We’ve reached that stage of winter where most folks are ready for some sunshine, even if those warm rays include a misty rainbow hunt between the dry turns. Those of us who chose not to participate in the “off-season” have been sliding around in the mud for a few months now, awaiting the day that it’s warm enough to crack a cold beer after a ride and find a spot in the forest to empty the can. As those cozier days slowly come into focus, we can prepare by pulling the shoulder-season gear back out from under our parkas.
If you’re in need of a new lightweight waterproof layer, the Norrøna fjørå dri1 is a top-notch option that’s worth a close look. It weighs just 187g, fits nicely in a hip-pack, and includes at least one thoughtful feature that I haven’t seen on another jacket. Oh, and more than 50% of its synthetic materials are recycled, which is sweet for folks who want to reduce their waste quotient.
The fjørå dri1 jacket is also on the expensive side, as a lot of really well made waterproof MTB gear can be, retailing for $269 or €299 (available at Backcountry). While that may be outside the annual gear budget for some folks, myself included, this jacket clicks the “get what you pay for” square.
I have no interest in convincing folks to buy things they can’t afford. Quite the opposite actually; I’d rather find quality products that save readers money. That stated I do have a lil’ philosophy about high-quality riding kit like this. Ya see, mountain biking is wicked expensive. Enough so that I can’t really afford other adventure sports like skiing or kayaking. Fortunately, I love singletrack so much that I’m genuinely stoked to ride every day. If I had the cash for other forest activities, I would need quality gear for each of them to make those experiences enjoyable. Since I only mountain bike, I try to buy the best gear possible, spending a little of that money that could theoretically go toward other exploits. In short, while I can’t afford baller kit like this jacket, I would definitely buy it if I could. Now, back to hunting rainbows.
The number-one job of a rain jacket is to keep the rain out, and this one does so very well. The PFC-free DWR coating has repelled a river of droplets this winter, and it’s holding strong after numerous wash cycles. The usual leaks in the arms and shoulders have yet to spring, even after some vigorous mud sanding. The neck, wrist cuffs, and waist cinch down tight to keep water from slipping between garments.
On the warmth front, the shell is fairly lightweight. If it’s below 6°C (42.8°F) I wear a wool base layer and a long-sleeve jersey underneath, or, if riding alone, I just don’t stop pedaling. I have experimented with several layering iterations under the jacket, and once the temps reach about 14°C (57.2°F) I have to take it off unless it’s actively raining or I’m riding with folks who want to stop along the way.
The fit could be characterized as “athletic” and there is definitely not space for a puffy jacket beneath my size small, where there would be with some other rain shells. The torso and arms are noticeably long, and well suited to a rider far taller than me. For reference, I am 173cm tall (5’8″), weigh about 68kg (150lbs), and have a 100cm (39.5″) chest measurement. If my chest were any broader I would definitely need to wear a medium.
fjørå dri1 jackets are available in a bevy of different colors that my eyes don’t see in rainbows, like this sweet earthy hue. This is one of those clever colors that looks totally different depending on the light. In the shade, where we most often wear a rain jacket, it’s an olive-ish color. In direct sunlight, it presents more of a brown-mustard tint. I really enjoy colors that can’t quite be classified. This one in particular is very close to the hue of some alder catkins I saw on a recent ride. Maybe they should call it catkin?
About that unique feature I mentioned: fjørå dri1 has two main zippers on the same side that mate with a single zipper on the opposite side. One zipper option makes the jacket slightly tighter and fully waterproof at the front, and the other opens up the torso by about two centimeters to reveal a full-length vent. While the vent is narrow, it does a first-rate job of moving air through in combination with the armpit zips. The fact that it’s a narrow mesh material will keep most of the water out while you cool off. If you need more ventilation, it’s likely time to unzip or remove the jacket.
A single left breast pocket is a little tight around my iPhone 11 with a silicone case, but it does fit. Given the tight squeeze, I have been using this pocket for snacks instead and would remove the case if I wanted to keep my pocket-computer in that holster. There’s a sneaky media slot inside the pocket to run a headphone cable through.
Okay, that’s enough. Over 900 words about a rain jacket is plenty, and this is a good one. Hopefully by now you know of the fjørå dri1 is the right rain layer for you.