with you on every ride and is ready for those just in case moments when you would rather be looking at something to keep you warm than looking for it.
|Product:||L.I.M Essens Down Jacket|
|Tested:||by David "Sanny" Gould aka Nanook of the North for 6 months|