The 2017-18 Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro vs. It's Predecessor
Norrona confirmed with us that the new Lofoten
is out and ready for resort skiers to snatch it up. The main update is to the face fabric, but the price hike is also noteworthy. Check out the side-by-side comparison below (the new Lofoten is on the left), followed by a list of the key differences from last year's to this year's model.
- New Fabric — Norrona implements a new, recycled face fabric to this shell, claiming that it increases the sustainability and breathability of the jacket.
- Added Pocket — This jacket gets an additional external chest pocket with a unique bottom to top zipper.
- Higher Price — The new price of $799 is an increase of $139 over its predecessor.
- New Colors — A re-design needs new colors, and this jacket is no different. It's offered in red, blue, green, and dark blue.
As we have yet to drop lines in this new version, the analysis in the text below continues to reflect the previous version of this shell.
Hands-On Review of the 2016-17 Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Shell Jacket
jacket is a unique hybrid of ultralight, svelte alpine shell design and purpose-built ski resort features. It has the weight and feel of a light alpine climbing shell jacket, with ski-specific pant integration and overall fit.
The Norrona shell in the Tetons. November 2016.
This is absolutely the least insulating jacket in our review, as the thin fabric offers little to no insulating value. This fact costs the jacket some in overall scoring. However, for those interested in a piece-by-piece layering system for skiing, this will not be a problem at all.
The other shell jackets in our test, the Outdoor Research White Room
and FlyLow Gear Quantum
, are both much thicker. This thicker fabric offers marginally more insulation. However, as soon as you add a layer of insulation to a jacket, any comparison to these shells is moot. Even the most lightly insulated pieces in our review are much warmer than the Norrona Lofoten
. Whatever warmth you need while skiing in the Norrona must come from separate, inner insulation layers.
The Top Pick Norrona Lofoten and matching pants.
With excellent Gore-Tex fabric, immaculate construction, generous hood and sleeves, interior wrist "gaiters," and a powder skirt/pants integration that is unparalleled, the Lofoten
jacket is by far the most weather resistant coat in our test. It is the only shell jacket in our test that has internal wrist cuffs, and the only jacket of any kind that can be zipped securely to dedicated pants (we also tested the Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Pants
. The two together make an excellent combination).
While other jackets use stiffer fabric, like the FlyLow Gear Quantum Pro
, and others use Gore-Tex just like the Norrona (Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Macai
, for one), the entire package of features and attributes that the Lofoten offers is unmatched. The Lofoten easily tops our weather protection scoring metric and in so doing earns our Top Pick for a poor weather shell jacket.
The most salient attribute of the Norrona Lofoten ski shell clothing is the ability to cleanly zip the pieces together into a gap-less protective suit.
Ventilation is important in a ski jacket. Resort skiing and snowboarding takes place in an ever-changing environment and within a wide spectrum of exertion levels. Adjusting your suit to accommodate is very important. In a single-layer, insulated jacket setup, adequate ventilation is the primary way to adjust your comfort and protection. In a layered system, like you would include the Lofoten in, ventilation is just one part of the comfort equation. You can also just remove layers for comfort and adjustment. That said, it is nonetheless nice that these ski specific shell jackets include pit-zips. Those on this contender are long with no mesh backing to impede airflow. The other shell jackets also have unhindered pit-zips. Those on the FlyLow Gear Quantum
jacket are shorter, while those in the Outdoor Research White Room
are just as long and come onto the user's chest for even better venting. In general, the Outdoor Research White Room
offers better ventilation than the Lofoten
To keep the design clean and light, Norrona forsakes some ski-specific attributes. Notably, it has the fewest pockets of any jacket in our test. There are no handwarmer pockets at all. There is also no headphone routing nor any Recco reflector. There is a goggle wipe, a pass pocket, and, as already mentioned, a few options for attaching the jacket to associated pants.
The Outdoor Research White Room
has a broader set of features, while the FlyLow Gear Quantum
has fewer features. Our Top Pick Spyder Leader
has far more features. Throughout our testing, we found that the insulated jackets are generally better featured than the shell jackets.
Of the three shell jackets we tested, only the Norrona has interior wrist "gaiters" for a super effective seal against cold and wet and wind.
Fit and Comfort
Everyone loved the fit and feel of the Lofoten
. The cut is close, much like an alpine climbing shell jacket. There's just enough room underneath for insulating layers for all but the most arctic cold conditions. Much of the comfort can be attributed to the lightweight, flexible fabric the Lofoten is made of. Thin fabric like this allows free movement. As long as it is paired with mobile under-layers, your system could almost approximate the feel and mobility of a single layer system.
Generally, we look at insulated jackets as the most comfortable choice. A single insulated layer, like the Helly Hansen Alpha 2.0
or Patagonia Primo Down
, for a given amount of warmth, offers greater freedom of motion than a series of layers that can bind against one another.
The full coverage, svelte hood with styling borrowed from alpine climbing but adapted to fit ski helmets is a defining characteristic of this weather-blocking shell.
Bright colors are always an easy sell to our aesthetics reviewers. The green we tested in the Lofoten
was a hit, for sure. Beyond the bright colors, testers also appreciated the trim fit and clean design. The dearth of pockets and the easy draping fabric appeared svelte and uncluttered. This uncluttered look seems to be gaining more and more popularity among ski jackets.
All of our tested jackets were decidedly neutral in styling, with understated patterning and virtually hidden pockets. The Arc'teryx Macai
, for instance, uses special hidden zippers for many of the pockets. The same goes for the Helly Hansen Alpha
. Norrona takes it a step further by entirely eliminating many of the pockets that others include.
For a shell jacket made of light fabric, the Norrona maintains its "structure" for a solid look. We only wish it had more pockets, especially hand warmer ones.
If you are constructing a layering system for ski resort use, and even occasional backcountry and ski mountaineering usage, the Lofoten is an excellent choice. The lightweight construction can disappear in your pack or duffel, yet the weather protection is unparalleled. We must point out that a layering system can be appealing for the versatility, especially for those skiers coming from a hiking or climbing background. However, for dedicated resort use like we tested these jackets for, the best bet is often a single, insulated ski jacket. Choose carefully.
Of the 10 jackets we reviewed for the 2016-17 season, only one is more expensive than the Norrona Lofoten
: the Arc'teryx Macai
which is well known for its extravagance and expense. Both of these are also insulated and feature Gore-Tex shell construction. Considering that the Norrona requires at least one separate insulating layer, it is hard to make a case for the value of the Norrona. This is a no-holds-barred piece of equipment for the discerning user collecting the absolute best layering system for skiing and snowboarding.
Our testing team agrees that insulating ski jackets have the widest appeal. It follows then, that our primary award winners, those granted the Best Buy and Editors' Choice awards, will be insulated jackets. We grant a Top Pick Award to a product that excels in some specific niche in the market. For that segment of the population that prefers a layering system for skiing, the Lofoten
is the best shell jacket we have tried. The weather protection is above and beyond that of any other products we have tested.