Gear Review: NorrØna Lofoten Jacket and Bibs
The Norrøna Lofoten Gore-Tex Insulated Jacket and the Gore-Tex Pro Lofoten Bibs cater to ladies who aren’t afraid to battle the fiercest weather to find turns. The Gore-Tex fabric on both pieces offers superior protection from the gnarliest conditions on the hill. I tested both the jacket and pants for over 30 days skiing here in Utah.
The lightweight PrimaLoft Silver insulation (100g) incorporated into the jacket blocks penetrating cold and is the perfect companion to help you ride bell to bell at the resort. I’ve tested this jacket, which Norrøna calls its “warmest, waterproof freeride jacket,” while skiing at both Snowbird and Alta Ski Resorts in a wide range of weather conditions. I’ve used the Norrøna Lofoten Bibs for four winters now and got a chance to test out this newer 2015 version late last winter. The bibs (which have no insulation) also offer excellent protection and durability for both inbounds and backcountry turns.
Fit & Style
Lofoten Insulated Jacket
I am a size small for all the Norrøna products I’ve used, and the same held true for the Lofoten Insulated jacket. For 2015 Norrøna has given the Lofoten Jacket a longer, leaner cut and improved the fabric laminate to cut down on noise and crinkling. The 2015 version no longer has pit zips, which is actually a feature I missed when comparing it to the 2014 version. I found this jacket to be so warm that the option to vent was something I frequently used. (I suppose Norway is much colder than Utah!) Despite the substantial warmth delivered by this jacket, the PrimaLoft insulation is not bulky. The thinness of the insulation is actually surprising when considering how much warmth it provides in a flattering silhouette.
Using the latest Gore-Tex Pro laminate, Norrøna has also tweaked the fit on the Lofoten Bibs in the width of the leg and the tush. I love the freedom the bibs offer and never feel restricted when skiing, sitting on chairlifts or hanging around après ski. The freestyle fit is fairly loose, but not annoyingly baggy. I’ve been using previous versions of these bibs for the past 4 winters, and there’s many reasons I keep coming back to Norrøna products.
WATERPROOFING & BREATHABILITY
Lofoten Insulated Jacket
The Gore-Tex Performance shell delivered ample protection from the unusual weather we experienced in Utah last year—bouts of sleet and precipitation with high water content. Despite wetter conditions, the Lofoten jacket kept me completely sealed, safe from both wind and wetness; I am confident that it could battle the wetter climates of New England or the Pacific Northwest with ease. The water-resistant zippers never gave me any trouble and they felt smooth to zip.
Though Gore-Tex jackets are somewhat breathable, as an insulated jacket, this obviously isn’t going to be the most comfortable option when you’re bootpacking inbounds or heading out for some backcountry touring. Without pit zips I consider this a resort-only type of jacket; it isn’t suitable for any type of aerobic activity unless you are exploring exceptionally cold climates. I’m saddened that Norrøna decided to remove the pit zips on the 2015 version, as I think it decreases versatility.
The Gore-Tex Pro Shell on the uninsulated Lofoten bibs offers unparalleled performance and longevity. Snow and water droplets simply bead up and roll off. After a year of heavy use on my 2010-11 pair, I did notice the performance of the DWR coating declined somewhat; however, the Gore-Tex membrane kept moisture from reaching the interior. I treated my old bibs with NikWax Tech Wash followed by Nikwax TX.Direct to refresh the water repellent coating on the fabric, with good results. Even after 200 days of use, my older bibs continue to provide protection from the elements. As expected, I’ve experienced great waterproofing and breathability when trying out the updated version.
The breathability on these pants is highly satisfactory. I rarely end up feeling muggy but if I do, a simple pull on the ¾-length side zips provides the ventilation required. I have come to appreciate these bibs when backcountry touring because venting is so simple and effective. I prefer the versatility of the ¾-length zippers on these pants over the inner thigh vents featured on other models.
Durability & Construction
I’ve come to expect excellent construction from Norrøna products, and the Lofoten pieces I tested did not disappoint. Upon close inspection, the stitching appears tight, and the construction is neat and flawless. After 30 days of use, I have no complaints or issues to report.
Multiple seasons spent in older versions of the Lofoten bibs has convinced me of their longevity and ability to satisfy the most demanding winter enthusiasts. The fabric on my older pair (with proper care and Nikwax) has withstood the test of time. The incorporation of the noticeably thicker Aramid reinforced cuffs in the 2015 bibs seems to have addressed the issue I had wearing out the cuffs on my older model. After 30 days of use, there is no visible wear and tear on the cuffs.
Lofoten Jacket Features
“Ample” would be the word to describe the hood. It accommodates my helmeted head with room to spare. I especially appreciated the reinforced brim to help keep the hood out of my eyes while protecting my goggles from snow. Norrøna has simplified the adjustment point for the 2015 version and it no longer requires two hands.
Equipped with a wide band of sticky silicone gripper tape, the removable powder skirt on this jacket is very well executed. I actually don’t really need a powder skirt because I wear bibs, so I’m glad that this one can be zipped out. When worn, it’s very comfortable and isn’t overly bulky.
Lofoten Pant Features
Integrated Zip-Off Bib
Because all gals wonder, I thought it important to address the technicalities of using the restroom in these pants. The bib portion of the pants can be zipped off for this purpose. It’s not a supremely streamlined process, as I usually have to unzip my jacket in order to successfully unzip the upper bib from the pants to then pull the pants down. Obviously it’s not as simple as traditional pants but, for me, the benefits of wearing bibs—no snow down the back on powder days—outweigh the inconvenience. On non-pow days, you can always just wear them as regular pants using the adjustable waist tabs.
The configuration of the suspenders is both comfortable and secure. The current version of these pants sport thinner suspenders constructed out of better (less stretchy) material than older versions. The updates make the pants more secure and comfortable. The smooth fabric used on the bib uppers seems to wick moisture very effectively and I have no complaints about its performance, fit, or feel.
Zip and Snap Jacket Interface Option
To create a truly snow-proof setup, Norrøna provides an interface for these pants to join a Norrøna jacket. While this is a nice feature, I honestly find it a bit redundant with bibs, and an added obstacle to using the restroom efficiently. The guys don’t like to wait, so anything that slows down a bathroom break isn’t ideal. If you like the feeling of a one-piece suit, this is a feature you may readily use. You can also zip the pants into compatible Norrøna jackets if the bib portion of the Lofoten pant is removed.
The Women’s Norrøna Lofoten Gore-Tex Insulated Jacket is for gals who ski or snowboard and are looking for an insulated shell offering bomber protection from the elements in utterly frigid climates. On a particularly exciting day at Snowbird, I found myself at the mercy of 65mph gusts and sleet which suspended the tram service due to lighting and thunder. Atop Hidden Peak at 11,000 feet I was completely warm and dry amid the tempest and comfortably endured some of the nastiest conditions I’ve encountered on skis. With excellent durability and construction, and plenty of well-placed pockets, this is one of the better ski jackets I’ve tested for skiing inbounds in frigid temperatures.
The Women’s Norrøna Lofoten Gore-Tex Bibs are ideal for winter athletes who demand the best from their gear. Near the higher realms in price point, the Lofoten pants are for someone who requires performance, versatility and longevity in their gear. Comfortable, colorful, and practical, these bibs are one of the most important elements in my skiing kit, and I consider them a worthy investment to be used inbounds or backcountry touring.
Lexi’s Full Kit