It was only a matter of time before I would further expand my post about the range of rainwear from the Icelandic 66North brand with a review of the raingear I have. But it has taken longer than expected, mostly because it is quite difficult to write a fair and honest review about the rainwear that inspired me to start this website.
As mentioned previously I have bought my 66North rainwear on a trip to Iceland as it was one of the few affordable brands that could keep me dry during the trip around the country. For me this was the trip of a lifetime where I enjoyed absolute freedom, felt connected to nature, and formed my thoughts what I wanted to do the rest of my life. Whenever I now have the need to put on some rainwear I always connect this bright orange rainsuit with that journey bringing back good memories and inspiring me to do what my heart tells me.
Now enough of all that: to give a decent review I will need to look at it from a more neutral standpoint and be honest about the things I like and dislike about my orange 66North Freyr raingear and the green Bragi rainsuit I have available. So lets get into it.
First thing to notice about these two rainsuits is that they are not the same in a different color. The composition of the material actually differs with the orange Freyr having 65% PVC and 35% cotton while the green Bragi is 82% PVC and 18% nylon. This is something I noticed when I looked at the label inside the gear, but I would have honestly never known otherwise. The look and feel does differ slightly between the green and orange gear, but I presumed that was due to production date, usage, storage method, and whatever more could be of influence.
The material weight of both the Freyr and Bragi rainwear is similar at 380gr/m which makes it fall in between real heavy-duty raingear that often has 500gr/m or more and the lightweight, more fashionable, PVC (and PU) rainwear the big brands sell. Wearing this rainwear will not limit your freedom of movement, is easy to take along as it won’t weight you down, but will show wear and tear quicker if you plan on using it for more professional use. For people using it as normal raingear it will probably last you from a decade up to a lifetime though.
The finish of the material has a beautiful shine to it making it stand out more and giving it some life. Some brands of PVC rainwear have a matt finish making it look boring in dry weather; this rainwear will beautifully reflect light in both dry and wet conditions. The look and feel is not completely comparable to the waxy coating on the Guy Cotten rainwear although the green Bragi material comes closer to that than the orange Freyr material.
On the inside the white cotton or nylon lining is visible and unlike the Guy Cotten lining I have never experienced any trouble with friction putting this rainwear on or off, or when wearing it. The lining is able to hold some moist which is great in warmer weather or performing activities in your rainwear but it does mean you will have to let it properly dry after use to avoid stains and mold. This is something I noticed on my orange rainwear which shows some small darker spots here and there which are very hard to remove. Maybe I have not properly dried it after use or it has come into contact with some substances that leave stains. The lighter colors of the orange Freyr rainwear does not help here as spots will stand out more.
As one would expect there is no color difference with the green Bragi rainsuit between the bib pants and the jacket/anorak, but unfortunately the bib pants of the orange Freyr rainsuit do not perfectly match the color of the anorak. As these products would normally be made of large rolls of base material bought in large quantities I can only imagine the reason for this is that either the anorak or the bib pants were produced at an earlier date from a different batch of base material and I had the bad luck buying a newer and older item. The color difference does not stand out tremendously though and will only be noticed if you look up close and pay attention to it.
Needless to say this rainwear is waterproof, something that should not come as a surprise. All seams are “high-frequency welded” meaning no water can pass and there is little risk of the seams tearing. I have not come across any production mistakes, misaligned stitching, or wear and tear: and I have looked. Since I only have the anorak and the bib pants I cannot say much about zipper quality or elastic waist band quality, as I have no experience with either.
Both rainwear items are basically workwear for the fishing industry, meaning the design is very simple, functional, and has little attention being paid to overall looks, a fashionable cut, or decorative details. Expect a very basic rainsuit which will need a bit of outfit planning to turn into a more casual and stylish item for the rainy days.
In general PVC workwear has a relatively wide cut leaving some space between the rainwear and your body which is great for ventilation. PVC is absolutely not breathable so temperatures might rise during activities or relatively warmer weather inside the rainwear. The bottom of the anorak has no cord to fasten it leaving enough space to get warm air out, the sleeves have no cuffs increasing overall ventilation, and especially the anorak has a lot of room around the neck to blow off steam. With the button fastened you will be better protected in hard rain but you will also quickly notice you will get warmer. From experience I can say that leaving the top button of the anorak opened works perfectly fine and only in really torrential rain you might get some water entering there. In most other case its just more comfortable with the top open and in my opinion it enhances the overall look with an air of being more in your element.
For the bib pants there are fewer options for ventilation besides no narrowing at the bottom of the pants and the option to widen the top of the bib pants but opening one button on the side. This options does not seem to be designed for ventilation and is possibly aimed at giving access to reach into your pants pockets without having to put the bib pants off.
I am a big fan of the overall look of both bib pants and the anorak because it gives a different overall picture without being too out of bounds to attract negative attention. The main difference with bib pants will be that there is no elastic waist band giving the pants a more bulky look, but on the other hand you have the option to combine bib pants with a raincoat and leaving the zipper of the coat open when the weather allows it, showing the uniqueness of wearing bib pants. As I combine my bib pants with an anorak I do not have this option but I do have the feeling that bib pants give more freedom of movement in general, with the only real downside that taking them on and off will be a bit more trouble. Bib pants need to be fastened with straps over your shoulder leaving you no option but to completely take of your jacket before you can put on the pants. While this is no big problem when you put them on at home or at your destination, it does limit how fast you can adjust when you are surprised by some rain while on your way.
The anorak is a clear favorite of mine as I absolutely adore the twist of not having a zipper in the jacket leaving the whole front looking clean and untouched. While putting on the anorak over your head is a bit more work, especially in case with long hair, the look of it is absolutely worth it to me and I have gotten many positive remarks and interested questions from all around me when people first noticed it.
The sizing chart of the brand seems pretty accurate as the Medium size fits me perfectly. I do need to say that the bib pants tend to be a bit short when used on a bike, but for walking they are perfectly fitted. The anorak is on the larger side, as one would expect of outer shell workwear, but it never felt too large or limiting my movement in any way.
The green Bragi raingear is one size larger and I must admit I barely notice a difference in the different sizes of rainwear. Sure it is slightly bulkier and the sleeves and pants are a tiny bit longer, the overall fit is still good. In general it is always recommended to just try on different sizes in the store and stick to the smallest size possible as workwear is generally bulky so it will not quickly be too tight. The picture below shows the orange Freyr bib pants in size M on top of the green Bragi bib pants, perfectly lined up at the crotch area. As you can see the difference in size is minimal.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Compared to other rainwear available in Iceland this gear is an absolute bargain, which possibly explains its relative popularity with the local people and especially the younger party people who use it for outdoor festivals. And even compared to other brands like Helly Hansen and Ocean the prices seem fair, especially for a relatively expensive brand like 66 North.
The bigger problem is the availability. Since writing about the brand 66 North before, and posting a lot of pictures of my raingear, I got a decent amount of questions of people asking me where they could buy some. And unfortunately I cannot help them much further as there seem to be a few webshops in the US only that have them and otherwise you will have to visit Iceland. In the past the website of the brand sold both the Freyr and Bragi PVC raingear online, and shipped them worldwide, but for some reason they stopped doing that leaving some potential international customers out in the rain. As far as I have seen there are no other webshops in Europe having a decent lineup of this Icelandic gear, so maybe consider making use of a freight forwarder like Parcl.com is an option.
The overall look of both the Freyr and Bragi raingear of 66 North is absolutely top notch in my view. The dark green is nice and deep, feels great, and has a beautiful reflection, but it is the orange that really lights up my day. It is bright, has a beautiful shiny finish, and both the jacket and anorak bring an interesting combination of the real workwear look with stylish fashion. The bib pants are more practical though and will speak to fewer people, and especially with orange bib and anorak combined the brightness loses some of its intrigue and it becomes too overwhelming. The same goes for the green Bragi rainsuit, which brings me to the option to combine colors to get a complete outfit. Especially combined with the white 66 North workwear range you will get a better toned down outfit but still have that overall PVC rainwear look and feel. A pair of white pants or bib pants are easy to combine with the orange or green on top.
As should be clear by now I am a big fan of the overall look of the 66 North Freyr and Bragi rainwear. And while my conclusion is colored by some good memories of my trip to Iceland, I don’t think my point of view would change much if that had never happened. The intense orange colors of the Freyr rainwear is just stunning and the look of the rainwear is so interesting on many levels. The only downside is the limited availability, but maybe that adds to the elusiveness of this brand.