The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Shell Review

When paired with Norrona’s matching pants, the Lofoten jacket is the most protective piece of ski clothing we have ever tried.
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Price:  $799 List | $479.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Drum tight weather protection, lightweight
Cons:  Expensive, few pockets, light fabric isn’t super durable
Manufacturer:   Norrona
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 14, 2018
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 3
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 10
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Ventilation - 15% 9
  • Style - 15% 7
  • Features - 5% 5

Our Verdict

The majority of skiers look for a ski jacket with insulation, which we reflected in our selection of products for this review. From our Editors' Choice-winning Arc'teryx Macai to the Best Buy Columbia Whirlibird III and several others, insulated jackets are covered. A smaller subset of resort riders prefers a layering system that involves a non-insulated shell. For you fine folks, we present the Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Shell and a few others. It's lightweight, thin, and ready for a range of conditions. No jacket we have ever used is as effective at blocking out inclement weather as the Lofoten. For superior style points and weather protection, check out our review of the Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Pants. Pairing these two pieces together creates an outcome greater than the sum of its parts, and we can't recommend them highly enough.

Color Updates Since Testing
This jacket has seen some color updates since we last tested it. Though the colors have changed, the features remain the same.
December 2018


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Pros Drum tight weather protection, lightweightImpeccable quality, clean lines, very warm, excellent weather protectionDown insulation, generous fit, great weather protectionReasonably priced, 3-in-1 versatility, warm, good weather protectionClose fitting, warm, synthetic insulation, tons of ski features
Cons Expensive, few pockets, light fabric isn’t super durableSuper expensive, too warm for some applicationsBoxy cut, drafty construction unless well cinched downSlightly boxy fit, heavier weightLess stylish body hugging fit
Bottom Line When paired with Norrona’s matching pants, the Lofoten jacket is the most protective piece of ski clothing we have ever tried.Arc'teryx’s top of the line ski jacket and the winner of our Editor's Choice Award. This is the best insulated ski jacket money can buy, if can afford it.A top of the line insulated ski jacket with down stuffing wrapped in a Gore-Tex hardshell.This reasonably priced and versatile 3-in-1 jacket is a great option for frequent resort skiers.A comprehensive, modern ski jacket with a body-hugging fit.
Rating Categories Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Shell Arc'teryx Macai Patagonia Primo Down ThermoBall Snow Triclimate Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0
Warmth (25%)
10
0
3
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Weather Resistance (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
Comfort (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
8
Ventilation (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
Style (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
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7
Features (5%)
10
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5
10
0
7
10
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6
10
0
7
10
0
10
Specs Lofoten Gore-Tex... Arc'teryx Macai Patagonia Primo Down ThermoBall Snow... Helly Hansen Alpha...
Main Fabric GORE-TEX Pro N40p-X GORE-TEX Polyester 100% Polyester 2-layer Helly Tech Professional
Insulation None Coreloft 100, Coreloft Compact, and 750 fill goose down 850 fill power down 124 G/M² PrimaLoft® ThermoBall™ Synthetic Primaloft Gold & Black
Pockets 2 exterior chest, 1 sleeve, 1 interior zippered, 1 interior open 2 handwarmer, 1 sleeve, 1 chest, 1 internal mesh, 1 internal chest 4 external, 2 internal 2 hand, 2 chest, 1 internal goggle, 1 wrist pocket 2 handwarmer, 2 external chest, 1internal chest, 1 internal mesh drop-in, one sleeve
Waterproofing GORE-TEX 3L GORE-TEX Pro Gore Tex DryVent 2L + DWR finish 2-layer waterproof membrane
Weight (pounds) 1.5 2.36 2 3.09 (shell and liner), 1.90 (shell only) 1.19 (liner only) 2.38
Hood Option? Adjustable Removable Adjustable Adjustable Removable hood
Pit-Zips? Long, no mesh backing. Two zipper pulls. Mid length, mesh backed. One zipper pull Short, no mesh backing 14-inch pit zips, no mesh backing Mid length, mesh backed, one zipper pull
Cuff construction Interior stretchy wrist gaiters and external velcro cuffs Velcro Velcro Velcro interior stretchy wrist gaiters and external velcro cuffs
Ski Features Removable powder skirt, zips to matching pants Removable powder skirt, attached/removable goggle wipe, Removable Powder skirt Powder skirt, google wipe Fixed powder skirt, goggle wipe
RECCO? No Yes Yes No Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Lofoten jacket is a unique hybrid of ultralight, svelte alpine shell design and purpose-built ski resort features. It has the weight and feel of a light alpine climbing shell jacket, with ski-specific pant integration and overall fit.

Performance Comparison


Our overall scoring compares all different types of ski jackets; insulated and shell. In this broad list, the Norrona gets lost in the middle. When you visually pull out the shell jackets (Outdoor Research Skyward II, FlyLow Lab Coat, Arc'teryx Sabre, and the Norrona) you notice that the Norrona is only exceeded by the Editors Choice Sabre and the Lab Coat. The Sabre and Lab Coat are better for most people, but the Norrona is better for others.

The Norrona Lofoten in action on a powder day. For protection from the rowdiest weather  the Norrona is unmatched.
The Norrona Lofoten in action on a powder day. For protection from the rowdiest weather, the Norrona is unmatched.

Warmth


This is absolutely the least insulating jacket in our review, as the thin fabric offers little to no insulating value. This fact costs the jacket some in overall scoring. However, for those interested in a piece-by-piece layering system for skiing, this will not be a problem at all.

Two other shell jackets in our test, the Outdoor Research Skyward II and Arc'teryx Sabre, are both somewhat thicker. This thicker fabric offers marginally more insulation. However, as soon as you add a layer of insulation to a jacket, any comparison to these shells is moot. Even the most lightly insulated pieces in our review are much warmer than the Norrona Lofoten. Whatever warmth you need while skiing in the Norrona must come from separate, inner insulation layers.

Weather Resistance


With excellent Gore-Tex fabric, immaculate construction, generous hood and sleeves, interior wrist "gaiters," and a powder skirt/pants integration that is unparalleled, the Lofoten jacket is one of the most weather resistant jackets in our test. It is the only shell jacket in our test that has internal wrist cuffs, and the only jacket of any kind that can be zipped securely to dedicated pants (we also tested the Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Pants. The two together make an excellent combination).

While other jackets use stiffer fabric, like the Flylow Lab Coat, and others use Gore-Tex just like the Norrona (Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Macai, for one), the entire package of features and attributes that the Lofoten offers are impressive. The Lofoten easily tops our weather protection scoring metric.

Weather protection comes from both materials and overall design. The hood tailoring of the Norrona is among the best in our test.
Weather protection comes from both materials and overall design. The hood tailoring of the Norrona is among the best in our test.

Ventilation


Ventilation is important in a ski jacket. Resort skiing and snowboarding takes place in an ever-changing environment and within a wide spectrum of exertion levels. Adjusting your suit to accommodate is very important. In a single-layer, insulated jacket setup, adequate ventilation is the primary way to adjust your comfort and protection. In a layered system, like you would include the Lofoten in, ventilation is just one part of the comfort equation. You can also just remove layers for comfort and adjustment. That said, it is nice that these ski specific shell jackets include pit-zips. Those on this contender are long with no mesh backing to impede airflow. The other shell jackets also have unhindered pit-zips. Those on the FlyLow Gear Lab Coat and the Arc'teryx Sabre are similar in length and airflow, while those in the Outdoor Research Skyward II are much longer and provide the absolute maximum of ventilation. In general, the Skyward II offers better ventilation than the Lofoten.

Ski Features


To keep the design clean and light, Norrona forsakes some ski-specific attributes. Notably, it has the fewest pockets of any jacket in our test. There are no handwarmer pockets at all. There is also no headphone routing nor any Recco reflector. There is a goggle wipe, a pass pocket, and, as already mentioned, a few options for attaching the jacket to associated pants.

The Outdoor Research Skyward II has far fewer features, while the FlyLow Gear Lab Coat has a similar number of features. The Arc'Teryx Sabre is similarly equipped. The Spyder Leader has far more features, as does the Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0. Throughout our testing, we found that the insulated jackets are generally better featured than the shell jackets.

In some ways  the Norrona could be mistaken for a climbing or hiking shell jacket. However  its cut and some of the features belie the ski design. The internal wrist gaiters  powder skirt  and plethora of pockets tell the ski story.
In some ways, the Norrona could be mistaken for a climbing or hiking shell jacket. However, its cut and some of the features belie the ski design. The internal wrist gaiters, powder skirt, and plethora of pockets tell the ski story.

Fit and Comfort


Everyone loved the fit and feel of the Lofoten. The cut is close, much like an alpine climbing shell jacket. There's just enough room underneath for insulating layers for all but the most arctic cold conditions. Much of the comfort can be attributed to the lightweight, flexible fabric the Lofoten is made of. Thin fabric like this allows free movement. As long as it is paired with mobile under-layers, your system could almost approximate the feel and mobility of a single layer system.

The Lofoten's internal wrist gaiters are built in. Most dig these. If you don't like them  you can cut them out. They are hard to ignore otherwise.
The Lofoten's internal wrist gaiters are built in. Most dig these. If you don't like them, you can cut them out. They are hard to ignore otherwise.

Generally, we look at insulated jackets as the most comfortable choice. A single-piece insulated layer, like the Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0 or Patagonia Primo Down, for a given amount of warmth, offers greater freedom of motion than a series of layers that can bind against one another.

For backcountry use  many will dig a layering system. Further  among dedicated ski shell jackets  the Norrona is relatively lightweight and packable. The FlyLow Genius is similar  at about half the price.
For backcountry use, many will dig a layering system. Further, among dedicated ski shell jackets, the Norrona is relatively lightweight and packable. The FlyLow Genius is similar, at about half the price.

Style


Bright colors are always an easy sell to our aesthetics reviewers and our photography team. The green we tested in the Lofoten was a hit, for sure. Beyond the bright colors, testers also appreciated the trim fit and clean design. The dearth of pockets and the easy draping fabric appeared svelte and uncluttered. This uncluttered look seems to be gaining more and more popularity among ski jackets.

All of our tested jackets were decidedly neutral in styling, with understated patterning and virtually hidden pockets. The Arc'teryx Macai, for instance, uses special hidden zippers for many of the pockets. The same goes for the Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0. Norrona takes it a step further by entirely eliminating many of the pockets that others include.

Best Applications


If you are constructing a layering system for ski resort use, and even occasional backcountry and ski mountaineering usage, the Lofoten is an excellent choice. The lightweight construction can disappear in your pack or duffel, yet the weather protection is unparalleled. We must point out that a layering system can be appealing for the versatility, especially for those skiers coming from a hiking or climbing background. However, for dedicated resort use like we tested these jackets for, the best bet is often a single, insulated ski jacket. Choose carefully.

Value


In our years of testing ski jackets, few have cost close to the Norrona Lofoten. Both of these competitors are insulated and feature Gore-Tex shell construction. Considering that the Norrona requires at least one separate insulating layer, it is hard to make a case for the value of the Norrona. This is a no-holds-barred piece of equipment for the discerning user collecting the absolute most protective layering system for skiing and snowboarding.

Conclusion


Our testing team agrees that insulating ski jackets have the widest appeal. Further, the Arc'teryx Sabre shell jacket is just a little more suited to the usage patterns of most resort riders. Therefore, it gets our Editors Choice award for a shell jacket. The Norrona is an excellent jacket, but a little lighter and less durable than the Sabre. It might suit you, but it is bested in this competitive field.


Jediah Porter