We adore the backcountry-oriented Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro shell. Made with the highest-end waterproof, breathable Gore-tex Pro material, you cannot beat this jacket for a combination of uphill performance and weather resistance. The addition of a few touring-specific features like a removable powder skirt and rescue pocket confirmed this shell as our top-tier recommendation for backcountry skiing. Its style is also on point. For the skier that doesn't want to sacrifice downhill performance in the name of uphill breathability, the Norrona Lofoten is a great investment.Editor's Note: We updated this review for the Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro on March 23, 2022, with an unbiased take on the value and considerations of other jackets for specific purposes.
Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro - Women's Review
Cons: Expensive, less ideal for regular resort use
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We loved this Gore-Tex shell from Norrona. They have been making streamlined, no-frills gear for years and continue to impress with the Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro shell. This jacket is constructed of a top-of-the-line 3L waterproof, breathable membrane, and its bright style will stand out on the hill. While this jacket performs very well, we think it is best suited for the backcountry where its minimalism can shine. This shell is a great option if you are ready to invest in a high-end shell.
The Lofoten is a standout in this category. The thick weave of the DWR treated 40 denier face fabric not only beads moisture extremely well, but the thickness helps cut the cold wind. The fully water-resistant zippers featured on each closure serve the same purpose. We did not feel any gusts or drafts permeate this jacket, and it showed no signs of allowing moisture in.
We like the wrist gaiters in this jacket. They add a layer of protection against gaps between gloves and the shell. The asymmetrical cut of the cuffs is a subtle feature that we like for directing water down the edge of the sleeve. The hood was perfectly sized to be cinched down with its dual elastic adjustments and had a rigid rim to keep precipitation away from the eyes. We feel this shell can handle any type of storm out there.
Comfort and Fit
The Lofoten has a slightly tailored fit that strikes a balance between a form-fitting athletic and a looser resort shell. It fits true to size and allows for several layers underneath. This design left us plenty of room for movement despite the stiff feel of the shell. There is ample room in the chest and shoulders and enough length in the arms to feel protected and secure even when moving around.
We think the fit of the hood and cuffs of this jacket is also perfect. The tall collar protects the face and rests nicely on the skin with a fleece backer. The hood is the perfect size to fit over a helmet or a hat on the uphill. We love how the wrist gaiters are long and laser-cut, so they did not pull or bunch when inside our gloves. It feels like Norrona thought of everything when it came to the fit of the Lofoten
The only metric in which the Lofoten did not excel was warmth. This outcome is expected considering the lack of insulation in this jacket. The majority of the warmth of this jacket comes from its high-quality construction.
The materials and design of this shell keep you dry and amplify the effects of insulating layers by breaking any cold wind. Adjusting insulation can also prevent soaking through base layers, which will send you from hot to cold rapidly. The breathability of this shell also keeps moisture at bay, which, as we emphasize, is key to staying warmer longer.
Here the Lofoten stands out again. The ventilation in this jacket comes from both its ventilation features and its quality material. The large pit zips on this shell reach from hips well into underarms. A chest zipper lined with a mesh-backed "safety pocket" can be an additional ventilation place.
The other part of this jacket's temperature control comes from the Gore-Tex pro material. This membrane is the most breathable of the Gore-Tex fabrics with this level of durability, and we felt it. We reached high levels of uphill output before needing to open any ventilation or de-layer. This shell shines in the world of temperature regulation and ventilation.
The Lofoten strikes a balance between trendy and timeless. The tapered cut of this jacket adds flair to an efficient design. The longer hemline is in line with current freeride styles, but the cut is narrow enough to cross into backcountry utility.
We are also big fans of the available colors for this jacket. We are particularly drawn to the neon and earth tone color combination, but we like that there are enough color options for anyone to find one that speaks to their style.
This model isn't chock-full of features found on many resort models. The Lofoten still has important ski-specific features for its minimalist design. A removable powder skirt drastically increases this jacket's versatility, as it allows you to leave behind the extra weight on days where the focus is on the uphill. A small feature we enjoy is the button cinching mechanism on the hem, which is easy to use with mittens on. There are relatively limited pockets with only two chest pockets and one internal zip pocket, but we believe this is sufficient for backcountry touring.
One of the pockets on the chest of this jacket is what Norrona calls a "rescue pocket." This zippered pocket with a velcro mesh backing allows you to reach a transceiver or other rescue equipment attached under your outer layer. Fortunately, we did not have to use this pocket, but we found it intriguing. The benefit of this pocket is it allows you to begin a transceiver search without unzipping your jacket or unbuckling the chest strap of your backpack. Like any rescue feature, we think this might increase efficiency as long as it is extensively practiced. Our only hesitation would be to ensure it is zippered on the descent to protect a transceiver and not accidentally use it as a real pocket.
Should You Buy the Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro?
This jacket is an absolute favorite among our testers for a backcountry shell. It is burly enough for any storm day in or out of bounds and is minimal enough to perform uphill. Its streamlined features perform well and provide additional versatility to an already versatile shell. For an avid backcountry user, the Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro jacket is the perfect investment and may just serve you for many seasons to come.
What Other Women's Ski Jackets Should You Consider?
As a high-end technical shell with all of the bells and whistles, the Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro is expensive. It is in the same realm as many other high-quality shells on the market, like the Arc'teryx Sentinel AR or Arc'teryx Incendia. But jackets like the Outdoor Research Carbide offer very similar performance on backcountry tours without carrying such a hefty price tag. If your focus is mainly on-piste skiing but dabbles in hiking or touring, the Flylow Billie Coat is another great shell that offers more refined ski-specific features. But it is important to note that without an additional insulated layers, none of these shell jackets offer much warmth. If you run cold and integrated insulation is an important feature, the Helly Hansen Powderqueen 3.0 is an award-winning option.
— Jacqueline Kearney
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