66° North Snaefell jacket review: a classy waterproof, redesigned to be better for you and the planet

The newly re-released, Icelandic-designed 66° North Snaefell is a top-performing jacket made with Polartec’s new partly plant-based Power Shield Pro material

66° North Snaefell Jacket
(Image: © Pat Kinsella)

Advnture Verdict

A supremely versatile jacket, the newly redesigned and re-released Snaefell (now boasting protective material tech that’s almost half plant-based and far more environmentally friendly) provides year-round cutting-edge performance and functionality, whether you’re hiking, biking, paddling, climbing or skiing – or a mixture of all of the above. It’s fabulously wind- and waterproof, it breathes beautifully, is almost silent to wear, looks and feels great, and has a great range of intelligent and well-designed features. Just no pit-zips, which I am going to keep banging on about until someone in Iceland gets my memo.


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    Plant-based materials used

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    Reliably waterproof and windproof

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    Highly breathable

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    Taped seams

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    Quiet to wear

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    Good hood


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    No underarm vents

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    Pockets relatively shallow

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Meet the reviewer

best fleece jackets: Artilect Halfmoon Bio Pullover
Pat Kinsella

Pat has hiked all over the world, his adventures taking him to Mont Blanc, the roof of Western Europe; the Norwegian Alps; the highest peaks in Australia; and New Zealand’s Great Walks – among others. He’s an experienced tester of hiking footwear and gives each pair a thorough thrashing before reviewing.

66° North Snaefell: first impressions

This is not a new jacket – the 66° North Snaefell is flaunted by this top-quality Icelandic brand as the most versatile jacket in their whole range, with plenty of justification – but it has just been rereleased (May 2024) with a significant material upgrade, which I will go into more detail about below.

66° North Snaefell Jacket

The 66° North Snaefell jacket is named after an Icelandic volcano (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

• List price: $550 (US) / £435 (UK)
• Gender specification: Men’s / Women’s
• Sizes: Men’s: S-XXL; Women’s: XS-XXL
• Waterproof rating: HH 20,000mm
• Breathability rating: 20,000g/m²/24h Moisture Vapor Transmission Rating
• Materials: Polartec Power Shield Pro (53% nylon, 47% polyester)
• Weight (Men’s large): 475g / 16oz
• Colors: Black / Blue / Gray / Red
• Compatibility: Hiking, trekking, backpacking, cycling, climbing, skiing, kayaking

At 1,833m, Snaefell is the tallest peak (a volcano, of course) in Iceland, and this new version of the popular (or at least much-coveted) jacket comes with some very high expectations to meet.

That’s not just because of the premium price it comes at (although that obviously comes into it); it’s also the reputation of the brand and the Polartec material used in the jacket, plus the fact that the original version was a classic.

My first impressions are that the design remains excellent, albeit still with no pit vents, which is something I always look for, especially in a jacket that claims to be as versatile as the Snaefell is. This grumble aside, the jacket is stylish and comfortable to wear straight out of the packet, has all the features required to make it super functional in the hills and peaks, and the look and feel doesn’t appear to have been negatively impacted by the use of the new material. It’s still a nice quiet jacket to wear, despite the high level of waterproofing it offers, and there’s plenty of stretch in the garment.

But, would it live up to expectations during proper field-testing, and how does the redesigned Snaefell compare to the best outer shells and waterproof jackets on the market? I wore it into the rain-strafed hills to find out.

66° North Snaefell Jacket

The lack of underarm vents is the only real issue with this jacket (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

66° North Snaefell: design and materials

In response to new laws that have recently restricted the use of PFAs (toxic ‘forever chemicals’) in apparel in California and elsewhere, many brands and manufacturers involved in the production of waterproof gear have redesigned the waterproof breathable membranes and DWR (Durable Water Repellency) treatments used in their kit, and 66° North and Polartec are very much part of that group. 

The fabric technology used in the Snaefell jacket is Polartec’s Power Shield Pro, a bio-based protective layer that’s 48% sourced from non-edible plants. Different from the older microporous membranes, but still sandwiched between a durable plain-weave recycled nylon face and a recycled single-knit backer, the Power Shield Pro-armed material remains highly waterproof and breathable. In fact, with a hydrostatic head rating of 20,000mm (as compared to the jacket’s previous rating of 10,000mm) it’s actually more waterproof than the old version. That said, the breathability rating has declined slightly. Swings. Roundabouts. 

66° North Snaefell Jacket

The new, eco-friendly material used in this redesigned 66° North Snaefell makes the jacket more waterproof but also less breathable (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

The new material has two-way stretch and, in another significant nod to sustainability, the zips and other components on this jacket have been sourced from recycled materials.

The overall design of the Snaefell remains broadly the same as the original jacket, with features including adjustable cuffs, a swivel hood, pre-shaped articulation on the elbows and an elongated back panel. The rationale is that there’s no need to mess with an award-winning coat (although I definitely would have added pit zips).

66° North Snaefell: on the trails

66° North Snaefell Jacket

Comfortable to wear over a base layer, a fleece or a lightweight puffer, the Snaefell provides really reliable protection from the elements (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

I’ve been trail-, crag- and water-testing the Snaefell up in the hills, across hinterland and along the coast of Devon and Dorset over the last month, during a period when the weather has chucked a bit of everything at me. It’s been hot, and it’s been shivery. It’s been windy and dry, and then wet and wild – often in the space of a single morning.

Lucky then, that the signature quality of this jacket is its versatility. Comfortable to wear over a base layer, a fleece or a lightweight puffer, the Snaefell provides really reliable protection from the wind and the rain (and the snow), but it also lets your body breathe at the same time. And it doesn’t just excel in a variety of climatic conditions, it’s also a great garment to grab for a whole range of active pursuits.

I’ve used this on hiking and biking escapades. With decent two-way stretch it also works well at the climbing crag (allowing you to reach for high holds), in a kayak or canoe (because you can turn your torso unimpeded to put in strokes), and on the ski slopes, where little features such as a lift-pass-sized pocket on the sleeve make it particularly good for winter use in resorts.

66° North Snaefell Jacket

The hood can be comfortably cinched to a fit that swivels easily with your head for a wide field of vision (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

The swivel hood (which has three adjustment points and can be pulled in tight to shield your face in bad weather) means you can fully turn your head and enjoy a wide field of vision, which is particularly good for riding, skiing and paddling. The storm peak keeps the worst of the rain, sleet or snow out of your face. The elongated back means the jacket doesn’t ride up when you’re wearing a pack, and the wet stuff is directed away from your body instead of straight down your pants.

The hand pockets are also higher up than on a standard jacket, sitting around the rib area, which means you can access them easier if you have a climbing harness on, or if you’re in the saddle of a bike or the cockpit of a kayak. There’s also a zipped inside pocket. All the pockets on this coat are pretty watertight.

This is a very quiet jacket; unlike a lot of equally high-performing Gore-Tex jackets, which rustle like a bag of chips every time you move, the Snaefell emits little more than a whisper while you walk, cycle, climb or paddle, allowing you to enjoy the other sounds of the outdoors.

The brand say some venting does happen through the pockets, but please 66° North, stick some pit zips on this jacket – we’re not all climbing frozen peaks in Iceland on the edge of the Arctic Circle, and when I’m sweating, puffing and blowing up a hill in the more temperate (but often wet) surrounds of the UK, I could really do with some proper ventilation and a quick way to dump some heat. With this addition, I think the Snaefell would be my perfect jacket.

Pat Kinsella

Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and Instagram here.