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You probably recognize the Fjällräven name from their iconic Kånken backpacks, worn on the backs of all Swedish school children since the ’70s, and now oft featured in the Instagram feeds of hipster wearing high-waisted denim. Fjällräven, which means Arctic Fox in Swedish, is known for making durable, timeless gear for people who spend their lives outdoors.
For the past six months, I’ve been all but living in the Övik Eco-Shell Parka—a long, slim-fitting three-layer shell made from their stretchy Eco-Shell material. Like all good 3L jackets, the Övik Eco-Shell stops wind and rain while remaining breathable. Today, that should be a given. But this shell is made from recycled polyester with fluorocarbon-free impregnation—making the jacket recyclable itself.
It also means you’ll notice an immediate difference with the way this fabric keeps you dry. Rain doesn’t bead up and roll off like traditional waterproof shells I’m used to. In fact, the first time I got caught in PNW storm wearing this jacket, I was worried I’d end up soaked based on the way water seemed to be drenching my shell. Not the case—and I stayed dry.
Plus, I stayed warm because of the incredible cut on this jacket; I’m six feet tall, and still the jacket comes way past my rear, protecting much more than just my upper body from the elements. When I zip up the high collar and cinch the hood (which features an awesome brim to keep weather out of my eyes), I am completely comfortable in a wet and wild winter storms.
The fact that the Eco-Shell material is soft and super stretchy is just a (huge) added bonus that largely contributes to why I never take this thing off, even once I’m inside. Other thoughtful details include zippered hand-warming pockets, two more top-loaded pockets with flaps and zippers, and an inside pocket for valuables that has never once gotten wet.
The front zipper also works both ways, so when I’m sitting down, I zip up from the bottom to give me a bit more wiggle room and to keep the jacket from bunching up around my waist. I keep the fit pretty loose, but there’s a drawcord inside that allows you to customize the cinch waist to your liking. If you’re planning on layering up with a light down midlayer, let loose. But if you want to really warm up, with something like this underneath, go ahead and size up.
The biggest flaw of this jacket is the sizing—to me, it’s way off. I typically wear a medium or large jacket, but in the Övik, I wear an XS. Even stranger, Fjällräven uses this same awesome Eco-Shell material in their Keb Eco-Shell Jacket, which is a much more technical fit, and in this jacket I wear a medium—which is more true to size for me. The fabrication is the same, but the cut and fit are vastly different, so keep that mind if you’re ordering without time to exchange. Both jackets also come in a men’s fit.
PHOTO: Brian Davis