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First Impressions of the Helly Hansen Odin Fastpack Shell
I have a quiver of jackets for various uses; simpler souls might make do with one and be perfectly happy. That said, having access to specialized clothing is what makes adventure sports so darn fun! Helly Hansen’s Odin series is designed for lightweight durability and athletic endeavors, and the award-winning design of the Helly Hansen Odin Fastpack shell radiates simplicity and ruggedness, an obvious grab for high-intensity activities in stormy weather.
Lightweight is the operative word for any jacket intended as a utility shell, meaning it must be practically disposable in terms of how much room it demands in your pack and unnoticeable over the shoulders. The Helly Hansen Odin Fastpack shell embraces that role with no apologies. Its HellyTech 2.5 ply material is waterproof, windproof, breathable and bombproof, all things you’d expect in expert class foul weather gear. Another quality I tend to appreciate in a shell jacket is its “crumple-ability.” I know, I just made that up, but it essentially means I’m not worried about ruining the jacket if I crumple it into a ball, stuff it in my backpack between gritty cams and a half-eaten PB&J and forget about it for half a day in 90 degree heat; it will still work just fine.
I put the Helly Hansen Odin Fastpack shell through the paces on several long skin climbs in the Central Rockies. I usually started with the jacket and a baselayer on the colder days and it gave me a good head start on retaining body heat. Typically, I’d shed even the shell layer until the top of the climb, unless the wind picked up, in which case the Fastpack performed admirably (even keeping heat in). At the top of the climb, the Fastpack would go right back on, protecting me from the elements as I stowed my skins, switched out my bindings and did my systems check for the ski down. The jacket does not impose itself, providing plenty of room for articulation and brisk movement. I never noticed any condensation, although I wore a long-sleeve baselayer.
Some notable features include drawstrings on the sides and back of the hood to snug the head/helmet fit, mesh side pockets for improved storage and breathability, and the all important pit zip – this last feature lending credibility to the Helly Hansen Odin Fastpack shell’s definition as a guide jacket. Velcro cuffs at the end of the arms round out the design. There is no powder skirt. The zipper tabs are the perfect size and appear sturdy.
While it finds its groove in fast and light treks, the Helly Hansen Odin Fastpack shell butts right up against some of the jackets with more bells and whistles that are intended for deep powder days. Granting that its technically a guide jacket, I know plenty of folks that would wear this exclusively as their ski jacket with a few layers and a bib pant and not bat an eye. I personally believe its better suited for long alpine hikes and climbs, exposed skin treks, and the occasional heavy duty work slog in mud and rain (trail-building anyone?).
The Helly Hansen Odin Fastpack shell is a useful, simply-designed article for when you need basic wind and water protection, and a reliable jacket to stash in your pack in lieu of bad weather. Color options in black and blue with regular size ranges. For more info on the Odin Fastpack and other Helly Hansen products, visit www.hellyhansen.com.