Halvarssons has been making laminated jackets and pants forever. Okay, perhaps not for as long as Rukka has been, but these guys are not new to the world of bonded membranes. They tend to go for two-layer, as opposed to three layer, lamination. And they use their own Dryway membrane rather than Gore-Tex’s. Some people swear by Gore-Tex, but you need have no concerns. Dryway is well proven. It doesn’t let water in, and it breathes well.
The Vansbro is very much a touring and commuting outfit. It replaces the now-discontinued Walkyr jacket which, for women, was known as the Walkyria. Now there was nothing wrong with the Walkyr in terms of its technical performance, but we never really liked it. And this was for a couple of reasons. First, unlike our favourite Halvarssons jacket, the Wien, the Walkyr had no adjustability at the waist. If it fitted you out of the box it was fine, but if it didn’t it wasn’t. Frankly, it was a bit boxy, so if you were on the slimmer side it just didn’t work. The other thing we didn’t like about the Walkyr was its stiff collar at the front where it meets the neck. No two ways about it, it could be uncomfortable, especially on the bike, and even more so if you had a larger neck. The Vansbro is, in some ways, everything the Walkyr wasn’t. That’s a bit unfair; the Walkyr worked fine; anyway let’s go through the Vansbro’s spec. in a bit more detail.
The outer fabric is a super-tough 640 denier Polyamide. All we can say is that the outer fabric is highly abrasion resistant, yet has a really soft hand, as they call it. As we’ve explained, this is a laminated jacket. And as with all waterproof jackets, the Vansbro has a DWR coating. That’s a Durable Water Repellant. More specifically, the coating is a Teflon coating. This is probably the most durable of coatings. Sometimes, if applied too thickly, a Teflon coating can make a garment a little crunchy, but that can’t be said of the Vansbro. It’s a soft and supple jacket that is comfortable to wear. A laminate will never be quite as comfortable as a good drop-liner jacket, perhaps, but the Vansbro comes close.
Halvarssons is an extremely safety conscious company. Passive safety is very much part of their philosophy, but they also make garments that are properly protective in their own right. The Vansbro is therefore reinforced in all the key areas with Hi-Art, which is Halvarssons’ own abrasion-resistant lining material that increases the strength of a textile fabric by 500%, ie: x 6. The jacket comes with an AA rating under EN 17092. It also comes with Level 2 armour in the elbows and shoulders. There’s a pocket for a back protector, but this doesn’t come as standard.
The other things you need in a commuting and touring jacket are good venting and a top quality thermal lining. Luckily, the Vansbro has both. Thermal comes courtesy of a removable inner jacket, although unfortunately it cannot be worn on its own as a destination jacket. This is a feature of the liner in the Wien, and frankly we prefer it that way. The liner contains both Thinsulate and Outlast. That’s about as high tech as it gets. The jacket is not very thick, but it will keep you warm, provided that you use it properly! That is to say that, for optimum performance, you should get some heat into the Outlast before you get cold. For warmer climes, you get two zippable vents on the chest, long zipped vents up the sleeves and a permanently open vent across the back. The rear vent sits beneath a deep storm guard, so rain cannot get into the jacket.
A lot of the rest is detail. Adjusters at the neck, on the sleeves and at the waist. Zips and Velcro at the ends of the sleeves to allow gloves to be tucked inside. Two interchangeable neck collars. A full-length, connector zip. Two pockets on the outside and two inside the jacket. Reflectors, and so on. The jacket comes in all black, or in a combination of grey and black for those who are feeling particularly adventurous.
The all-black version comes in a slightly wider range of sizes than the wilder colour combination. The matching trouser for the Vansbro is the Wish. The Wish is a long-term favourite of ours. It’s one of best fitting, most comfortable laminated pants on the market. It works really well on a lot of people.
The jacket costs £529; the Wish pant is £399. That's just over £900 for a top of the range laminate suit with all the bells and whistles you might need. The only thing we would say is that, for many, the Wien and Wish combination might still be the preferred option. It will cost £850, so that’s not really a huge factor, but the Wien will be even more comfortable and it will be warmer in most situations. They’re both great outfits, but not everybody needs laminate, so if you’re looking at the Vansbro you should look at the Wien too. For some, many even, the Wien will be the better option.
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