|Rating:||8.7 / 10|
|Value for Money||1.7 / 2|
|Comfort||1.8 / 2|
|Weight||1.5 / 2|
|Durability||1.8 / 2|
|Versatility||1.9 / 2|
Before I go into a detailed review of this jacket I first need to address the elephant in the room and that’s price with this jacket selling for AUD $500.00 RRP. This price is on the upper end as far as rain jackets go and it’s for this reason that you really tend not to see this jacket on-trail that often. I must admit that the price put me off this jacket. The appearance reminded me of the older heavier fabric rain garments you still see on trail, and that I own, but that’s were the similarity ends. So why then would you consider purchasing one? Let’s find out.
First and foremost this jacket is designed to keep you dry on-trail and typically when we consider rain gear that’s what we tend to focus on. One consideration people often don’t think about is the issue of sweating that many of the ‘plastic bag’ style jackets create. This is because along with keeping the water out, they generate heat particularly in hot humid conditions causing you to sweat and get wet from the inside. Those traditional style rain jackets requires you to pay close attention to your Layering System and if you don’t remove layers as you get hot, you will get wet inside your jacket. This can be a problem when it’s bucketing down so you need to make a guesstimate, hopefully based on experience that newer hikers, and even experienced hikers don’t always get right.
This is where The North Face Men’s Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket differs from cheaper options. The Futurelight fabric has been designed to allow air to flow out of the jacket while keeping water from getting inside (magic!). With all the rain that we’ve had this year, I have had a good chance over the past couple of months to really test this jacket out in light and heavy rain conditions and in temperatures both hot and cold. It took me a little while to work out what was going on with this jacket but ultimately the fabric on this garment doesn’t provide warmth, just protection from the rain.
In hot rainy conditions where most of us just sweat, I remained dry. In cold rainy conditions where my less technical rain gear provides a degree of warmth I was cool and had to rethink my layering as sweating wasn’t an issue. I even used this jacket a couple of times in temperatures around zero Celcius when it wasn’t raining just to see how it would go and I couldn’t tell the temperature difference with or without the jacket!
Not only did it impact how hot I felt – typically when you take a rain jacket off you feel a drop in temperature but not so with this jacket as it’s not adding to your warmth. This is where the price comes in. This proprietary North Face fabric (see the video below on the science) is unlike any other I have used and while it will force you to rethink your layering system, the ability to not sweat (providing you get he layering right) is well worth the cost.
Now let’s look at the other more common features that this jacket possesses. Firstly from an appearance perspective this jacket is reasonably tame and looks much like many other rain jackets on the market. Velcro adjustments on the sleeves, peaked hood, elastic cinches on the hood and around the waist are all pretty typical on good quality rain jackets these days.
Three pockets, two external and one internal, is not unusual but when you look closer you realise that the two front pockets open forwards rather than backwards which means that when you get small items out of the pockets they’re unlikely to fall out by accident. The internal pocket can be used for a wallet or keys or any other items you like but this pocket becomes the foldaway storage pocket that the jacket packs into to keep it nice and compact when not in use.
Colour choice on this jacket is limited in Australia with only two colours – Black and Military Olive (a greenish colour) being your only options. Given Australia’s seem to love black and blue that’s understandable but as a lover of bright and lairy colours, I’d prefer the choice of the five colours available in the USA. Size wise this jacket comes in S, M, L, XL and XXL. I currently weigh around 100 kg and am fairly broad chested and the XL jacket fits me well and even caters for my puffy jacket underneath. The length on this jacket is also good and if you are wearing rain pants you won’t end up with a gap between the two garments when you sit down.
As far as weight goes this jacket in my XL size is 458 grams which is 8 grams heavier than my The North Face Thermoball Hoodie thermal jacket which surprised me because it doesn’t feel heavy. In reality it’s not and it’s only around 135 grams heavier than my much loved Marmot PreCip Jacket.
One feature you won’t find on this jacket is Pit Zips which allow you to vent excess heat without getting wet which is a necessity with the cheaper style jackets that trap heat. The technical nature of the material on this jacket means that you just don’t need them. If you wear a rain jacket with pit zips you also soon learn not to reach up when the zips are open as this provides an egress point for water. Not a consideration with this jacket.
So what did I think? For many hikers the price alone is going to stop them from purchasing this jacket but for those hikers who place a premium on overall comfort, regardless of the weather conditions, and can afford the premium price, then this rain jacket is well worth considering. In my case I can see this jacket becoming my pick in hotter weather where I want to stay dry from the rain without sweating in the process.
Tim with his The North Face Men’s Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket, front view
Tim with his The North Face Men’s Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket, side view
Tim with his The North Face Men’s Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket, rear view
Close up of the hood on The North Face Men’s Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket. The adjustment clip is hidden behind a fabric cover which keeps it from catching in thick vegetation
Velcro wrist close on The North Face Men’s Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket
The North Face Men’s Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket showing elastic cinch at the waist
The North Face Men’s Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket internal pocket (self storage)
The North Face Men’s Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket, front zip. There is no fabric cover on this zip but its not needed to keep water out
The North Face Men’s Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket showing hood adjustment
The North Face Men’s Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket showing high neck
The North Face Men’s Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket showing pocket which opens forward for security
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AUD $500.00 RRP
The North Face produces a large range of wet weather jackets with the Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket sitting in the midrange of the product line
The science behind the Futurelight material
This review was done with product provided for testing by The North Face Australia