Will a $700 jacket make you a better skier or snowboarder? The answer may surprise you.
While no single piece of gear can magically improve your skills on the slopes, a high-performance jacket such as the iconic Norrona Lofoten GORE-TEX Pro may take your skiing to the next level.
Top-of-the-line gear may not make a difference in some sports, but backcountry skiing is not one of them. When boot-packing up a couloir or descending into a bowl of waist-deep powder, your gear, especially your jacket, can make or break your day.
In short: Norrona gets this and has spent 17 years perfecting the 22 features that go into this stalwart of a jacket. The Lofoten jacket (for men and women) may not make you a better skier overnight, but it will free you up from stressing about your gear so you can focus on thriving in the backcountry.
While not as well-known in the U.S. as some companies, such as Patagonia, Norway-based Norrona’s focus on design, function, quality, and sustainability makes it an elite outdoor brand. In fact, one of our best ski pants of the year comes from Norrona — check out what we had to say about the matching Norrona Lofoten GORE-TEX Pro Pant.
Norrona Lofoten GORE-TEX Pro Jacket Specs
- Asymmetric cuffs with Velcro adjustments
- Asymmetric longer back cut
- Front chest ventilation with YKK water-resistant zipper and mesh
- Goggle and sunglass wipe inside pocket
- Internal mesh pocket
- Integrated hand gaiters
- Internal chest pocket
- One-hand hem adjustment
- Keycard and radio pocket on overarm
- Storm hood fitted for freeride helmet with one-hand adjustment
- Taped seams on waterproof fabric
- X-open underarm ventilation with YKK water-resistant zippers
- YKK water-resistant front zipper
- Zip-off powder skirt with gripper elastic and snap-seal solution
- Weight: 698 g (1.5 lbs.)
- Price: $699
Norrona Lofoten GORE-TEX Pro Jacket Review
The first thing I noted about the jacket is its sleekness. With minimal pockets and a tapered fit that allows for layering without being baggy, the Lofoten appears very low-profile. Since 2004, Norrona has been perfecting this jacket, pushing it to the limits and loading it with all the features you need in the backcountry — and nothing more.
The Lofoten is an integrated part of Norrona’s loaded minimalism theme, which includes just the critical features. While testing the jacket on Monarch Pass in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, I found this true without even realizing it at first.
The jacket is intuitively built for backcountry skiers, likely because the designers are backcountry skiers themselves. Everything is where I needed it to be and fit as it should.
This is where the jacket can improve not just your day but your overall skills as a skier. It becomes an extension of your skiing, not an obstacle.
Performance on the Slopes
I started with a couple of laps on the chairlift, the jacket getting some glances from knowing lift operators. While the Lofoten can crush inbounds skiing/boarding, it’s sort of like taking a steak knife to butter — overkill. I then headed toward the backcountry, slapping skins on my skis and advancing through the gates to see how the jacket performed in the wild.
With a snowstorm settling in, the ridge I hiked up was windy, and pellets of icy snow battered the jacket. I pulled the storm hood, which includes a one-hand adjustment on the back, over my helmet, and soldiered on. The asymmetric cuffs sheathed over my gloves and can be wrapped tightly with Velcro adjustments.
While the Lofoten GORE-TEX Pro jacket comes loaded with ample vents — on the front and two-way armpit vents on the sleeves — I never needed them. The recycled GORE-TEX is very breathable. The zip-off powder skirt snapped tightly around my waist ensuring no snow could get in on those big powder days, and the water-resistant zippers kept moisture at bay.
On the steep descent through fresh, ankle-deep powder, the jacket performed flawlessly. It kept the wind and snow out and kept me warm in my layers without ever overheating.
Norrona Lofoten Pro vs. Patagonia Powder Bowl
Both offer underarm vents, adjustable hoods, powder skirts, and pockets. They even look similar. The difference is in some of the details and unseen technology.
The Norrona Lofoten GORE-TEX Pro has a three-layer, 70-denier, waterproof, and breathable fabric made up of 50% recycled fiber. It has five pockets (including one on the sleeve) and tons of ventilation. A three-layer jacket means that the outer fabric bonds to the inner lining, making it less bulky and more durable. The GORE-TEX Pro technology used by Norrona is the most durable, making it the ultimate storm-protection fabric.
The Patagonia Powder Bowl offers a two-layer, 150-denier GORE-TEX membrane of durable, recycled polyester fabric treated with a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish. It includes six pockets, including one chest pocket. It also has a concealed RECCO reflector.
The Lofoten is designed with wearing a pack in mind, so you can access zippers and pockets without having to undo straps. It also offers chest ventilation and access to your beacon without having to remove the jacket. And the Lofoten has elastic hand gaiters built into the arms of the jacket (which we love and don’t see very often).
Either jacket is sure to keep you dry and protected from the elements. But neither offers much insulation considering they are shells. The Norrona has more ventilation and durability while the Patagonia has more pockets and RECCO technology. And then there’s the price: Patagonia’s $399 compared to $699 for the Norrona.
Worth the Price Tag?
While the Lofoten is on the higher end when it comes to cost for a jacket, the tradeoff is a bombproof piece of equipment. Whatever weather you encounter in the backcountry, the Lofoten GORE-TEX Pro will be able to handle it with ease.
If big-mountain freeride skiing is your game, this is the ideal jacket. It will hold up for mountaineering, boot-packing, and ascending powder runs. We found the ventilation options and breathability of the Lofoten GORE-TEX Pro Jacket especially ideal for spring season skinning.
And some of the small features Norrona has incorporated over the years, from the wrist gaiters to the one-hand hem adjustment, make this minimalist jacket a must. If you frequent the backcountry and can get past the price, this jacket deserves a spot in your kit.