Fjallraven Greenland Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Classic design and materials, user-maintained waterproofness.
Cons: Less insulating than many other jackets.
Our Analysis and Test Results
Since our testing period, Fjallraven has made some amendments to the Greenland jacket. Most notably they've upgraded the teddy lining, and the outer fabric is now G-1000 Eco, constructed of sustainable materials. The fit has been modernized, as well. The new jacket retails for $10 more, ringing up at $310. Compare the latest offering (left) to the version we tested (right).
Though we link to the updated model, be aware that the review to follow tells our experience with the older version we tested.
Hands-On Review of the Greenland
The Greenland jacket from Fjallraven is one of only two in our entire review that does not feature puffy insulation of any kind. Instead, the Greenland and Patagonia Isthmus use synthetic "pile" fabric to lend warmth. This form of insulation is quite durable and effective, though it is also heavier than the other options and is inherently limited in insulation value.
In terms of absolute warmth, the Greenland sits near the bottom of the pack. With pile insulation, the loft and warmth-trapping effect is inherently limited. In a field of jackets that protect against an entire planet of winter conditions, from pole to equator, the Greenland jacket provides protection from the warmest climates we might call wintry. It is similar in insulation value to the Patagonia Isthmus and almost as protective as the Columbia Gold 650 Turbodown. It is nowhere as insulating as our award-winning Arc'teryx Camosun and Marmot Fordham, but it does come close to the warmth of Top Pick Arc'teryx Fission SV.
With the Greenland, Fjallraven takes a traditional, more organic approach to weatherproofing. To provide wind and water protection, the Greenland is equipped with a cotton/polyester blended canvas shell fabric. Weather protection and durability is added by the user in the form of a special proprietary wax and subsequent ironing process. Our test did not include treating the Greenland jacket in this way. Out of the box, the fabric repels water fairly effectively, and our experience with other wax treatments confirms that augmenting the Fjallraven product with the recommended accouterments will indeed greatly improve its weather protection. For similar, fully-waterproof function "out of the box" check out the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka and the Helly Hansen Dubliner.
With natural materials in the shell fabric and a heavy, draping pile liner, the Greenland brings a unique feel. For those accustomed to puffy insulated jackets, the Greenland will feel heavy and hanging as opposed to hugging. This feel is more akin to both dress clothing and to blue-collar work attire. It is not the athletic feel of puffy-style jackets. It is simply different, as among our testers there seemed to be a fairly even split on the comfort of the Greenland. Some loved the heavy, secure feeling while others felt weighed down.
As compared to the fleecy lining of the Isthmus jacket from Patagonia, the Greenland is a little less soft. The stiff shell fabric of the Greenland is similar to that of the Marmot Fordham, but the thinner construction of the Greenland drapes better.
In terms of the features we look for in a winter coat, the Fjallraven is fairly limited. The hood is simple, with no adjustments. The cuffs tighten with snaps, which is nice. The main zipper works in both directions. The seven pockets are indeed plentiful, but their function is limited. Notably, an inside chest pocket is located so high on your collar bone as to be virtually inaccessible while wearing the coat. The hand warmer pockets are simple envelopes of the shell fabric, outside the insulating layer and without any fleece lining. The best hand warmer pockets put your digits in soft fabric between the main insulation and your body for greatest effect. Our most featured jacket, the Mountain Hardwear Therminator has all the tricks we look for, and some that fully break the mold.
The Greenland is a throwback, bringing both materials and style from working class attire of farmers and manual laborers. Ironically, the style of the Greenland is arguably quite sophisticated. The throwback look is in. The classic materials, cotton and metal snaps, combine to make for an unpretentious yet classic look.
Fjallraven's literature accompanying the Greenland indicate that the wax treatment they recommend for waterproofing the shell fabric will also protect the jacket against premature wear. The shell fabric is already thick and beefy, and sewn together with excellent craftsmanship. Further enhancing its durability will make an incredible product. The pile insulation, similarly, will last the user for years and years of protection. Only the Isthmus pile insulation will last like that of the Greenland, while something like the immaculate construction and down insulation of the Arc'Teryx Camosun will provide a similar level of durability in a very different fashion.
The Greenland, contrary to what its name might suggest, is a great jacket for the mildest of winter climates. For the central coast of the United States, or the lower latitudes and maritime climates of Europe, the Greenland will protect. Further from the moderating influence of the ocean and the equator, the Greenland could be a great "shoulder season" jacket to complement something warmer like The North Face McMurdo or Canada Goose Expedition Parka.
With long-lasting materials and a growing reputation for quality construction, the Greenland is well worth its sticker price. Take an active interest in treating and maintaining the shell fabric with Fjallraven's wax and you should have a warm and weatherproof jacket for your entire life. This is a great value.
Fjallraven is new to the US, but brings classic materials and construction. The Greenland isn't a super warm jacket, but it is stylish and can be modified for any degree of weather resistance.
— Jediah Porter