Tuesday, 20 December 2016 20:06

Jöttnar: How The Armour is Designed Featured

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Previously we have spoken to Tommy, a co-founder of Jöttnar. This time we have the opportunity to get a different perspective from Steve Howarth, the other half of the founding partnership.

Tommy The Great Chimney

Steve heads up design, development and manufacturing of the gear Jöttnar have released since they arrived in the industry.

Steve, thanks for talking to us.

Designing technical outdoor apparel isn’t something you learn in military training. How has the transition from Royal Marine to Director of Design, Development and Manufacture been?

Just fine. The Marines demands that you be a jack-of-all-trades, but, unusually, also demands that you be a master of them too, so that adaptability and quick assimilation of new contexts and information is pretty second nature now.

Regarding outdoor apparel specifically; well, it’s something every Marine will have close to his heart and a good understanding of, simply because it can make the difference between being effective or being not so effective when you’re in the field and the environmental conditions are harsh and challenging – which they always seem to be.

Royal Marines Norway

I’m sure you have learned a lot since you started, so how has the design process developed since Jöttnar was inaugurated?

It hasn’t really changed much, although we have a more honed and efficient process now. It starts with Tommy and I recognising a genuine need for a certain function, improvement or new type of garment. After that we make sketches, prototype and test, and prototype and test again and again. We still steer clear of gimmicks and stick to our streamlined design approach based on our and our pro-team’s experience of what works well.

The materials and components used by Jöttnar come from high end suppliers, like Polartec and Schoeller. How did they come to be used?

We look for fabrics that perform. We will initially loosely define the level of performance required and in what terms, so for example, ‘highly breathable’, or ‘very robust’, or ‘very light’. We translate those attributes into technical terminology, so a certain CFM [Cubic Feet per Minute] for wind-proofing, or a required DWR [Durable Water Repellency] rating, or wear units for abrasion resistance, and then source the necessary fabric. The most qualified fabrics in those sorts of terms usually come from the high-end suppliers.

With mountaineering, winter climbing and all-mountain skiing being the core activities covered by Jöttnar, how does this seasons new additions complement that?

We are building out the range in all of the key layers to offer more choice. For example, we have introduced the Erling (which My Outdoors has in on test), a synthetic base layer alternative to our yak wool natural fibre base layer for those who prefer the feel of synthetic. We continue our love affair with PowerStretch Pro and have some great technical mid layer options to complement the Alfar. We’re very pleased to offer our first women’s shells too – using NeoShell of course – and have introduced the Vanir LT pant and Asmund jacket into the women’s range.

erling marine m

How has the focus changed, if at all, this season and how will this develop in the coming years?

Our focus is still very much on the core activities you mention. We leave the pub jackets, lumberjack shirts and jeans to the other brands and have absolutely no interest in that sort of thing.

Jöttnar have gradually increased the amount of lines in your range, I’m sure that there is more to come in the future. How do you plan to expand and compliment the current range?

We’re taking a serious look at gloves this year. There have been some really big improvements when it comes to glove building, but somehow having cold and wet hands is still universal, or at least far too common. It’s a very challenging area of design, but let’s see what we can do about that. 

magni petrol blue m

Thanks Steve, a great overview of the process. And I for one will be keen to see how the gloves turn out as I am also on an eternal quest for the solving the glove quandary. We also have the Magni in for test so we will review this early 2017.

To give us their opinion and involvement in the Jöttnar design process 2 of the pro team give us their experience of their kit.

Mike Pescod - Abacus Mountain Guides


The Vanir’s needed a bit of work to get the fit just right and details such as the zips up the sides right. In winter we wear salopettes all day so there is no need for zips to go all the way up to the waist. If they do they tend to dig in underneath the harness or belt of the rucksack. So we stopped the zips at the top of the thigh. We also toughened up the facing fabric – they get a lot of really heavy abrasion from the rock in tight chimneys and from protection hanging off the harness so this facing fabric is much better but it keeps the soft and supple feel.

vanir black m

The Bergelmir has been reduced in volume so that it is a neat fit around the body. If the jacket overhangs the harness you can’t see your protection and possibly your feet on really technical climbs. Apart from this, the Bergelmir has always been a first class jacket that is super comfortable to wear and keeps all the bad weather out.

bergelmir digital blue m

Alison Culshaw - Off Piste Performance 

Working and playing daily in the mountains, means that I’m not prepared to comprise on clothing. Being warm and dry is very important to me! Durability is also of high importance, as the kit needs to survive the season. There’s no time for days off to be spent shopping!

Alison 2

It was hard to see how the Fenrir could get even better, but on wearing the new 2017 it was obvious that Jöttnar has excelled with their attention to detail.  The improved fit and optimal lofting means that the jacket keeps me even warmer than before. It fits well over an Alfar and under a shell, and I’m not afraid it I get caught out in a shower when wearing it.

fenrir loganberry w

The women’s Asmund is a fantastic addition to the range. Again, the fit is of paramount importance. No matter how waterproof and breathable and item is, it’ll only work well if it fits. Jöttnar have worked hard to achieve this with their women’s range. I’m very impressed by the weight of it.

asmund eucalyptus w

I’m absolutely delighted to see the Vanir Pants as part of the women’s range. I had my first ski in them last week and my initial thoughts were how great the freedom of movement was; so important to me when skiing.

vanir lt digital blue wThank you to Steve, Mike and Alison for their input. We have been fortunate enough at My Outdoors to have received some of Jöttnars gear over the years and all have come out with really good reviews. We'll have the reviews of this years offerings in the New Year.


Davy Wright

Most at home in the outdoors, preferably on top of something big and pointy. Scotland is Davy's playground, which is why he doesn’t mind getting wet. But winter is where it’s at. Hiking, scrambling, camping and a bit of climbing when I can. Sucker for a ridge. At a lower altitude he try getting out on his bike and run if he has to.

Davy describes himself as "a bit of a gear geek, maybe less of the bit. I like to see how things work or don’t!" In following this line Davy has become a respected and authoritative blogger over the last few years, working with many of the UK's major manufacturers and retailers.

Preferred activities: Hillwalking, camping, scrambling, trying to get better at climbing/ice climbing, cycling/mountain biking

Areas commonly visited: Lochaber, Cairngorms, Lake District

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