Our 66° North Snaefell Jacket Review explores a multi-functional hard shell from a long established Icelandic manufacturer. We hope you find it useful.
Although the Icelandic brand 66° North may not be very familiar to many Brits, they actually have a very long and prestigious history. The company was actually founded way back in 1926 by Hans Kristjánsson. The company purpose was making protective clothing for Icelandic fishermen. Kristjansson lived in the Westfjords region of Iceland where weather conditions are very harsh. The fishermen operating in the Northern Atlantic needed reliable, hard wearing clothing that would protect in any weathers.
Hans initially honed his clothing manufacturing skills living in Norway and then moved back to Iceland to begin production. 66° North derives its name from the latitudinal line of the Arctic Circle which touches Súgandafjörður where the company was founded.
In the intervening decades the company has grown and diversified. Fishermen‘s and workwear clothing is still a fundamental part of the business, but they now offer a much wider selection of protective clothing for all activities. The company has also provided the Icelandic search and rescue team with protective clothing since 1928.
With all this history in mind, we were really pleased to link with 66° North for this review. The product tested is their award winning Snaefell jacket (the jacket has won both ISPO and Scandinavian Outdoor Award accolades). Please do read on to find out more.
The Snaefell jacket follows the 66° North philosophy of multi-use garments. This makes sense as most outdoor people do a variety of activities. Multi-use products offer a more sustainable and economical option than needing lots of jackets.
The Snaefell is made from Polartec Neoshell fabric. Neoshell is a highly breathable 53% nylon/ 47% polyester blend. It is renowned for combining excellent breathability with 10,000 mm hydrostatic head waterproofness.
The balance of waterproofness versus breathability is always a trade off. 10,000mm is about mid-way through the waterproofness levels. I have used a broad range of Neoshell garments and will comment on this breathability/waterproofness equation later.
One other striking feature of Neoshell which is worth mentioning at this stage is the feel of the fabric. Some hardshell fabrics can be crinkly and feel hard to the touch. Neoshell has a very soft and quiet feel.
The Snaefell features twin exterior zipped side pockets and a small zipped pocket on the left sleeve. All the exterior pockets feature water resistant zippers There is also an interior elasticated pocket and a smaller zipped pocket which sits on the inner lower left.
The hood has a stiffened peak and twin volume adjustments. The hood and lower hem also have a drawcord adjuster.
The Snaefell is available in four colours. There is the blue colour (Fresh Blue) tested, Black, Grey (Solid Grey) and what I would describe as a light grey/pale green colour (called Walrus). The Snaefell retails for £435. It is also available in a women’s version.
I really like the blue colour (Fresh Blue) supplied. It is rather like a sky blue and is both stylish and colourful. The blue also contrasts really well with the black zips. Actually, it is a style that matches the multi-use profile for the jacket. The Snaefell will look as good on the ski slopes as on a mountaineering adventure. It also won’t look out of place around town.
66° North describe the Snaefell fit as classic/regular which means sized for layering underneath. They further advise that, if between sizes, users should size down. I was sent a size medium and agree it is on the generous side. For reference, I have a 38” chest. The generous sizing isn’t a problem, just something to be aware of. In recent use as a winter jacket I have welcomed the room for extra insulation layers.
The other fit mention is about length. I am 5’8” tall and the jacket is a good length for me, but I would suggest people significantly taller would want to check the length would work well for them. Similarly, the arms are great for me and allow a full range of movement without being overly long. I have used the jacket for several winter climbing days and it has been great for long reaches with ice axes. On that note, it is also worth saying that the side pockets sit well out of the way when wearing a harness or rucksack waist belt (see photo).
The hood is really well designed. It is generous to fit over a cycling, skiing or climbing helmet, but when less volume is needed you can cinch it easily. The drawcord closure also allows it to be pulled snugly around the face. Alongside that, the hood allows an excellent range of movement and the zip pulls up to protect the face.
The drawcord hem is simple to adjust and can be operated with gloves on. The wrist cuffs close easily with velcro tabs and are sized to fit over gloves. Also worth a mention is that they have double velcro which helps close them efficently with or without gloves on.
So, how does the Snaefell perform in terms of breathability and weather protection? I have considerable experience with NeoShell and feel well placed to comment on past experiences. This history also echoes my findings with the Snaefel.
NeoShell is designed to offer good levels of weather protection alongside excellent breathability. At 10,000mm hydrostatic head, it is certainly classed as a waterproof fabric. However, there are also waterproof fabrics on the market that sit around 20,000mm.
To put that into a real life context, it is waterproof enough for general use and will protect users from rain, snow and wind, but with intense wind driven precipitation it may be that you start to feel some moisture penetrating. You will also start to feel some penetration if, for example, kneeling in snow.
Alongside that, there is the consideration of breathability. NeoShell has always been considered at the very top performance end for moisture transfer through the fabric. This has certainly been my experience too.
So, all this means that, for my money, Neoshell suits high activity pursuits where breathability is key. But, consideration needs to be given when using this fabric in the very wildest of weather.
For these reasons this would be a great choice for higher output activities like ski touring or cross country skiing. Similarly, this jacket may cope fine with cycling or mountain biking (depending on the intensity levels). On the other hand, if you are facing a day of horizontal Snowdonia rain you may want to choose something with a higher hydrostatic head. Neoshell seeks to strike a balance and manages that balance well. You will need to ensure the choice is right for your needs.
All the other features perform faultlessly. The two side pockets are generously sized and close easily and securely with the weatherproof zippers. The small arm pocket is perfect for smaller items like a lift pass or lip salve. The larger elasticated inside pocket pocket will comfortably hold a phone and the smaller inside pocket is handy for other small items or items like a small wallet.
This 66° North Snaefell jacket review is the first of their garments I’ve used. I hope it won’t be the last. The jacket has performed really well in a wide variety of situations and I really value the fit, features and styling. Neoshell has worked extremely well in the testing phase for the top, but users will need to decide if it is right for them.
I also really like the sustainability credentials and ethos of the company. Their history, their commitment to providing products suitable for varied activities and their drive to offer high performance and sustainably. It is great to see more of their products appearing in the UK and we hope they grow from strength to strength on this side of the water. Full details on the Snaefell jacket are available on the 66° North website here.
We hope you found this 66° North Snaefell Jacket Review useful. We regularly review products from a range of manufacturers. They are all available on our blog. Examples that might be of interest include our Klattermusen Alv Hoody Review here or our Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 Jacket Review here.