Wiggle's new trendy sub-brand delivers with this cosy, warm winter jacket.
While the brand Föhn conjures up images of ruggedly handsome Nordic folk running or riding into the sunset above a remote fjord, the reality is actually a clever bit of marketing by online giant, Wiggle. Yes, Föhn hails closer to Portsmouth than Bergen, but that doesn’t mean it’s an outdoor imposter.
As the name suggests, this lightweight jacket uses Polartec’s latest Alpha active insulation, a fabric that was specifically designed to meet the needs of special forces soldiers. And while it’s not bullet proof, it does claim to regulate temperature, dry fast and offer advanced breathability by removing a layer of fabric and optimising the fluffy, lofted, insulating fibres to make them sit comfortably against your skin. The result feels a lot like sheepskin, but without the weight and the tendency to become saturated when wet.
There are two main Polartec Alpha panels on the Föhn jacket; one at the front (split by the zip) and one at the back, enclosed by an outer shell of thin nylon bearing a faint ripstop latticework. Föhn has also added more Alpha material above the upper arms. There’s no ventilation beyond that provided by the fabrics, and to keep the weight down to a paltry 220g, the only features are a hood and two zipped hip pockets. Although it’s extremely light and unobtrusive on the body, the insulation is relatively bulky, so I wouldn’t consider this a true packable jacket.
Sizing is excellent, with the medium fitting my slim build and average height perfectly. The cut has a subtle cycling bias without making it too specific; there’s a dropped back and long arms that suit the more upright riding position you’ll typically get into on a mountain bike, and there’s enough stretch to the fabric that it doesn’t restrict freedom of movement. While we’re on the subject of fit, it’s worth pointing out that there’s also a women’s version of this jacket available for the same price. But if I can make one slight criticism, it’s that the cuffs are only partially elasticated, so they can let draughts in.
Although the nylon shell feels a little like tissue paper, and rustles loudly when moving around, that Polartec fleece feels really cosy, even with a thin baselayer underneath in freezing conditions. Warming up takes no time at all, but I never experienced overheating, and I always felt like my core was staying perfectly insulated. It might not be built for heavy downpours, but it shrugged off lighter showers with ease and dried rapidly afterwards. The hood is useful for pre-and post-ride faffing, and the pockets are big and secure enough for essentials like a phone and car key.
We’ve already raved about Polartec’s Alpha fabric when we tested Specialized’s £190 Trail-Series Alpha jacket, so to find it for £70 less in Föhn’s equally effective, lighter and arguably more versatile – thanks to that hood – Polartec Alpha Hybrid jacket is remarkable.