Green landscape slowly becomes a thing of the past. Soon land will turn red, orange and gold, and then, inevitably winter will arrive (hopefully !!). I do not know about you, but I can not wait for snow to fall. In general, one thing I hate about winter is a short day. Frost and snow are not a nuisace, but early night is.
A year ago, courtesy of Helikon–Tex,we received their latest winter jacket with a synthetic heat insulation for the sake of field test and photo sessions. Ladies and gentlemen, here’s Level 7.
Level 7 is not intended to extreme cold temperatures. It’s rather on par with the mid-range insulation jackets used down to -15/-20 Celcius at most. It has been designed for use in cool (not cold) weather conditions. But since I live in the north of Poland, I need to set the range of „cool” for all you hot-weather-beach-loving geardos. By „cool” I mean temperatures between zero to minus 10 Celcius. As the temperature drops below -10, wearing a tee under LVL7 is still good but doesn’t have to necessarily comfortable to skinny ones. Then, an additional long sleeve or a fleece would do just fine. Bare in mind that this is not a product used for dynamic work but the insulation during a halt or light work around home or at a camp, etc.
In the vicinity of zero degrees, with only a shirt underneath, a walk around the city was very comfortable. But after about 30 minutes I had to open the fly a bit as it was just too hot to my taste.
The usage of Climashield APEX gives fairly good thermal properties. The torso and shoulders have 100g / m 2, while the hood 67 g / m2 of insulation material. An interesting fact about this fabric is the fact that in spite of being wet it still provides the user with some warmth. I would recommend to see the Survivaltech’s video where you can see exactly in what conditions the jacket gives protection to the wearer.
External material is nylon ripstop weave treated with DWR repellent. Do not expect that it will protect you from rain, there are other jackets to help you with it. Level 7 is a winter product when the humidity is rather smaller, and the rain falls in the form of iced cubes smashing cars, cows and your mothers-in-law. You should not have any problems while lying down in the snow or during a snowstorm, at least for some time. Inside fabric is also nylon, but gentler than the one on the outside.
Sizes is quite overstated. Normally I wear a size XL Helikon, at least in Camogromie SFU uniform, with which I had the dubious pleasure around the year 2009. I am not a small person, but I have a level 7 in a size Large. I had no issues fitting a thermal shirt and ECWCS Level 1, along with Arcteryx RHO fleece underneath. Still there was some free space left.
Size Large, with my height (186cm), isnot a long jacket as it reaches only to the mid buttocks and when bending forward can reveal the back plumber style.
All zippers are YKK brand. All have also been sewn vice versa, which provides protection against moisture and snow. Main lock is a bipolar zip. It runs up to our chin, where an additional flop-like piece has been sewn to protect our beloved beard. A nice touch is the lanyard with the company’s logo.
The hood is hidden in the collar. Poorly composed hood can be disruptive and cause discomfort to use while in the collar. Therefore, I always have it outside ready to use.
Adjusting the volume is quite wide. We do it simply by pulling the cord.
Additional cords are hidden in the chest pockets. Adjustment is simple, and the cords, being hidden, do not disturb while walking.
The jacket has five pockets. Two chest, two internal and one internal mesh at the height of the heart. Mesh pockets are open and have a rubber waistband. Generally I used these to carry documents and notebooks. The pockets are quite big and comfortable.
Chest pockets have fleece padding. I can not imagine a winter jacket without such padded pocket where we could warm up our frozen hands. In addition, these pockets, besides string hood adjustment, have d-ring for etc. keys and a nylon pocket for your not so smart phones.
Unfortunately, the outer pocket does not have such goodies.
Jacket cuffs are adjustable. So we should not have a problem with the use of lvl7 with different gloves.
Each shoulder has a velcro panel. It is a pity that Helikon didn’t sew additional pockets there. I do not know about you, but I think it would be a good idea to make Lvl 7 even more tacticool.
The jacket comes with a compression bag, but I lost it and so far I could not find it. Nevertheless, lvl7 can be inserted into its sleeve. It may not be the best solution, because jacket takes up more space than when you use the bag. But sleeve’s better than nothing,I guess. Compressed, the jacket can be to tied onto a backpack.
Helikon’s winter jacket is a product worthy attention. 550pln for a good winter jacket is not a large sum. It’ll be quite difficult to find a similar product using the same fabrics and offering the same price.
The jacket is comfortable and does not restrict movement. Used nylon does its job well with stronger wind, Climashield provides thermal comfort at low temperatures. With proper selection of layers, comfort at -30 below zero shouldn’t be surprising.
Last winter, which was not particularly long and cold, I went to take some winter photos of Applied Orange overwhites in the area of Lake Mamry. The temperature was around -18 / -20 degrees with very high winds. I assume that the perceived temperature was well below -30.
I had n ECWCS lvl 1 shirt under, Arcteryx RHO fleece, level 7 Helikon and Applied Orange jacket. My ass had was rocking an equally warm mixture. I did not take good gloves, as I had to operate the camera, so I only had Mechanix Fastfit (not recommended for the winter). Most of the time I had hands warming up in the breast pockets of LVL7 jacket. Despite the terrible wind it was very nice and the cold did not bothered me.
Is this the perfect jacket? Certainly not. Is there one? Nope. Are there better? Yes. Worse too. Taking into consideration the used materials the price doesn’t seem exaggerated. This is a good product, working well during our winters.
Sewing is not „Helikonish”. The quality of the level 7 jacket is closer to Direct Action. If, in the pictures, you find any protruding threads, it is only because the jacket is not new and has been in use for a couple of months.
The only thing that irritates me the jacket is the sound of the fabric. When walking I have the impression that the jacket is definitely louder than the PCU Level 7, which I had before. Besides that, it’s great
You should not be disappointed.