Forget about Punxatawney Phil: spring is on the way, and for the next few months predicting the weather means expecting the unpredicatable. Luckily, new spring jackets just arrived from The North Face, and this year’s Summit Series features some breathable, technical pieces worth getting excited about.
The first style that caught my eye is The North Face Alpine Project Jacket, and not just because it’s a really good-looking hardshell; this is the first offering from The North Face that features the new GORE-TEX™ Active Shell fabrics.
That makes it an ultralight, highly-breathable option for moving fast and light without foregoing maximum weather protection. Active Shell is the most breathable technology in the GORE-TEX™ lineup, even more so than top-of-the-line GORE-TEX™ Pro Shell or GORE-TEX™ Paclite jackets.
What does that mean? It means you can stuff this jacket into your pack without giving up much space or adding much weight, and it means you can keep pushing hard in bad weather without turning the inside of the jacket into your own personal sauna. This is the newest, best stuff out there, and you know you can trust a 3-layer GORE-TEX™ jacket to have the durability you need.
If you’re just looking for a lightweight, stretchy waterproof jacket for active use during spring snow and rain, but don’t want to blow your budget, check out The North Face Leonidas Jacket.
This particular style isn’t brand new, but it’s been completely redesigned for Spring 2012 with a more functional “storm-proof” wrist cuff and some sweet new colors. It’s ultralight without skimping on any of the features you need, like pit zips and an adjustable hood. The four-way stretch fabric doesn’t bind, allowing excellent range of motion. At $199, the Leonidas Jacket is a comfortable, flexible upgrade from your budget rain jacket; after all, where else can you get an 11.8-ounce shell that doesn’t feel like a plastic garbage bag?!?
Of course, not every jacket has to be waterproof, and for those of us who put off a lot of heat (or never stop moving), a softshell is usually the answer. For high-output activities between spring rains, The North Face Apex Elixir Hoodie stops wind without stopping anything else. This is a seriously-breathable, comfortable piece made from a stretchy “Apex Aerobic” material, the lightest and most breathable of The North Face softshell fabrics. The DWR treatment shrugs off snow or light rain, and the front pockets are set high to accommodate a backpack or climbing harness.
The Apex Elixir Hoody is a Summit Dealer exclusive! Rock/Creek is a proud Summit Dealer.
If you’re familiar with The North Face Summit Series, you’re aware that this is some of the highest-end gear available, and The North Face tests all of its Summit Series product extensively with its athlete team, incorporating athlete feedback into the final product. We sat down with Robert Fry, senior product manager for the Summit Series, to ask him some questions about the Summit Series testing process; you can read that interview here.
Like it or not — and it’s a lively debate this year — spring is almost here, and The North Face has delivered these technical spring jackets early enough for us to take advantage. Get out there, and then come visit us on Facebook to tell us what you did!