I’ve been asked several times why this site doesn’t go dark for spring and summer. After all, those aren’t generally “cold” seasons; shouldn’t I be focused on cold-weather gear only? Per the site’s mission, the goal is actually to help people find gear to help them get more comfortable outside and (re)discover a love for all outdoor activities. To a certain degree it makes more sense to write about warm-weather gear, because folks will only venture out in the cold if they’re comfortable in warmer temperatures. The Fjallraven Abisko Hybrid jacket is one such warm-weather item, and that’s why I grabbed it to review.
The review period I had for the Abisko Eco-Shell jacket fell in the heart of spring. It wasn’t the warmest jacket, but we had an unseasonably warm spring in Portland, so that didn’t really matter. What did matter was waterproofing, and the Eco-Shell excelled. When I jumped from that coat into the Abisko Hybrid jacket I was initially disappointed. The Abisko Hybrid jacket is primarily cotton rather than four-way stretch polyester, so it provided less wind protection and overall insulation. The Hybrid is also only waterproof in two areas rather than all over, which was a downer in downpours.
But the Abisko Hybrid jacket isn’t designed to be a spring coat, at least not in the Pacific Northwest. There’s a line about “no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.” Once the spring showers went away and the temps got even warmer, the Abisko Hybrid jacket became a go-to shell for early-summer hikes. Let that be a lesson to others who are re-acclimating to the outdoors: use gear and clothing as they’re designed, and they’ll generally work. Square pegs don’t fit well into round holes. This a summer jacket through and through, and it should really be treated as such.
For example, the jacket’s breathable due to its cotton construction, which is invaluable in warmer-weather hikes. For good measure, there’s also a small covered vent near the neck area that adds breathability in a high-heat location. Although it dries quickly, the cotton material wasn’t a great option for wet Northwest spring hikes. In summer when there’s less rain — and/or in drier climates — it’s a perfectly suitable material for Fjallraven to have used.
Likewise, my spring hikes tend to be shorter, no-gear affairs since they don’t tend to last more than a couple of hours. Short of a water bottle and maybe a snack bar, I don’t carry much and don’t need a backpack. The Abisko Hybrid jacket has a big inside pocket and two exterior pockets, which would seem to accommodate this. However it’s rather form fitting, so anything thicker than a smartphone feels bulky. Again, this was a hassle on spring hikes but was moot once summer rolled around and I stashed my phone, wallet, keys and snack in a backpack rather than a coat pocket.
The coat’s water resistance is limited to its G-1000 hood and shoulder area. For summer this isn’t an issue at all, and I’ve found that it also adds a layer of windproofing in the spots most susceptible to occasional cold breezes at altitude. This doesn’t lead to a warm coat by fall and winter standards, but by summer-jacket standards it’s a great option.
And that’s the importance of long-ish review periods. Had I reviewed the jacket after a week or two, I’d have scored it much lower. That would have been unfair. I wasn’t using the coat as it was intended. The Abisko Hybrid jacket is a fine all-purpose jacket for warmer and drier times. It looks great too, whether you’re on the trail or on the town. All things considered, I’d still recommend the Eco-Shell over the Hybrid because it can span multiple seasons. But if you’re looking strictly for a summer jacket, the Fjallraven Abisko Hybrid jacket is a nice option.
Abisko Hybrid jacket
- Very lightweight
- Fast drying if it gets wet
- G-1000 on hood and shoulders resists water in a pinch
- Adjustable hood
- Helps take the edge off a morning chill or light breeze
- Really shouldn't be worn if there's even a chance of rain
- Main-body material offers basically zero thermal value
- If packed down for just 5 minutes, it wrinkles like nobody's business