On this side of the Atlantic, the words “Swedish” and “fish” together are likely to conjure images of a chewy red confectionary. But back in the motherland of these famed fish-shaped candies, natives might also consider the bright orange gear worn by professional fishermen and recreational anglers throughout the countryside. Specifically, they’ll think of Grundéns.
Officially Grundéns Regnklader A.B., the company dates back to 1911, when founder Carl A. Grundén began manufacturing “oilskins”, garments made from oil-laden sailcloth (essentially waxed canvas jackets and pants), to meet the demand of regional fishermen near his hometown of Grundsund on the central west coast of Sweden. Advancing to rubberized fabrics in the ‘30s and PVC coating just two decades later, “Grundéns” is now globally ubiquitous, the leading name in durable waterproof gear for commercial fishermen. Today the name also extends to include Grundéns Originals, a heritage-inspired sub-brand producing lifestyle-wear, which the company claims to hold to the same “professional standard” as their core commercial offerings. To see if Originals holds up to the original, we took the Brigg 310 Jacket ($349), a bastion of the collection, to Maine for a long day of lobster harvesting.
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From a distance, there is little to distinguish the 310 from its professional sibling jacket, the Brigg 40. Both hooded garments are constructed from PVC-coated heavy cotton twill in the classic Grundéns orange, designed for the sake of visibility in the event that fishermen or sailors go overboard. For urban commuters, the 310’s adherence to the original color scheme is a plus: bikers and cautious pedestrians will be especially grateful for it in low-visibility scenarios, whether it’s a rainy day or a late-night commute. Both jackets come out of Grundéns’s sole factory in Portugal, which does very little to suggest that the two differ in terms of quality and water resistance. Testing the Brigg 310 during a 13-hour lobster harvest, filled with showers, off-shore winds, and 1,700 pounds of clawed crustaceans proved that mettle.
Pros: 100 percent waterproof, sturdy enclosure with alternating buttons, corduroy-lined cuffs, loose-fitting for air circulation, optional base layer, highly visible for urban commuting
Cons: Needs base layer for optimal warmth
USA Distributor: Westerlind (westerlindoutdoor.com)
In most cases, when outerwear companies say “waterproof”, they mean breathable. Jackets and shells will use 2, 2.5 or 3 layers of fabric plus a coating of DWR, a fluoropolymer-based spray, to create a barrier that keeps most liquid out while still allowing bodily moisture to escape. The downside is that DWR coatings require frequent reapplication, and sustained exposure to moisture will eventually allow liquid to seep through jackets that aren’t the best of the best. PVC coating, as featured on the Brigg 310, takes a bar-none approach, ensuring 100 percent waterproofness. The central opening even features double storm plackets with alternating snaps, an ingenious design that omits the need for a flimsy zipper. Though critics could argue that it loses points on breathability, Grundéns’s jacket is built on the premise that if it’s wet, it’s probably cold — and it fits loose, not baggy, to allow circulation underneath.
The Brigg 310 takes a bar-none approach, ensuring 100 percent waterproofness.
Though the Brigg 310 is similar to the pro-grade Brigg 40, its designers are acutely aware that a lifestyle jacket should adhere to the wants and needs of its wearers. The 310 boasts two deep pockets for everyday carry (unnecessary on a boat), angled in such a way that they won’t become water buckets during a downpour. The cuffs are also fashioned with a black corduroy lining for added warmth and comfort, adjustable with external snaps. Though there’s no insulating soft shell within the body (a drawback, given the sturdy weight of the garment), the 310 makes for a fantastic outer shell when worn over a warm base or mid layer, and it even retains its shape in subfreezing temperatures. Other bonuses include a chin cover button strap, an internal security pocket, and a small repair kit — which, given the resilience of the fabric, is likely just a symbolic gesture of Grundéns’s commitment to long-term durability.
Originals represents Grundéns at its best, for everyone but a fisherman. But beyond the base-quality craftsmanship expected from the brand, the Brigg 310 itself shows that the company is striving to be better for its customers, not just newer; they’ve been unwilling to bend to the gale-force trend of breathability for the sake of protecting those customers. The Brigg 310 won’t be your year-round jacket, but caught in the middle a storm, it’ll be the one you want.