Loki Myth Soft Shell Jacket
Materials: 3-Layer, stretch woven nylon face with polyester fleece inner
- Integrated neck gaiter and mittens
- Pit Vents
- Headphone compatible Napoleon pocket
- One water resistant, zippered chest pocket
- Two water resistant, zippered hand pockets
Test Locations: Splitboarding in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, NM; commuting between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM.
Days tested: ~120 (4-5 days a week from September 2015 to March 2016)
The Loki Myth jacket is designed around the concept of versatility. If you are unfamiliar with the brand (or this jacket), it’s a small company with one key idea: their jackets integrate a face mask / neck gaiter into the hood, and mitten shells into the sleeves.
While there are definitely idiosyncrasies to this design, on the whole, it works.
Initially, I didn’t get it. I have gloves for the mountains. I have a fleece neck gaiter for skiing when it’s brutally cold. And so I saw this jacket as having a very specific niche that wasn’t very useful to me — until I started bike commuting.
Before I started using it as a commuting piece, I would skin with it a few times a year. Now, I wear it every day.
The Myth is made of a soft-shell material with a DWR treatment. I have been in two full-on rain storms wearing the jacket, and although the rest of me was soaked, the jacket’s DWR performed well and kept me dry.
I might not choose to wear the jacket if I knew it was going to rain hard all day, but for those times where rain is threatening or for fluke downpours, the Myth has your back.
The material itself is soft to the hand and fairly supple, but not particularly packable. The Myth feels particularly stiff in the wrists, likely due to the fact that the mitt folds into the wrist compartment when not in use. While the material feels stiff, its inner surface has a fleece texture that adds warmth and is also quite comfortable when worn against the skin.
I am 6’ 180 lbs, and sometimes fit right between size Medium and size Large jackets. The Medium jacket is slim but not tight. Its tail is long enough to provide back coverage while riding.
Pockets, Vents, and Hood
The two lower front hand pockets are spacious. The “Napoleon” pocket in the front has a hole for a headphone cable. Despite my initial skepticism, I find that I use this feature more and more as it gets cold, because it streamlines riding without cables or cords on the exterior of the jacket.
The Myth also incorporates large pit zips that allow ample ventilation when needed. They extend from the elbow to just above the side pockets. The zips are easy to open from the bottom while riding, but two hands are often needed to unzip them from the upper end. The upper / sleeve side of the zip is easier to access when wearing a backpack. If you ride with a shoulder bag, the lower half of the right pit zip will be inaccessible
The hood is not really bicycle-helmet compatible, since it doesn’t fit well over most helmets. On truly rainy days, I have to put the hood on underneath my helmet, but the material is too thick for this and greatly compromises helmet fit. The hood can be rolled up into the collar and secured with a snap, but because of the hood’s thick material, it feels like you are wearing a fake neck brace in a bad courtroom drama.
Face Shield and Mitts
The integrated face shield is one of the best parts of the Myth, and it has prevented frost nip on my nose on several occasions. Even when not pulled up over the face, it acts as a very efficient neck gaiter to keep cold drafts from running down the collar while riding on cold days. Unlike the mitts (which sometimes are annoying when not in use), the facemask is barely noticeable when stowed behind the neck. If anything, it is soft and comfortable on the back of the neck.
The sleeves feel too long when the mitts are not deployed. This can be overcome by pulling the sleeves up, but they will inevitably slide back down, and that cycle becomes rather irksome after a while. Ironically, with the mitts deployed, the sleeves feel a touch too short if your bike has a longer cockpit. They can create a bit of a pressure point across the palm of the mitts, but not one that drastically compromises comfort.
It is also extremely annoying to wear a larger watch with this jacket since the watch and the extra material in the wrist from the stowed mitt do not play nicely together. The sleeve is too long to wear the watch close to the hand, and there is too much material in the wrist to wear the watch under the sleeve. A little Casio might be fine, but leave the Suunto at home.
This jacket is a quiver killer for commuting. With open pit zips it is very comfy even while riding hard in relatively warm weather during the fall. In early winter I found that with the pit zips closed, riding hard uphill was perfectly warm, but sweating became a real possibility.
In midwinter, it is commonly well below freezing before dark when I start my ride to the train. I simply zip the Myth over whatever layer I am wearing, pull the face mask up, deploy the mitts, and I have a ride to the train without cold nose or cold hands.
Once I get off the train and continue my commute, the sun is up and it is often 20 degrees warmer than when I left the house. I might use only the mitts if my hands are cold or put them away. And therein lies the appeal of the Myth soft shell. One jacket is well suited to extremely-varied weather and replaces gear that might otherwise be superfluous or cluttering. I have worn the jacket comfortably from 60 to 5 degrees F outside.
Over the months, the mitts have developed small areas of breakdown in the palm. There is also a fair amount of fraying around the labels on the sleeves, but this is entirely cosmetic. Overall, these are slight amounts of wear given the number of days I’ve had in the jacket. The zippers and elastic elements in the hood have held up well without signs of long-term wear.
If you are the type of commuter who wants to have the exact right jacket for the exact conditions you happen to be riding in each day, then you may find that you rarely wear the Myth. But if you want one jacket that will keep you comfy 95% of the time, the Loki Myth is worth checking out.