The Odin Stretch by Helly Hansen integrates Primaloft Gold Active insulation, an elastic but warm synthetic insulation, to improve mobility without sacrificing durability or thermal performance. This is my review:
As alluded to above, the Odin Stretch is built around 80 grams of Primaloft Gold Active insulation. This synthetic insulation is compressible, warm, quick drying, and as the name would suggest, stretchy. The outer shell is built from 4-way stretch 30D nylon, finished with DWR for water resistance. The inner layer is, as far as I can tell, soft and pliable polyester. Two breathable stretch panels run up the sides and under the pits, and the jacket is finished with soft Lycra cuffs, a lined hood and padded chin. The jacket features two zippered hand pockets, a zipper chest pocket, a full frontal zipper, hood, and YKK zippers all around. The jacket retails for $240.
What I liked
The Odin Stretch is a very comfortable jacket, and that is intentional. Every inch of the garment has been tailored to provide excellent feel and mobility, and it pays off. The entire jacket can stretch and flex to the movement of the wearer, which results in unrestrained movement. The fit is somewhat relaxed, allowing for layering below and above, but also provides extra room in the shoulders, elbows and back. The materials slide across secondary layers effortlessly, without bunching or twisting, and the cuffs stay in place without being tight or difficult to work over gloves or liners. Even the hood has special attention put to the chin, which is padded to protect from zippers, while the top of the hood sporting a soft patch to prevention friction and sweat buildup. The result is an exceptionally comfortable jacket, from the roomy waist all the way up to the soft, lofty hood.
The materials chosen are quite unique and target a higher level of activity than most puffy jackets. Instead of being silky and plastic like to the touch, which can get clammy and sticky when sweat builds up, the nylon here has more of a tissue paper like texture (for lack of a better description). It still manages to feel soft to the touch, and is actually preferable against the skin. Instead of a thick DWR coating, the outer layer has a thin dusting that helps the jacket shed light precipitation, but also allows the jacket to breathe to a high degree. This combined with the soft polyester like interior allows the jacket to perform exceptionally well in times of exertion. Heat doesn’t built up, sweat doesn’t accumulate, and the jacket never feels nasty or sticky. This makes it a great jacket for hiking, skiing, or other activities that would normally be too intense for something this well insulated. Being fully synthetic, it also dries quickly and still provides warmth when wet, which is a big plus.
Visually, I love it. I have the blue “celestial” variant which comes adorned with electric yellow zippers and logo. The material is in itself a soft, matte material, but the bright highlights and dark interior creates a striking contrast that really stands out. It is vivid, yet subtly textured and simply pops on and off the trail. The materials embody performance, but do present as showy or gaudy. Muted shades of black and blue are often available for those who prefer to stay a little more incognito, or “grenadine” if becoming a glowing human beacon feels more appropriate.
Warmth here is great. While staying moderately active without layers beneath, I was quite comfortable well into the low 30’s F, and plan to continue pushing the temperature lower as Winter matures in my location. The jacket breathes exceptionally well, which allows it to be warm, without becoming overly hot into the high 50 while less active. While resting, the low 40’s have felt just about perfect, balancing heat retention and ventilation. With proper layering, this can easily be used into the teens (think thermals underneath and an outer shell), and it makes for a nice bonus layer at the foot of a sleeping bag. It also does a good job of blocking wind, which helps on exposed peaks or in gusty open areas.
The jacket is surprisingly packable and light weight for a synthetic. It scrunches down to about half the size of a basketball, and stuffs quite easily into the crevices of a pack. It weighs only slight more than comparable downs, but of course varies depending on the size.
Elevated pockets clear waist straps on backpacks, but aren’t lifted so high that they’re uncomfortable to use for long periods of time.
What I didn’t like
So far, the Odin Stretch has left me with little to complain about. My only real complaint was the relatively weak DRW coating. It will shed a very light rain, but only for a minute or so. After that, parts of the jacket will begin to wet out. It isn’t disastrous as the insulation continues to function, but it is a consideration. It will do much better with snow, as most do, but it is definitely not a jacket you want to rely on solely if there is a chance of rain.
Finding a four-way balance between warmth, breathability, flexibility and durability isn’t easy. Generally, there must be large sacrifices in multiple areas to fulfill primary needs. The Odin Stretch Insulator, however, strikes a balance that is practically unheard of. While it does lose a little ground on water resistance, in the colder conditions that it is truly designed for, it excels. It is warm, comfortable, lightweight, packable, flexible, and it constructed well enough to survive many seasons of use. As far as I am concerned, it is near perfect, thus gaining my highest possible rating.
The highest of recommendations
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