Norrona redesigned this hardshell since we tested it, decreasing the number of parts and seams used to construct it with the intent of providing increased mobility and a more ergonomic fit. It's also comprised of a recycled 40D Gore-Tex PRO 2.0 fabric, and now features a 2-way zipper.
Compare the updated jacket (left) to the version we tested (right).
As we've yet to test the latest version, be aware that the review to follow still tells of our adventures with the previous model.
Hands-On Review of the Trollveggen
The Norrona Trollveggen is a burly shell designed for big mountains and severe weather, but which is still lightweight and flexible enough to be very comfortable. It performed so well across all metrics that it was an easy pick for our Top Pick for Multi Sports.
Lindsay Fixmer racking up for the money pitch on Cleopatra's Needle, Hyalite Canyon, Montana.
Norwegians certainly know harsh weather. They've been braving it for centuries. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Norrona would create this burly shell jacket. The Trollveggen is made of rugged 40D GORE-TEX Pro fabric, which provides the highest level of protection for those venturing into rugged, cold, mountainous regions. Plus, it is durable enough that you'll be confident scratching around on sections of alpine rock—a hardshell jacket with a hole in it is not worth much in this category.
The hood and cuffs efficiently seal out the weather, and the arms are roomier to accommodate warm layers. Pit zips allow for ventilation while minimizing exposure to rain or snow or dripping ice.
The many faces of the Trollveggen.
We liked how well the hood covered our faces, both with and without a helmet. And the arms were long enough that we could seal the adjustable cuffs around our gloves to keep water from dripping inside when climbing through wet sections of ice climbs. While the Trollveggen got an impressive 9 out of 10 for Weather Protection, if this is your top priority, you might consider the Arc'teryx Alpha SV. The Alpha SV is from the "Severe" conditions series from Arc'teryx and proved impressively "bomb proof" in our tests due to the use of slightly burlier Gore-Tex fabric.
The Trollveggen was one of our favorite jackets for Mobility, earning a top score of 9 out of 10. The only competitor was the extremely lightweight Arc'teryx Beta SL which climbs so well due to the thinner fabric.
Norrona built this jacket to be excellent for technical climbing. We loved it for ice climbing because it was a bit roomier and allows you to add warm layers underneath without compromising comfort and mobility. And when we were wearing fewer layers, the jacket offered enough adjustability that the extra material didn't feel cumbersome.
The Trollveggen in action.
The arms are long enough to seal around gloves without restricting reach or mobility, and the hood similarly allowed ease of motion even when all sealed up in the worst weather. The single cinching cord in the hood seats the material like a crown around your head and helps the hood move with you when you look behind you—rather than staying in place and blocking your vision when your head turns, but the hood stays put.
The lightweight and flexible fabric used in the Trollveggen also facilitates movement. While stiffer materials might be more durable and offer even more protection from the weather, for those making technical ascents in the mountains, the mobility of this softer, lighter fabric will significantly improve your long-term comfort.
In our experience, breathability is a combination of fabric quality and thickness and ventilation features. Norrona designed this jacket with an impeccably efficient blend of the two—the fabric is as light as it can be, while still offering top-notch protection, and the pit zips are long and open from either end.
With one zipper at each end, instead of both butted up against each other (as most of the other jackets with double zipper pit zips), this means you can ventilate from your core and arm at the same time, thus promoting air flow while minimizing the size of the hole necessary to ventilate. Brilliant.
The Trollveggen features some of the best zips in the review.
Norrona designed this jacket to have everything you need to withstand the worst storms—and nothing extra. It kept things lightweight through thoughtful design and minimizing any redundancies such as extra unneeded pockets or drawcord adjustment points.
At 9 ounces, this is in the middle of the pack for this review, but plenty light enough given the versatility and range of features. We like the use of waterproof zippers instead of storm flaps over zippers—these provide more reliable protection (if less durable, over time and use) from the many angles that precipitation might try to get into your jacket when the wind blows, or when you're pulling some technical moves at odd angles—those flaps won't blow open or allow drips to find a way in.
The Norrona is full of thoughtful feature—not too many, but just enough to offer everything you want in a durable, reliable hardshell, without adding unnecessary weight or complication.
From head to tail, here are our favorite features:
The hood is very storm ready but has only one drawcord adjustment that cinches the cord, which is in a circle, so it wraps like a crown around your head. We love the simplicity and weight savings and found the adjustability to be plenty adequate for our various climbing adventures and weather. There is a flap inside the hood, under the brim, which helps seal out precipitation and wind as well. The soft patch of material where the collar touches your face is a favorite feature in cold regions.
The Napoleon style pockets are high enough to allow access even when wearing a harness. They are not designed to tuck your hands into—rather, these are stormproof pockets for quick access to navigation tools or small snacks. And if you need something to be well protected from the elements, there is a zippered chest pocket inside the jacket as well. The pocket design is optimized for technical climbing—we loved it for this purpose. And even around town, we didn't miss the "hand warmer" pockets.
The adjustable design of the drawcord at the bottom hem is one of the best we have used. You just grab the loop of cord to tighten it, and when you want to loosen the fit, there is a more sizeable release button sandwiched inside the fabric (so it doesn't get iced up), which is easy to operate wearing gloves. This was a simple, light, and glove-friendly design.
And that pretty much sums up the features in this jacket: streamlined, efficient, simple, and very thoughtful. Great for technical climbing and anything else where you prioritize simplicity and ease of movement.
The Trollveggen is a very durable jacket, using the more rugged line of Pro Gore-Tex. The jacket's 40D GORE-TEX Pro fabric held up well to climbing, and the simplicity of the features ensures there is less to fail on this jacket. If extreme durability is your priority, there is one jacket in this review that edged ahead of the Trollveggen in this category: the severe weather hardshell from Arc'teryx.
The Trollveggen is one of the most versatile jackets in this review, rivaled only by the Arc'teryx all around jacket. It is simple, streamlined, and lightweight enough to earn a spot on expeditions and fast-and-light adventures alike. It is breathable enough for high-level aerobic activities, and rugged enough for burly storms and rough conditions.
This jacket is also compact and breathable enough to operate as your rain jacket for around town, or even for those very wet bike commutes. The fit is trim enough that you won't feel you have extra material flapping around, and accommodates layers underneath. The jacket is also supple and close-fitting enough that you won't feel too awkward putting a parka on over it for those cold belays or slow climbing conditions.
The Trollveggen is best suited to technical climbs in the mountains. It provides excellent storm protection while maintaining freedom of movement and breathability—all our top priorities when we search for the best hardshell for all-around mountain use. We loved this jacket for ice climbing; the arms were longer, so we could seal the cuffs around any glove for those dripping sections of our waterfall ice climbs. We could also layer warmer clothing underneath easily, and without restricting movement. And the more supple material ensured we felt free to pull harder moves without the jacket getting in our way or restricting mobility.
This is a jacket that is priced for what it is worth. It's not a cheap hardshell, but you will get a lot out of it. It is versatile for all mountain use, and most levels of aerobic output, so you won't need to invest in multiple hardshell jackets. The materials and manufacturing are top-notch as well, so we expect it will perform for many adventures to come, with proper wear and care.
The Norrona Trollveggen is an outstanding hardshell jacket. It is well suited to a variety of mountain adventures, offering burly weather protection in a surprisingly light and breathable shell. We loved this jacket for steep, exposed, technical climbs in the mountains—it kept us warm and dry, allowing us to layer clothing underneath, but it also breathes and vents well when our heart rate climbed and we needed to dump heat in a hurry. This is an excellent all-around hardshell for just about any mountain adventure.
The Trollveggen in action on a late summer climb of the North Ridge of Mt. Baker.