Winter is on it’s way, and the only fool proof way to enjoy it is to be prepared with a legit winter jacket. The Icefall jacket from Helly Hansen combines a durable exterior, high quality down fill and strategically placed Primaloft insulation in an attempt to improve the performance of the traditional down jacket. This is my review.
The Icefall is constructed from a durable, water resistant polyester ripstop shell and lining. The insulation is a combination of 700 fill power goose down supplied from Allied Feather, meaning it’s responsibly sourced and tracked. Some patches of the insulation are replaced with PrimaLoft Silver, a high quality synthetic fill that excels when wet or damp. The shoulders, upper back, neck, and under the arms are all filled with PrimaLoft silver insulation, areas where the user is likely to sweat, whereas the rest of the baffles are all down fill for better compression and warmth. The jacket includes an insulated hood, complete with adjustable cords oh the back and around the neck. There is a full length YKK zipper, as well as two insulated hand pockets, a check pocket and an adjustable waist and cuffs to prevent drafts. The neck band features an low friction microfiber, to protect from the zipper too. The jacket retails for $300, comes in various sizes and colors and is available now.
What I liked
Hanging out on completely exposed peaks with the wind blasting me from every direction, temperatures hovering just below freezing, I find myself wholly content within this jacket’s plush, fluffy interiors. Even without generating body heat for hours, relaxing around camp, the jacket has kept me warm despite the unrelenting conditions around me. Gusty winds blow through unnoticed thanks to the excellent wind block nature of the fabric, while the adjustable collar, cuffs and waist prevent any breezes from creeping in. Helly Hansen hasn’t held back with the amount of insulation jammed inside it’s baffles, either. Copious amounts of down fill the ares the areas where it’s needed the most, and Primaloft is used in zones that would normally flatten out under weight on a traditional down jacket, enhancing it’s warmth around the shoulders and under the arms. The symbiosis in the design results in one of the warmest jackets I’ve ever tested, easily providing warmth into the lower teens or beyond.
The jacket’s performance doesn’t come apart at the seams once the action starts. Where most down jackets struggle with moisture, the Icefall continues to push forward. The use of Primaloft Silver in areas of perspiration means there is no risk of the down wetting out, flattening, and then no longer providing warmth. Instead, the well placed Primaloft Silver can be completely saturated without loosing any of it’s thermal properties. This is exceptionally useful as I don’t have to constantly worry about shedding the jacket before I warm up in fear of being cold later after sweating a bit, and I can even do some light hiking around camp while wearing it. It’s a clever design that works very well, as most users will naturally sweat inside a warm jacket even when just sitting around a campfire or hanging out inside a tent.
The Icefall is, in a word, cozy. The overall design constitutes a more relaxed fit, perfect for long duration wearing or accommodating extra layers. It’s cut mostly flat, with a little extra space in the shoulders and chest. The result is a comfortable, roomy interior that doesn’t feel restricting or tight. Instead, it feels more like snuggling inside a large fluffy sleeping bag. The fabrics are silky smooth, enjoyable to the touch, and slide across the skin friction free, making moving about while inside easier and less encumbering. Mobility is also excellent as a result, with adequate room in the shoulders and chest to stretch, sprawl, or work in camp without the jacket catching or causing issues with reach. The felt like coverings over the zippers and soft cuffs only add to the experience, coming together to make one of the most comfortable jackets I’ve tested.
Construction all around is also excellent for this garment. It’s so far resisted scuffs from granite, pricks from bushwacking, and being repeatedly stuffed inside of backpacks with tent stakes, stoves and other sharp objects that no jacket should have to deal with. The polyester shell provides better abrasion resistance than nylon, and the water resistant treatment adds some stain and dirt resistance too. It’s built from a ripstop polyester, so if a tear does occur it’s not going to spread, and it’s easily patchable. The zippers are completely built from metal, and they slide easily along the teeth with little effort. I’ve not had a single hang or snag, either. The stitching as a whole is also impressively consistent, with not a single fray or stray thread anywhere to be found.
The jacket looks quite nice. The shell is lightly textured with faint hues of the ripstop nylon running underneath, and this is paired with an appreciable semi-gloss finish that only casts a slight, mica like glimmer when the sun hits it just right. The baffles are arranged in a way that provides some variety to the standard horizontal arrangement, without looking flashy or zealous. It looks high quality, but it’s not gaudy or overdone like many jackets. In a way, it’s somewhat quaint despite it’s performance aesthetic. I really like it.
What I didn’t like
The inclusion of Primaloft silver and a tougher polyester shell adds a small amount of weight to the jacket and also, to a tiny degree, reduces packability. This means it’s not quite an ultralight jacket, but it’s very close. The performance enhancement that the synthetic insulation brings, thankfully, far outweighs and any addition of mass that the feature may add, however.
The Icefall is designed to provide extreme weather protection for the worst of conditions. High quality 700 down insulation is paired with Primaloft Silver in an attempt to eliminate the intrinsic shortcoming of solid down jackets; wetting out. The resulting design is a resounding success, producing a jacket that not only provides ample warmth, but also luxurious comfort and a range of use that leapfrogs that of traditional down jackets. It’s built great, looks quite nice, and is still light weight and packable enough to be used on backpacking and hiking trips alike. It’s an exceptional jacket that has obviously been designed and constructed with care and many years of experience and testing.
For information on our rating system and our testing procedures, check out our About us/ Contact us page.
I want to extend a huge thanks Helly Hansen for providing this jacket for review. We couldn’t do it without their help. Our full disclosure can be found here.
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