Helly Hansen Odin Light Softshell Jacket Review
Norwegian brand Helly Hansen has been doing great things with its high-end Odin line in the past year (2011-2012) and the Odin Light Softshell is another winner from the company. In their (Helly Hansen’s) own words, “Odin expert series are designed, tested and developed by Helly Hansen technical experts and professional adventurers.” In my experience, I have found this line to be excellent and clearly in accordance with what they say about how the line is developed. Softshells have always been an elusive category for me because I am never quite sure of their exact purpose but the Odin Light Softshell has won me over with comfort and versatility.
You don’t normally think of a softshell as a potential layering piece but the extreme comfort and excellent breathability of the Odin Light make it a viable mid-layer replacement for multiday trips when you would normally leave a softshell at home. The fabric has a soft feel and stretch that make it very cozy to lounge in and non-restricting when used in active pursuits. The breathability is excellent and I didn’t get clammy while hiking, even when layered under an ultra-light rain shell. The athletic cut allows it to fit nicely under a shell when the conditions worsen and it fits the body very well. I loved the extra long hem (back length) that kept the jacket from riding up with a backpack on. Speaking of backpacks, I am always a fan of the ever more common harness/backpack compatible pockets that the Odin Light Softshell has. They are 2 large chest pockets that can provide added ventilation when open because they are mesh backed. That is all you get in the way of pockets, which helps keep the weight down to 1 lb. 4 oz.
Softshells generally aren’t designed for withstanding constant deluges but are capable of fighting off snowfall and drizzles without a problem. The DWR coating combined with a decently water resistant fabric allowed the Odin Light Softshell to perform well in a light rain storm but I would always recommend bringing a fully waterproof shell to go over it if there is a chance of continuous rain fall.
I give the Helly Hansen Odin Light Softshell a full recommendation for its versatility and comfort and suggest putting it on your softshell short list. I found it more useful than some other softshells because I could bring it on trips that I would normally not. I was actually expecting the jacket to cost more than the $200 msrp and find it a very good value.