Long-Term Test: 2023 Norrøna Lyngen Gore-Tex Active Jacket
Over the course of last season, this touring shell impressed us with a combination of serious weight savings and surprising durability
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Weight: 10.6 oz
Size: Men’s S-XL
In 2015, Gore-Tex debuted its lightest and most breathable product: Shakedry, a waterproof shell material without the traditional protective face fabric. Instead, the waterproof membrane forms the outer layer, which you can literally shake to dry, because the water beads right off. The material weighs less and vents better than three-layer alternatives, and never wets out. The tradeoff is durability. Until now, Crepe-thin Shakedry jackets were marketed to weight-obsessed runners and road cyclists for frontcountry use.
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To bring Shakedry to the trekking and backcountry skiing world, Norrøna combined Shakedry with Gore-Tex Active, a still very light and breathable three-layer fabric aimed at the FKT set. Shakedry rings the torso and lines the underarms of the jacket, while Gore Active comprises higher-wear zones like the hood, shoulders, and hem.
One tester wore the Lyngen Gore-Tex Active Jacket backcountry skiing in Montana and British Columbia. “It’s the most breathable backcountry hardshell I’ve worn,” he said. “And I sweat like an amorous water buffalo.” Another tester wore this shell over just a base layer while skinning the slopes of Iceland’s Troll Peninsula in relatively warm, drizzly maritime conditions, and was wowed by the fact that it kept him completely dry despite weighing just 10.8 ounces (about half as much as standouts like The North Face’s Summit Stimson Futurelight Jacket).
Because Shakedry is so breathable, the Lyngen Gore-Tex Active Jacket skips pit zips in lieu of an inch-wide mesh panel that opens and shuts with a zipper running parallel to the main front opening. Without the extra bulk of pit zips, the jacket packs down to the size of a grapefruit—despite the fact that it has a generous helmet compatible hood, stiffened hood brim, and hip-length hem. (The slim, mountaineering fit also contributes to its light weight and bulk.) But take note that this system doesn’t work as well with bibs, because the front-center vents overlap with the bib fabric, which blocks some moisture transfer—which does not happen when you layer bibs under a jacket with armpit vents.
But how durable is it? Gore-Tex Active is tougher than Shakedry, but it’s still an ultralight fabric, and users should take reasonable care with the Lyngen Gore-Tex Active. That said, the shell easily held up to a season of ski touring in Yellowstone, Canada, Iceland, and Greenland without any rips. One quibble: the jacket is only available in men’s sizes.
Frederick Reimers literally grew up at a summer camp. His father was director of Ontario’s Keewaydin Canoe Camp, and Frederick parlayed that experience into a decade of year-round work leading rafting, mountaineering, and sea kayaking courses for Colorado Outward Bound. These days he lives in Jackson, Wyoming, about to embark on a massive expedition into parenthood along with his wife and two dogs.